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Cool Finland: hot saunas, island-hopping & Nordic food


Walking England’s wild northern frontier






Old-world charm and epic views on the train f rom London to Venice

The Colombia locals love

Unexpected Florida spring breaks Dog-f riendly hotels Travel disasters

Kayak the Grand Canal for a new angle on Venice Spring 2017




LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017

Editor’s Note




I’m a strong advocate of slow travel. My wish is that this issue’s cover feature will tempt you to pause and take the train on a tour through Europe (p. 42) as an alternative to hurtling between airports or fighting your way along freeways. An unpronounceable Icelandic volcano led me to attempt a similar rail journey in 2010. The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull released vast quantities of ash into Western Europe’s airspace, grounding all air traffic. Meanwhile, my wife, who had been attending a conference in Florence, Italy, found herself trapped in a glorious old guesthouse at the edge of the Piazza del Limbo. I felt it would be a more romantic than reckless gesture to leap on the last train from London to Paris that Friday night, gambling on achieving a reunion. European booking websites went into meltdown. By dawn, I had little choice but to stow away on a train to Zürich. With a stereotypical precision of planning in the face of total chaos, the Swiss rail authorities cleared out a carriage in readiness for the arrival of random characters such as me. I had scarcely imagined how beautiful the passage through the Alps and onward to the gleaming spires and lake of Zürich would be. I made it into the arms of my wife by Saturday evening, just in time to share a bottle of chianti and a bistecca alla Fiorentina. Our flight home failed to depart for another week, and so we were gifted the chance to wander between Florence’s grand cafés and Renaissance treasures at a uniquely crowd-free moment. Our cross-Europe cover story concludes in an equally famed Italian destination, Venice. For tips on finding original angles and releasing pressure on the city’s creaking tourism infrastructure, be sure to read “7 New Ways to See Venice” (p. 12).

View of the Arno river and the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence

Peter Grunert, Group Editor


Aubrie Pick Photographer Contributed to A Taste of San Francisco pg. 20

My favorite part of shooting this story was working with chef William Werner and seeing the city through his eyes. I met him about six years ago when I photographed him for a local magazine. I’ve been lucky to get to work with him a number of times over the years and call him a friend. He’s super talented and innovative. Craftsman and Wolves is a family business and I love that William’s wife, Sarah, and their adorable son, Owen, came along on our shoots (and supplied me with ample coffee).

James Kay Editor, Contributed to President Obama on the Power of Travel pg. 14

As soon as the prospect of President Obama writing for Lonely Planet reared its head, it became clear that the normal editing process did not apply. While I’d have cherished the chance to talk turkey with the president, I knew his schedule didn’t allow for that. After the draft landed, we ensured the text reflected our house style and made a few minor changes. Let me tell you, folks: insisting that arguably the world’s greatest living orator might be better off using a comma instead of a semicolon is not for the faint-hearted.

Spring 2017




LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017

Contents Spring 2017 / Volume 3 / Number 1



Riding the Rails Across Europe Skip the lines at the airport and enjoy a rail journey from London to Venice, calling in to France and Switzerland along the way.

78 The Photographer’s Story /

Moscow Metro A photo tour of the city’s lavishly built subway stations.

85 Great Escape


In Like Finn

Forage for dinner, hit the lakes and drink lots of coffee: How to act like a local in Finland.

Colombia The word is out: Colombia is safe and tourism is on the rise. Discover the country’s colonial towns and jungle-backed beaches before everyone else does.


On the Edge

Hadrian’s Wall has dominated England’s northern frontier for centuries and continues to reveal secrets of Roman rule.

// Farmer harvesting coffee beans in Colombia



Hamburg in Two Days

Hamburg has long played the role of Germany’s forwardthinking gateway to the world. Step in on a perfect city break.

All prices correct at press time. Prices for hotel rooms are for double, en suite rooms in low season, unless otherwise stated. Flight prices are for the least expensive round-trip ticket.

Spring 2017



Contents Spring 2017 / Volume 3 / Number 1

Easy Trips p. 33 Ideas for quick spring getaways to Asheville, the Caribbean, Florida and more.

Mini Guides p. 98 Austin / Barbecue, retro diners and the best margaritas. Seattle / Creative and quirky attractions in the Emerald City. Nova Scotia / Whale watching, kayaking, exploring seaside villages and more. Paris / What to see and do on your first visit. Lesser-Known Greek Islands / Escape the crowds at these insider favorites. Oslo / A weekend itinerary.

