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SPRING 2016

Uncover the Unexpected TRAVEL WITH US TO SICILY ã LAOS ICELAND ARGENTINA

+25

BEST PLACES IN AMERICA TO VISIT RIGHT NOW


O N L Y

I N

T H E A T E R S


contents Spring 2016 Volume 2 / Number 1

FEATURES page 44 2016 Best in the U.S. List Where in the U.S. should you go this year? Try one of our 10 great destinations. page 74 Two Sides to Argentina Explore the contrasting landscapes and cultures of Argentina, from the urban allure of Buenos Aires to the Patagonian plains, where gauchos roam. page 64 The Culture of Laos Squeezed between Thailand and Vietnam, Laos combines some of the best elements of Southeast Asia in one bite-size destination. page 54 Iceland’s Magic Circle The 830-mile Ring Road will take you full circle around Iceland’s breathtaking countryside.

JODY HORTON

// Barista at Porchlight Coffee & Records, Seattle 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 roundtrip ticket.

“The real

voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust


contents easy trips

globetrotter p7 5 Spots A global list of the hot spots you need to know about now.

Amazing Places to Stay Hotels that feature the best of technology.

great escape p83 An itinerary for exploring the gorgeous island of Sicily.

postcards p95

Arrivals Travel news.

Lonely Planet readers share their travel photos.

Inside Knowledge A cruising expert tells how to make the most of shore excursions.

mini guides p101

Gear Family travel essentials.

Croatia Get to know the beach hot spot everyone is talking about.

What to Eat Celebrated chef Zoi Antonitsas on what and where to eat in Seattle.

Buenos Aires Eat your way through Argentina’s capital.

easy trips p33

Delhi Discover historic sites, bazaars and delicious food in India’s capital territory.

Ideas for seven spring getaways, including Charleston, San Diego and Toronto.

Lisbon Spend a night (or two) out on the town in Portugal’s hub. Monaco Do one of Europe’s glitziest, most expensive spots on a dime. Hong Kong Get the most out of a stopover in one of Asia’s most energetic cities.

// Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle ON THE COVER:

// A tuk-tuk passes Wat Mai, one of the largest Buddhist temples in Luang Prabang, Laos. Cover Photo by Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

JODY HORTON

10 New Ways Fall in love with the Big Apple all over again.


playtime is where quality time begins. surround yourself with the things that matter most.

Find your island where smiles happen naturally. Find a playground covered in soft white sand blanketed with endless stretches of seashells. Find the perfect place to slow down growing up. Find your island at FortMyers-Sanibel.com and order our free Lonely Planet guidebook.


Group Publisher | Elaine Alimonti Editor | Lauren Finney Creative Director | Nan Oshin Operations Manager | Scott Toncray Copy Editor | Cindy Guier Designer | Kristina Juodenas Contributing Editor Managing Destination Editors

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Destination Editors Joe Bindloss, Laura Crawford, Megan Eaves, Helen Elfer, Gemma Graham, Alexander Howard, Bailey Johnson, MaSovaida Morgan, Matt Phillips, Sarah Reid, James Smart, Anna Tyler, Branislava Vladisavljevic, Tasmin Waby, Rebecca Warren, Clifton Wilkinson

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WELCOME

TO T HE SPRI NG ED ITIO N O F LO N ELY P LA NE T .

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: LAUREN FINNEY, KATE DAVIS, EDWIN REMSBERG/ GETTY IMAGES, PHILIP LEE HARVEY

Here I am doing the EdgeWalk at the CN Tower in Toronto – it’s 1,100 feet in the air! Clearly, I was terrified.

This issue is packed full of fresh travel ideas, whether you’re planning a family, couple or solo adventure. We’ve included exotic journeys to places like Laos (p. 64), as well as let’s-book-them-now getaways, such as our top 10 U.S. destinations (p. 44) for 2016. There are some interesting picks on this year’s top 10 list, and I have to admit I was surprised by a few, in a good way. We are also highlighting some spots that have been on my personal list for quite some time: Sicily (p. 83), Argentina (p. 74) and Iceland (p. 54). I’ve become totally enchanted by Sicily’s beautiful beaches, the Argentinian spirit (the country is celebrating 200 years of independence this year) and the otherworldly landscapes of Iceland. If you’re anything like me you’ll be furiously marking pages and taking notes on all three destinations. Actor and travel writer Andrew McCarthy (p. 116) joins us to talk about his journeys. I loved learning about how he made a second (!) career in travel, and I enjoyed reading his anecdotes about traveling with his kids. We all see travel through different filters, and it’s a joy to see it through Andrew’s eyes. Also in this issue . . . Eat with us in culturally diverse Seattle (p. 26), plan a weekend to sunny Charleston (p. 37) or thrilling Toronto (p. 34), learn all about how to take advantage of free time on shore while cruising (p. 20), and much more.

Here’s to a season full of possibilities and discoveries. Happy travels,

Lauren @laurenrfinney

Charleston, where I have family, has always been a place of continual discovery for me, whether through the city’s distinctive food, history or culture.

Our Argentina feature highlights the contrasting cultures of Buenos Aires and Patagonia. Spring 2016

/ LONELY PLANET

5


Rising from an underground spring, fresh water flows from these moss-covered rocks and streams into the surf. From beneath the breakers, shifting tides reveal these incredibly rare marvels. Made of countless transformed seashells, these storied stepping stones help lead you back to the drifting clouds, seagulls sailing above and live oaks bent by time.

visitnc.com


globetrotter

PHOTO BY BROWN CANNON III/INTERSECTION PHOTO

A WORLD OF TRAVEL NEWS AND DISCOVERIES

5 SPOTS TO TALK ABOUT RIGHT NOW 10 NEW WAYS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH NEW YORK AMAZING PLACES TO STAY THAT HAVE GONE HIGH-TECH ARRIVALS TRAVEL NEWS GEAR FOR FAMILY TRAVEL INSIDE KNOWLEDGE HOW TO PLAN SHORE EXCURSIONS WHAT TO EAT . . . IN SEATTLE


5 Spots TO TALK ABOUT RIGHT NOW Lonely Planet’s Destination Editors scour the globe looking for the most authentic, fun and inspiring places, people and trips. Here, they share their favorite hot spots for the season.

Marking Thailand’s New Year, the SONGKRAN FESTIVAL sees locals (and visitors) take to the streets for three days of nonstop water fights (officially April 13–15, but the revelry can last longer). Bangkok boasts the nation’s largest water parties; if you’re not comfortable getting wet, don’t leave your hotel! Sara Reid, Southeast Asia

ILLUSTRATIONS: JILL CALDER

Alexander Howard, Tulips in La Conner, Washington, usher in Western U.S. and Canada spring with acres upon acres of red, purple, yellow and orange blooms during the SKAGIT COUNTY TULIP FESTIVAL in April. The festival includes sampling the region’s famous wines, as well as bike tours and helicopter rides over the fields of color.


PHOTOS CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: YING CHEN; SHUTTERSTOCK / SUKPAIBOONWAT; CULTURA RM/ GETTY IMAGES/ GEORGE KARBUS PHOTOGRAPHY; KATJA ANTON PHOTOGRAPHY; IAIN MASTERTON/ GETTY IMAGES

Explore County Clare’s sea-sculpted coast on Ireland’s new Wild Atlantic Way driving route, taking in highlights like the Cliffs of Moher and the wild, rocky Burren region. Traditional culture flourishes here, and ENNIS’S FLEADH NUA, in mid-May, is one of Ireland’s liveliest folk music festivals. James Smart, U.K., Ireland and Iceland

Tasmin Waby, Australia and the Pacific

Delight in the best of AUSTRALIA’S FOODIE SCENE

at the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival, May 19–22, while the weather is perfect, with cooler evenings and less humidity. You may catch a glimpse of migrating whales from Noosa’s forested headlands.

Helen Elfer, Middle East and North Africa THE AL MARMOON HERITAGE FESTIVAL, April

1–16 in Dubai, is the perfect chance to experience the thrill of a camel race. It’s quite a sight. To get the best view of the action, do as the Emiratis do: follow the camels in a four-wheel drive. Spring 2016

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9


globetrotter

10 NEW WAYS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH . . . Think you know all about the Big Apple? Take another look. From spring cherry blossoms in Brooklyn to craft beers in the East Village, here are some lesser-known ways to enjoy the city.

1. FIND A MOMENT OF PEACE IN A SECRET GARDEN. Lush, quiet gardens are all over the city, but not everyone knows where to find them. A few of our favorite spots of respite include the garden at Church of St. Luke in the Field and Jefferson Market Garden, both in the West Village, and the New York Marble Cemetery, in the East Village. If you’re in midtown and need some silence, visit Tudor City’s two parks on East 42nd Street, or Greenacre Park, on 51st Street. • greenthumbnyc.com

2. VISIT A FOUNDING FATHER’S HOME.

Thanks to the Broadway smash Hamilton, there’s been an enormous interest in the life story of Alexander Hamilton, one of the United States’ founding fathers (you might know him as the face on the U.S. 10-dollar bill). Born in the West Indies, Hamilton came to NYC at age 17 to study at Kings College

(now Columbia University). After serving as the first Secretary of the Treasury, he commissioned a house in the area now known as Hamilton Heights. It was finished in 1802, two years before Hamilton was fatally wounded in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr. The renovated house is now a National Park Service site at St. Nicholas Park. • Admission is free; nps.gov/hagr

3. CHECK OUT BROOKLYN’S CHERRY BLOSSOMS. Each April and May the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is abloom with dozens of varieties of flowering cherry trees, making it one of the best blossom viewing sites outside of Japan. Take a stroll through the Cherry Esplanade and the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden when the trees are in bloom. • Admission $12 (free Tuesday and 10–noon Saturday); bbb.org The Highline, on the west side of Manhattan

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LONELY PLANET / Spring 2016

ILLUSTRATION AND TYPOGRAPHY: JILL CALDER; PHTOT: © NILS SCHLEBUSCH/ INTERSECTION PHOTOS

By Lauren Finney


View from Sunset Harbor, Miami Beach

A sunset paddle on the bay. Pitchers and pool at a local dive bar. Cracking stone crabs with a mallet. Rooftop lounge sofas. Welcome to my South Beach. I’m Morgan. When we hit the water in my video you’ll see my neighborhood from a whole new angle. You can find it and learn about our other cool neighborhoods at ItSoMiami.com

SOUTH BEACH – IT’S SO MIAMI® ©Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau – The Official Destination Sales & Marketing Organization for Greater Miami and the Beaches.


globetrotter

10

The food at Jimmy’s No. 43

If you head to the sixth floor of Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship location and walk through the housewares department, you’ll find Le Train Bleu, a restaurant designed like the luxury French night express train the Calais-Mediterranée Express. Open since 1979, Le Train Bleu has stayed relatively hidden as a mostly-locals spot to enjoy a delicious lunch or brunch while taking a break from all the retail therapy. • Entrees from $18; bloomingdales.com

5. GRAB BAKED GOODIES IN THE LOBBY. Follow your nose to Arcade Bakery, in a Tribeca office building on Church Street and you’ll be rewarded with pains au chocolat, babkas and other irresistible baked goods, all made fresh in the lobby. A former ATM vestibule is now the serving counter, and drop-down tables are tucked into cozy wood-paneled cubbies – but can you make it that far before devouring your baguette-dough pizza? • Babka from $4, pizza from $9; arcadebakery.com

6. EXPERIENCE MAGIC AT THE WALDORF ASTORIA. In an elegant suite of the storied Waldorf Astoria hotel, Steve Cohen, aka The Millionaires’ Magician, is putting on one of the best shows in Manhattan. Chamber Magic, featuring Cohen’s mind reading tricks, sleights of hand and more, will impress even the most skeptical of guests. • Tickets from $85; chambermagic.com 12

LONELY PLANET / Spring 2016

7. CELEBRATE CARNEGIE HALL’S 125TH YEAR. On May 5 the historic concert hall will celebrate its 125th anniversary with a gala and performances from renowned artists including Renée Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman and James Taylor. Performances throughout the season range from student recitals to the San Francisco Symphony. Check the website for the schedule of public walk-in tours. • Tour tickets $17; carnegiehall.org

Next door to the building that was demolished in the 2014 East Village gas explosion is subterranean watering hole Jimmy’s No. 43, whose kitchen was devastated by the blast. Jimmy’s is a real neighborhood joint, full of dark wood, low lighting and questionable characters – and excellent craft beers and ciders. Adding to the mix in an only-inNew-York pairing is Tito King’s Kitchen, a Thai and Filipino

8. VISIT AN URBAN ROOFTOP FARM. Brooklyn Grange was formed in 2010 as an urban rooftop farm and is now the world’s largest rooftop soil farmer, producing over 50,000 pounds of organic produce per year. Visit either of the two rooftop farms – in the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard and just across the East River in Long Island City. • Farm tours $10; brooklyngrangefarm.com

9. GET UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH GANGSTERS. The Museum of the American Gangster has only two rooms, but the tour will take up to an hour given the curator’s extensive knowledge on all things mobster. The museum sits above a former East Village speakeasy that Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and John Gotti were known to frequent. Take a tour of the speakeasy, then browse artifacts ranging from bootlegger cash to tommy guns to vintage whiskey bottles. • Admission $20; museumoftheamericangangster.org

street food venture from chef King Phojanakong, now serving out of Jimmy’s. Because nothing goes together like pork belly adobo tacos and IPAs. • Open from 2 p.m. weekdays, from 1 p.m. weekends; jimmysno43 .com

ILLUSTRATIONS: JILL CALDER; PHOTO COURTESY OF JIMMY’S NO. 43

4. BOARD A TRAIN IN BLOOMINGDALE’S.

EAT, DRINK AND BE EAST VILLAGE MERRY.


Inspire a sense of adventure with the gift of Lonely Planet With authentic storytelling and beautiful photography, each issue is filled with fascinating characters, memorable landscapes and unique experiences. Give a gift today and let a fellow traveler see why Lonely Planet is the world’s most trusted travel resource.

Return the card or visit lonelyplanet.com/usmagazine/giftnow


globetrotter

Amazing Places to Stay

WITH TECHNOLOGY

VIRGIN HOTEL ÿ CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

won’t be surprised at everything that Virgin’s hotel brand has to offer. Control your entire experience with their Lucy app: check in via barcode, adjust your room’s temperature from anywhere within the hotel, use your mobile device as a TV remote control, order room service, request housekeeping items and chat with the concierge. PLUS // Virgin has patented their Lounge Bed, which

features an ergonomically designed padded headboard and a corner seat – helping guests work on the go. They also have done away with fees for early check-in and late checkout. Look for Virgin Hotels to open in Dallas, Nashville and New York City next. From $225; virginhotels.com Terminal 1 connecting tunnel at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport

14

LONELY PLANET / Spring 2016

MICHAEL WEBER/ ROBERT HARDING; INSET PHOTO: ANTHONY TAHLIER

TECH-SAVVY TOOLS: Those familiar with Virgin Airlines


N l U a F e r h c a e B

Enjoy no matter what we’re doing. can’t help but have a blast, just we ch Bea City a am In Pan land adventures. Come to or explore one of our many ch bea ul utif bea of s mile playing on our r spring getaway today. AL. FUN. BEACH. Plan you PCB and see why we’re the RE

VisitPanamaCityBeach.com


globetrotter

ELECTRONICALLY ADJUSTABLE BEDS, IPADS AND MARBLE BATHROOMS WITH “SMART” GLASS WALLS AND FOGFREE MIRRORS WITH HIDDEN TVS ARE JUST SOME OF THE AMENITIES YOU’LL ADJUST TO QUICKHENN-NA HOTEL ÿ NAGASAKI, JAPAN

LY AT ECCLESTON

TECH-SAVVY TOOLS: “Domo

arigato, Mr. Roboto.” While tips to the staff aren’t necessary, you might be inspired to offer that specific thank-you to the desk clerk at Japan’s new Henn-na (Strange) Hotel, the world’s first hotel staffed entirely by robots. In addition to three “warm and friendly”

multilingual front desk robots – including a dinosaur and a female android – the property has porter, bag check and in-room concierge robots. PLUS // Other high-tech features include facial recognition for room entry and in-room tablet terminals for accessing hotel information and controlling room features. The 72-room hotel, which opened in 2015 on the grounds of theme park Huis Ten Bosch (House in the Forest), plans to double its number of rooms this year. From $75; h-n-h.jp/en

ECCLESTON SQUARE HOTEL ÿ LONDON, ENGLAND TECH-SAVVY TOOLS:

Once the residence of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Victoria, the hotel is now run by 20-something hotelier Olivia Byrne and her younger brother, James, so it’s no surprise that the hotel is a millennial’s dream. Electronically adjustable beds, iPads and marble bathrooms with “smart” glass walls and fog-free mirrors with hidden TVs are just some of the amenities you’ll adjust to quickly during your stay.

PLUS // Additional perks include afternoon tea brought to your room, L’Occitane products and access to the private Eccleston Square garden, opposite the hotel. There’s also a new menu by chef Didar Papito for the restaurant Bistrot on the Square. From $175; ecclestonsquarehotel.com

16

LONELY PLANET / Spring 2016

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: DALIM; COURTESY OF ECCLESTON SQUARE HOTEL; COURTESY OF HENN-NA HOTEL

SQUARE


A STAY AT THE SOL HOUSE MEANS ENGAGING WITH SOCIAL MEDIA. YOU CAN USE THE TWITTER-BASED CONCIERGE TO BOOK BEAUTY TREATMENTS AND RESERVE BALI BEDS AND SUNBEDS IN THE CRAWFORD HOTEL ÿ DENVER, COLORADO TECH-SAVYY TOOLS:

Open since 2014, the Crawford Hotel sits inside Denver’s famed Union Station, a National Historic Landmark. There’s no

19th-century infrastructure here, however: each room is equipped with an iPad mini, which can call your car around,

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: ELLEN JASKOL; COURTESY OF SOL HOUSE TRINIDAD

order room service and serve as a guide to Union Station’s more than 600 pieces of Colorado art. The Tesla courtesy car is a 21st-century update, although those who prefer a more throwback approach can take one of the hotel’s bamboo bikes. PLUS // Complimentary Wi-Fi will keep you

plugged in, and the in-room spa and salon services help the most time-crunched to multitask like a pro. A standard noon checkout time keeps those who spent the wee hours by the glow of a device snoozing just a little longer. From $275; thecrawfordhotel.com

ALOFT CUPERTINO ÿ CUPERTINO, CALIFORNIA

THE VIP POOL AREA.

TECH-SAVVY TOOLS: Home

to Apple Inc. and other high-tech companies, Cupertino is ground zero for technology innovation. Aloft Cupertino doesn’t disappoint: Botlr, the hotel’s robotic butler, is on call to deliver toothbrushes, newspapers and other amenities. Botlr accepts Tweeted compliments and will stop to take selfies. Aloft also employs a Botler at nearby Aloft Silicon Valley in Newark, California. PLUS // The hotels’ parent

company, Starwood, is integrating technology into all of its brands; recent innovations include a mobile keyless entry system and in-room Apple TV services. From $149; alofthotels.com

SOL HOUSE TRINIDAD ÿ MALLORCA, SPAIN TECH-SAVVY TOOLS:

Get tweety with it! A stay at the Sol House means engaging with social media. You can use the Twitter-based concierge to book beauty treatments and reserve Bali beds and sunbeds in the VIP pool area. There’s a tweet wall in the main lobby where mentions and hashtags of the hotel come together to create an interactive piece of art.

PLUS // Producer/DJ Carlos Jean has curated Spotify play-

lists – titled “Bacon and Eggs,” “Siesta” and “Pre-Party” – specifically for the hotel. If you’re looking to shake it off, this is your spot. From $172, including breakfast; melia.com Spring 2016

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Arriva

globetrotter

T RAV E L N E WS

Art Talk

Olympic Update

SFMOMA REOPENS

Rio 2016 by the Numbers

After a massive, seven-year renovation, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will reopen May 14 with nearly three times the space. Highlights of the expansion include the new 15,000-square-foot

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is gearing up for the Olympic Games, August 5–21. It’s the first time that the world’s biggest sporting event has been staged in South America. Here’s Rio’s Olympic breakdown:

Pritzker Center for Photography and chef Corey Lee’s newest restaurant, In Situ (sfmoma.org).

7.5 MILLION SPECTATOR TICKETS,

OFF THE TEE / JAZZ IT UP DURING THE MASTERS If you find yourself in Augusta, Georgia, during Masters Week (April 4–10), check out Jazz Masters, a pop-up jazz club downtown. Two nightly shows, running April 5–9, will provide a boisterous end to an evening after all the quiet on the greenway. RSVP suggested (from $7; gardencityjazz.com).

Did You Know? WESTIN WINS AT FITNESS For a flat fee of $5, select Westin Hotels will lend you

a pair of New Balance shoes and workout clothing, including a pair of socks you can keep. The two brands have teamed up to create the RunWestin program, featuring 3- to 5-mile running routes in select cities. Join one of their Run Concierge groups, or use one of their maps and hit the pavement at your own pace (westinwellbeing .starwoodpromos.com).

18

LONELY PLANET / Spring 2016

available in the United States and Canada through cosport.com

28 SPORTS

42

DISCIPLINES including the return of golf and rugby

10,500 ATHLETES

including any refugee athletes, who for the first time will be allowed to compete in the games

206

NATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEES

introducing South Sudan and Kosovo for the first time

12,000

TORCHBEARERS will carry the torch across the country; the torch relay begins April 3 in Olympia, Greece

90 DAYS

(between June 1 and September 18), how long U.S. and Canadian citizens can visit Brazil without a visa this year

ILLUSTRATIONS: JILL CALDER; RENDERING: STEELBLUE, COURTESY OF SFMOMA

Pictured: SFMOMA’s new Snøhetta-designed stair (view from Third Street entrance) shown here with previous atrium art installation by Sol LeWitt


ls

NEW TO MARKET AWAY WE GO! TRANSPORT HUB

From two former Warby Parker execs comes the smart luggage brand Away. Their first piece, a hard-sided carry-on, features a TSA-approved lock, four spinner wheels and a built-in battery charger for devices – just the upgrade you’ve been looking for. The luggage has the design and integrity of luxury competitors, but comes at a fraction of the price in four airport-ready colors (from $225; awaytravel.com).

THE BUSES OF THE FUTURE

,

If you’re traveling in Sion Switzerland, look out for self-driving, electric-powered PostBuses around town. The bright-yellow nine-passenger shuttles will service tourist zones during a two-year test period starting this spring.