Back Page p. 112

Globetrotter p. 9 Where to Go Now Springtime celebrations and more around the world. 7 New Ways A fresh take on Venice. Travel Icon Mysterious and magnificent Machu Picchu. Insider Knowledge How to plan an adventurous honeymoon. Barack Obama: America’s 44th president is a well-traveled man. A Taste of San Francisco William Werner, of Craftsman and Wolves, on what to eat, see and do in the city. Gear Eco-friendly essentials for spring travel. Amazing Places to Stay Dog-friendly lodgings. Postcards Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula and more reader photos.


LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017

// Clockwise from top left: Cappuccino and country bread toast with almond butter and honey (top) and chicken and herb salad on rye toast (bottom) at The Mill in San Francisco // Along the Salt Marsh Trail in Nova Scotia // View of the Barcode buildings, a multipurpose high-rise development, from the Oslo Opera House


It happens to the best of us: A travel disaster story.

Spring 2017



Contents Spring 2017 / Volume 3 / Number 1

Antigua and Barbuda / 37 Belgium Binche / 10 Canada Nova Scotia Lunenburg / 103 Mahone Bay / 103 Maitland / 103 Peggy’s Cove / 103 Tangier / 103 Colombia Bogota / 86 Boyacá / 89 Cartagena / 93 Salento / 90 Tayrona National Park / 94 Villa de Leyva / 89 England Heddon-on-the-Wall / 65 Lanercost / 65 London / 43 Finland Finnish Lakeland / 54 Helsinki / 58 Linnansaari National Park / 58 Savonlinna / 54

France Paris / 43, 105 Germany Hamburg / 72 Greece Ikaria / 107 Patmos / 10, 107 Paxos / 107 Sifnos / 107 Iceland Grímsey / 10 Snæfellsnes Peninsula / 28 Indonesia Java / 10 Israel / 10 Italy Milan / 48 Tirano / 46 Venice / 12, 50 Norway Oslo / 109 Peru Machu Picchu / 16 Russia Moscow / 78 Slovenia Ptuj / 10 Spain Zamora / 10

Switzerland Zürich / 45 Taiwan / 10 United States Alabama Mobile / 10 California Huntington Beach / 26 San Francisco / 20 San Juan Capistrano / 10 Connecticut New Haven / 36 Florida Captiva Island / 39 Jacksonville / 38 Key West / 27 Sanibel Island / 39 Stock Island, Key West / 39 Hawaii Kapaa (Kauai) / 29 Illinois Chicago / 26 North Carolina Asheville / 34 Texas Austin / 99 Washington Seattle / 101

// At March kitchen and pantry shop in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood


LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017




Group Editor Peter Grunert Managing Editor Rebecca Warren Art Director Kristina Juodenas Operations Manager Scott Toncray Copy Editor Cindy Guier Designer Dustin Johnson ADVERTISING

VP, Client Solutions, U.S. José Barreiro, Advertising Sales, U.S. Cathy Allendorf, Britta Bakos, Jill Dillingham, Director, Account Management Jennifer Pentes Senior Manager, Ad Operations Emily Acker PUBLISHED BY LONELY PLANET GLOBAL, INC.

Chief Executive Officer Daniel Houghton Chief Financial Officer Theo Sathananthan VP, Client Solutions Tim Daugherty Editorial Director Tom Hall Managing Director, Publishing Piers Pickard Senior Legal Counsel Kate Sullivan U.S. Controller Bryon Broich

A beat-up old car, a few dollars in the pocket and a sense of adventure. That’s all Tony and Maureen Wheeler needed for the trip of a lifetime, across Europe and Asia overland to Australia. It took several months, and at the end – broke but inspired – they sat at their kitchen table writing and stapling together their first travel guide, Across Asia on the Cheap. Within a week they’d sold 1,500 copies, and Lonely Planet was born. Founded by the Wheelers in 1973, Lonely Planet has gone on to become the world’s leading travel media company, inspiring and informing travelers across the globe. Our expert writers go in search of the best experiences, sharing award-winning travel information in more than 130 million guidebooks printed so far – covering almost every destination on the planet – as well as on, on social channels including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, in our Guides app and in this magazine.

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Direct all inquiries, address changes and subscription orders to Lonely Planet, PO Box 37520, Boone, IA 50037-0520. You may also access customer service via the web at, via email at or by phone at 800-829-9121. Lonely Planet is published by Lonely Planet Global, Inc. (part of the Lonely Planet Group). The words “Lonely Planet” and the Lonely Planet symbol are trademarks of Lonely Planet Global, Inc. © Lonely Planet Global, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without permission. Where you see the word “PROMOTION” this indicates that an article is a commercial feature paid for by the advertiser, not an editorial piece produced by Lonely Planet. All articles marked are subject to regulation by the Federal Trade Commission.

2016 min’s Magazine Media Awards, Best New Magazine 2016 Folio: Eddie Award, Series of Articles Member of Alliance for Audited Media Printed in the United States

Spring 2017




LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017


Seven Stills, a combination brewery and distillery, has an array of inventive drinks on tap in San Francisco.


For more on what to eat and drink in the city, see

pg. 20

Springtime festivals and nature’s awesome spectacles – our destination editors round up the best seasonal experiences for travels near and far.


Where to Go Now

Feb 1–28

Feb 26–28

April 9–15

Ptuj, Slovenia

Binche, Belgium

Zamora, Spain

// New Orleans gets all the credit for Mardi Gras, but the festivities first took place in the original capital of French Louisiana territory: Mobile. More than 30 parades filled with floats wind through the streets.

// Join 10,000 revelers for the spectacular Kurentovanje spring carnival in February. Locals dressed as the fertility god Kurent parade through the streets to chase away winter with clubs.

// Dating to the Middle Ages, the Carnaval of Binche is the kind of stick-beating, orangehurling, masked Mardi Gras celebration that makes you think there must be something in the beer.

// Spain is famous for its elaborate celebrations and hooded processions during Holy Week (the week before Easter), and this town does it best.

Lauren Keith

Anna Tyler

Daniel Fahey

Jan 28– Feb 28

Mobile, Alabama



March 11–12



Tom Stainer @TomDoesTravel


San Juan Capistrano, California // Thousands of swallows return to the 200-yearold Spanish mission church here after wintering in South America; their arrival is celebrated by a festival held in their honor. Clifton Wilkinson @Cliff_Wilkinson

Grímsey, Iceland // Puffins flock to northern Iceland in March, after months out at sea. And where better to spot them than Grímsey, where birds outnumber people 10,000 to one. James Smart




March 19 Israel // A carnival atmosphere takes hold across Israel during the Jewish festival of Purim, when revelers dress up for parades, parties and plenty of eating and drinking. Helen Elfer @Helen_Elfer

Taiwan // In the third lunar month (usually April), join thousands of pilgrims on a nearly 190-mile walk through western Taiwan to honor the goddess of the sea, Matsu. The temple-dotted route crosses rivers and ascends mountains. Megan Eaves




Java, Indonesia

Patmos, Greece // Experience the spectacular Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations with midnight fireworks, candlelit processions and dancing in the streets. Brana Vladisavljevic @branavl


LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017

// As the full moon rises, witness a procession of saffron-robed monks laying flowers and candles and offering prayers as they celebrate Waisak. Dora Whitaker



Globetrotter /

Signs of Spring


Take a trip around the world’s springtime bread baskets, overflowing with sweet treats, to usher in a new season.

Spring 2017



Globetrotter /

7 New Ways to See



Take Note Venetian residents have been

Venice is a master of defying expectations. This Italian city is built across more than 100 islands in the middle of the sea, after all. It is at once ancient and modern, familiar and exotic. Here are a few ways to have an unforgettable Venetian vacation.

voicing concerns about the increasing number of tourists visiting the city each year. The influx of visitors has made it difficult for residents to buy property, and the swell of tourists is taking a toll on the infrastructure of the islands. Italian government officials are considering measures to control the impact of tourism on the city.

By Rebecca Warren

Off-season perks Venice’s population, shrinking for decades, now hovers around 60,000. During the summer, tourists heavily outnumber the locals and the narrow streets are constantly heaving with people. Consider braving the colder weather in the winter to get a more intimate look at the lagoon city.


Market fresh for 700 years Check out Rialto Market to see how the locals have been getting their food for the past seven centuries. One of the best bets here is the seafood, pulled fresh from the lagoon and ready to be transformed into a Venetian feast. Look out for seafood and seasonal vegetables tagged as “Nostrano”– this means it was sourced locally.