Celebrate

NATIONAL PARK FEVER Get in gratis to all 409 National Park Service properties during National Park Week, April 16–24. Tag the NPS on social media sites with #FindYourPark to be featured on

Airline News / NOW BOARDING Lufthansa will begin flying nonstop from Denver to Munich, Germany, in May.

United Airlines will begin daily nonstop flights between Nashville and San Francisco, and Jet Blue will return to Nashville, with daily nonstop flights to Boston and Fort Lauderdale, in May. Icelandic budget airline Wow Air will begin Los Angeles and San Francisco flights to Reykjavík this summer.

Southwest is opening a year-round, nonstop route between St. Louis and Seattle in May.

American Airlines is flying from Chicago O’Hare to Albany,

findyourpark.com.

N.Y., three times daily, starting in March.

(nationalparks.org /national-park-week).

On Repeat / Get ready to get down – it’s officially

FESTIVAL SEASON music festival season. Here are a few dates of note: Coachella / Indio, California

April 15Ð17 and April 22Ð24

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival / New Orleans, Louisiana

April 22ÐMay 1

SunFest / West Palm

Stagecoach Festival /

Hangout Music Festival /

Beach, Florida

Indio, California

April 27ÐMay 1

April 29ÐMay 1

Gulf Shores, Alabama

May 20Ð22

You can now explore many of the world’s top cities with LONELY PLANET’S NEW GUIDES APP. Available for iOS and Android, the free app features 38 city guides (and counting), with content curated by our experts, who give on-the-ground advice to help you discover your destination. Guides has offline maps, activity filters, “near me” features, bookmark functions and essential tips in cities including Rome, London, Chicago, New Orleans, Shanghai and Prague (lonely planet.com/guides). Spring 2016

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globetrotter

Inside Knowledge CRUISING TIPS /

Cruising expert JASON LEPPERT (popularcruising.com) has set sail over 85 times. Here, he shares advice for getting the most out of your on-shore time.

If you have

4

on shore...

hrs

BE RIB CA

AND YO U’

OCEAN CRUISE IN N A TH ON E E R

“If there are any unforeseen delays, only trips arranged with the cruise line are able to hold the ship’s departure time for you,” Leppert says.

AN DO IT ON YOUR OWN • Explore the port’s local convention and visitors bureau (bahamas.com, for example) for supported tours and guides. • Visit lonelyplanet.com for destination highlights, and then prioritize what’s most important to you. 

GO WITH THE CRUISE LINE • To maximize your time ashore, prebook tours via the cruise line’s website before your departure date; reference the cruise line’s provided shore excursion guide. • Use a free mobile app like Norwegian Cruise Line’s iConcierge to reserve shore excursions on the fly.

LONELY PLANET / Spring 2016

“Unlike on most ocean sailings, shore excursions are often included in the river cruise fare, so take advantage of a complimentary hosted tour,” Leppert says.

DO IT ON YOUR OWN • Pick up one of Lonely Planet’s pocket guides to major European river cities, such as Stockholm, Rome or Paris.

GO WITH THE CRUISE LINE • Travel in style; Viking River Cruises, for example, has branded fleets of motor coaches to take you where you want to go.

• Seek out a crew member from your chosen city and ask for their top recommendations.

• With the onboard concierge, arrange a private tour that is specifically suited to seeing just the sites that interest you.

ILLUSTRATIONS: POP CHART LAB

AN DY 20

PE RO

A RIVER CRUISE N O IN E ’RE U U O


8

on shore...

hrs

MEONE ELSE TO O S PLA NT A W

YOU OR NF

AND YO U

If you have

FOR A HALF DAY • Start with a guided overview of the destination and then branch out on your own to grab a bite to eat or do some shopping. • Wander on your own in the morning to get an unspoiled taste of local life, then fill in the facts with an afternoon tour.

FOR A WHOLE DAY • Consult with the shore excursions desk while onboard to customize your full day experience; plan either a single eight-hour tour or two half-day tours. • Be flexible and have a backup plan, because some popular excursions sell out in advance.

AND Y

OR CT

PLAY CRUIS NT TO ED A W IRE OU

ON THE FLY • A GPS-powered app like Where To? can help take the guesswork out of what to do, helping you find nearby restaurants, shops, services and more.

IN ADVANCE • Check out forums such as Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree (lonelyplanet .com/thorntree) or TravBuddy.com to browse or start a discussion on the destination.

• Sign up for an app like Badoo, where you can chat with locals in the vicinity who might offer suggestions.

• Look to region-specific blogs such as UncommonCaribbean.com, and don’t be afraid to comment or ask questions! Bloggers are notorious for being responsive to their readers. Spring 2016

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globetrotter

Pack & Play

Families travel together now more than ever. Here are essentials to take on your next road trip or plane ride.

Hydro Flask 12-oz. bottle, $21.99 (hydroflask.com). BPA-free stainless steel with a powder finish, these bottles keep beverages temperatureregulated all day and are ideal for small hands. The Honest Co. four-pack wipes, $3.95 (honest.com). These plant-based natural wipes keep kids clean and are gentle enough for minor sticky spills.

IDEAL FOR SMALL HANDS

Olympus Stylus Tough TG-870 digital camera, $279.99 (getolympus.com).

Kikkerland Booklight Clothespin, $8 (kikkerland .com). This battery-operated book light is a great alternative to interior lights; it can also

WATERPROOF SHOCKPROOF FREEZEPROOF DUSTPROOF CRUSHPROOF . . . KIDPROOF

double as a miniflashlight.

Red Arrow Yucca Mat, $79 (fawnandcub.com). A cool diaper changing mat keeps your car clean and can be shoved out of the way under the seat, freeing up storage space.

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In Dallas, you never know when inspiration will strike—because this is a city where anything is possible and every moment is BIG. Home to the nation’s largest urban arts district complete with contemporary museums, world-renowned performance halls and more, it’s a place full of unforgettable memories waiting to be made. It all starts at VisitDallas.com.


globetrotter

Pack & Play

Torrentshell Jacket, $79 (patagonia .com). Made from 100 percent recycled nylon, this wind- and rainproof jacket will keep your little one dry in a surprise deluge — and toasty, thanks to handwarming pockets.

WINDAND RAINPROOF

Munchkin Arm & Hammer Diaper Bag Dispenser, $4 (munchkin.com). Clip this onto any carry-on for easy, hands-free access to dispose of dirty diapers. Belkin Rockstar, $14.99 (belkin.com). Keep fights about tablet control from forming by using this

five-way headphone splitter.

Fjallraven Kanken Mini Backpack, $65 (fjallraven.us). Suitable for a small back, this

iconic backpack can convert to a bag and comes with a removable seat pad.

VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX, $64.99 (vtechkids.com). Packed with games and activities, plus a ton of memory for photos and videos, this touch-screen watch will keep kids very happy.

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globetrotter

what to eat in seattle

ACCLAIMED CHEF ZOI ANTONITSAS TAKES US ON A TOUR OF HER HOMETOWN’S ECLECTIC FOOD SCENE, FROM FARMS, FOOD TRUCKS AND TAVERNS TO THE BEST BRUNCH, FINE DINING AND ETHNIC RESTAURANTS. BY LAUREN FINNEY PHOTOGRAPHS BY JODY HORTON


westward’s braised anderson ranch lamb shoulder with onion salad, tzatziki and pomegranate molasses


globetrotter

MY GOAL IS TO TAKE FLAVORS AND INGREDIENTS – SOME OF WHICH MAY BE FAMILIAR, SOME WHICH MAY NOT – AND COMBINE THEM WITH LOCAL PRODUCTS OF THE AREA TO CREATE A NEW TYPE OF CONTEMPORARY CUISINE.

clockwise from top left: crispy braised pork belly with burnt and raw celeriac, cauliflower mushrooms, pickled celery and mushroom vinegar at sitka & spruce; chef zoi; fish market at pike place market; seattle skyline

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Chef Zoi Antonitsas is no stranger to the Seattle food scene. In fact, the former Top Chef contestant is a native of the Emerald City and began her career there. From 2013 to 2015, she served as executive chef at Westward (westwardseattle.com), on the north shore of Lake Union, which was named one of America’s best new restaurants by Bon Appétit in 2014, and last year, she was named one of Food and Wine’s Best New Chefs. Since leaving Westward, where her seafood-focused menu featured a mix of Mediterranean and Pacific Northwest dishes, Antonitsas has continued to honor her Greek roots. Late last year she began collaborating with meze spot Omega Ouzeri (omegaouzeri.com), acting as executive chef and manager. “I’ve been helping [restaurateur] Thomas Soukakos with everything from the kitchen and the menu to the front of house; it’s been a very complete partnership,” Antonitsas says. While she’s happy exploring her culinary heritage and creating contemporary Mediterranean cuisine at Omega Ouzeri, she also is actively pursuing opening her own restaurant in the near future. She’s plenty busy, but took time to share with us her favorite places to eat and drink in Seattle. Just down the street from Westward is Al’s Tavern (206-545-9959). “Al’s is a place to order beers and shots only,” she says. “It’s not fancy. They also have a nice bag of nuts and tater tots that take 45 minutes to cook in a toaster oven that looks 100 years old!” Another option is Kate’s Pub (206-547-6832). “They’re both just really laid-back joints, not hip or anything.” One of her local farm favorites is Hayton Farms (haytonfarmsberries.com), a berry farm on Fir Island. “They’re friends of the family. My mom has a house in the Skagit Valley that is next door to theirs, so they always bring us tons of berries in the summertime. In late spring, I get super excited for their green strawberries.” She loves to get radishes and “lovely little lettuces” from Local Roots (localrootsfarm .com), a family-run vegetable farm about 20 miles outside Seattle, in the Snoqualmie Valley. “We eat lots and lots of beautiful salads and my radishes with goat butter and smoked butter are wonderful,” Antonitsas says. Given the chance to splurge on fine dining, Antonitsas is partial to The Inn at Langley (innatlangley.com), where chef Matt Costello “curates an incredible prix fixe meal that feels super-personal. Most ingredients are sourced from Whidbey Island [where the restaurant is],” she says. “It’s really a special place, and I go there for special occasions whenever possible.” She also favors small plates destination Sitka & Spruce. “The chefs are putting together really inspired combinations that are very special and unique to this area, yet somehow feel as though they have always been paired together. Each ingredient is handled with care and love, and you can really taste it,” she says. One standout dish there is pickled smelt with yogurt and rose petals – “Incredible!”

ZOI’S TOP SEATTLE SPOTS

Best Healthy Eats Juice Box

1517 12th Ave., Suite 100

juiceboxseattle.com Superb Service Canlis 2576 Aurora Ave. N.

canlis.com Tastiest Pho Pho Bac 1809 Minor Ave.

thephobac.com For Wine Lovers Bottle House 1416 34th Ave.

bottlehouseseattle.com Italian Eats La Medusa 4857 Rainier Ave. S.

lamedusarestaurant.com For Oysters The Walrus and the Carpenter 4743 Ballard Ave. NW

thewalrusbar.com Most Creative Cocktails Babirusa 2236 Eastlake Ave. E.

blindpigbistro.com /babirusa

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ETHNIC, BRUNCH AND HOME COOKING

Seattle is a huge

melting pot, with many Asian immigrants settling in the coastal hub. “I remember eating Asian food as a very young child,” Antonitsas says. “My dad used to go to this little hole-in-the-wall corner store to get fresh tofu, and he would fry it for breakfast with soy sauce.” Her Asian favorites now include Sushi Kappo Tamura (sushikappo tamura.com), Tamarind Tree (tamarindtreerestaurant.com) and Saigon Deli (206-322-3700), but when she’s craving ethnic food, she’s most likely to be found ordering Mexican bites from food truck Tacos El Asadero (206722-9977). Brunch is a big deal in Seattle. Antonitsas thinks it should be all about the food and drinks. “My preferred brunch is something that’s bright and clean, with wonderful seafood dishes like oysters, pâtés and perfect tartines,” paired with champagne or mimosas. You can find her frequently at Café Presse (cafepresseseattle.com) on Capitol Hill and Matt’s in the Market (mattsinthemarket.com) at Pike Place Market. When it comes to cooking at home, Antonitsas looks toward her Greek heritage. “I adore the flavors of Greece and the Mediterranean in general,” she says. “My goal is to take flavors and ingredients – some of which may be familiar, some which may not – and combine them with local products of the area to create a new type of contemporary cuisine.” Every year, her family has a big Greek Easter party. “It’s like American Christmas. It’s our biggest holiday of the year, and we spit roast a whole lamb and eat tons of meze, drink wine and ouzo, and party with Greek music in the background.” When pushed to name her favorite food, though, she lights up when talking about roast chicken. “It was the first thing I learned to cook,” she remembers, “and it just reminds me of home. It’s so easy and super delicious, and one of my favorite smells.” She’s quick to remind, though, that she also loves eating local, which in Seattle means fresh seafood. “Oysters, clams, mussels, crab, urchin,

geoduck, octopus. . . . We are very lucky to live in a place that’s so abundant with glorious, fresh food, and I feel super lucky to be in a city that’s so open to growth and experimentation. It’s the wild west, after all!”

clockwise from top left: oysters, the walrus & the carpenter; marigold & mint florist, melrose market; baguette at café presse; the walrus & the carpenter bar; brisket noodle soup, mike’s noodle house


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easy trips QUICK ESCAPES FOR SPRING

PHOTO: BROWN CANNON III, INTERESECTION PHOTO

Ready for a spring adventure? No-hassle getaways to help you bid farewell to winter Featuring San Diego, California Toronto, Ontario Isla Mujeres, Mexico Charleston, South Carolina and more!

Caption goes here caption caption caption caption PHOTO CREDIT GOES HERE

// Sunset Cliffs, Ocean Beach, San Diego. A city ordinance against cliff jumping isn’t always a deterrent at Sunset Cliffs, where locals have been jumping for decades.


easy trips Toronto, Ontario

WALK ON THE EDGE // TOUR THE SKIES // THROW AN AX

PUMP UP THE ADRENALINE Surprise! Canada’s largest city has plenty for thrill-seekers.

With its towering skyscrapers and 5.5 million residents, TORONTO is known as a center of commerce and culture, but it also has a variety of activities for adventure-seekers. Whether you’re an extreme adrenaline junkie or just looking for a little rush, Ontario’s capital has thrills aplenty. Knock this off your bucket list: walk 1,168 feet above ground – that’s 116 stories – around the roof of one North America’s tallest buildings. At the CN Tower’s EdgeWalk ($195; edgewalkcntower.ca), daredevils get harnessed in and take a 30-minute, “handsfree” walk around a 5-foot-wide ledge. It only lasts about eight minutes, but a tour with Toronto Heli Tours will be eight minutes of pure adrenaline 2,000 feet in the air. Tours start at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport; you’ll fly over the city’s most iconic buildings, including the CN Tower, at speeds averaging 100 miles per hour (from $99; helitours.ca). If you prefer being closer to the ground, try your hand at ax throwing (batlgrounds.com), or feel the wind in your hair during an electric bike ride on Toronto’s shoreline (ezriders.ca/rentals).

FOR STUNNING SCENIC VIEWS, VISIT THE SCARBOROUGH BLUFFS, A 9-MILE STRETCH OF GLACIAL CLIFFS ALONG THE LAKE

See Lonely Planet’s Canada guidebook and seetoronto now.com for more information.

ONTARIO SHORE, IN THE EAST END OF TORONTO.

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If you can get a flight into Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, on Air Canada or regional airline Porter (flyporter.com), take it. The airport, on Toronto Island, gives you traffic-free access to Toronto: it’s a short walk through a pedestrian tunnel or a hop on a ferry to the city proper.

To be in the middle of it all, you’ll have to pony up. Try Le Germain Hotel (from $250; germaintoronto.com), a boutique hotel in the central entertainment district, or trendy Thompson Toronto (from $229; thomp sonhotels.com).

You’ll have to work for your meal with the Culinary Adventure Company. A chef guides guests in a wooden canoe (you have to help row) to the Toronto Islands and prepares a gourmet picnic there. On the way back, enjoy the stunning view of the Toronto night skyline ($149 per person; culinaryadventureco.com).

LONELY PLANET / Spring 2016

RON ERWIN/GETTY IMAGES

Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto


easy trips TAKE A STROLL // TRY A ZIP LINE // SNORKLE AT A REMOTE SANCTUARY Isla Mujeres, Mexico

UNPLUG & UNWIND

Do Mexico during spring break – without the spring breakers.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: CLAUDIA URIPOS / ESTOCK PHOTO; SHUTTERSTOCK / EDDY GALEOTTI

Just a 25-minute ferry ride from touristy Cancún lies ISLA MUJERES (the Island of Women). This oasis offers a much more low-key experience than you’ll find at the mainland’s hotel zone (aka ground zero for spring break revelers). On Isla Mujeres you can bask in warm, shallow waters, go snorkeling, visit Mayan ruins or do nothing at all. Head to Playa Norte (North Beach), the island’s main beach, for sparkling, electric-blue waters and a crushed coral beach. Playa Lancheros (Boatman’s Beach), on the west side of the island, is another option and sometimes has free musical events on Sundays. Take a tranquil stroll to Punta Sur on the southern tip of the island to see a romantic lighthouse and Ixchel ruins (about $1.75 admission), or try your hand at the over-the-water zip line at Garrafon Natural Reef Park (about $60; garrafon.com). Even more remote is Isla Contoy, a national park about 19 miles north of Isla Mujeres that allows only 200 daily visitors. The island is a sanctuary for more than 150 bird species and is a nesting place for sea turtles, while the nearby Ixlache Reef is teeming with marine life. Snorkeling tours can be booked through the Fisherman’s Cooperative Booth on Isla Mujeres (about $50 per person).

AT ISLA MUJERES TURTLE FARM, 3 MILES SOUTH OF TOWN, YOU CAN SEE ENDANGERED SEA TURTLES IN VARIOUS STAGES OF GROWTH AND LEARN ABOUT THE ISLAND’S EFFORTS TO PROTECT THEM. YOU CAN ALSO SEE OTHER OCEAN CREATURES, INCLUDING BABY

See Lonely Planet’s Mexico guidebook for more information.

The reef surrounding El Farito lighthouse is a popular snorkeling site. Below: Playa Norte

SEAHORSES ($1.75 ADMISSION).

GET THERE

STAY

DO

Most major airlines fly to Cancún International Airport, with airport shuttles, buses, taxis and vans running to downtown ($2–$30). Passenger ferries from Cancún to Isla Mujeres depart from several locations, including El Embarcadero, Playa Tortugas and Playa Caracol. Ferry rates run about $4 to $7.50 per person.

Na Balam Hotel (from $75; nabalam.com) has 31 rooms, many facing Playa Norte, and offers yoga and meditation classes. The large, oceanfront Hotel Playa La Media Luna (from $195; playamedialuna.com) offers many traditional hotel services but maintains an intimate feeling.

Bikes are a great way to get around the island, with prices starting at about $7 a day. Golf carts are also a popular way to travel and can be rented for about $36 a day.

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easy trips San Diego, California

CELEBRATE A CENTENNIAL // EXPLORE HISTORY // LET THE KIDS CREATE

FAMILY FUN IN AMERICA’S FINEST CITY It’s always sunny in SoCal, and that can make even the grumpiest teen smile.

Looking for a place that has balmy 70-degree weather most of the year and lots of familyfriendly attractions? SAN DIEGO, self-dubbed “America’s Finest City,” has something to please everyone. Visit the world-famous San Diego Zoo (sandiego zoo.org), which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Special centennial events will take place throughout the year, including a community celebration May 21. History buffs will enjoy the Maritime Museum (sdmaritime.org), easily recognizable by the 100-foot-high masts of the iron-hulled Star of India, which dates to 1863. Last summer, the San Salvador, a replica of the galleon that explorer Juan Cabrillo sailed into San Diego Bay in 1542, was unveiled at the museum’s dock. Other historic sites include the Old Town State Historic Park (parks .ca.gov) and the San Diego Natural History Museum (sdnhm.org), both kid-friendly. Kids can run rampant at the New Children’s Museum (thinkplaycreate.org) downtown. They can also create art, enjoy performances and participate in workshops. The museum features interactive artworks created by leading contemporary artists.

FOR A TRADITIONAL BEACH EXPERIENCE FULL OF POTENTIAL PLAYMATES FOR THE KIDS, HEAD

For more on San Diego, see Lonely Planet’s California guidebook and sandiego.org.

TO SHELL BEACH IN NEARBY LA JOLLA OR 15TH STREET BEACH IN DEL MAR.

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There are daily flights to and from San Diego International Airport, which sits just 3 miles west of downtown and is served by most major U.S. and Canadian airlines. Bus 992 ($2.25) runs every 15 minutes between the airport and downtown. Taxi fare is about $15.

The Hotel del Coronado (from $425; hotel del.com) is one of the world’s most famous hotels, thanks in part to its appearance in the 1959 Marilyn Monroe comedy Some Like it Hot. If your kids like spooky stories, this might be the place for them: rumor has it a ghost has inhabited the hotel since 1892.

The 32nd Mission Federal Art Walk will take place April 30–May 1, filling 15 blocks in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood with music, dance and interactive art (artwalksandiego .org). More than 300 artists will show and sell their work at the event.

LONELY PLANET / Spring 2016

© G. CAM / ESTOCK PHOTO

Koala bear at the San Diego Zoo


easy trips Charleston, South Carolina

DISCOVER GULLAH CULTURE // SAVOR NEW DISHES // LISTEN TO THE MUSIC

TOUR FOUR HISTORIC CHURCHES

A NEW PERSPECTIVE

ON THE GATEWAY WALK. ONE TOUR

Experience the vibrant culture and Southern charm of this foodie favorite.

STOP IS CIRCULAR CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, WHICH

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: RON ROCZ/GETTY IMAGES; COURTESY OF ZERO GEORGE; ANDREW CEBULKA COURTESY OF HUSK RESTAURANT

Its history, food and Southern graciousness are what make CHARLESTON one of the world’s favorite cities. Take a fresh look at one of the South’s most popular destinations.

PRESENTS THE WEEKLY “SOUND OF CHARLESTON” PRODUCTION

After you’ve taken in the usual sites, such as Rainbow Row, the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon and Old Slave Mart Museum, head out to discover Charleston through the eyes of the native low country people, the Gullahs, on a Gullah Tour ($18; gullahtours .com), where you can visit sites such as The Whipping House and Catfish Row. Charleston boasts acclaimed restaurants such as Husk (huskrestaurant.com), the Obstinate Daughter (theobstinatedaughter.com) and The Macintosh (themacintoshcharleston.com), but there also are excellent lesser-known spots to try. Two, for starters: Poogan’s Porch (poogansporch.com) turns out solid low-country dishes in a casual setting, and Xiao Bao Biscuit (xiaobao-biscuit.com) is a delicious anomaly of Vietnamese and classic Southern cuisine. The Zac Brown Band’s Southern Ground Music & Food Festival (southerngroundfestival.com), April 16–17, is your chance to enjoy live (mostly country) music while dining on artisan food.