• Free admission

Upcycled souvenirs Head on over to Bragora to pick up one-of-a-kind Venetian mementos, ranging from soda can models of gondolas to bags made from discarded sails. You can even become a bona fide Venetian artist by printing your own T-shirt or poster here. •


Island-hopping Did you know that Venice is actually an archipelago? Venture a little farther afield to see some of the city’s less explored islands, such as San Michele. This little isle is the bucolic final resting place for centuries of Venetians. •


Yoga fit for an emperor Days spent flitting from one splendid basilica to another on cobblestoned streets can do a number on your back. So why not go and work on your Sun salutations in similarly storied surrounds? Take a yoga class in Napoleon’s greenhouse – an unmissable place to work on your Downward Dog. • From $11;


Best seat in the (opera) house Venice was the site of the world’s first opera house, so take the opportunity to experience this magnificent art form with true aficionados. Head to where those in the know go, and sit with the loggionisti in the cheap seats. • $30;


LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017




Paddle the canals


See Venice’s picturesque canals and bridges at your own pace rather than that of your gondolier’s by taking a kayaking or paddle-boarding tour. This eco-friendly way of exploring gives you a glimpse of the daily life of Venetians as you navigate the warren of tiny alleys that surround the city. • $100 Venice Kayak, venicekayak .com; or $95 SUP in Venice,

Spring 2017



Globetrotter /

Former President Obama on the power of travel


BY THE NUMBERS That is why I have launched Young Leaders Initiatives in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America that are focused on empowering youth – connecting countries visited during his time in office them with one another, and with resources that can help them build a nongovernmental organization, start a business, or presidents who visited begin a career in public service. Laos, Cambodia and These initiatives include online Myanmar before Obama networks, meetings at our diplomatic posts, and access to grants, internships, and opportunities to attend programs years since the last at American colleges and president visited Cuba universities. Half a million people under the age of 35 are now a part of these networks. Over 3,000 of these young people have traveled to the U.S. Every day, these young people are working to improve their communities from the bottom up. A Rwandan entrepreneur is using new technologies to provide power to villages that are off the grid. An activist from Thailand has organized young people across Southeast Asia to fight human trafficking. A city manager in the Philippines is launching new initiatives to promote women’s health and combat teen pregnancy; to do so, she is drawing on skills she learned on a fellowship in Montana. Reflecting on how far she’s come from her humble beginnings in a small village, she said: “The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative is my life-changing chapter.” No one of these initiatives will transform our world. But each of them creates a ripple of progress that can gradually bring the change that our world needs. And in talking to these young people, one thing comes up again and again – the value that they gain from being connected with one another. A Guinean who participated in our Fellowship program put it well: “When I made the trip to the U.S. and met all these extraordinary young people from Africa, I realized how blessed I was to see and learn how I can make an impact on people’s lives. I also learned tolerance and multiculturalism. Although I have had many experiences around the world, meeting helped me make the decision to impact millions of lives around me.” These efforts don’t make headlines. But they reflect the optimism that I have seen in young people from different ethnicities, religions and nationalities all around the globe, including in the U.S. At a time when we are faced with so much division in global politics, young people are often more tolerant, more compassionate, and more committed to working to make change that benefits their communities from the bottom up. They give me hope, and I look forward to witnessing the extraordinary change that they can make as they claim the mantle of leadership.

58 0


Lonely Planet and former President Barack Obama believe responsible travel can be a force for good. On his final foreign trip as POTUS, he shared with us how the young people he met around the world give him hope for the future.


uring my time as president, I have traveled well over a million miles to every corner of the world. These foreign trips have included international summits and bilateral visits that have been fundamental to the progress that we’ve made – strengthening alliances, engaging former adversaries, renewing the global economy, and forging agreements to fight climate change, stop the spread of nuclear weapons, expand commerce, and roll back poverty and disease. I leave office more convinced than ever before that international cooperation is indispensable. I have always believed that our engagements with other countries must not be limited to governments; we also have to engage people around the world. In particular, we must sustain our engagement with young people, who will determine the future long after those of us in positions of power leave the world stage. Consider the demographics of our world. More than half of human beings are 30 years old or younger. This is even more pronounced in the developing world – that’s where 90 percent of the global population under 30 lives. These young people are living through revolutions in technology that are remaking life on our planet, allowing for unprecedented access to information and connectivity, while also causing enormous disruptions in the global economy. And while the world’s leaders discuss the pressing issues of the day, it is the world’s young people who will determine whether their voices direct the change that is sweeping our world toward greater justice, opportunity, tolerance, and mutual respect.


LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017

To read former President Obama’s complete essay, go to



The first U.S. president, George Washington, made only one overseas trip: to Barbados as a teenager, when the island and his home state of Virginia were still British colonies.

The first president to leave U.S. soil while in office was Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, on a trip to see progress on the construction of the Panama Canal. Until then, practicality as well as tradition had dictated that serving presidents should not travel abroad. Even Canada had to wait until 1923 for its first presidential visit.

It wasn’t until the 1930s that U.S. presidents began to make frequent international trips. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first serving president to travel on official business by airplane, on a 1943 mission to Casablanca.

Lonely Planet favorites still awaiting their first visit from a sitting president

Spring 2017

Belize Bolivia Cyprus Dominican Republic Madagascar Mozambique Namibia Nepal Sri Lanka / LONELY PLANET


Globetrotter /

Travel Icon


Machu Picchu


Sitting on a narrow ridge in the Peruvian Andes, this mysterious, 15th-century city was built, inhabited and abandoned in less than 100 years. An engineering marvel, it is believed to have been a royal estate for the Incan emperor Pachacutec. The site is surrounded by mountains said to be in alignment with astronomical events important to the Incas.

The peak of this 8,924-foot mountain with ladders, caves and a small temple can be climbed in a 45- to 90-minute scramble.Buy a coveted hiking permit in advance (machupicchu

INTIHUATANA The “Hitching Post of the Sun,” this carved rock pillar was likely used by Inca astronomers to predict solstices. It’s a rare survivor, since invading Spaniards destroyed intihuatanas throughout the kingdom to eradicate pagan blasphemy.

CENTRAL PLAZA This sprawling green area with grazing llamas separates the ceremonial sector of Machu Picchu from the more mundane residential and industrial sectors.

STONE WALLS No mortar was used between the wall’s stones. Instead, the Incas used precisely cut stones, geometry and L-shaped joints to hold walls in place.


LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017

TEMPLE OF THE SUN Featuring the site’s finest stonework, this rounded tower has a window that frames the constellation Pleiades, a symbol of crop fertility.

ROYAL TOMB Speculated to have had special ceremonial significance, a natural rock cave sits below the Temple of the Sun. Its steplike altar and sacred niches are visible from the entrance. Despite its name, no mummies were ever found here.

TERRACES A maze of some 700 terraces on the steep slopes anchor the city to the hillside; some provided space for planting crops. The terraces were highly permeable, which meant water could drain and be carried away.

Spring 2017



Globetrotter /

Insider Knowledge




Choose a destination that works for both of you. — If one of you loves lazy beach hangouts and the other city nightlife, look for destinations that offer both, like Barcelona or Sydney. Trust your instincts of what you two will love the best.

Consider using a honeymoon funding website.

— Friends and family can donate toward specific activities as wedding gifts, allowing you to make your loved ones part of your trip. Toast to them along the way as you explore.

Don’t be shy. Tell everyone it’s your honeymoon!

I’ve always considered myself a little allergic to romance. Red roses, candlelit dinners, public declarations of love? Count me out. Fortunately, my new husband and I are very compatible in this regard. When we came to choose a honeymoon destination, Japan promised every travel high we crave: discovery, adventure, culture. It didn’t disappoint – this trip turned out to be everything we had hoped: challenging, exploratory and so much fun that we couldn’t stop chuckling over its highlights. So it transpired that I wasn’t antiromance after all – I just had the definition all wrong. It wasn’t about red roses and candlelight, or at least it didn’t have to be. Romance was whatever we made it. Over the course of three weeks in Japan, we found it canoeing across a lake at dawn, Mount Fuji hiding in the clouds above us; screeching down a microphone in a karaoke booth for two; in beautifully manicured Zen gardens, their fall leaves tinged with red. It was in the pure adventure of it all – the abandonment of comfort zones. On our final evening in Japan, cheeks aching from laughter and bellies sloshing with ales, we mapped out more adventures together with a renewed sense of purpose.


LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017

Mix it up.

— Indulge in luxury treats, but don’t overlook the budget option sometimes. You might have your favorite meal at a street stall, or meet the most genuine people during everyday experiences, creating memories that last a lifetime.

For more expert tips on planning an adventure-filled honeymoon, pick up Lonely Planet’s The Honeymoon Handbook ($17.99).


Abandon preconceived notions of what a honeymoon should be, says Lonely Planet Commissioning Editor and newlywed Jessica Cole. Romance – like adventure – is what you make it.

— If people know you’re newlyweds, you may find they’ll go out of their way to make you feel special, perhaps with a little gift, a surprise dinner course, or just sincere, heart-warming well-wishes.

Spring 2017



Globetrotter /

A Taste of


San Francisco

A Valrhonachocolate chocolate croissant with churro sugar at Craftsman and Wolves

Q What was the first thing you ever cooked? A A sugar cookie during home ec in middle school. I used salt instead of sugar and it was a complete disaster. F- is being too kind.