(SOUNDOFCHARLES TON.COM), FEATUR-

ING JAZZ, GOSPEL, CIVIL WAR SONGS AND MORE.

For more on Charleston, see our Discover USA travel guide and charlestoncvb.com.

Clockwise from top left: Historic houses overlooking Charleston Harbor // outside Zero George // oysters at Husk Restaurant

GET THERE

STAY

SEE

Charleston International Airport has added more direct flights in recent years, but connecting in Charlotte or Atlanta are viable options as well. The airport is 12 miles from downtown and is best reachable by taxi or the North Area Shuttle, the NASH ($3 per person per trip). A rental car isn’t a necessity if you plan to stay downtown.

VBRO and Airbnb are popular options in Charleston. These services can make your dreams of staying in a charming converted carriage house come true. If you prefer a hotel, try the new Zero George (from $289; zerogeorge.com), a carriage house complex offering 18 nicely appointed studios and suites downtown.

View the sparkling jewel of the low country from a new vantage point when you take in a sunset at Remley’s Point in Mount Pleasant, just across the bridge. Take note of the church steeples that dot Charleston’s skyline. The many houses of worship, and its history of religious tolerance, earned Charleston the nickname the Holy City.

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easy trips BROWSE GALLERIES & MUSEUMS // ENJOY STANDOUT RESTAURANTS Winter Park, Florida IF YOU’RE HEADING TO CENTRAL FLORIDA,

CENTRAL FLORIDA ARTS DETOUR

CHANCES ARE YOU’RE GOING FOR THE

This pedestrian-friendly suburb harbors some of the Sunshine State’s best-kept secrets.

IF YOU CAN FIND THE TIME TO TAKE

The cozy college town of WINTER PARK is a good spot to while away the hours engaging in understated pleasantries, like sipping coffee at nice cafés and browsing the latest arts walks and gallery showcases.

A BREAK FROM WALT DISNEY WORLD AND UNIVERSAL ORLANDO, HEAD TO THE ARTS- AND

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of Tiffany lead-glass lamps and windows, plus art pottery and late 19th- and early 20th-century American paintings and more (morsemuseum.org). Scattered through the grounds of the stately Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens are the works of Czech sculptor Albin Polasek. The small yellow villa perched on the shore of Lake Osceola was the artist’s home (polasek.org). The tiny Cornell Fine Arts Museum, on the campus of Rollins College, houses an eclectic collection of American and European art (rollins.edu/cfam). Winter Park is home to several popular culture and arts festivals, including the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival (wpsaf.org), one of America’s most prestigious outdoor art festivals, which attracts more than 300,000 visitors each March, and the Autumn Art Festival (autumnartfestival.org) in October.

CULTURE-FILLED CITY OF WINTER PARK, JUST NORTH OF ORLANDO.

For more information, see Lonely Planet’s Discover Florida and visit cityofwinterpark.org.

Clockwise from top left: The Tiffany wing of the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art // Pork porterhouse at the Ravenous Pig // Winter Park scenic boat tour

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Winter Park is just 7 miles north of Orlando. From Orlando, take I-4 east to W. Fairbanks Avenue and continue to S. Park Avenue. Orlando is served by two international airports: Orlando International Airport, 12 miles east of downtown Orlando, and the much smaller Sanford International Airport, 30 miles north.

Brick walls, wood floors, antiques and white cotton bedding give every room at the two-story Park Plaza Hotel (from $149; park plazahotel.com) a simple elegance. Built in 1922, this is Winter Park’s oldest and only downtown hotel.

The cornerstone of Orlando’s locally sourced restaurant trend, the Ravenous Pig (the ravenouspig.com) lives up to its reputation for creative, delicious food. Sip a bacon-infused bourbon old-fashioned and munch a plate of gruyère biscuits while you wait for your shrimp and grits, lobster taco or burger with truffle-oil fries.

LONELY PLANET / Spring 2016

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: COURTESY OF CITY OF WINTER PARK COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT; COURTESY OF RAVENOUS PIG; COURTESY OF VISIT ORLANDO

THEME PARKS. BUT


Collect stories, not selfies. You won’t remember the time you spent staring at your screen, but you’ll never forget your time with us in Hawaii. 866·774·2924 | astonhotels.com


easy trips San Juan, Puerto Rico

MUSEUM-HOP // DINE AT TOP RESTAURANTS // UNWIND WITH THE LOCALS

SAY SI TO SANTURCE

Eat, drink and dance in the streets in this urban arts and culture district.

Not far from San Juan’s main tourist area, the revitalized SANTURCE NEIGHBORHOOD offers arts, culture and a bustling nightlife scene. Most of the activity revolves around Plaza del Mercado – “La Placita” as locals call it – a small square featuring restaurants, bars, cafés and a  market that sets up camp after dawn, with vendors hawking everything from fresh fruit to handmade goods.

LATE IN THE WEEK, OFFICE WORKERS ROLL INTO LA PLACITA TO UNWIND, BOUNCING FROM SPOT TO SPOT

If you’re looking to gain some cultural awareness between parties, Santurce offers it in spades. The Museum of Art of Puerto Rico (mapr.org) is the largest art museum in the Caribbean, with 130,000 square feet of space, complete with a celebrated sculpture garden containing more than 100,000 plants. Nearby is the Puerto Rico Museum of Contemporary Art (mac-pr.org) and the Luis A. Ferré Performing Arts Center (cba.gobierno.pr). The food scene ranges from the small, vibrant Abracadabra Counter Café (abracadabracounter cafe.com) to the more upscale Santaella (santaella pr.com). Situated close to La Placita, Santaella is pricey but worth the dollars for dishes with influences drawing from Spain, India and Africa. Closer in toward Condado is Cocina Abierta (cocina abierta.net) from Argentina-born, French- and Italian-trained Martin Louzao, whose menu of small plates is divided into acts, featuring updates on classics such as croquetas and a duck confit mofongo topped with duck consommé.

IN A GIANT PARTY THAT CAN LAST FOR HOURS AND OFTEN INCLUDES AN IMPROMPTU SALSA BAND.

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More than 20 U.S. airlines offer daily nonstop service to San Juan, from cities including Philadelphia, Boston and Atlanta. You don’t need a passport to enter the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. There’s a fixed-rate cab fare of $15 to Condado, the main beach hub in Santurce, but be prepared to add on extra for things like luggage, service after 10 p.m. and paying by credit card.

Snag a hotel room in Condado, where you’ll be well situated for excursions in town and on the beach. Our favorites include La Concha (from $340; laconcharesort.com), where the lobby is a scene on weekends, and the Coral Princess Hotel (from $152; coralpr.com), a 25-room boutique hotel with all the luxuries of fancier resorts at a fraction of the price.

Funky, small galleries dot the area, and a big draw is the street art. Commissioned by the local artists’ union, some of the murals are 50 feet tall. Look for scenes such as a bison hauling off a cart piled high with fast-food junk, and a cluster of crabs around a computer. While you’re out and about, remember that some areas are safer than others; be aware of your surroundings.

LONELY PLANET / Spring 2016

LAUREN FINNEY

One of the many colorful buildings in Santurce

For more, see Lonely Planet’s Puerto Rico guide and seepuertorico.com.


Discover your

Guides by Lonely Planet Discover more with the world’s most traveled cities at your fingertips. Our city guides help travelers get to the heart of a destination with offline maps, essential information and must-see sights curated by on-the-ground experts.

lonelyplanet.com/guidesapp


easy trips Santa Fe & Taos, New Mexico

TAKE SCENIC DRIVES // VISIT HISTORIC SETTLEMENTS // ENJOY THE OUTDOORS

HIP, HISTORIC SANTA

DRIVE THE HIGH AND LOW ROADS

FE IS KNOWN FOR ITS

Abundant art, history and a rich blend of cultures highlight this unforgettable road trip.

ARTS SCENE AND IS HIKING, MOUNTAIN BIKING, BACKPACKING

Overflowing with art and recreational opportunities, SANTA FE AND TAOS continue to lure artists, writers, hippies and adventurous travelers. Take in stunning landscapes, historic settlements and a mix of Native American, Hispanic and Anglo cultures on a road trip to these two favorite destinations in the American Southwest. Start in Santa Fe, the second oldest city in the United States, and explore the Historic District. Canyon Road, within the district, is a half-mile stretch containing over 100 galleries, boutiques and restaurants. Passport to the Arts, Canyon Road’s art walk and festival, will take place May 6–7. Drive about 30 miles north to Chimayó to visit the small adobe church Santuario de Chimayó. It can’t hurt to rub some of the tierra bendita (holy dirt) on yourself to heal what ails you. Each year during Holy Week (March 20–26 this year), some 30,000 pilgrims walk to Chimayó in the largest Catholic pilgrimage in the United States. Continue on 9 miles to Truchas to get a glimpse of rural New Mexico at its most sincere: unpaved roads, century-old adobes, and fields of grass and alfalfa. From Truchas it’s about 40 miles north to Taos, where snowcapped peaks meet the sage-speckled plateau. Go for the eccentric vibe, excellent restaurants and galleries, visit the Taos Pueblo (one of the oldest communities in the United States), and stay for the sunsets.

AND SKIING. ARTISTS ALSO CONVERGE IN TAOS, BUT THE VIBE IS QUIRKIER, WITH SKI BUMS, OFF-THEGRID EARTHSHIPPERS AND A FEW CELEBRITIES KEEPING THINGS OFFBEAT.

Clockwise from top: Downtown Santa Fe at dusk // San Francisco de Assisi Mission Church, Ranchos de Taos // Church in Chimayó

Visit lonelyplanet.com/usa/santa-fe, santafe.org and taos.org for more information.

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Santa Fe Municipal Airport offers some daily commercial flights, but there are more options through Albuquerque International Sunport, an hour’s drive south. Cars can be rented at both airports. Take Highway 14, the Turquoise Trail, to Santa Fe; it passes through the old mining town of Madrid.

In Santa Fe, try the El Paradero (from $110; el paradero.com), a 200-year-old adobe B&B. At the historic Taos Inn (from $75; taosinn .com), the older rooms – some date to the 19th century – are the most charming.

Time it right and you’ll hit the tail end of spring ski season. Taos Ski Valley (skitaos .org) has more than 100 trails (many ranked expert) and a top-notch ski school. Ski Santa Fe (skisantafe.com) has varied terrain and caters to families and expert skiers alike. Snowfall varies, so check before you go.

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: DENISTANGNEYJ R/GETTY IMAGES; COPYRIGHT © SIEGFRIED TAUQUEUR / ESTOCK PHOTO; COPYRIGHT © SIME / ESTOCK PHOTO

A GREAT BASE FOR


TOP 10 country

Botswana


BROWN W. CANNON III/ INTERSECTION PHOTOS


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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Natchez, Mississippi Yellowstone National Park Birmingham, Alabama Alaska Northwest Arkansas Somerville, Massachusetts San Antonio, Texas Southern New Mexico

BEST in the U.S.2016

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Ready to explore some of the 3.8 million square miles in America’s 50 states? Here are 10 destinations to consider now. Some of them will surprise you.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 2015 Philly was named America’s first World Heritage City, recognizing the city's indelible imprint on American history.

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Visited by Pope Francis last fall, preparing to host the Democratic National Convention in July, and freshly crowned as the United States’ first World Heritage City – joining the likes of Cairo, Paris and Jerusalem – Philly’s on a roll. NYC’s more neighborly neighbor is experiencing a transformation to its urban core, as many American cities are right now. Craft breweries? Check. Hot, new locavore restaurants? Big check. But Philadelphia, known as America’s birthplace, maintains a focus on its American history roots and its uniquely gritty flavor, as well as its affordability – a pleasant surprise for a city so cosmopolitan and accessible. Hands up to the sky, Rocky fans: celebrate the film’s 40th anniversary this year with a sprint up the 72 steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. visitphilly.com lptravel.to/Philly


COPYRIGHT © SIME / ESTOCK PHOTO

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Natchez, Mississippi

One of the oldest continuous settlements on the Mississippi River, beating New Orleans by two years, Natchez is celebrating its 300th anniversary all year long, with over 300 events. Join the tricentennial party August 3, find thrills on the ground and in the air during the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race in October, or attend the December 3 multicultural holiday parade and celebration. Renowned for its collection of well-preserved pre–Civil War homes, the Natchez Spring and Fall Pilgrimages take visitors into local homes – and into the city’s Antebellum past – complete with guides in period garb. visitnatchez.org lptravel.to/Natchez


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Bison along the Firehole River, at Midway Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

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Birmingham, Alabama Could Birmingham be the coolest city in the South? The once industrial Avondale neighborhood east of downtown has transformed, with a surge of pubs, breweries and good eats, like the drool-worthy barbecue and traditional Southern dishes at Saw's Soul Kitchen (sawsbbq.com). Night owls take note: your numerous options include Marty’s PM, a friendly bar packed with comic book art and Star Wars memorabilia and featuring an ecletic live music lineup, and beers in the Garage Café’s backyard junkyard (garagecafe.us). For history buffs, the place to go is the Civil Rights District, notably the Civil Rights Institute, the 16th Street Baptist Church and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. birminghamal.org lptravel.to/Birmingham BOTH PAGES: BROWN W. CANNON III/ INTERSECTION PHOTOS

The National Park Service turns 100 in 2016, and where better to celebrate than where it all began: in the geyser-studded landscape of Yellowstone. The eerily regular Old Faithful geyser, the park’s biggest draw, just got a springy new boardwalk made from recycled tires to accommodate the millions of annual visitors. But with nearly 3,500 square miles of wilderness (mostly in Wyoming), it’s not all about boiling steam vents, bubbling mud pots and psychedelic hot springs. Go wolf-spotting in the Lamar Valley, take a Wild West tour by horseback or stagecoach, zoom through some the country’s best snowmobile territory, and explore the gateway towns, including Gardiner, Montana, all gussied up for the centennial. nps.gov/yell lptravel.to/Yellowstone

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Extremes of Alaska

“The Last Frontier” state is one of the few places in America where you can still get up close to nature’s extremes. 1. Drive the rugged 414-mile Dalton Highway, one of only two roads in North America to cross the Arctic Circle. 2. Explore Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve. For every eight tourists who track north to Denali, only one intrepid traveler tackles this little-known wilderness area. 3. Visit Nome, on the ice-encrusted shores of the Bering Strait. Most visitors arrive in early March to cheer the end of the Iditarod dog-sled race, but dedicated wilderness birders prefer June and November.

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4. Take the summer-only ferry MV Tustumena to the elongated Alaska Peninsula and the barren, windswept Aleutian Islands that lie beyond.

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Alaska Last year during a tour of Alaska, President Obama became the first sitting president to cross the Arctic Circle. Why not follow in his footsteps? If you don’t care to venture quite that far north, visit Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley), North America’s tallest peak. Experienced mountaineers can ascend on foot; others can view the 20,310-foot-high mountain in style from the Denali Star train or bump through the Denali National Park & Preserve by bus. The bittersweet reason to go to Alaska now: glaciers – see them while you still can. Exit Glacier, at Kenai Fjords National Park, receded 187 feet between 2013 and 2014. Also, this year is the 100th anniversary of the death of America’s favorite chronicler of the north, Jack London. Let 2016 be the year you heed the call of the wild. travelalaska.com lptravel.to/Alaska Spring 2016

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Northwest Arkansas This area of the country is a wild surprise, with mountains, crystal blue lakes and green river valleys that could give the Rockies a run for their money. Each town brings a fresh surprise: in one you’ll find religious fundamentalists who outlaw alcohol; the next will have rainbow flags and health food shops; and the next town will harbor both, plus packs of bikers. Fayetteville, home of the University of Arkansas, is an arty bubble with a vibrant literary scene; Bentonville (home of Wal-Mart) is an international town with an array of good eats; and Eureka Springs has a beautiful historic district and access to some of the best hiking in the Ozarks. northwestarkansas.org

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Boston’s hippest neighborhood has moved a few stops up the Orange Line to Somerville. If you’re a cutting-edge restaurant, craft brewery or a secret speakeasy, chances are you’re in Somerville right now. While the Boston area has no shortage of big, grand museums, Somerville museums lean toward quirky, with the hugely popular Museum of Bad Art and the Tiny Museum, in the running for the world’s smallest. Somerville festivals are one-of-a-kind, including the Fluff Festival in September, a celebration of the local, world-altering invention of Marshmallow Fluff, and Honk!, a festival of socially conscious music-making. massvacation.com

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Somerville, Massachusetts


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The bar at Cured, a restaurant in San Antonio's popular and sprawling Pearl Brewery complex

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San Antonio, Texas

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Take a hearty stew of Mexican culture, add a dash of Austin weird and a big dollop of pure Texas ’tude, and you get San Antonio: the Lone Star State’s most compelling city right now. The River Walk, long an attraction for travelers, has been transformed from the previous 3-mile walk to a whopping 15 miles, connecting museums in the north to downtown and the historic missions in the south, with river views and parkland in between. San Antonio’s five Spanish colonial missions, the largest concentration of missions in North America, were recently named UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Meanwhile, the high-design Pearl Brewery District continues to evolve, with top-notch restaurants, a cooking school and outdoor events throughout the year. visitsanantonio.com lptravel.to/SanAntonio


Southern New Mexico Santa Fe, Taos and the state’s famed obsession with chili peppers have long been staples of Southwestern travel — and they’re as good as ever. But if it’s wilderness you’re after, head toward the border. Established in 2014, the Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks National Monument – named for the dramatic pipelike granite spires that rise 9,000 feet above the Chihuahuan Desert floor – shows off the borderlands at their rugged best. Saddle up for a real cowboy adventure, visit places where WWII bombers and Apollo astronauts trained, and trip out in volcanic fields and gobs of epic scenery. The scenery continues below ground in the massive Carlsbad Caverns, a place far more alien than anything you’ll find in nearby "Alien City" Roswell. newmexico.org lptravel.to/NewMexico

The state's southern half holds enough unexpected wonders to energize any traveler. 1. Hike, ride horseback or take a scenic drive among the dazzling dunes of White Sands National Monument, 50 miles east of Las Cruces. Undulating endlessly toward distant mountains that shimmer on the horizon, the dunes – composed of brilliant white gypsum crystals – make an unearthly spectacle. 2. Visit Silver City, southern New Mexico’s coolest mountain town, where grand Victorian buildings house modernist restaurants, historic hotels and laid-back brewpubs. The town is also the gateway to the state’s greatest wilderness: Gila National Forest, 3.3 million acres of forested hills and mountains. 3. For a timeless taste of the Rio Grande as seen by early explorers, head to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. The riparian woodlands and lush meadows here form the wintering ground for a breathtaking array of migratory birds, including snow geese and sandhill cranes.

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico 52

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Surprises of Southern New Mexico


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The Milwaukee Art Museum offers fabulous folk and outsider art galleries and a sizeable collection of Georgia O'Keeffe paintings. A 2015 renovation added photography and new media galleries to the trove.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin Chicago may cast a big shadow, but Milwaukee is enjoying its moment in the sun. The "Brew City" has been synonymous with beer since the 1850s, and thanks to an influx of German immigrants its beery side still bubbles strong. Suds-loving travelers can tour both the Miller and the Lakefront breweries, have a draft at Best Place in the former Pabst headquarters, and sample the new wave of craft brews at many local pubs. Milwaukee’s German heritage also is reflected in the local obsessions with sausages and dairy: get brats and beer cheese soup at Milwaukee Brat House and sample local cheeses at Uber Tap Room. Have your camera ready for the Milwaukee Art Museum, with the Santiago Calatrava-designed Quadracci Pavilion that looks poised to take flight over Lake Michigan at any moment. visitmilwaukee.org lptravel.to/Milwaukee

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The Magic Circle

EXPLORE ICELAND’S ELEMENTAL BEAUTY ON A JOURNEY ALONG THE COUNTRY’S 830MILE RING ROAD, TAKING IN HAUNTING LAVA FIELDS, WILD COASTLINE, POWERFUL WATERFALLS AND MAJESTIC ICE CAPS.

Volcanic rock formations in Suðurland (South Iceland)

COPYRIGHT © SIME / ESTOCK PHOTO

By Oliver Berry


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history, part drama. Many Icelanders can read the sagas in Old Norse, and some can recite passages by heart, just as their ancestors did centuries ago. “The sagas are still part of Icelandic culture,” says Sigriður Guðmundsdóttir, who runs the Settlement Centre, a museum in the coastal village of Borgarnes, 45 miles north of Reykjavík. “They’re Iceland’s first novels. They record our history, but also remind us who we are. They’re about selfreliance, fortitude, honor and stoicism. These are very Icelandic qualities.” As the Ring Road swerves inland across the humpbacked hills northwest of Borgarnes, it passes many locations from the sagas: a farmstead featured in Egil’s Saga, and a hot spring where the hero of Grettir’s Saga soothed his battle-weary bones. While most of the stories are rooted in fact, many have a fantastical streak that stems from Iceland’s collection of myths and legends: strange tales of trolls, giants and dragons, as well as the island’s huldufólk (hidden folk) of gnomes, dwarfs, fairies and elves. Many locals still believe in the existence of these creatures – though they’re reluctant to admit it – and there are stories about bad luck befalling people who unwittingly disturb the huldufólk. “Icelanders are very practical,” says Stefan Boulter, an artist who lives in Akureyri, Iceland’s second-largest town, set beside a coastal inlet 240 miles north of Reykjavík. “But we also have a dreamlike side too. "I suppose it’s not surprising we have active imaginations. So would you if you spent half the year in the dark,” he says, referring to Iceland’s long winter nights from October through April, when there are only brief spurts of daylight. Iceland’s legends were also an important inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien, a scholar of Old Norse and the sagas. “The Lord of the Rings films may have been filmed in New Zealand, but they should have been made in Iceland,” says Fjóla Guðmundsdóttir, who works at the Glaumbær turf houses near Skagafjörður, a deep coastal fjord between Akureyri and Borgarnes. Many Tolkien enthusiasts believe Iceland’s turf houses, built from peat bricks topped by grass roofs, may have given Tolkien the idea for Bilbo Baggins’ underground home, Bag End. They certainly resemble hobbit

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OÐAFOSS (WATERFALL OF THE GODS)

rips through the Bárðardalur lava field in North Iceland’s Mývatn region.