Q How did you end up as a chef ? A When I was younger I would visit Costa Rica for surf trips.


with William Werner from Craftsman and Wolves

Craftsman and Wolves’ owner and chef, William Werner, talks to us about how food has shaped his life and gives us the recipe for one perfect day in San Francisco. By Rebecca Warren | Photographs by Aubrie Pick Craftsman and Wolves ( is one of the Bay Area’s most intriguing patisseries, filled with unexpected pairings and combinations, such as a cocoa carrot muffin and a decidedly West Coast twist on a snickerdoodle – made with matcha, candied ginger and white chocolate. The bakery has three locations around San Francisco, all with smartly designed interiors that complement Craftsman and Wolves’ modern take on classic patisserie.


LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017

While I didn’t speak the language, there was never a problem communicating through food. Deliciousness and great hospitality is easily translated. When I was older, I started working as a lifeguard. Some of the other lifeguards I worked with would often cook together after work, usually barbecuing. I caught the bug and wanted to take it further.

Q How did Craftsman and Wolves come to be? A After 17 years of cooking and traveling to France and Japan, I was heavily influenced by the chef-driven bakeries and patisseries that I experienced. CAW is a reflection of my personal style and cooking.

Q What dish sums up San Francisco for you? A Our “Rebel Within” – it’s a study in complex simplicity with an ode to great ingredients. It looks like a muffin, but it’s so much more. It’s an asiago, sausage and green onion dough baked with a soft-boiled egg nestled inside.

Q What drink captures the mood in the city at the moment? A Fernet, forever and always. Q What one thing do you always have in the fridge or pantry? A Homemade salsa macha!


LORD STANLEY “Just a block away from our Pacific Avenue location, this spot made No. 3 on Bon Appétit’s 2016 best new restaurants list. The tasting menu is where it’s at. Their onion petals and sherry vinegar dish is a favorite."

MARCH “I find cool serving pieces and gourmet ingredients at this culinary store plus art gallery in Pacific Heights. The design of the space is beautiful and showcases exquisite everyday objects for the kitchen, pantry and table.”

TAILOR STITCH “An independent outfitter that designs and manufactures almost everything in San Francisco. They focus on men’s and women’s classic staples . . . think shirting, outerwear, denim and basics. Their Mission location, my favorite, offers repairs, custom tailoring and hemming on-site. They outfitted our sous chef team in their charcoal chambray!”

Spring 2017



4505 BURGERS & BBQ “I’m a stickler for good barbecue, and 4505 hits the spot. You really can’t go wrong here, but a favorite is their smoked rib plate.”

4505's "Best Damn Cheeseburger," with grass-fed beef, gruyère cheese and secret sauce

Smoked rib plate, with smoked chicken and pulled pork

"Spicy Fries" twice fried and topped with lemon parsley aioli and chimichurri sauce

Baked beans flavored with smoked pork skirt steak


LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017

Globetrotter /

A Taste of


San Francisco


THE MILL “A joint venture between Four Barrel Coffee

OMNIVORE BOOKS “A must-stop for any food lover.

and Josey Baker Bread. They have a beautiful interior with an open kitchen so you can see the bakers and smell the fresh bread.”

This petite bookstore in the Noe Valley neighborhood is packed floor to ceiling with hundreds of new, antiquarian and collectible titles, on all manner of food and cooking.”

2:30 P.M.


8 A.M.

A black coffee and Andrea’s Portugese Breakfast Board for strength, at Cafe Saint Jorge (

10:30 A.M. A walk to the top of Bernal Heights will give you a great workout and reward you with beautiful views of the city as well as the bay.

11:30 A.M. Get yourself DANDELION CHOCOLATES “A local bean-to-bar chocolate factory also in the Mission, two doors down from our Valencia location. We collaborate on events like their annual 12 Nights of Chocolate to raise funds for our local food bank.”

to one of the best brunches in town: Foreign Cinema for a Dungeness crab frittata and some bubbly (

Buy the best jeans you’ll ever own at Self Edge. Fun fact: they make custom denim aprons for CAW that we also sell online (

5 P.M.

After buying jeans, walk around the corner to Wildhawk at 19th and Lexington for a classic 50/50 cocktail (wildhawksf .com).

8 P.M.

Head to Aster for dinner. Chef/owner Brett Cooper’s neighborhood gem is an inspirational favorite of mine (

10 P.M.

Catch a show at The Chapel on Valencia Street, a beautiful, intimate venue with great sound (

Spring 2017



Globetrotter / / Gear


Eco-Friendly Travel Essentials for Spring


JELT This belt, made from recycled materials, has no metal parts, meaning you can get through security at the airport without your pants falling down. Win! Jelt is also committed to giving back, by employing incarcerated women and supporting wounded U.S. soldiers. From $29.95,


“After cross-country flights, hikes and miles of city walks, the Jelt is now my go-to travel belt.”

EARTH BAG Alarmed by the fact that Americans throw away 35 billion plastic bottles each year, Hamilton Perkins designed a travel bag made of recycled water bottles. The bags are lined with discarded billboard vinyl, making each unique and using up another material that takes up a significant portion of landfill space. Bags from $95,


LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017


CEMBERLITAS PESHTEMAL These incredibly soft handcrafted towels are produced by a single family in Istanbul. The peshtemal (traditional Turkish towel) works as a towel, sarong or wrap and is a multitasking must for your next trip. Only one-third the weight of a normal towel, it’s also able to dry much faster, making it great for using twice a day if necessary. The peshtemal’s lightweight and durable nature (it gets softer with age) means less drain on resources than traditional fabrics. Towels from $20,

The Story A trip to Turkey in 2013 introduced Findikli Design to the wonders of the peshtemal. The company returned determined to share the traditional towel with the rest of the world.


Rebecca Warren, managing editor

The Story



Inspired by a trip to Asia, Zink was created to honor traditional craftsmanship using sustainable methods.

PLANT CASHMERE WRAP Made of “plant cashmere,” these vegan, 100% fine cotton wraps are super soft and come in an array of hand-dyed, lush colors. These featherlight shawls can be worn in a number of ways, or used as a blanket on the go, because they are easy to toss into your bag without worrying about taking up too much space or adding weight. $48,

DOPPEL BAG Designed by Wurkin Stiffs as one continuous piece of silicone, this toiletry kit will minimize any spills in transit and make cleanup a breeze. The material is light and supple, making it easy to squeeze into bulging travel bags. $49.50,

REMOVABLE CAP DOUBLES AS A FLASHLIGHT FIREWATER MULTI-BOTTLE This bottle is a camper’s best friend. A combination of water bottle, lantern and waterproof container that is charged up via USB or solar power, this is one gadget that definitely earns its place in your pack. The bottle holds about 24 ounces and provides up to 12 hours of light on the low setting. $24.45,

Spring 2017



Globetrotter /

Amazing Places to Stay

Traveling is one of life’s great pleasures, and so are dogs, so you shouldn’t have to leave your pet behind when you hit the road. We’ve sniffed out some of the best places to enjoy an unforgettable vacation with your furry best friend. From an oceanside hotel offering custom treat boxes for your pup to a seriously hip room complete with doggy turndown service, here are three great options for canine-friendly holidays. By Rebecca Warren


Dog Friendly

Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel Huntington Beach, California Kimpton prides itself on being a pet-friendly hotel brand, and the Shorebreak property is a great pick for humans and canines in search of some So-Cal sunshine. Their pet policy is very accommodating, welcoming all kinds of pets, without weight limits, and with no additional fee required. Pets are greeted by name upon arrival and can accompany their owners to the nightly wine reception. Located just 90 minutes north of San Diego, this beachfront hotel has a laid-back vibe and is decorated with surfing inspired decor. The onsite restaurant features locally grown produce and inventive cocktails and hosts live music twice a week.

Park Hyatt Chicago | Chicago, Illinois The Park Hyatt provides an elegant retreat that you and your pooch can feel good about. The $100 pet fee goes to support Chicago’s largest no-kill animal shelter. The hotel is located in the buzzy downtown area, so you and your pup are just steps away from all that Chicago has to offer. Dogs are treated like A-listers here and given an all-access pass to the hotel, including the lobby, library and even its much-lauded restaurant, NoMi. The luxurious accommodations are styled with modern finishes.

From $325; 26

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From $169;

The Gates Hotel | Key West, Florida

For more on Key West see p. 39 of our Easy Trips

This smartly renovated motel offers a chic island aesthetic in spacious rooms, providing your pooch ample space to stretch out and relax with you. The property has a partnership with BarkBox, which means your dog will get a welcome gift with a range of treats, toys and grooming products. A plush dog bed and a water bowl, along with a map of dog-friendly Key West spots, are designed to make your pup feel like a true VIP during your stay. Dog walking services are available upon request.