PHOTO: COPYRIGHT © HUBER/SIME / ESTOCK

i

t’s midmorning on Iceland’s east coast, but it might as well be midnight. Fog cloaks the road, blending land, sea and sky into a spectral gray. Now and then, black peaks materialize from the gloom, and slashes in the cloud reveal sudden glimpses of coastline: rocky cliffs, grassy dunes and wild beaches of black sand. Gulls bank and wheel in the wind. It’s like driving into a whiteout. Or at least it would be, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s still midsummer, and the first snows are still months away. Wild weather is par for the course on Iceland’s Ring Road – or Route 1, as it’s designated on highway maps. Circling around the island’s coastline for 830 miles, the road, completed in 1974, is an engineering marvel and a national emblem. Skimming the edge of the Arctic Circle at a latitude of 65° N – the same as central Siberia – the Ring Road is about as close to wilderness driving as Europe gets, traversing volcanic deserts, mountain passes, plunging valleys and barren plains. Gas stations are few and far between. Often, the only signs of habitation are remote farms and weather stations. It’s not unusual to go for hours without passing another car – perhaps not surprising on an island of just 320,000 people scattered across an area about the size of Virginia. Naturally enough, all distances along Route 1 are measured from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík. Even here, among the art galleries and pubs, hints of Iceland’s wilder side are easy to find. Looking north across the bay of Faxaflói, a craggy finger of land extends along the horizon, terminating in the snow-capped summit of Snæfellsjökull, the setting for Jules Verne’s classic adventure tale, Journey to the Center of the Earth. The volcano remains a brooding presence as the Ring Road heads north from Reykjavík’s suburbs, a reminder that the forces of nature are never far away. Verne wasn’t the first writer to find inspiration among the fjords and valleys of Iceland’s west. To Icelanders, this area is synonymous with the sagas, the tales that are a cornerstone of Icelandic culture. First written down by historians in the 12th and 13th centuries, but rooted in an older tradition of oral storytelling, these tales of family feuds, doomed heroes, warrior kings and tragic romances are part genealogy, part


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JÖKULSÁRLÓN in south-

east Iceland, part of the Vatnajökull ice cap, developed as the glacier began to recede from the Atlantic Ocean.

PHOTO: GARY LATHAM

HE GLACIAL LAKE OF


houses, but they were actually a pragmatic solution to one of Iceland’s enduring problems: a shortage of timber. Fjóla steps through a cottage doorway and into a low corridor rich with the smell of earth and wood smoke. “Iceland was a tough place, and people had to work together,” she says. “Several families would have lived in each house, sharing skills and resources. There wouldn’t have been any privacy, but you’d never have felt lonely, either.” Outside, rays of light race across the fields, and dark clouds mass above a chain of mountains, their peaks freshly dusted with snow. It’s a scene that could have tumbled straight from Tolkien’s own sketchbook. “There’s a saying in Iceland: you can’t walk anywhere without stepping on a story,” Fjóla says. “Telling stories is part of who we are. I’m sure that will never change.”

A land that gushes and bubbles It’s easy to see how Iceland’s otherworldly landscape inspired fantastic tales. Sculpted and scarred by thousands of years of geological activity, it’s a place that often appears not altogether of this world. Nowhere is this more true than around Lake Mývatn and Krafla, Iceland’s most volcanically active area. Here, as the Ring Road drops from the uplands, it loops past Goðafoss (Waterfall of the Gods), a deafening mass of foaming white water that seems to emanate from a ragged crack in the Earth’s crust. Legend has it that when ancient tribes in the region converted to Christianity, the local chieftain cast his pagan idols into the waterfall to symbolize the death of the old gods and birth of the new. It’s the prelude to an even stranger landscape to come. As the Ring Road nears Lake Mývatn’s shoreline, shattered boulders and volcanic pillars litter the sides of the highway, the geological remnants of ancient eruptions. Geysers gush and mud pools bubble. Fissures in the earth spew out columns of steam, a reminder that this part of Iceland sits on top of the MidAtlantic Ridge, the unstable meeting point between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

Krafla’s scalded landscape makes it inhospitable to all but the hardiest forms of life, but it does have its uses. The underlying rock reaches temperatures of up to 570°F, fueling one of Iceland’s fastest-growing industries: geothermal energy. At Vogafjós, a café close to Lake Mývatn, chef Eva Ingólfsdóttir has found an ingenious use for the island’s natural heat. “Living in Mývatn, you realize how much energy there is under our feet,” she says as she treks across a lava field through columns of white vapor swirling from the ground, the acrid stench of rotten eggs underfoot. “There can’t be many places where you can bake bread without an oven – as long as you can stand the smell, of course.” She stops at a pile of rocks, removing them to reveal a large hole. Inside are containers, each holding a freshly baked Geysir loaf, a traditional Icelandic bread made from rye flour and named for Iceland’s Great Geysir, the hot-water spout after which all other geysers are named. She tips one out, cutting it into thick slices. The bread has a dense, sticky texture, somewhere between a steamed pudding and an unleavened loaf. “It must be eaten with lots of butter,” Ingólfsdóttir says. “Icelandic butter, of course. The creaminess goes perfectly with the bitterness of the bread.”

The sound of silence As the Ring Road circles around the island’s eastern coast, the landscape becomes ever wilder and emptier. Isolated villages hunker at the bottom of glacial fjords. Abandoned shepherds’ cabins line the roads. Waterfalls cascade down hills, carving canyons through the rock, including the thunderous maelstrom of Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall, featured in the opening scenes of Ridley Scott’s film Prometheus. Iceland’s east coast has always been isolated, cut off by distance and geography. The region’s inhabitants once eked out a living from fishing and farming, relying on close-knit communities to survive the brutal winters. Prior to the arrival of the Ring Road, many villages could be accessed only via mountain passes that often became snowbound, forcing the delivery of supplies by air or sea. Reaching these villages was one Spring 2016

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where icebergs drift off the face of the glacier and smash into the Atlantic waves, breaking up on a beach of coal-black sand. “Glaciers are like time machines,” he says. “They’re made of snow that fell thousands of years ago. Every step is a step back into the past.” As the Ring Road leaves Vatnajökull and cuts west, it enters the flat pastureland of Thingvallavatn, and passes two spectacular 197-foot waterfalls, Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, where the spray refracts the sunlight like a prism, conjuring rainbows from thin air. Bit by bit, countryside gives way to civilization. Towns and villages become more frequent, and hoop houses and greenhouses appear along the roadside, where farmers use the island’s geothermal heat to nourish crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes, chilies and even bananas. This is also equine country, home to numerous farms that raise Iceland’s purebred horses, descended from animals brought over by Scandinavian settlers a millennium ago. Farther west, and a short detour north from the Ring Road, is Thingvellir National Park. A place of wild beauty, it was here that the Vikings established the Althing, an open-air assembly and Iceland’s first parliament. Established in AD 930, the Althing has a legitimate claim as the world’s oldest form of democratic government, and holds a deep historical and symbolic significance for Icelanders. Appropriately enough, the beginning of Iceland’s recorded history also marks journey’s end for the Ring Road. As the road snakes across the magma fields of the Reykjanesfólkvangur nature reserve, it drops down into Reykjavík’s suburbs, bathed under streetlights that seem strange after one experiences a week of clear skies and starlight. Far ahead across the bay of Faxaflói, the Snæfellsnes ice cap flashes in the evening light and the Ring Road begins its circular journey north again, a never-ending thread unspooling beneath a silver sky. “Comely and fair was the country, crested with snow-covered glaciers,” wrote the Icelandic poet and polymath Jónas Hallgrímson in 1835. “Azure and empty the sky, ocean resplendently bright.” It seems a fitting coda for the journey.

GARY LATHAM

of the biggest challenges for the Ring Road’s engineers, and required tunnels, embankments and bridges to overcome the difficult topography. As a deep-sea fisherman, and a native of East Iceland, Siggi Ólafsson is used to isolation. Like his father and grandfather before him, he spends several months a year braving the North Atlantic waters in search of prawns, langoustines, herring and cod. “By nature, Icelanders are an outdoor people,” he says, wandering among the fishing pots piled up along the harborside of Höfn, a small port in one of Iceland’s southeastern fjords. “Most of us live in cities these days, but we feel at home among the hills and the waterfalls. It’s in our blood.” He climbs into the trawler’s cabin, where bleeping fish finders are squeezed in beside the helm. Beyond the prow, mist drifts over Höfn’s clapboard houses, and the point of a lighthouse flashes in the distance. “We’re as far as you can get from Reykjavík,” Ólafsson says. “Some people don’t like the isolation but, personally, I don’t like towns much. To me, there’s no sound as Icelandic as silence.” He is not alone in his view. Though two-thirds of Icelanders are city dwellers, they share a sense of closeness with their landscape, and every weekend thousands of people take the opportunity to rock climb, hike, camp and ride hor horses among the fjords and valleys. Eighty miles west of Höfn lies Iceland’s most epic playground: the Vatnajökull ice cap, which covers 3,000 square miles and eight percent of the island’s landmass, making it the largest volume of ice anywhere in Europe. The glacier looms along the skyline, a frozen white sea slicing through a jawbone of dog’s-tooth peaks. “Vatnajökull puts the ice in Iceland,” says Ívar Finnbogason, picking his way along the glacier’s southern side and kicking his crampons into the ice for grip. High above, snowdrifts swirl and the ice sparkles in the sunlight. “For me,” Finnbogason says, “it’s also our most precious landscape and, because of climate change, it’s changing faster than ever.” A trained mountaineer, Finnbogason heads a team of 16 guides qualified to lead trips onto the glacier’s surface. He looks down toward the lagoon of Jökulsárlón,


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HINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK was

listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. The Vikings established the world’s first democratic parliament, the Althing, here in AD 930; the stone foundations of the ancient encampments remain. Spring 2016

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MAKE IT HAPPEN Essentials /

Getting There Iceland is a five- to seven-hour flight from the United States. Keflavík International, Iceland’s main airport, is 30 miles southwest of the capital, Reykjavík. The Flybus shuttle runs from the airport to Reykjavík bus terminal (re.is/flybus; single $17, or $22 to your hotel). Getting Around There is a wide selection of car rental firms at Keflavík. It’s worth renting a 4x4 if you want to explore beyond the main Ring Road, as many minor roads are unpaved (from about $465 per week for a standard car, $790 for a 4x4; europcar.com). When to Go Iceland’s summer is short, and most people choose to drive the Ring Road in July or August for the best chance of clear skies. May, June and September are quieter and usually have reasonable weather.

For More Information Pick up a copy of Lonely Planet’s Iceland ($27.99), which has advice on driving the Ring Road, or see visiticeland.com, the official tourism site.

//The road leading to Thingvallavatn Lake

GARY LATHAM

The Know-How: Driving the Ring Road Route 1, as it’s officially known, wraps around Iceland for 830 miles. It can be driven comfortably in a week, but you’ll want to give yourself around 10 days to allow plenty of time away from the wheel and to fully explore the sights you’ll pass en route. If you’re traveling any time from July through September, it is best to complete the loop in a clockwise direction, first exploring the north of the country, which gets cooler a little earlier than the south. There are gas stations at regular intervals along the road. Smaller stations tend not to be staffed; the fully automated pumps accept only credit card payments. For up-to-date information on road conditions along the way, visit vegagerdin.is.


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PLAN YOUR ITINERARY Prepare for the road trip with a night at Hótel Glymur, about 35 miles north of Reykjavík (rooms from about $200, hotelglymur.is). It’s well placed for exploring the west coast, including Borgarnes and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and has mezzanine rooms, most of which overlook Hvalfjörður (Whale Fjord). En route you’ll pass through the Hvalfjörður Tunnel, one of the longest tunnels on the Ring Road. Continue northeast along the Ring Road. Two-hundred miles along lies Iceland’s second city, Akureyri, overlooking the country’s longest fjord, Eyjafjörður. On the outskirts of town, Skjaldarvik Guest House is run by a farming family, who offer guided horseback trips in the surrounding countryside (from about $130 with shared bathroom, skjaldarvik .is). The rooms have an offbeat style, with mixed furniture, secondhand design finds and picture windows framing fjord vistas. Breakfast is fantastic, with local cheeses and meats. A 55-mile drive east brings you to Lake Mývatn. Vogafjós Guesthouse, complete with farm, offers rooms in lakeside log cabins; rates include breakfast, featuring local specialties such as Geysir bread (from about $130; vogafjos.net). Don’t miss a hot dip at the nearby Mývatn Nature Baths (entry from $27; jardbodin.is). Follow the road for 220 miles to the port of Höfn, famous for its langoustines. Try them in Pakkhús, a restaurant in a converted warehouse near the harbor (main courses from $20; pakkhus.is). In nearby Djúpivogur, Hótel Framtíð is a good base for exploring the area (from $175; hotel framtid.com).

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The south coast is dominated by the ice sheets of Vatnajökull, near Höfn. Glacier Guides, next to the Skaftafell Visitor Centre, leads trips on to the ice (from $45; glacierguides.is). Fosshótel Núpar, near Skaftafell, looks like it was made from shipping containers, but has stylish rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and views over the surrounding lava fields (from $110; fosshotel.is). Horse country is 140 miles west. Stay at ranchlike Hotel Rangá (from $288; hotelranga.is). Wooden beams, sheepskin rugs and leather furniture give the rooms a ’70s feel. The hotel has an acclaimed restaurant. Drive the last 50 miles back toward Reykjavík, and celebrate with a stay at über-modern Ion, a fantastic way to end your road trip. It’s Scandi style all the way: built from steel pylons and plate glass, with a dramatic cantilevered wing overlooking the steaming stacks of a geothermal power station near Thingvallavatn National Park. Rooms are modern and minimalist, and there’s an exceptional restaurant serving creative Icelandic food (from $275; ioniceland.is). TOUR OPERATORS

Scandinavian specialist Discover the World offers a choice of self-drive itineraries in Iceland. The “Around Iceland” tour, a 14-night loop around the Ring Road, includes flight credit of about $360, accommodation for two people, car rental and use of an “iDiscover” digital guide. There’s also a seven-night version, but you’ll be doing more driving than sightseeing if you reduce the number of days you spend on the island. If you’re interested in detouring away from the Ring Road, other itineraries explore Iceland’s isolated peninsulas and rugged volcanic interior (from $2,420 per person for 14 nights; discover-the-world.co.uk).

BEST RING ROAD DETOURS

Snæfellsnes Peninsula A veritable ring road unto itself that takes in lava fields, wild coastline and an infamous ice cap; the detour is about 125 miles. Tröllaskagi Follow Route 76/Route 82 as it climbs up toward the Arctic. Hair-raising road tunnels and scenic panoramas await; 56-mile detour. Borgafjörður Eystri Take Route 94 through rhyolite cliffs and down into this quiet hamlet of visiting puffins and superb hiking trails; 93-mile detour. Vestmannaeyjar Hop on the ferry at Landeyjahöfn to discover a ruffed archipelago of islets; 19-mile detour, plus a 30-minute boat ride each way. The “Diamond Circle” Dreamed up by marketers, the Diamond Circle barrels north from Mývatn to take in the whale-filled bay of Húsavík, the grand canyon and trails of Ásbyrgi, and the roaring falls at Dettifoss; 112-mile detour. HOW LONG DO I NEED?

If you were to drive the Ring Road without stopping (or breaking the speed limit), it would take approximately 16 hours. Thus, a weeklong trip into the countryside means an average of about 2½ hours of driving per day. While this might seem a bit much for some, remember that the drive is extraordinarily scenic and rarely feels like a haul. In summer, there’s plenty of daylight. We recommend a minimum of 10 days to do justice to the Ring Road.

FYI / Don’t confuse the Ring Road, which loops the country, with the Golden Circle, a tourist route in the country’s southwest. Spring 2016

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UNDE THE INFLU


R ENCE

Laos is Southeast Asia’s most overlooked country – an enigmatic nation shaped by powerful external forces, where mid-20th-century monuments sit alongside ancient Buddhist temples, and snails and frog legs are on the menu. BY MARCEL THEROUX

Buddhist monks in Luang Prabang; Opposite: gathering alms at daybreak


PREVIOUS PAGE: LEFT: © SIME / ESTOCK PHOTO; RIGHT: © MILLENNIUM IMAGES / ESTOCK PHOTO; OPPOSITE PAGE: LEFT: © SIME / ESTOCK PHOTO; RIGHT: SIMON URWIN

On a narrow terrace overlooking the wide, brown Mekong River, a dozen men are gathered in the shade of a bamboo thicket to play a game that is distinctly French. Pétanque, provincial France’s lawn bowling game, is an obsession in Luang Prabang, the jungly second city of the tiny nation of Laos. The players – guides, teachers, tuk-tuk drivers – compete fiercely, launching the steel balls with an abrupt backhand throw that resembles a cobra strike. “Everyone plays,” explains Som Phon, one of the spectators. “You let go of all your stress, your suffering.” Poor, weak and landlocked, Laos has had its history determined by powerful outside forces: France, Thailand, Vietnam, China – even Russia and the United States. Each of them has left some mark on this nation. A few miles from the pétanque court, 40-year-old Pon Panyatip is hard at work kneading risen dough and shaping it into baguettes. His upper body is toned from turning out 3,000 batons a day. As fast as he can make it, the dough is deposited in the wood-fired oven. Isn’t he fed up with the sight of baguettes by now? He shakes his head. “Sometimes I eat them in the morning and the evening. I have them with butter, chili, dried beef or shrimp paste.” France governed Laos as a protectorate for more than half a century, until 1954. The customs, food and language here are subtly marked by the vanished French presence, but the country’s most distinctive Gallic inheritance is in its architecture. The heart of Luang Prabang is a finger-shaped promontory that sits at the confluence of the Mekong and the Nam Khan rivers, and it is where the French supervised the construction of long, leafy avenues of whitewashed, two-story houses. Vientiane deposed Luang Prabang as capital of Laos in 1563, but the latter is by far the more beautiful. Luang Prabang still has the somnolent green charm that originally attracted the French. It is bewitching and quiet; at

dusk, the streets are empty of cars. The warm breeze carries the jasmine-like scent of teak flowers. The jungle envelops the city, and the Mekong flows south, bearing your troubles away. Under the French, Luang Prabang was a backwater that attracted a certain kind of unambitious, pleasure-seeking official. The writer Norman Lewis, a visitor here, said they seemed like the outcome of successful lobotomy operations – “untroubled and mildly libidinous.” Some of the French couldn’t tear themselves away after Laos became independent. Yannick Upravan’s grandfather, Henri, was a French soldier who traveled from Marseilles to serve in the First Indochina War Opposite: (1946–54). “He came to fight and kill, but he fell in love. It happened a Coffee and pain lot like this,” says Yannick, a youthful green-eyed 40-something. Henri au chocolate at never went home. Today, Yannick is the chef-proprietor of L’Elephant, a restaurant in a café in Luang an art deco corner building, which once belonged to his grandmother, Prabang; Rivera Laotian woman who married Henri and bore him six children. Its boats are still a shady interior is a respite from the midday sun. The scent of frangipani popular form of blows through the shutters from the Wat Nong Sikhounmuang temple intercity travel across the road. in Laos. Yannick’s menu is classic French, with nods to his Laotian heritage: he serves an estouffade (stew) of Mekong perch, and duck with a sharp sauce made from bael fruit instead of orange. He imports snails and much of his wine from France, but sources his grenouilles (frogs) in Laos. “The Lao also eat frog,” he explains, “but they eat the whole thing: head, legs, skin and body.” The French were neither the first nor the last to leave their cultural stamp here. This is a place where global forces have collided: it’s been the meeting point of Hinduism and Buddhism; the buffer between the French and British empires; and it’s where the Soviet Union and the United States faced off in a proxy war. When the French arrived in the 19th century, Laos was fragmenting and falling into the hands of Siam – today Thailand. The French propped up the Lao monarchy, stitched the fragile kingdom together, and built the royal family a palace in Luang Prabang. Vietnamese-backed Marxist rebels later overthrew the government of Laos in 1975. The king was deposed, ending a 600-year royal dynasty. The country has been a communist one-party state ever since. The king, his queen and his heir were sent into internal exile for “re-education.” They never returned. How and when they died is still the subject of much speculation. A few royals still live in Luang Prabang. The daughter of the crown prince runs the Villa Santi hotel, though, perhaps understandably, she keeps a low profile. Fifty-eight-year-old Hongkad Souvannavong was one of those charged with creating unifying symbols for the People’s Democratic Republic. Trained as an architect in Moscow and Cuba, he was tasked with designing Laos’s National Assembly building in 1990. I meet him in the capital, Vientiane. It takes about an hour to fly there from the airport in Luang Prabang, whose curving Asiatic roofs are another of Hongkad’s creations. Vientiane is a hazy, sprawling city on the Mekong. There is more communist iconography in evidence, and the mishmash of styles hints at a city with an identity crisis. Dressed in a loud silk jacket, with a bejeweled Rolex on his wrist, Hongkad is upbeat and energetic. A polymath, he also invents musical Spring 2016

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Traditionally dressed local girl in Luang Prabang; Opposite: Noodle soup, popular street food in Vientiane

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PLACE


THIS IS A WHERE GLOBAL F O R C E S H AVE

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C O L L I D E D.

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“What is traditional Lao architecture?” asks Hongkad. “This culture existed before the nation. If you go to northern Thailand, even now they speak Lao, eat sticky rice and, if you test their DNA, by ethnicity they’re Lao. There are 20 million more Lao people in Thailand than there are here.” To complicate matters, not all of Laos is Laotian. If you take a boat from Luang Prabang and head north up the Mekong, Laotian identity slowly blurs. The hillsides on either side of the river are steep and thickly wooded with teak and bamboo, and there is an eerie sense of remoteness. Now and again a tiny hamlet of houses slips by, thatched with palm leaves, their walls woven bamboo. These simple buildings reflect the slash-and-burn agriculture practiced by their inhabitants. Every few years they will move on to fresh forest when the soil’s fertility is exhausted. Baw, half a day upriver from Luang Prabang, is a traditional Laotian village. Thatched houses sit high up on hardwood poles, creating a space beneath for livestock, or for the women to weave traditional fabrics. Sticky rice is the staple here. Little handfuls are left before the gold Buddha in the village temple to feed the monks. Fermented and distilled, it becomes potent lao-lao – Lao whiskey. Farther north, at the village of Houy Phalam, the low poles supporting the houses, the absence of any temples, and the homemade cheroot in the mouth of a woman husking sticky rice indicate that this is a Khmu village. Houy Phalam is a place in transition. The arrival of electricity transmission towers has brought television. The sound of soap operas crackles from the houses. But the threshed rice is still stored in conventional raised huts, and the rice fields stretch away into the forest. Here, it is hot and still. Between Houy Phalam and the confluence of the Ruak and the Mekong – the Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos meet – long stretches of the riverbank are unmarked by any human activity. The forest comes down to the water’s edge. In this remoteness, it seems absurd to talk of communism and capitalism, nations or architecture. There is only the jungle and the Mekong, and tribal villages, in many of which Lao and Buddhism are foreign. If Lao identity seems elusive at the country’s northern margins, it doesn’t back in Luang Prabang. This is the country’s heartland, where

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Opposite:

Dried chili pods in a village on the bank of the Mekong River; Buddha statues lining the walls of Wat Si Saket, the oldest temple in Vientiane

life and geography are centered around Buddhist temples. Laos’s temples are the nation’s great architectural accomplishments. They give a moving sense of having been built and maintained by millions of hands. The temples memorialize the country’s past and, in their decorative arts, blend the great religions of Buddhism and Hinduism. The monastery complex of Xieng Thong is one of the oldest and most beautiful in the country. Its central ordination hall dates from 1560 and is where Laos’s kings were once crowned. It has stucco walls stenciled with golden designs and a delicate curving roof with interlocking steps along its peak – echoed in temples across the country, and even in Hongkad’s design for the National Assembly. What’s striking about Xieng Thong is how much of its imagery harks back to Hinduism. Serpents, dancing girls and winged deities are all borrowed from the older religion. Elsewhere in the temple complex, scenes from the Phra Lak Phra Ram – Laos’s version of the Hindu epic the Ramayana – are replayed in sculpture and in paintings around the structure erected to hold the funerary carriage of the last king. Laos’s temples are centers of study, and the monks in orange robes, who illuminate the streets and mesmerize tourists, are often country boys trying to get an education. Phone, Pheng and Khamaiy are 14 to 15 years old. The three of them are sitting in Phone’s tiny room within the Xieng Thong complex, watching a Jackie Chan film on a portable Chinese DVD player. They could be monosyllabic teenagers anywhere – apart from their saffron robes and shaven heads. The walls of the room are decorated with posters of soccer teams. The contrast between these different cultures – Buddhism and soccer, the contemplative life and martial arts – is natural to the boys, who turn off the DVD player before they go to prayer. Laos’s history of fusion and adaptation have prepared them well for the bizarre juxtapositions of the 21st century.

PREVIOUS PAGE: © SIME / ESTOCK PHOTO; OPPOSITE PAGE: LEFT: © HUBER/SIME / ESTOCK PHOTO; RIGHT: SIMON URWIN

w instruments and creates fonts for the Laotian language. The brief for the National Assembly was to make something that combined Soviet and traditional Laotian elements. It needed to be built in just six months. Hongkad laughs. “I told them to finish the facade and not worry about the back. But they put it in the wrong place. They had no vision.” Today, Hongkad’s building looks as though it could use a lick of paint. The exterior is grimy and worn, but you can see how he has tried to incorporate motifs from a traditional Lao temple into the angular, modernist design. Just behind it is the central stupa of Pha That Luang, rising up like a huge letter spike. It’s the official symbol of Laos: a stylized gilded representation of a lotus flower that appears on the country’s bank notes. Hongkad also got the job of landscaping the site around another of Vientiane’s architectural showpieces. Patuxai was built in the 1960s, and is a Laotian version of the Arc de Triomphe: a blend of French imperial architecture, Buddhist temples and Hindu iconography.


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FOOD HE MARKE

FR


T H E C U S T O M S, A N D LA N G U A G E R E A R E S U B T LY D

BY THE VANISHED

© SIME / ESTOCK PHOTO

ENCH PRESENCE A French colonial building in Pakse, the gateway city to southern Laos. Colonial architecture is the most obvious legacy of French rule in Laos, which began in 1893 and lasted until 1954, when Laos gained independence.


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FROM THE WILD PATAGONIAN PLAINS, WHERE GAUCHOS ROAM, TO COSMOPOLITAN BUENOS AIRES,

ntina THE POLO CAPITAL, THIS IS A LAND OF CONTRASTING PEOPLE, CULTURES AND LANDSCAPES.

By Orla Thomas / Photographs by Philip Lee Harvey

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t

BUENOS AIRES

Clockwise from top left:

Panama-style hats are de rigeur. // colorful buildings in Buenos Aires // a player for the Chapaleufû polo team // beer o’clock in Palermo Viejo

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Two horses with clipped manes thunder from the shadow of a tall building that’s cast across a perfect lawn. They gallop flank to flank, their mahogany coats gleaming with sweat in the spring Buenos Aires sunshine. The riders grip tightly with their knees as they raise mallets aloft and descend on the ball, like cavalrymen charging into battle. With a deft flick of the hand, leaning at an angle so acute he seems almost certain to fall, one of the players sends the ball sailing through the air. The Campo Argentino de Polo in the Palermo district, the “Cathedral of Polo,” is where the sport’s most prestigious tournament, the Argentine Open, takes place each November and December. This stadium is to polo players what Wembley is to soccer players and rock stars. But for some, the show doesn’t really begin until the day’s final game has been played, and the spectators descend on the champagne bars and hospitality tents lining a long promenade between two grounds. Essentially a catwalk, at dusk it fills with polo groupies. Deeply tanned women showing off their cosmetic enhancements vie for attention with leggy off-duty models hired to promote the event’s sponsors by striding about in branded T-shirts, matching hot pants and towering platform shoes. Men mostly sport floppy midlength hair, Ralph Lauren shirts and blazers, and leather loafers. The trouser of choice for both sexes is a pair of tight white jeans, proudly announcing the wearer’s invariably tiny bottom. It is a look made famous by the cover of English author Jilly Cooper’s racy novel, Polo, and the wealthy set she fictionalized is much in evidence here. Polo is known as a pursuit for the very rich. In a single game, one player uses around eight ponies; the best sell for up to $150,000 apiece. Add to this the cost of transporting a stable and grooms along the annual global polo circuit (Britain and continental Europe during the northern hemisphere spring and summer, then on to Argentina and Palm Beach), and you get a feel for the sums involved. Carolina Beresford is an insider in this world. She works for the polo news website PoloLine, and is waiting, mic in hand, to interview players from the winning team, Alegría. A striking Chilean-Irish redhead, she has lived in Argentina for seven years and comes from a family of polo players; her uncle, Gabriel Donoso, was Chile’s greatest ever, although he was fatally injured in a match in 2006. “It’s an incredibly dangerous game – and an incredibly difficult one,” Beresford says. “Winning is more down to the horses than the players, but managing them is a real skill; it’s so fast, and you’re relying on a living creature. A horse is not like a car; they’re unpredictable. Players spend more time with their horses than with their wives . . . and I’m not kidding.”

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In Argentina, polo isn’t entirely the exclusive sport it is in other countries. Anyone can turn up at the stadium and buy an inexpensive ticket for the stands, where people keep cool with beer and ice cream, and hold aloft homemade banners for their favorite teams. “Here, the top players are magazine cover stars, and taxi drivers know their names,” Beresford says. “It’s not like England, where it’s a more niche sport, associated with elitism and snobbery.” Argentines are the undisputed kings of polo – claiming seven out of the eight players in the world with the top handicap of 10 goals – but the reason they’re so good is a sim-ple one, Beresford says. “In Argentina, the access to horses is above anywhere else. In the countryside, kids finish school and get straight on a horse; they live and breathe that life.”

A GAUCHO RACES TO THE GATE There is palpable excitement as players start to mingle with spectators on the promenade – some are still in uniform, their white polo jeans sullied by grass stains. Victors are offered glasses of Chandon sparkling wine; losers receive a commiserating kiss – one peck, right cheek to right cheek, the local standard. People chat and flirt in Spanish and English until they are cast into shade and start trickling toward the beelike black-and-yellow taxis waiting at the stadium gates.

WHERE TO STAY You’d be hard-pressed to find something more hip than Home Hotel, in the desirable Palermo Hollywood neighborhood. The stylish property offers excellent service and has a gorgeous back garden (from $215; homebuenos aires.com). WHERE TO EAT For a traditional parrilla (Argentine steakhouse) that’s impressive but still fairly priced, try Don Julio (parrilla donjulio.com.ar). Chan Chan is an arty Peruvian joint serving ceviche and rice dishes worth the wait; closed Mondays (4382-8492). A traditional bodegón (similar to a bodega) serving cortado (coffee with steamed milk) and tapas, El Preferido de Palermo was a favorite of literary local Jorge Luis Borges (4774-6585).


// Luis Arratia drinks yerba mate (a popular herbal infusion) from a gourd.


The cabs sail along Avenida del Libertador, past grand colonial mansions and lines of purple-blossomed jacaranda trees; past Parque 3 de Febrero and its legions of joggers, kissing couples and paseaperros (professional dog walkers), struggling with a multitude of crisscrossing leads. Porteños, as locals are known, are winding down for the day. The nickname means “port people,” and the city meets the mouth of the Riachuelo over in La Boca, an area where tango dancers perform on the street against a backdrop of brightly colored houses and taverns. As travel writer Bruce Chatwin astutely observed, “Buenos Aires is one big theater.” But you won’t catch the polo crowd hanging out in down-at-heel La Boca. Most will head for Palermo Viejo, one of the city’s most upmarket neighborhoods and its top choice for a night out. It’s 9 o’clock, the conventional Buenos Aires dining hour, and the restaurant tables lining the district’s cobbled streets are filling up. In the streets surrounding the small Plaza Cortázar, the air is rich with the scent of beef being cooked at the parrillas (steakhouses). Deservedly famed, the meat’s quality derives from the lush, fertile grasslands where many Argentine cattle are grazed: the Pampas. Sixty miles northwest, these plains seem to go on forever – a ceaselessly flat and yellowish landscape, punctuated only by bright green soybean fields, the odd tree and herds of Hereford or black Angus cows roaming the estancias (ranches). One of the oldest ranches is Estancia La Bamba de Areco, which dates back to 1830. Its name comes from a Celtic word meaning a place of rest, and the main house, built in traditional colonial style, is magnificent – a beacon of crimson warmth, its windows and archways painted bright white. On arrival, a gaucho on horseback races to the gate, key in hand, to escort visitors down an avenue of plane trees, wood pigeons cooing in the branches. The only livestock kept now at La Bamba are the polo ponies, which graze in the surrounding fields. In 2007, the property was bought by a billionaire who fancied starting his own team. His wife, an interior designer, gave the buildings a high-end renovation, and opened them up to paying guests. Romanticized references to rural life are everywhere: walls are hung with horse portraits, and side tables are smattered with leather and silver goods crafted in the nearby town of San Antonio de Areco. Guests can ride horses around the grounds, and even see the local horse whisperer at work. At lunchtime, a traditional asado (barbecue) is served on fine china, under the shade of a pergola strewn with honeysuckle. Visitors are made to feel like they’re the fortunate houseguests of a fabulously wealthy friend. While undeniably enjoyable, the lifestyle offered here is gaucho-lite. Getting under the skin of the South American cowboy means heading south, to Patagonia.

l

PATAGONIA

Luis Arratia dismounts his horse, leaving her to graze under the shade of a monkey puzzle tree, and strides toward the fire, where an entire goat’s carcass is cooking on a large metal frame not unlike a crucifix. The coals beneath are glowing; the meat has been roasting since dawn. From a cloth sash tied around his waist, Arratia pulls out a facón, a short knife, hacks off a piece of meat and takes a bite. Yes, he says, it’s ready. Arratia’s wife, Mariana, hands out chunks of bread, and the other gauchos patiently wait their turn while Luis shows the novices how it’s done. He uses the bread like an oven glove, gripping the meat in his teeth before cutting a mouthful using the facón, daringly close to his lips. The ribs are most popular, their tender fattiness cut through with spoonfuls of tart, spicy chimichurri sauce. There are no chairs, no table, no plates; the gauchos routinely refuse the salad, offered around in a communal bowl and speared with forks. The asado is consumed with relish by the staff and visitors at Estancia Huechahue, a cattle ranch in northern Patagonia’s Lake District that also takes in guests. At lunch today is a man who’s come to learn the art of horseshoeing with the ranch’s farrier. The trainee, an Argentine living in Spain, amuses everyone with disparaging tales about the inferiority of European barbecues. “A gaucho must know how to kill and butcher an animal, and how to cook it,” says Luis, who works at Huechahue as a horse tamer. “And of course how to track a missing cow, and to break in a horse.” This painstaking process begins with “imprinting” – daily handling of a newborn foal – and usually takes a year to complete. It’s significant that riding doesn’t even warrant a mention on Luis’s list of gaucho skills. To him it’s like walking: a given. When asked how old he was when he learned, he replies, “I was born on a horse.” Later, riding out under a cloudless blue sky, he and his steed seem centaurlike as they canter across the great plains that surround the Estancia, weaving through spiky puffs of neneo, the predominant Patagonian plant, and leaving a trail of dust in their wake. As he ascends the valley, the wind picks up, blowing the grass flat, like animal fur smoothed by an invisible hand. It is only at the crest of the hill that the truly vast scale of the landscape becomes apparent: mile after mile of pervasive emptiness, all the way to the Andes. Not a single building or road disrupts the view. Patagonia covers 400,000 square miles of Argentina and Chile, more than three times the size of Italy, and it is this epic scale that made horses, brought in by the Spanish, such an essential tool for settlers. No crops would flourish in this harsh climate, so farmers depended on livestock,

It is only at the crest of the hill that the truly vast scale of the landscape becomes apparent: mile after mile of pervasive emptiness, all the way to the Andes.

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and to round up the animals, they used strong, sure-footed criollo horses, bred and tamed by the gauchos. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a sheep farming boom drew thousands of migrants to Patagonia – raw wool was so profitable it was known as “white gold”– but now, with a growing global appetite for meat, most farmers have shifted to beef cattle. Rural fairs, like the annual cattle show in the nearby town of Junín de los Andes, give estancias the chance to show off their finest specimens. Accompanying gauchos are likewise dressed to impress, and there are stalls selling the latest fashions – bombachas (baggy trousers, tight at the ankles), broad-brimmed hats, neckties, leather belts and ponchos. In pens backstage, animal entrants are being groomed like beauty queens. One heifer gets a quick trim with the clippers, while a black bull with a nose ring is submitting to a full blow-dry, flinching slightly with every spritz of hairspray. When called to the arena to be inspected by the judges, the animals seem perversely intent on sabotaging their owners’ efforts with last-minute defecations. After the show, some will be offered up for sale, and a prize-winning bull can fetch up to $3,000, the value of five cows.

Clockwise from top left: Lago

Traful (Traful Lake) in the Patagonian Lake District // Amelia Mera is a rare female member of a largely male profession. // Luis Arratia (left) and Claudio Inal ride across the Patagonian plains. // shaping a horseshoe at Estancia Huechahue

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“ YOU NOTICE MORE ON HORSEBACK” Given how expensive the animals are, cattle-rustling is a problem – one best deterred by branding. Today some of Huechahue’s 700-strong herd are being rounded up to be stamped. Using hand gestures, calls and whistles, the team of gauchos works together to bring them in, Luis chasing down a few bovine escapees on horseback before effortlessly encircling them with his lasso, made from plaited hide. The gaucho ideal is wholeheartedly macho; Amelia Mera – a guide at Huechahue, and a self-confessed “gaucha” – is a rarity. Like the others, she dresses in bombachas, beret and boots, but unlike them she teams hers with a floral shirt. “I don’t know any other gauchas,” she says as she saddles me a horse, a pale, gentle mare named Patagonia. “But I grew up on an estancia and working with horses is what I love, so it comes naturally. If you can do what you love and get paid for it, that’s the best that life can be.” Mera knows Huechahue’s 15,000 acres intimately. “You can ride one path 10 times and every time it feels different,” she says. “Maybe the light has changed, or you’ll see different animals.” She tells me about an ancient Mapuche Indian burial cave hidden in the hills, and suggests riding to her favorite place on the estancia: a viewpoint, high up on the steppe. She leads the way along a riverbank, and steers her horse uphill with the slightest twitch of the reins. As she climbs through the scrubland, eerie treasures

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reveal themselves in the long grass: ivory-colored skeletons of sheep, long ago stripped by the condors that soar overhead, and a pair of antlers shed by a deer. Mera points out a guanaco, a wild cousin to the llama, its ears pricked. On other rides she’s spotted the ostrich-like rhea, armadillos and pumas. You notice more on horseback, she says, because you are free from the walker’s need to constantly look down to find a footing. Gradually the land levels out to reveal, on the horizon, the snow-topped and conical Lanín volcano, which straddles Argentina and Chile. Mera’s grandparents were among the many who crossed this border at the start of the 20th century, to stake a claim on these plains.

Patagonia is full of people from elsewhere,” Mera says. “I think that in its

emptiness people saw a place where they could start again.” It still has that sense of frontier spirit; in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is a place where anything seems possible.

GETTING THERE From Buenos Aires, take an internal flight (lan.com) to the Patagonian Lake District. The main hubs are San Carlos de Bariloche and San Martín de los Andes. Rent a car on arrival (hertz.com) and allow time to drive the Road of the Seven Lakes (part of RN 234), a scenic route past snow-capped peaks and vast lakes that links Bariloche and San Martín de los Andes. WHERE TO STAY & EAT Estancia Huechahue is a remote ranch 45 miles east of San Martín de los Andes. Expect at least one lunchtime asado, and nightly cocktails by an open fire ($400 per person, including full board, activities and transfer from San Martín de los Andes; huechahue.com).

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GRAND ENTRANCE C H E C K I N T O T H E O U T S TA N D I N G Open the door to new discoveries – a pristine golf course, local shopping, or the perfect spa. Travel is the best excuse to enjoy the grand things in life. Come experience the unique stories of our 33 destinations worldwide. Explore more at WyndhamGrand.com, or call 888-997-7088.

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great escape great escape

SICILY

Historic architecture, hilltop towns, fabulous food: Sicily is Italy in overdrive. TAKE A TRIP AROUND THIS MESMERIZING CORNER OF THE COUNTRY, from Mount

Etna’s volcanic slopes to the black beaches of the

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: SIME / ESTOCK PHOTO

Aeolian Islands. / BY OLIVER BERRY

The beach at Pollara on the island of Salina, one of the seven Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily

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1

It’s about 27 miles to Mount Etna from Catania airport via the A18/E45 freeway, followed Miles into your trip: 0

mount etna

by local roads west to the village of Zafferana Etnea.

VOLCANO VIEWING

Belching smoke from the four fiery craters on its summit, Europe’s loftiest and most active volcano dominates the eastern side of the island. A wall of clouds is rolling down the slopes of Mount Etna as Marco Marcinnò lurches his 4x4 off the mountain road and clatters on to a rough track, rutted and gouged by recent rains. Soon enough, the vehicle jerks to a halt, and Marcinnò straps on his pack and jacket before heading along a trail through the trees. “This is a side of the mountain most visitors don’t see,” he says, dressed in a fleece vest, stout walking boots and designer shades. “It’s mostly local hikers who come here. And geologists like me of course – especially if Etna’s decided she’s waking up.” Beyond the tree line, a plain of black rock disappears into the white cloud, like a heap of ash that’s been dumped from a gigantic furnace. It’s a barren landscape, a desert of magma and shattered boulders. “We call this the Valle del Bove,” Marcinnò says. “It’s one of the best places to get an idea of just how devastating an eruption can be. You wouldn’t want to be standing down there if the mountain was in a bad mood.” Looming more than 10,900 feet above the city of Catania on the east coast of the island of Sicily, Mount Etna is Europe’s most active volcano. It’s young in geological terms, created around 600,000 years ago, and by far the largest of Italy’s three active volcanoes – more than twice the height of Vesuvius and nearly four times the height of Stromboli. Throughout history, Etna has been known for the violence 84

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ESSENTIALS Etna Moving offers half-day tours from around $85 per person (etnamoving.com). In the center of Zafferana, Moulin Rouge specializes in cudduruni, a folded, pan-fried pizza filled with onions, vegetables, meat and cheese (main courses from $12; Via Zafferana Milo 21; 00 39 095 708 2424). Just outside Zafferana, Airone Wellness Hotel is perfect for getting an early start on Etna. The best of the simple rooms in this old-fashioned hotel have balconies offering views all the way to the coast (from $140; hotel-airone.it).

of its eruptions. In The Aeneid, the Roman poet Virgil describes the mountain “shooting out globes of flame, with monster tongues / That lick the stars”. Hundreds more eruptions have since been recorded. The most powerful of recent centuries were in 1669, when pyroclastic flows devastated Catania, and 1928, when the village of Mascali was obliterated in two days. “Part of the difficulty with Etna is her unpredictability,” notes Marcinnò, as he clambers around the edge of an extinct caldera, one of many that pockmark the summit. “Unlike some volcanoes, Etna is constantly developing new craters: the direction of the magma flows beneath the mountain are changing all the time, which means it’s almost impossible to predict where the next eruption will happen.” Most of the villages on the slopes of Etna have had brushes with disaster. In 1971, a large eruption wiped out Etna’s cable car and observatory, and in 1992 the town of Zafferana came within a hair’s breadth of incineration. In 2002, lava flows caused an explosion at the Rifugio Sapienza tourist complex, destroying two buildings and temporarily halting cable car service. “Unfortunately, no one can be sure when the next big eruption will be,” Marcinnò says. “It’s almost certain that there will be more in the future.” He looks toward the top of the mountain, where breaks in the cloud reveal glimpses of the smoking summit. “Until then, all we can do is watch,” he says, “and wait.”


CLOCKWISE FROMPORTILLO; TOP LEFT: PHOTOS CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: SIME / ESTOCK PHOTO; SIME / ESTOCK PHOTO; LAURENT GRANDADAM/SIME / ESTOCK PHOTO; ALESSANDRO SAFFO/ SIME / ESTOCK PHOTO MAPS: JOSIE

Clockwise from left (opposite): Mount Etna is Sicily’s oldest wine-producing region; harbor and the Mother Church in the village of Stazzo; bruschetta; view toward Catania, with Mount Etna in the background

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Work on the Chiesa di San Michele began around 1700 but was not completed for another

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:

150 years.


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Head south from Zafferana Etnea on the A18/E45 freeway via Catania and Syracuse, then west on the SS115 and SP75 to Scicli.

Miles into your trip: 100

scicli

BAROQUE ARCHITECTURE

OPPOSITE: MATT MUNRO

Bask in the architectural glories of this handsome town in the Val di Noto, southern Sicily’s listed baroque region. “Notice anything about this church?” asks architectural guide Maria Marino, as she strolls across an empty square and points toward the ornate facade of the Chiesa di San Michele. It’s early morning in Scicli’s old town, and the only signs of life are a few pigeons fluttering along the sidewalk. Around the square, townhouses blush pink in the morning light, and pools of shadow linger between the buildings. “Look closely. There’s something missing,” Marino says, gesturing toward the highest of the church’s three tiers. “Do you see? No bell tower. The bells are built into the walls instead. It’s the baroque version of earthquake proofing.” Clutching a supply of architectural books in her arms, she enters the nave of the church, her heels clacking on the mosaic floor. Inside, the transept is bathed in light streaming through high, arched windows. Murals and stone carvings cover the walls: cherubs and saints, intricate filigree, laurels twined around columns. Above the altar, an altarpiece soars to the roof, glittering with frescoes and tracery. It feels more like an art gallery than a church. “Sicily’s baroque architecture is all about ostentation,” Marino says. “It was a demonstration of wealth, power and prestige. It was important for wealthy families to flaunt how rich they were by building fabulous houses for themselves, but also to show their generosity by financing churches or public buildings.” Stepping into the sunlight, she leads the way along Scicli’s

ESSENTIALS Situated beside one of the town’s prettiest bridges, Osteria del Ponte is a family-run trattoria known for its antipasti and pizza (main courses from $10; osteriadelponte.com). In the heart of Scicli’s old quarter, Hotel Novecento looks like a townhouse from outside, but inside it’s modern and minimalist. Rooms have a sophisticated feel, and some have small patios. Rates are especially reasonable outside summer months (from $115; hotel900.it).

side streets. Slowly, the town is easing into life: shop owners sweep the sidewalks with wicker brooms, and corner cafés fill with locals in search of their morning espresso. Before long, Marino stops beside an elegant mansion, built from the creamy-pink local stone. Family crests are carved into the facade, and wrought-iron balconies curl around the windows, supported by galloping horses and winged dragons. “This building belonged to the Beneventanos, one of Scicli’s richest families,” she says. “It reminds me of something you’d see at the opera. In some ways, the whole of Scicli is a kind of theatrical set. Only here, you don’t have to pay for a ticket.” Scicli is one of eight towns in the Val di Noto region of southeastern Sicily famous for their baroque architecture. Collectively designated a World Heritage Site in 2002, each was completely rebuilt following the devastating earthquake of 1693. The best architects, artists and craftsmen were employed, at great expense, and the urban landscape was transformed with lavish churches, mansions and civic buildings. “The architecture was about more than just making buildings: it was about politics, philosophy and morality, too,” muses Marino. “The baroque architects thought that beauty could actually create a happier and more harmonious society.” With the sun creeping over Scicli’s old town, Marino leads the way up a steep back road, winding past old chapels and gated courtyards to emerge on a scrubby hilltop. Below, Scicli’s rooftops sprawl into the distance, a lattice of streets and squares bordered by rocky cliffs and olive groves. Among the buildings, the facade of the Chiesa di San Bartolomeo glows gold in the morning sunshine, and the clang of church bells rings across the quiet hills. Spring 2016

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Miles into your trip: 212

taormina SEASIDE GLAMOUR

Follow in the footsteps of the moneyed elite of times past by staying in this distinguished resort town, taking time to visit the elegant Casa Cuseni. It’s a warm autumn day at Casa Cuseni (casacuseni.com), a museum and historic B&B high in the hills above Taormina on Sicily’s east coast. Bees and dragonflies buzz through the garden, making the most of the late summer blossom. The villa’s doors stand open, and a few visitors mill around the hallway, wideeyed at the artworks on display inside. In one corner stands a 15th-century jade figurine; in another a chinoiserie dresser, topped by a majolica vase and a clay discus retrieved from the ashes of Pompeii. Paintings line the walls: a Frank Brangwyn landscape in the dining room, a Picasso sketch in the drawing room. Outside, wisteria climbs the villa’s Palladian columns, and beyond the gates, houses march down the hillside to the Ionian Sea. Built in 1905 by British painter Robert Hawthorn Kitson, Casa Cuseni is the finest of many hilltop villas erected by expatriates who arrived in Taormina at the turn of the century. Its guest book reads like a who’s who of 20th-century culture: Picasso, Tennessee Williams, Bertrand Russell and Henry Moore all stayed here, while Greta Garbo liked it so much that she insisted on having it entirely to herself when she visited. “Taormina has always been an exclusive place,” explains Stefano Chiavetta, head bartender at the Grand Hotel Timeo, the town’s oldest and most glamorous hotel. “We still receive plenty of famous guests, but these days it’s mostly movie stars and celebrities, not that many writers and painters.” Dressed in a starched jacket and a white cravat, he mixes a 88

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ESSENTIALS Tucked away off Corso Umberto, Rosso Peperoncino serves local dishes like caponata, calamari and whole grilled fish (main dishes from $18; rosso peperoncino.eu). Grand Hotel Timeo is open late March through mid-November (from $323; grandhoteltimeo .com). The hilltop Hotel Villa Angela is owned by Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr, who fell for Taormina in 1982 and still spends much of his time on Sicily. Rooms feature terraces with plunging hillside views. It’s closed in winter (from $155; hotelvillaangela.com).

Sicilian martini. Outside on the terrace, well-dressed guests sit down for brunch and cocktails, taking in the views over the hotel’s gardens, where cypress trees stir in the morning breeze. In the distance, tall houses line the cliff tops, silhouetted against the brilliant blue sea. It’s like a scene from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Taormina’s history stretches back more than 2,000 years. The Greeks were the first to arrive, bequeathing the spectacular amphitheater, the largest in Sicily outside nearby Syracuse. Later came the Romans and the Saracens, responsible for constructing the hilltop citadel. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Taormina became synonymous with luxury, establishing itself as a popular winter resort for Europe’s aristocratic elite. Tsar Nicholas II visited several times, and in 1897 Taormina became the adopted home of Lady Florence Trevelyan (a distant cousin of Queen Victoria), who bought up much of the coastline and created the town’s botanical garden, modeling it on an English landscaped park. Later, Taormina became a favorite haunt for painters, writers and movie stars, some lured by its notoriously louche reputation: writer Harold Acton famously called the town a “polite synonym for Sodom.” Several decades later, the place still retains an exclusive edge. Flashy boutiques and jewelry shops line the main street of Via Corso Umberto and, on summer nights, expensive yachts moor around the bay, their deck lights twinkling in the darkness. “Everyone needs a little bit of luxury sometimes,” Chiavetta says as he carves a curl of orange peel into another martini, surrounded by shelves of colored bottles and crystal decanters. “And that’s what Taormina has always done best.” He places the drinks on a silver tray and glides out to the sunlit terrace, just as the tinkle of a grand piano strikes up in the bar.

PHOTOS: MATT MUNRO

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Clockwise from top left: Isola Bella, a tiny island just off Taormina’s shore; head bartender Stefano Chiavetta prepares a cocktail at the Grand Hotel Timeo; a typical Taormina backstreet

Taormina is accessed from southern Sicily via the A18/E45 freeway. The city streets are narrow and parking is scarce, so it might be best to leave your car in one of the public parking lots on the outskirts.

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from Milazzo, 53 miles north of Taormina. There are generally two ferries per hour to Lipari, with regular connections to the other islands. The crossing to Lipari takes around an hour. Miles into your trip: 264

aeolian islands NATURAL PARADISE

A seven-island archipelago punctuating cobalt-blue waters – from lush Panarea to starkly volcanic Stromboli, each has its own charms. A blazing white sun hangs in the sky above Lipari’s old town, but on a shady backstreet, artist Armando Saltalamacchia is lost in his latest canvas: a group of fishermen piled into a wooden felucca boat, brandishing harpoons as they hunt for swordfish in the restless seas. Dozens more canvases fill his little studio, depicting snapshots of island life: vineyards, seaside churches and whitewashed houses cloaked in mimosa and bougainvillea. “I can remember seeing boats just like this in the harbor when I was small,” says Saltalamacchia, a burly figure with thickrimmed spectacles and unruly gray hair. “When I was a boy, there was still no electricity and hardly any cars on the islands – and that wasn’t all that long ago,” he says with a laugh, turning his attention back to the canvas as a moped clatters noisily along the cobbles outside. Twenty-four miles out to sea from Sicily’s northern coastline, Lipari is the largest, busiest and most accessible of the seven islands that make up the UNESCO-protected Aeolian archipelago. Although they appear separate, in fact they’re part of the same submarine landmass – the exposed tips of a chain of undersea volcanoes stretching for 90 miles along the floor of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Sculpted by centuries of volcanic activity, the geography of the archipelago feels starkly different to the rest of Sicily. Blacksand beaches and rocky towers known as faraglioni pepper the islands’ coastlines, and only the hardiest shrubs – gorse, buckthorn, juniper and sage – survive on the exposed, sunbaked hills. 90

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ESSENTIALS Lipari’s best address for fish and seafood is Filippino, in business for more than a century. Tuna steaks, shellfish platters and more are served on the terrace, with sliding doors overlooking the hilltop castle’s battlements (main courses from $21; filippino.it). The small, modern Hotel Rocce Azzurre, open April to October, sits in a quiet spot on the edge of Lipari Town, beside a pebbly cove. It’s pleasant rather than plush; rooms are plainly decorated with tiled floors and simple bathrooms, so you should make the most of the sea views and ask for a balcony (from $192; hotelrocceazzurre.it).

Historically, the islanders made their living from farming, fishing and pumice-mining. These days the Aeolian Islands are best known as summer escapes. Catamarans frequently buzz across the water from the mainland town of Milazzo, although in winter the coastal villages and secluded coves are largely deserted, and storms sometimes mean the islands can be cut off for days at a time. Each of the seven islands has its own character. Lipari is the most developed, while to the north Panarea and Salina are the greenest, cloaked in olive groves and flower-filled gardens. White-washed houses and cobbled streets hug the coastline, and abandoned shepherd’s huts huddle on the maquis-covered hills. The volcanic islands of Vulcano and Stromboli are both scarred by centuries of geothermal activity: on Vulcano, the closest island to Sicily, bathers splash around in the sulfuric mud; on Stromboli, hikers clamber up the island’s rock-strewn cone to gaze down into the bubbling crater. Most remote of all are the tiny specks of Filicudi and Alicudi out to the west, which can be reached only by a two-hour boat ride and are home to a population of just a few hundred people. “The islands are each like worlds of their own,” Saltalamacchia says as he wanders along Lipari’s winding lanes, past cats dozing on steps, and lines of laundry strung across the alleyways. “In the past, you used to be able to tell which island people came from because of their accent and the different words they used. Nowadays it’s not so easy.” He emerges beside the island’s harbor, lined by shuttered houses and wharfside cafés, where old men play chess over glasses of grappa. Above the harbor, the town’s medieval citadel looms on the hilltop, its zigzag battlements standing watch over fishing boats bobbing and yawing in the swell. “It’s so easy to paint here,” Saltalamacchia says. “The islands do all the work.”

PHOTO: MATT MUNRO

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Boats to the Aeolian Islands leave


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:

Clockwise, from left: tbd tbd

View of Salina island, from Lipari, at sunset


5

Miles into your trip: 390

palermo paler Animated street markets lie at the heart of SicilyÕs charismatic capital, where the cuisine reflects the areaÕs Arab heritage. It’s market day in Palermo’s old quarter, and there’s barely room to move. Stalls cram each side of the narrow street, heaped high with fruit and vegetables. Fishmongers bellow out the day’s prices, arranging swordfish and snapper on beds of ice. Grocers measure out spices on scales, and scoop salted capers from wooden buckets. Shoppers haggle with stallholders, bantering over cups of ink-black espresso. The air is pungent with the scents of fruit, fish, smoke and spices. It’s noisy, chaotic and unmistakably Sicilian. Established by Phoenician and Roman settlers, Palermo has been known for 2,000 years as a market city. Its four main markets – La Vucciria, Ballarò, Borgo Vecchio and Il Capo – owe their souqlike character to Arab merchants who migrated to Palermo when the island was the Emirate of Sicily, from 831 to 1072. Sicily’s strategic position in the middle of the Mediterranean, halfway between Europe, Africa and the Orient, made it a perfect trading post between east and west, and Palermo grew wealthy on the proceeds. The Arab influence also left a lasting mark on its food culture, with a taste for sugar, spices and fruit that endures. “Sicilian food has many things in common with Arab cuisine,” explains Stefania Di Salvo, a chef, food historian and authority on the local cuisine. “The combination of meat with spices and dried fruit in a dish such as pasta con le sarde [pasta with sardines, raisins and fennel], for example – that’s a classic Sicilian taste, very similar to the flavors of North Africa and

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ESSENTIALS Palermo’s markets open daily, except Sunday, from around 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Borgo Vecchio and Il Capo are also open most evenings. Central and stylish, arty Hotel Principe di Villafranca makes a perfect Palermo base. Pop-art-style paintings, 1970s sofas and a huge period fireplace decorate the lobby, contrasting with the hotel’s sleek white corridors and studiously minimal rooms. Deluxe rooms feature artwork by Simona Cavaglieri (from $74; principe divillafranca.it).

the Middle East,” she says as she casts an experienced eye over mounds of fish at one of the market stalls. “Cloves, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon, almonds, raisins: all these things we owe to our Arab ancestors.” Neighborhood trattorias dot Palermo’s maze of back streets, but many locals prefer to eat on the move, and the markets are crammed with stalls selling traditional snacks: pan-fried chickpea bread, spicy salsiccia sausages, and deep-fried arancini balls stuffed with cheese and meat. “Sicilian food is essentially peasant food,” says Di Salvo, raising her voice to be heard against the market hubbub as she ducks into a butcher’s shop festooned with dangling hams and strings of cured sausages. “It’s all about strong flavors combined with simple ingredients. And, most importantly of all, nothing ever goes to waste.” Dusk descends on the market, and the alleys begin to throng with after-work shoppers browsing for supper ingredients beneath the streetlights. Charcoal grills are set up in side passages, and clouds of smoke billow from beneath colored awnings. Strings of lightbulbs flicker overhead. Shouts echo in the gloom, joining the low hum of traffic on the city’s thoroughfares. “There’s an old saying in Sicilian,” Di Salvo says, jostling her way through the evening crush. “‘Non c’è megghiu sarsa di la fami – there’s no better sauce than hunger.’ Speaking of which, I think it’s about time we ate, don’t you?”

PHOTOS CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: MATT MUNRO; MATT MUNRO; ANDREW MONTGOMERY; ANDREW MONTGOMERY

CULINARY CAPITAL


Palermo is 126 miles west of Milazzo on the A20/E90 freeway. The city’s traffic is notoriously bad, so it’s best to avoid rush hour if you can.

Clockwise from left (opposite): gelato, a traditional Sicilian treat; a motor scooter is an easy way to tour Sicily; stallholder at La Vucciria market; pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines),

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a classic Sicilian dish

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your trip mapped out Flight Times From Dallas

9�

12

HOURS

HOURS

Palermo’s FalconeBorsellino airport (gesap .it) is at Punto Raisi, 19 miles west of the city. Trains and buses run to the city center every 30 to 60 minutes from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Taxis cost about $50. The journey takes from 30 minutes to an hour.

Catania–Fontanarossa Airport (aeroporto.catania .it) is about 4 miles outside Catania. AMT’s Alibus runs from the airport to the train station every 20 minutes. Taxis are about $30.

Sicily’s third-biggest airport, Vincenzo Floria airport (airgest.it), commonly known as Birgi, is 9 miles south of Trapani at Birgi. Buses run hourly to Trapani’s bus station and port between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. Taxis cost about $39.

GETTING AROUND

It’s preferable to have your own car (or motorbike) in Sicily. Getting around the island on public transportation is difficult and time-consuming.

Trenitalia train service is fast and frequent along the coast from Palermo to Messina and Syracuse to Messina. Less frequent and slower trains run from Palermo to Agrigento, Trapani and Marsala.

Efficient ferries and hydrofoils serve Sicily’s outer islands.

FOR MORE INFORMATION Sicilian Tourist Board (regione.sicilia.it/turismo/web_turismo), Italian Tourism (italia.it/en), Best of Sicily (bestofsicily.com), Lonely Planet (lonelyplanet.com/italy/sicily)

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MAP: JOSIE PORTILLO; PHOTOS LEFT TO RIGHT: SEAN GALLUP/GETTY IMAGES ; MANFRED SEGERER/ULLSTEIN BILD/GETTY IMAGES; GIORGIO COSULICH/GETTY IMAGES

From NYC


postcards

WHERE YOU’VE BEEN AND WHAT YOU’VE SEEN

SAMARKAND, UZBEKISTAN

Domes Day

Aaron Morris spent three weeks in four of Central Asia’s “’stans.”

Send your best new travel photos (at 300 dpi), along with the stories behind them (in 100 words or less), and a photo of yourself to postcards @lonelyplanet.com.

The Registan ensemble was the main reason we were drawn to travel around Central Asia. I have been to many countries and rarely does my mouth drop open. The Registan was an exception. The mosaic fascias and turquoise and azure blues of the domes lit up by the sun were just breathtaking. This was one of the most stunning sights I have ever seen.


postcards TANNA, VANUATU Tribal Welcome This picture was taken on Tanna before the arrival of Cyclone Pam, which largely destroyed the island. A local tribe, wearing reed skirts and tops, danced and showed me their way of life. This picture of a grandmother looking after her grandson shows how the whole village came together for my visit. It saddens me to think how their way of life might have been changed by the cyclone, but I’m sure these hardy people have found a way to rebuild their lives.

Keith Goulding visited Vanuatu while islandhopping in the South Pacific.

VENICE, ITALY Rainbow Island My friend and I had both longed to visit Venice. We spent five days touring the islands. It was exhausting, but well worth it. We were not disappointed with Burano. As we strolled along the tiny streets and canals, we came upon a bridge. I snapped the photo here as I was so mesmerized by the beauty and vibrant colors. The photo reminds me of the peacefulness of Burano, and also the chilly wind in March!

Emma Alfieri is a lawyer from the town of Diss in Norfolk, England.

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SUMBAWA, INDONESIA First Light

Mantar is a mountaintop village in west Sumbawa. The region is known for its horses, bred for riding and light draft work. Ahmad Syukaery lives in Jakarta. He spent six days on Sumbawa.

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NAVAJO RESERVATION, ARIZONA, Spirit Light

Antelope Canyon, located on Navajo land, is at constant risk of flash floods during rainy season, even from downpours occurring dozens of miles away. Moyan Brenn, from Italy, has been interested in photography since he was a young boy.

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postcards WADI RUM, JORDAN Sand Rover The beauty of Wadi Rum is well known throughout the world. This picture is of our guide, Helal, looking through the desert haze like a latterday Lawrence of Arabia. Half an hour after this picture was taken, the scene was transformed by a desert storm, with sand lashing against us and getting into every crevice. Another 30 minutes passed and we were soon enjoying a mint tea in the tent of one of Helal’s many Bedouin friends.

Brian Carney, from Ilkley in Yorkshire, England, vacationed in Jordan for three weeks.

SICHUAN, CHINA Big Calm The Leshan Giant Buddha was built around AD 700. It took 90 years to complete. According to legend, construction was initiated by Haitong, a monk who wished to calm the area’s turbulent rivers. At 233 feet tall, the statue is one of the world’s biggest Buddhas. As I squeezed myself between other awestruck tourists to get a view, I couldn’t help but feel immense respect for the determination and hard work behind the Giant Buddha.

Fiona Lam spent four days around Chengdu in Sichuan.

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Ever-popular Cumaná in the Recoleta district

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Budget RODI BAR

This traditional corner restaurant with fine old-world atmosphere is an institution in the affluent Recoleta neighborhood downtown, the cultural center of the city. The menu is unpretentious and extensive, and offers something for everyone, from inexpensive combo plates to specialty dishes such as marinated beef tongue (Vicente López 1900; main courses from $5; 7am–1am daily). CHAN CHAN

MINI GUIDE

Eating in Buenos Aires With its fine art of barbecuing hunks of meat, Italian heritage, ethnic treats and five-star contemporary dining, Argentina’s capital guarantees everyone will eat well, whatever the budget.

Tear out page here then fold along dotted lines

ASTOR

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ELENA

LAS PIZARRAS

French-trained chef Antonio Soriano presides over the kitchen at this contemporary restaurant. The few main dishes change weekly but are always delicious and beautifully presented, accented with edible flowers. The tasting menu is an indulgent nine courses (astorbistro.com; Ciudad de la Paz 353; 12:30pm–3:30pm Mon–Fri, 8pm–midnight Tue–Sat; main courses from $8.50).

CUMANÁ

To sample Argentina’s regional cuisine, check out this colorful, budget-friendly eatery with huge windows and an old-fashioned adobe oven. Cumaná specializes in delicious cazuela: stews of corn, squash, eggplant, potatoes and meat. Also popular are the locro (a traditional pumpkin and bean stew), empanadas and humita (creamed corn). Come early (Rodríguez Peña 1149; noon–4pm & 8pm–1am; main courses from $4.50).

Splurge

Mid-Range At this simple yet excellent restaurant in Palermo Viejo, chef Rodrigo Castilla cooks up a changing rainbow of creative dishes, such as grilled venison or rabbit stuffed with cherries and pistachios. Simpler dishes include asparagus and mushroom risotto and homemade pasta with sauce (laspizarrasbistro.com; Thames 2296; 8pm–midnight Tue–Sun; main courses from $7.50).

Thanks to fair prices and quick service, this colorful, no-frills Peruvian joint in the Congreso area is jam-packed at lunchtime with office workers devouring plates of ceviche and ajiaco de conejo (rabbit and potato stew). Also worth trying is the arroz chaufa (Peruvian fried rice), washed down with a tangy pisco sour or a sweet, fruity chicha morada (Hipólito Yrigoyen 1390; 12pm–4pm & 8pm–midnight Tue– Sun; main courses from $3.75).

Hearty cuisine at great-value restaurant Chan Chan

Linger over the bountiful weekend brunch at Malvón. MALVÓN

Famous for its American-style weekend brunch, which features pancakes, French toast and eggs Benedict, Malvón is an old-style eatery with a wonderfully rustic yet upscale atmosphere. The gourmet sandwiches are delicious. There are also great baked treats, bagels, burgers and tapas . Expect to wait for a table on weekends (malvonba .com.ar; Serrano 789; 8am– 8:30pm; brunch from $13.50).

If you want a special night out, Elena, located in the Four Seasons Hotel in Retiro, is the place to go for cocktails, superb dishes and five-star service. Order the dry-aged rib-eye steak or seared prawns with charred baby fennel for something really special (elenaponyline.com; Four Seasons Hotel, Posadas 1086; 7am–11am, 12:30pm–3:30pm & 7:30pm– 12:30am; main courses from $21).

UNIK

Sample contemporary, sophisticated dishes, perhaps an appetizer of roasted beets with goat cheese and a walnut-truffle vinaigrette, and entrées such as rabbit with eggplant purée, suckling pig with grilled apples in Dijon mustard sauce, or Patagonian lamb with pickled figs and a tajine sauce (unik.pro; Soler 5132; 12:30pm–3pm Tue–Sat & 8:30pm– midnight Mon–Sat; main courses from $21).

Chefs at Elena, one of Latin America’s best restaurants TOMO 1

European-influenced chef Federico Fialayre promotes a blend of Italian and Spanish cooking methods in dishes that use seasonal produce, and with a focus on fresh fish. Sample his famed cuisine with a three-course prix fixe menu, which includes two glasses of wine, coffee and petits fours (tomo1.com.ar; Carlos Pellegrini 521; noon–3pm Mon–Fri, 7:30pm– 12:30am Mon–Sat; main courses from $21).

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MINI GUIDE Eating in Buenos Aires

Eating

Essentials

STEAK OUT

WHERE TO STAY

Racó de Buenos Aires is an Italian-designed building that offers 12 spacious rooms, all individually styled and with high ceilings and wooden floors. There’s also a small patio and a wine bar (racodebuenosaires.com.ar; Yapeyú 271; from $100).

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The living room at Cabrera Garden, complete with coffee table books

One of BA’s loveliest stays is Cabrera Garden, a three-room B&B. The remodeled 1920s building has a garden and a pool, and rooms are richly decorated (cabreragarden .com; José Antonio Cabrera 5855; from $145). Alvear Palace Hotel, in the heart of the upscale Recoleta district, is the most traditional hotel in BA. Rooms have whirlpool baths, Egyptian cotton sheets and posh toiletries, plus there’s a restaurant, tearoom, cigar bar, spa, indoor pool and butler service (alvearpalace.com; Av. Alvear 1891; from $585).

Know the common cuts in the world’s beef capital. Bife de chorizo: sirloin; a popular thick and juicy cut Bife de costilla or chuleta: T-bone or porterhouse steak Bife de lomo: tenderloin; a more tender, thinly cut piece of steak Cuadril: rump steak; often a thin cut Ojo de bife: rib-eye; a choice smaller morsel Tira de asado: short ribs; thin, strips of ribs sliced crosswise Vacío: flank steak; textured, chewy but very flavorful • If you don’t specify, your steak will come a punto – medium to well-done. If you want some pink in the middle, ask for it jugoso (medium rare).Vuelta y vuelta is rare and bien cocido is well-done.

FOR MORE INFORMATION Discover more of Buenos Aires with Lonely Planet’s Guides app (lonelyplanet.com/guides), featuring offline maps, essential information and must-see sights curated by on-the-ground experts. Lonely Planet’s Buenos Aires ($21.99) is a comprehensive guide to the city; selected chapters are available to download at lonelyplanet.com ($4.95). See pickupthefork.com for bar and restaurant reviews, and to find out where to buy ingredients.

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM SANDRA BAO. PHOTOGRAPHS: WANDER ARGENTINA, BLUE LAPIS ROAD@WORDPRESS.COM, LARS STEPHAN, DAVID MUNNS FOR OLIVE MAGAZINE

The Know-How

GETTING THERE & AROUND

Buenos Aires is easily accessible from North America. Almost all international flights arrive at Ezeiza airport (Ministro Pistarini International Airport). You can take a shuttle with transfer companies such as Manuel Tienda León for about $13 (tiendaleon.com.ar). Alternatively, a taxi to the city will cost about $40 (taxiezeiza.com.ar). The Subte (underground) is the quickest way to get around; a one-ride card costs about 45 cents. The bus system is huge and complex (buy a “Guia T” guide, available at newsstands, for bus route details).

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Mali Lošinj town on the coastal island of Lošinj

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Istrian Peninsula ^

POREC

While this ancient Roman town is not the place for a quiet getaway, it does have the World Heritagelisted, 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica, one of Europe’s finest intact examples of Byzantine art. The glittering wall mosaic masterpieces feature biblical scenes, archangels and Istrian martyrs (Eufrazijeva ulica 22; 9am–4pm Nov–Mar, 9am–6pm Apr–Oct; closed Sun; $6).

MINI GUIDE

ROVINJ

Coastal Croatia This unrelentingly gorgeous stretch of Adriatic coast constantly changes from beautiful mountains to walled towns to low-slung islands and back again.

Northern Dalmatia

Set aside at least two days for the coast’s showpiece resort town, one of the Mediterranean’s last true fishing ports. Prayers for a good catch are sent forth at the massive Church of St. Euphemia, whose 197-foot tower punctuates the peninsula. The old town is webbed with cobbled streets and piazzas, while the 14 green islands of the Rovinj archipelago, just offshore, make for a very pleasant afternoon day trip.

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SPLIT

Croatia’s second-largest city is a great place to see Dalmatian life. Its dramatic coastal mountains act as a backdrop to the turquoise waters of the Adriatic. Head to Bacvice, the most popular beach, which has good swimming, lively ambience, beach ball games and showers, or take a walk along the seafront of Marjan, starting at Riva and heading to the shiny new West Coast promenade. ^

KVARNER ISLANDS

Sheltered by soaring mountains, the Kvarner Gulf offers mild climate and cobalt-blue waters. Interconnected Cres and Lošinj, the most offbeat of the islands, have good hiking trails. Wilder, greener Cres has remote camping grounds, pristine beaches, a handful of medieval villages and an off-the-radar feel, while more populated and touristy Lošinj sports two pretty port towns, a string of beautiful bays and lush vegetation.

KAMENJAK

For seclusion, head to the wild Kamenjak National Park on the Premantura Peninsula. This uninhabited cape features rolling hills, wildflowers (including 30 species of orchid), shrubs, fruit trees and medicinal herbs, plus 18 miles of beaches and coves. It’s crisscrossed with paths, making it easy to explore by foot or bike (kamenjak.hr; one-time entry by car $5.25, free for pedestrians and cyclists; 7am–9pm).

Central Dalmatia

VOLOSKO

One of the prettiest places on the Kvarner coastline, where stone houses with flower-laden balconies rise up from the coast, is also a hot spot for local cuisine. It has a clutch of high-quality konobas (taverns), including Konoba Valle Losca – be sure to have the truffles and schnapps (Andrije Štangera 2; 1pm–11pm Tue–Sat, 12:30pm– 4:30pm Sun, closed Mon; main courses from $9).

Parts of the Euphrasian Basilica date back to the 4th century.

The Sun Salutation’s light show varies by how sunny the day was. ZADAR

Zadar has two unique attractions: the Sea Organ and the Sun Salutation. The Sea Organ is a system of pipes and whistles that exudes wistful, hypnotic sighs when movement of the sea pushes air through it. The Sun Salutation is a 272-foot-wide circle in the promenade filled with 300 multilayered glass plates that collect the sun’s energy; it produces a trippy light show from sunset to sunrise.

VIS ISLAND

Underdeveloped Vis produces some of Croatia’s best-known wines – vugava (a white grape variety originally cultivated by the ancient Greeks) in particular – and you’ll see miles of vineyards across the island. You can also taste some of the best seafood here, thanks to a thriving fishing tradition. The rugged coast around the island is dotted with gorgeous coves, caves and a couple of sand beaches.

Pakleni Islands are named after a pine resin once used to coat ships. PAKLENI ISLANDS

This beautiful chain of wooded isles has crystal-clear seas, hidden beaches and deserted lagoons. Taxi boats leave from the town of Hvar to Jerolim and Stipanska, which are popular naturist islands (although nudity isn’t mandatory), and to Palmižana, which has a pebble beach, and Meneghello Place, a beautiful estate that holds music recitals and has two excellent restaurants and an art gallery.

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MINI GUIDE Coastal Croatia

Essentials

The Know-How BEACH LOWDOWN

GETTING THERE & AROUND

There are no nonstop flights from North America to Croatia, but there are direct flights from a variety of European cities. Low-cost carriers have established routes to Croatia; you can fly to Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, Rijeka, Pula and Zagreb on budget airlines. Croatia’s major airport is Zagreb Airport (zagreb -airport.hr). Jadrolinija runs a network of car ferries and catamarans along the Adriatic coast (jadrolinija.hr). Bus services – there are several companies, including brioni.hr and autotrans.hr – are excellent and inexpensive. WHERE TO STAY

Hotel Flores is an unassuming hideaway close to Porec’s bus station. There are 39 rooms with balconies, an indoor swimming pool, a fitness room, a Turkish bath and a sauna, and the beach is only 76 yards away (Ulica Rade Koncara 4; from $98). ^

^

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• Although only 370 miles long as the crow flies, Croatia’s Adriatic coastline would actually stretch 1,100 miles if someone were to iron out all the indentations and unwind the numerous islands. The three-bedroom villa at Divota Apartment Hotel

Scattered across the Veli Varoš old town neighborhood of Split, in eight restored stone fishermen’s houses, Divota Apartment Hotel has contemporary rooms, apartments and a stunning three-bedroom villa (divota.hr; Plinarska 75; from $144). Art Hotel Kalelarga, in Zadar’s city center, is a 10-room boutique hotel with an understated beauty. Exposed stonework and mushroom hues imbue the spacious rooms with character (arthotel-kalelarga .com; Ulica Majke Margarite 3; from $189).

• Mostly you’ll find pretty little rocky or pebbly coves, edged by pines, olives or low scrub. There are some sandy island beaches but the water is often too shallow to swim. What is striking along the coast is the clarity and blue-green color of the water.

• Croatia has 97 Blue Flag beaches (indicating high environmental and quality standards). The majority of them are in Istria (43) and the Kvarner region (27).

• There are nudist beaches all along the coast, often accompanied by campsites. Look for the “FKK” (Free Body Culture ) signs.

FOR MORE INFORMATION Lonely Planet’s Croatia is an extensive guide to the country ($25.99); you can buy individual chapters – such as “Split” and “Central Dalmatia” – at lonelyplanet.com ($4.95). For an excellent, informative website about the country, visit tasteofcroatia.org. Café Europa: Life After Communism, by Slavenka Drakulic (Abacus) wittily details the infiltration of Western culture into Eastern Europe.

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ANJA MUTIĆ AND PETER DRAGICEVICH. PHOTOGRAPHS: VJANEZ/ISTOCK IMAGES, ALAN COPSON/AWL IMAGES, NICK LEDGER/AWL IMAGES, MATTHEW WILLIAMS-ELLIS/ROBERT HARDING, ANGUS FORBES/ALAMY

Sights


The Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Audience) in the Red Fort

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Sights RED FORT

This massive fortress conjures a picture of the splendor of Mughal Delhi. Protected by a dramatic 59-foot-high wall, the marble and sandstone monuments were constructed at the peak of the dynasty’s power. Every evening, except Monday, the fort is the setting for a bombastic sound and light show (asi.nic.in; open daily 7am–5:30pm; $3.85, light show about $1).

MINI GUIDE

JAMA MASJID

Historic Delhi Mystery, magic and mayhem define India’s capital territory, home to 16.7 million people as well as the relics of bygone civilizations, beautifully preserved Mughal forts and medieval bazaars.

CHANDNI CHOWK

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SPICE MARKET

Khari Baoli, the street that runs from the Fatehpuri Mosque to the western edge of the old city, is Delhi’s wholesale spice market. It has changed little for centuries. Huge sacks of herbs and spices are still brought on long, narrow barrows, and there are displays of everything from lentils and rice to giant jars of chutneys, pickles, nuts and tea, plus piles of scarlet-red chilies, knobby ginger and turmeric roots.

FEROZ SHAH KOTLA

Ferozabad, the fifth city of Delhi, was built by Feroz Shah in 1354. Ringed by crumbling walls are a huge mosque, a step-well and the pyramid-like Hawa Mahal, topped by a 42-foot-high sandstone pillar inscribed with Emperor Ashoka’s edicts. On Thursday afternoon, crowds gather to light candles and incense, leaving bowls of milk to appease “djinns” – invisible spirits (Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg; dawn– dusk; $1.50).

Eating

Shopping Pure pandemonium, the old city’s most famous market, here for more than three centuries, is crammed with stores selling saris, Nehru suits, glittery shoes and electrical goods. It’s worth coming for the spectacle alone. Aim for midmorning when you can actually move through the streets. From here, you can embark on a journey of discovery through Old Delhi’s bazaars (10am–7pm Mon–Sat).

A respite from the surrounding mayhem, this mosque is one of India’s largest; its courtyard can hold 25,000 people. Towering over Old Delhi, the “Friday Mosque,” built between 1644 and 1658, was the final architectural opus of Shah Jahan (the Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort). Rent robes at the northern gate (delhitourism.gov.in; 7am–noon & 1:30pm–6:30pm; free; tourists not allowed during prayer hours).

Jama Masjid is covered with inscribed verses from the Quran.

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KARIM’S

Bartering over the price of a sari in Chandni Chowk market AAP KI PASAND (SAN-CHA)

This elegant tea shop sells a full range of teas, from Darjeeling and Assam to Nilgiri and Kangra. Relax in handcrafted furniture and listen to soothing music while sampling up to 35 varieties of tea. Any tea you purchase comes lovingly packaged in a drawstring bag. There’s another branch in the Santushti Shopping Complex (aapkipasandtea.com; 15 Netaji Subhash Marg; 10am–7pm Mon–Sat).

Just south of Jama Masjid, familyrun Karim’s has been delighting carnivores since 1913. Expect meaty Mughlai treats such as tandoori burra (spiced roast mutton), tandoori bakra (lamb stuffed with chicken, rice, eggs and dried fruits) and butter chicken; ice creams and other sweet desserts are also offered (karimhoteldelhi.com; Gali Kababian; 9am–12:30am; main courses from 75 cents). JALEBI WALA

Century-old Jalebi Wala does Delhi’s, if not India’s, finest jalebis – pretzelshaped wheat-flour batter, deep-fried and then soaked in sugar syrup. It’s famous for its fat style of jalebis, so pig out and worry about the calories tomorrow. Samosas are also available as a savory option (1797 Dariba Corner, Chandni Chowk; open daily 10am–9pm; jalebis sold by weight, 45 cents per 100g, or 3½ ounces).

Grilled chicken, mutton and fish are the specialties at Karim’s. IMPERIAL

High tea at the inimitable, Raj-era Imperial is perhaps the most refined way to while away an afternoon in Delhi. Sip tea from bone-china cups and pluck dainty sandwiches, macaroons, tarts and cakes from tiered stands in the Atrium, which is lined with 18th- and 19th-century paintings and prints (theimperialindia .com; Janpath Lane; afternoon tea 3pm–6pm daily; from $18 per person).

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MINI GUIDE Historic Delhi

Sights

Essentials

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Sleeping

Maidens, founded in 1903, was one of Delhi’s first hotels.

Hotel Palace Heights is a cool boutique hotel offering gleaming white linens, black lampshades and caramel tones. There’s an excellent restaurant, too (hotel palaceheights.com; 26/28 Connaught Place; from $76). Maidens Hotel has enormous rooms with colonial-era charm combined with modern comforts. There are two restaurants, a pool and a bar (maidenshotel.com; 7 Sham Nath Marg; from $130).

DELHI’S MIGHTY MEN Wander the districts north of Kashmere Gate in Old Delhi to find the favored stomping ground for the city’s traditional mud wrestlers. The blog kushtiwrestling.blogspot.co.uk is a good introduction to the sport. • Pehlwani – or kusti – is a full-contact martial art, fusing elements of yoga and philosophy with combat and intense physical training. • Young men enroll at akharas (training centers) in their early teens, and follow a strict diet and regimen of daily exercises. • Bouts continue until one wrestler submits or collapses from exhaustion. Most akharas welcome spectators at training, but it’s better to ask for permission first.

FOR MORE INFORMATION Lonely Planet’s India ($34.99) and Rajasthan, Delhi & Agra ($26.99) have full chapters on the city, which are also available to download at lonelyplanet.com ($4.95). For an offbeat view of Delhi’s parties, culture, food and walks, visit thedelhiwalla.com. Delhi: A Novel by Khushwant Singh, one of the city’s best-known writers, traces the history of the city (Penguin Books India).

COMPILED D BBY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM LINDSAY BROWN AND ABIGAIL HOLE. PHOTOGRAPHS: ADNAN ABIDI/REUTERS/CORBIS, MUKUL BANERJEE PHOTOGRAPHY, NAVEEN JORA/INDIA TODAY GROUP/GETTY IMAGES, RUBY/ALAMY, JANE SWEENEY/AWL IMAGES

WHERE TO STAY

Full of Rajasthani carvings and antiques, Jyoti Mahal is a cut above other places in Paharganj. Arranged around an atrium, rooms have handmade furniture, marble floors and some have four-poster beds (jyotimahal.net; 2488-90 Nalwa St.; from $34).

Eating

The Know-How

GETTING THERE & AROUND

Indira Gandhi International Airport is about 9 miles southwest of the city center. Terminal 3’s arrivals hall has 24-hour foreign exchange, ATMs, prepaid taxi and car rental counters, tourist info, bookshops, cafés and more. The metro (delhimetrorail.com; 40 mins; $1.50), buses ($1.15) and prepaid taxis ($5.35) are good transportation options. Delhi’s magnificent metro is both fast and efficient, and offers one-day tourist cards for unlimited short-distance travel ($2.30). Haggle hard for local taxis and rickshaws; see taxiautofare .com for suggested fares.

Shopping


The Glória funicular links the districts of Baixa and Bairro Alto.

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Best Clubs LUX FRÁGIL

Lisbon’s must-visit club in Santa Apolónia is part-owned by actor John Malkovich. Special but not snooty, it hosts big-name DJs spinning electro and house. Grab a spot on the terrace to see the sun rise over the Tejo. The dress policy is relaxed. If you arrive after 4 am on weekends, the club might be full (luxfragil.com; Avenida Infante Dom Henrique; 10pm–6am Tue–Sat, entry from $15). LOUNGE

MINI GUIDE

Nightlife in Lisbon Cherry liqueur at a streetside bar, a cocktail with grand views, or a night at a classic fado club: this Portuguese city is home to some of Europe’s most engaging nightlife.

WINEBAR DO CASTELO

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A GINJINHA

By dusk, the Rossio area buzzes with locals getting their cherry-liqueur fix at various ginjinha bars. This tiny bar is famous as the birthplace of the sugary-sweet tipple: watch the owner line them up at the bar under the beady eyes of the drink’s 19th-century inventor, the Galician friar Francisco Espinheira. Order yours “com” – with alcohol-soaked cherries (Largo de Saõ Domingos 8; 9am–10pm; glass of ginjinha $1.70).

MUSICBOX

Under the brick arches on Rua Nova do Carvalho in Cais do Sodré lies one of Lisbon’s hottest clubs – a cross between a performing stage and a dance floor. Musicbox hosts loud and sweaty club nights with tunes shifting from electro to rock, plus gigs by established and up-and-coming national and international bands (musicbox lisboa.com; Rua Nova do Carvalho 24; 11pm– 6am Mon–Sat; entry from $8).

Best for Fado

Best Bars Sample the country’s finest at Lisbon’s best wine bar, which serves more than 150 Portuguese wines by the glass. Located near the entrance to the Castelo São Jorge, the laid-back bar also serves gourmet smoked meats, cheeses and olives. The staff is friendly and welcoming (winebardocastelo.blogspot.com; Rua Bartolomeu de Gusmão 13; 2pm–10pm daily; glass of wine from $6).

For many years the riverside neighborhood of Cais do Sodré was the haunt of whiskey-slugging sailors, but now it’s party central, and Lounge, a laid-back indie club, is an exceptionally popular joint. It’s jam-packed and pumping most nights. It has a moody, intimate, dimly lit setting, and guest DJs, live acoustic acts and rock gigs are generally first-rate (loungelisboa .com.pt; Rua da Moeda 1; 10pm– 4am Tue–Sun).

New Wave musician Twin Shadow performs at Musicbox.

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A BAÎUCA

An original poster in the doorway of cherry-liqueur bar A Ginjinha NOOBAI CAFÉ

Great views over the Tejo and winning cocktails make Noobai a popular draw. Though it’s next to the popular Miradouro de Santa Catarina, few realize the bar is here until they descend the steps and the terrace unfurls before them. The vibe is relaxed and the music is funky jazz (noobaicafe.com; Miradouro de Santa Catarina; noon–10pm Tue– Thu, until midnight Fri–Sat, until 8pm Sun; wine with tapas $15).

On a good night, walking into A Baîuca is like gate-crashing a family party. It’s a special place featuring fado vadio (vagabond fado), plaintive Portuguese folk songs. Locals take turns and spectators hiss if anyone chats during the singing. The food stops around 10pm but the fado goes on until midnight. Reserve a table (Rua de São Miguel 20; dinner Thu–Mon; minimum spend about $30). CLUBE DE FADO

Clube de Fado in the heart of Alfama district hosts the cream of the fado crop in vaulted, dimly lit surrounds. Big-name fadistas performing here include Joana Amendoeira and Miguel Capucho, alongside celebrated guitarists such as José Fontes Rocha. The food is ordinary, but come for drinks and appetizers (clube-de-fado.com; Rua de São João da Praça 86–94; 8pm–late daily; $15 cover charge).

Fado, which dates back to the 1820s, performed at A Baîuca MESA DE FRADES

A magical place to hear fado, tiny Mesa de Frades used to be a chapel. It’s decorated with exquisite azulejos (glazed painted tiles) and has just a handful of tables. The show begins around 11pm and the proximity of the artists to the patrons makes this an intense, intimate venue (facebook.com/mesadefradeslisboa; Rua dos Remédios 139 A; 8pm– 2:30am Mon–Sat; admission from $18).

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MINI GUIDE Nightlife in Lisbon

Entertainment

Essentials

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WHERE TO DRINK

Portuguese heroes adorn the sitting room wall of Casa Amora.

The Casa Amora has 10 beautifully designed rooms, including private studios with small kitchens. Rooms are bright, elegantly furnished and each pays homage to a different artist (casaamora.com; Rua João Penha 13; from $115). On the edge of one of Lisbon’s prettiest plazas, the 48-room Lisboa Carmo Hotel has classically designed rooms, the best of which have sweeping city views (lisboacarmohotel.com; Rua da Oliveira ao Carmo 1; from $135).

Bairro Alto The city’s lively, often raucous, center is filled with late-night bars and shops. Bica Head a few blocks south of Bairro Alto for a more artistically minded crowd. Príncipe Real Just north of Bairro Alto, this is the center of Lisbon’s gay scene and home to some quirky drinking dens. Alfama and Graça These districts are great for relaxed drinks and restaurants hosting guitar-led fado (below). Cais do Sodré Boho bars, live music venues and burlesque clubs are perfect for a late-night bar crawl. Doca de Alcântara and Doca de Santo Amaro This dockside duo harbors wall-to-wall bars with a pre-clubbing vibe. Parque das Naçoes Enjoy waterfront restaurants, cafés and bars with outdoor seating.

EXPERT TIP Locals don’t even think about showing up at a club before 2am. Though getting in at the hottest clubs is not as much of a beauty contest as it is in other capitals, you’ll stand a better chance of slipping past the fashion police if you dress smartish and don’t rock up on your lonesome. Most clubs charge entry fees of $5 to $20 (usually including a drink or two), and some operate a card-stamping system to ensure you spend a minimum amount.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Lonely Planet’s Pocket Lisbon ($13.99) is ideal for short breaks, while Portugal ($24.99) has a full “Lisbon & Around” chapter, which is available to download at lonely planet.com ($4.95). For up-to-date event listings see visitlisboa.com.

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM REGIS ST LOUIS. PHOTOGRAPHS: CHRISTIAN GAUPI/AGE FOTOSTOCK/SUPERSTOCK, FÁBIO TEIXEIRA, MATT MUNRO, CRO MAGNON/ALAMY

WHERE TO STAY

Tucked down a quiet street in the famous Bairro Alto, a lively nightlife district, Pensão Globo offers 15 tidy, individually decorated rooms, from scarlet ones with mini courtyards to lime-green abodes (blueangelhotel .com; Rua do Teixeira 37; from $29; no breakfast).

Sleeping

The Know-How

GETTING THERE & AROUND

The ultramodern Lisbon Airport (ana.pt) operates direct flights to major international hubs, including New York, London and Paris. Flight time from NYC is about seven hours. Get there and back by metro, on the AeroBus or pay about $15 for a taxi. Take the metro for short hops (transport eslisboa.pt; single ticket $1.60). Don’t leave the city without riding tram 28 from Largo Martim Moniz or tram 12 from Praça da Figueira through the narrow streets of the Alfama. The Lisboa card is good for unlimited travel (visitlisboa .com; $36 for 48 hours).

Drinking


Le Rocher seen from the Jardin Exotique

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Eating & Drinking STREET EATS

Find inexpensive specialties such as socca (chickpea flour pancake), barbagiuan (chard and cheese pastries) and pan bagnat (a sandwich, right) in street or market stalls around the old town. The Casino supermarket is also a handy, central option, with a streetside bakery and pizzeria (supercasino.fr; 17 Blvd. Albert 1er; 8:30am– midnight Mon–Sat, 9am–9pm Sun; pizza slices from $3). TIP TOP

MINI GUIDE

Budget Monaco It may be the world’s second-smallest country, but Monaco has plenty of glitz, glamour and attitude. While it’s not inexpensive to visit, you can still enjoy its delights on a budget.

CATHÉDRALE DE MONACO

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LE ROCHER

The historic quarter of Monaco-Ville, aka Le Rocher, sits atop a pistolshaped rock. It’s this strategic location overlooking the sea that became the stronghold of the Grimaldi dynasty. Built as a fortress in the 13th century, the princely palace is now their private residence; changing of the guard takes place daily at 11:55am. To access it, walk up the Rampe Major from Place d’Armes in the Condamine area.

FLASHMAN

Plenty of burgers, rib-eyes and pizzas are on the menu at this indoor/outdoor bar and restaurant, about a five-minute walk from the famous Monte Carlo Casino. You’ll also find reasonably priced drinks here. There’s live music on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and the dress code is smart-casual (flashmans.mc; 7 Ave. Princesse Alice; 10am–6am Mon–Sat; pizza from $11.50, entrées from $20).

Summer Thrills

Sights Join the adoring crowd that shuffles past the graves of Monaco’s 20th-century power couple, Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace. The flower-adorned graves are located inside the choir of the principality’s Romanesque–Byzantine cathedral. The Monaco boys’ choir sings Sunday Mass here September through June (cathedrale.mc; Avenue Saint-Martin; 8am–7pm May–Sep, 8:30am–6pm Oct–Apr; free).

This atmospheric bistro, on the Formula One Grand Prix street circuit near the Monte Carlo Casino, is where Monégasques gather all night long for pizza, pasta and gossip – a good place to know if you’re hungry after a night out or are on a budget and fancy simple dishes such as steak, roast chicken or calamari (facebook.com/tiptop monaco; 11 Ave. des Spélugues; 10am–late; pizza from $14, main courses from $15).

Pan bagnat – in many ways, a niçoise salad in a loaf of bread

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OPEN-AIR CINEMA

Monaco upgraded its parish church to a cathedral in 1875. JARDIN EXOTIQUE

Hundreds of species of cactus and other succulents crowd into this cliffside garden. There are superb views of the principality. Your ticket includes a 35-minute guided tour around the Grotte de l’Observatoire, a network of stalactite-rich caves and an important prehistoric site, where the temperature stays unusually warm (jardin-exotique.mc; 62 Blvd. du Jardin Exotique; 9am–dusk; $8).

Sit back in your armchair and try not to be too distracted by the awesome views overlooking the sea. This open-air cinema at the foot of Le Rocher, around the corner from the port, shows crowd-pleasing blockbusters, mostly in English, every night from June 20 to late September. There are no reservations. The show starts around 8:30pm (cinema2 monaco.com; Avenue de la Quarantaine; tickets $12). FIREWORKS

For several nights in July and August, the port area is home to the International Fireworks Festival, a musical pyrotechnics competition. Each top-notch show lasts around 20 minutes and the winner gets to organize the fireworks on November 18, the eve of Monaco’s National Holiday. Quai Albert 1er and Avenue d’Ostende are good spots to watch the show (monaco-feuxdartifice.mc; the fireworks begin at 9:30pm; free).

Fireworks light up the night sky behind the Place du Casino. SWIMMING

Monaco’s beaches are not the best in the Riviera but there are a couple of nice – and, surprisingly, free – options. Esplanade Stefano Casiraghi is a concrete solarium near the open-air cinema, while the Plage du Larvotto is a sand option at the northeast end of the principality. For an Olympic-size outdoor seawater pool, head to the Stade Nautique Rainier III (Quai Albert 1er; 9am–6pm May–Oct; from $3.50).

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MINI GUIDE Budget Monaco

Entertainment

Essentials

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LONELY PLANET / Spring 2016

Sights

Eating

Sleeping

CASINO DE MONTE CARLO

• The principality first decided to allow gambling in the 1850s, after the towns of Menton and Roquebrune had broken away, leaving the rest of Monaco as the poorest country in Europe. Hotel Normandy is an attractive lodging a short hop out of town.

Miramar, a modern hotel with a rooftop-terrace restaurant, is a great option right by the port. The boutique hotel was fully refurbished in 2014. All rooms have sea views (miramar-monaco.com; 1 Ave. Président John Fitzgerald Kennedy; from $141). Put preconceptions aside, for the Novotel Monte Carlo, in the heart of Monaco, is no ordinary chain hotel. Rooms are bright and spacious, and the pool is open June to September (novotel.com; 16 Blvd. Princesse Charlotte; from $194).

• The current casino opened in 1863 in the new district of Monte Carlo. The building is typical of the style of France’s Belle Époque. • Citizens of Monaco are not actually allowed to gamble here. Everyone else age 18 or over can enter with a passport or a photo ID card for a fee of about $10, plus $10 extra for the private rooms. Visitors should dress reasonably smartly (no shorts or flip-flops). Men need a jacket after 8pm in the private rooms.

FOR MORE INFORMATION Lonely Planet’s Provence & the Côte d’Azur ($21.99) has a chapter on Nice, Monaco and Menton, which is also available to download at lonelyplanet.com ($4.95). While not universally admired by critics, the 2014 film Grace of Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman, tells the story of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III’s marriage crisis. Much of the action in the 2010 French romantic comedy L’Arnacœur (Heartbreaker) takes place in Monaco.

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM EMILIE FILOU. PHOTOGRAPHS: HEMIS/ALAMY, JOHANNA HUBER/SIME/4CORNERS, ERIC NATHAN/ALAMY, NORBERT SCANELLA/ALAMY, DANIEL VALLA FRPS/ALAMY

WHERE TO STAY

There’s no such thing as a budget hotel in Monaco but Hotel Normandy is just over a mile away in Cap d’Ail, near a bus stop with services to Monaco. It’s run by a family of artists (hotel normandy .no; 6 Allée des Orangers; from $89).

Festivals

The Know-How

GETTING THERE & AROUND

Fly to Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport then travel to Monaco by bus, car, train or helicopter. From the airport, bus 110 goes to Monaco (45 minutes; $34 round-trip), or it’s a 25-minute train trip (from $11 return) from Nice St.-Augustin station, itself a 15-minute walk from the airport terminal. One nonbudget way in from the airport is via a scenic seven-minute helicopter ride (heliairmonaco.com; $147). Much of Monaco is walkable; escalators and public lifts link the steeper areas, and there’s a bus system (cam.mc; single $2.25, day pass $6.20).

Beaches


The view from the Peak Fold 2

Peak and Sheung Wan THE PEAK

Rising above the financial heart of Hong Kong Island, Victoria Peak (1,811 feet) offers superlative views of the bustling city below. Ride the hair-raising 127-year-old Peak Tram to cooler climes at the top. Rewarding walks include the gardens up steep Mount Austin Road, and the 2-mile loop of Harlech Road and Lugard Road (thepeak.com.hk; tram runs 7am– midnight; round-trip ticket $5). MAN MO TEMPLE

MINI GUIDE

Stopover Hong Kong This city of soaring towers offers a diverse range of experiences that make for a tantalizing stopover.

TEMPLE STREET NIGHT MARKET

Tear out page here then fold along dotted lines

MUSEUM OF HISTORY

For a whistle-stop overview of the territory’s archaeology,ethnography, and natural and local history, this museum helps to give context. The permanent exhibition starts with prehistoric Hong Kong and ends with the territory’s 1997 return to China. It includes replicas of village dwellings, film footage of WWII and more (hk.history.museum; 100 Chatham Rd. S.; closed Tue; $1.30, free on Wed).

SHEUNG WAN

Get a peek into authentic Hong Kong life as you explore the narrow streets of Sheung Wan and discover the history of 19th-century Hong Kong. Shortly after the founding of the colony in 1842, the local residents in what is now Central were relocated to the Tai Ping Shan Street area in Sheung Wan. It’s fast gaining a reputation as a bohoville with the opening of new cafés, art galleries and boutiques run by local designers and retailers.

Central and Wan Chai

Kowloon Beneath the glare of naked bulbs, hundreds of stalls sell a vast array of booty, from bric-a-brac to clothes, luggage and even sex toys. Fortune-tellers beckon in English from dimly lit tents, and Cantonese opera singers perform under the stars. For street food – from noodles to Nepalese curries – try the parallel Woosung Street (most stalls open 6pm–11pm).

Forever wreathed in sandalwood smoke from slow-burning incense coils, this atmospheric 19th-century temple is dedicated to Man and Mo, the Chinese gods of literature and war. It was formerly a cultural and political focal point for the Chinese community, but now the dimly lit space sees the public come to perform age-old rites and have their fortunes told (124–126 Hollywood Rd., Sheung Wan; 8am–6pm; free entry).

Incense sticks, and incense coils overhead, scent Man Mo Temple.

Fold 1

HAPPY VALLEY RACES

The Star Ferry has been serving Hong Kongers since 1880. STAR FERRY

A floating piece of Hong Kong heritage, the legendary Star Ferry plies the calm waters of Victoria Harbour. The 15-minute ride between Kowloon and Central must be one of the world’s best-value cruises. While the vista is more dramatic when you’re island-bound, the art deco Kowloon pier is more charming (starferry.com.hk; 6:30am–11:30pm; 30 cents Mon– Fri, 45 cents weekends & holidays).

The first races at Happy Valley Racecourse began in 1846. Today, every Wednesday night, the track comes alive with eight electrifying races and an accompanying carnival of food and beer in what is a true Hong Kong passion. Try your luck at betting or simply enjoy the collective exhilaration and the thunder of ironed hooves (hkjc.com; Sports Road; 7pm–11pm Wed, Sep–Jun; $1.35). HONG KONG PARK

This is one of the most unusual parks in the world, emphasizing artificial creations such as its fountain plaza, conservatory, waterfall, indoor games hall, playground, tai chi garden, viewing tower, museum and arts center. For all its artifice, the 20-acre park makes for some dramatic photographs. Don’t miss the spectacular arched aviary (lcsd .gov.hk; 19 Cotton Tree Dr., Admiralty; 6am–11pm; free).

The Happy Valley Racecourse can seat more than 47,000 people. OLD WAN CHAI

Start at Pak Tai Temple, then head to House of Stories farther down the slope. Wander along Queen’s Road East, taking in Old Wan Chai Post office, HK’s oldest, and the mysterious Hung Shing Temple. Finish at Bo Innovation, which reassembles classic Chinese cuisine using superb molecular gastronomy (boinnovation.com; 60 Johnston Rd.; lunch Mon–Fri, dinner Mon–Sat, set lunch from $50).

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MINI GUIDE Stopover Hong Kong

Essentials

WHERE TO STAY

InnSight offers a great location in Kowloon, warmly decorated rooms and a cozy pantry. Note that showers and toilets have a clear glass partition from the bedrooms. If you want a wider bed, ask for a Comfort Double (innsight.hk; 3/F, 9 Lock Road; from $75).

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Sights

Sleeping

The Know-How HONG KONG VIEWS

GETTING THERE & AROUND

Most international travelers arrive and depart via Hong Kong International Airport. More than 100 airlines fly there. Flight time is 16 hours from NYC. The Airport Express train takes 24 minutes to reach Central ($12.90; mtr.com .hk), and it stops at Kowloon. Buses A11 and A12 run to the major hotel areas on Hong Kong Island (from $5.30; nwstbus.com.hk); the A21 covers Kowloon hotel areas. A prepaid Octopus Card can be used on most forms of public transportation. For short stays, buy a one-day MTR pass for unlimited rides ($7).

Entertainment

See the best of the city from these vantage points:

Rooms at Mira Moon come with an iPad mini and a smartphone.

99 Bonham has unusually large rooms (for Hong Kong) in a palette of white, black and gray. It has a small gym and a roof terrace. There’s no breakfast room or bar, but you’ll find plenty of restaurants nearby (99bonham.com; 99 Bonham Strand; from $188). Decor at the boutique Mira Moon riffs on the Chinese fairy tale of the Moon Goddess and the Jade Rabbit: stylized rabbit wall art, oversized Chinese lanterns and graphic peony floor mosaics (miramoonhotel.com; 388 Jaffe Road; from $364).

Tsim Sha Tsui Harborfront Lap up HK’s iconic skyline – gleaming skyscrapers (such as the Bank of China Tower, pictured) with a backdrop of emerald hills – from the water’s edge in Kowloon. Bus 6 Jump on bus 6 (from Central to Stanley) for a white-knuckle ride around the beautiful southern bays. High Island Reservoir Climb the dramatic East Dam to survey this engineering feat. Tsing Ma Bridge Inspect this marvelous suspension bridge and the lush island landscape surrounding it. Pak Nai One of the best places to see the sunset is here in the rural western edge of Hong Kong, in the Yuen Long district.

FOR MORE INFORMATION Lonely Planet’s Guides app (lonely planet.com/guides) features offline maps, essential information and must-see Hong Kong sights. Lonely Planet’s Hong Kong ($21.99) is a comprehensive guide; chapters can be downloaded at lonelyplanet .com ($4.95). Pocket Hong Kong ($13.99) is ideal for stopovers. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (lcsd.gov.hk) stages free entertainment and arts shows.

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM PIERA CHEN AND CHUNG WAH CHOW. PHOTOGRAPHS: CLAUDIO CASSARO/4CORNERS, ROBERT GREY/ALAMY, MIRA MOON, GETTY/PURE STOCK, CHRIS RIDLEY/AGEFOTOSTOCK, PETE SEAWARD

Shopping


WELCOME TO ROTTERDAM!

5.

Glittering skyscrapers, an impressive port, unexpected concepts in food and shopping, exciting nightlife, and a long list of extraordinary festivals are the direct result of the can-do mindset of the Rotterdam locals. Invigorated and inspired to innovate, they rebuilt amidst the rubble of the bombardments in the Second World War, erecting a dynamic metropolis that is the second-largest city in Holland. 1. 2.

3.

1. Sample the delights at the Markthal. This first covered market hall in the Netherlands contains about 100 fresh food stands, nearly 15 food shops and various restaurants. The roof of the Markthal is shaped by an arch of 228 apartments and the inside of the archway bears the biggest artwork in the Netherlands, The Horn of Plenty. Since its opening a year ago, it has attracted over 8 million visitors. 2. Visit Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, featuring artwork by Bosch, Dali, Magritte and many more. Experience an overview of the best in European art history, from Dutch masters to surrealist classics.

4.

3. Shop for Dutch Design at the Groos concept store, filled with Rotterdam-produced quality products. From there, take a stroll across the Luchtsingel: a striking pedestrian bridge spanning 390 metres that links the Schieblock, a creative meeting place, to Station Hofplein, the former train station that now houses various restaurants, shops and a jazz club. 4. Hang out with the locals at the Witte de Withstraat. Loads of restaurants, galleries, boutique shops, street art and trendy cafés such as Ballroom, which serves over 52 different gins. 5. Embark on the Water taxi for a ride to Hotel New York. Enjoy sumptuous seafood at the former headquarters of the Holland America Line or stay the night in one of their 72 differently styled rooms with stunning views of the river Maas.

See www.rotterdam.info for more inspiration & information!


MY LIFE IN TRAVEL Andrew McCarthy is best known for his work as an actor and director, but he’s also an award-winning travel writer. Here, he shares some of his thoughts on travel.

AS AN ACTOR I CAME FROM SEEING THE WORLD THROUGH STORY. MOST MISERABLE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE

/

Going down the Amazon for a week, sleeping on deck in a hammock, with 500 locals and one bathroom. Sounds more romantic than it was. I also went on a one-day bus tour in Vietnam 20 years ago. I will never go on another bus tour.

/ Traveling with kids – which I do with mine often – is obviously one of the best gifts we can give them. It’s also a pain in the ass at times and I usually come back in need of a vacation. But everything with them is an adventure; going through airport security, one of life’s most miserable and enervating experiences, can be a hilarious adventure. FAMILY TRAVEL

// The streets of Saigon FIRST TRIP ABROAD / My first trip abroad was a family trip to Bermuda when I was nine. I have few memories of it except of my father’s ill-advised decision to take his three preteen boys scuba diving. A far more meaningful trip, and the trip that changed my life (I have a friend, the great travel writer Don George, who says there is one trip that changes every traveler’s life), was when I walked 500 miles across the Camino de Santiago in Spain, when I was 30. Each step was a step away from a fear that had previously ruled my life. FROM ACTOR TO TRAVEL JOURNALIST

and end – dialogue, a sense of place, I told the story of our experience. As an actor I came from seeing the world through story, so it was natural, and it captured my travels the way my journal never could. I wrote stories of my travels for years, only for myself so as not to be lonely on the road. I had no ambition for it other than for my own solace – until the day I did. I met an editor, the late and wonderful Keith Bellows of National Geographic Traveler, at a party and he took a chance on me. Everyone needs someone to take a chance on them.

/

I had been traveling, almost always alone, for a decade or so. I tried keeping a journal of my travels but found I was an indulgent, lazy keeper of my experiences. One day I simply wrote down an experience I had in Saigon with a young man who gave me a ride on his scooter. I wrote it as a story, beginning, middle

WHY TRAVEL?

/ I was a terrible student. Simply,

I WANT TO VISIT / I’d very much like to cross the Sahara. I spent a few nights under its spell several years ago and it lit a foolish desire. I want to go to Burma [Myanmar] before McDonald’s gets there. I want to swim with the whales in Tonga. I’ve never seen the northern lights. Endless list. 2016 TRAVEL PLANS / I’m supposed to go to Iran, which I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I want to go back to Patagonia this year. And to Death Valley. And Rome.

travel has been the University of my life. LESSONS LEARNED THROUGH TRAVEL

/

No one can say it better than Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness."

ANDREW MCCARTHY is an editor-at-large at National Geographic Traveler magazine and a former global travel editor at Lonely Planet. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other publications. His travel memoir, The Longest Way Home, became a New York Times best-seller. Algonquin will publish his fiction debut, Just Fly Away, in the spring of 2017.

Lonely Planet (ISSN 2379-9390). Spring 2016, Volume 2, Number 1. Published four times a year (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall) by Lonely Planet Global, Inc., 230 Franklin Road, Building 2B, Franklin, TN 37064. Application to mail at Periodicals postage prices is pending at Franklin, TN, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Lonely Planet, PO Box 37520, Boone, IA 50037-0520. Subscriber Services, U.S., Canada and other International: Direct all inquiries, address changes, subscription orders, etc. to Lonely Planet, PO Box 37520, Boone, IA 50037-0520. You may also access customer service via the web at lonelyplanet.com/usmagazine /customerservice, via email at lnpcustserv@cdsfulfillment.com or by phone at 800-829-9121. Subscribers: If the Post Office alerts us that your magazine is undeliverable, we have no further obligation unless we receive a corrected address within one year. Please allow up to eight weeks for delivery of your first issue. Subscription rates: 1 year $12.00 domestic only; in Canada, $20; other International, $35 (Publisher’s suggested price). Single copies $5.99.

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WHAT’S NEXT With a new double-wishbone rear suspension and a lower center of gravity, the 2016 Prius is making getaways even more thrilling. toyota.com/prius Prototype shown with options. Production model may vary. Š2015 Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Lonely Planet magazine (US) Spring 2016  

This is the full version of the Spring edition. Features include an interview with actor, director and award-winning travel writer Andrew Mc...

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