From $169;

Dog on Board Think about your dog's quirks and prepare accordingly. My spaniel, Thomas Jefferson, has a thing for swallowing stuff, from napkins and receipts to a few handfuls of pea gravel at a rest stop in Virginia. I keep a pet travel kit in the car with all of the items that might be needed in the event of an emergency, and I have the numbers of my vet and the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center saved in my phone. Most importantly, keep your pet safely restrained while traveling. An unrestrained pet becomes a missile in the event of a car accident, needlessly endangering the animal and any occupants of the vehicle. With a little preparation you can be sure to keep you and your dog safe and happy, tails wagging, out on the road. – RW

Spring 2017



Globetrotter /



Where you’ve been and what you’ve seen

New Beginnings | SNÆFELLSNES PENINSULA, ICELAND My boyfriend whisked me away on a surprise trip to Iceland, where he proposed. I said yes! The next morning we decided it was so beautiful that we went for a walk. I put my camera on timer and took this picture of me in the sands with the mountains behind. I felt as if we were the only people in the world. I wish we could do it all over again.


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Ella Nash is a fashion photographer living in San Francisco.

The Path Unfolds KAPAA, KAUAI This photo was taken in Kapaa, on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, while I was searching for a way to get to the ocean. To me, it represents life’s journey and the many paths it can take.

Mathilde Crépin is a Canadian geographer and photographer.

Spring 2017



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The world from above Follow us: @lonelyplanetmags

Life on the edge at the Trolltunga rock, high above the Norwegian fjords, from

The view of Urbani beach on Italy’s Adriatic Sea is spectacular from above, from

The modern Bramante Staircase at the Vatican Museums, from

Interesting patterns in the southeastern U.S. en route to Cuba, from

The Westfield Mall inside Manhattan’s World Trade Center is magnificent, from

The world’s third biggest ice field in Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Patagonia, from

This is what a Canadian sunrise looks like at 30,000 feet, from

Looking down at my mother enjoying an iced coffee in Copenhagen’s hip Nørrebro district, from

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, one of the world’s greatest engineering feats, from






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Spring 2017




LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017



Spring break alternative: Jacksonville, in Northeast Florida, offers miles of laidback, surf-ready beaches.


p. 38 Also featuring: Asheville // Antigua and Barbuda // New Haven // Sanibel and Captiva Islands // Stock Island, Key West Spring 2017



Easy Trips

Asheville, North Carolina With fewer than 85,000 residents calling this Blue Ridge jewel home, Asheville is a small city that punches well above its weight in all of its offerings. Claiming the title Beer City USA numerous times, this is a town that is serious not only about its suds, but its spirits, too. While it’s well known for its beers, take some time to explore the thriving craft spirit industry that has sprung up in recent years.

The up-and-coming South Slope neighborhood has one of the city’s most unusual spirits stops: Ben’s Tune Up ( This former garage has been turned into an Asian-fusion sake garden, populated with old car seats, plastic beach loungers and picnic tables. The eclectic decor pairs perfectly with an array of house-brewed sakes. There are several varieties on tap, including the milky, unfiltered natural brew and the bright lemon ginger. The menu spans the globe with plates of hummus, bowls of spicy ramen, and deep-fried banana egg rolls.


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For a change of pace and a reprieve for your liver, spend some time in the River Arts District ( exploring the work of more than 200 artisans. This former warehouse district is a warren of galleries, many of which allow visitors to see the artists at work. If you work up an appetite watching all of that art being made, cross the railroad tracks and order up a rack of blueberry glazed ribs, corn pudding and jalapeño cheese grits at 12 Bones (, a local favorite. Moonshine distillery Troy & Sons (ashevilledistilling .com) offers up some of the smoothest whiskey you are likely to find anywhere, and the owners are happy to spend time with you explaining their unique production methods as well as the distillery’s unlikely origin story. Head over to West Asheville and pull up a stool at Urban Orchard ( to imbibe expertly crafted and inventive takes on ciders, ranging from one created with a Champagne yeast, resulting in a delightful effervescence, to seasonal specialties, including April Skies, a pineapple and lavender combination.

For quality cocktails served with panoramic city and mountain views, stop in at the Top of the Monk ( This downtown speakeasy on the top floor of the Thirsty Monk brewery and pub is for members-only (but don’t worry, it's just $1 to join). Each drink is composed of house-made ingredients and delivered with a key. The key opens one of the old mailboxes that line the back wall – each box contains a tasty bar snack surprise, perhaps some olives or vegetable crisps.



The Windsor Asheville is perfectly situated in the middle of the city, in walking distance to an abundance of restaurants, bars and shops. Built in 1907, this former mercantile was recently transformed into an all-suite hotel. Each room features furnishings from the region as well as from Paris. The modern, comfortable suites offer city and mountain views. The art throughout the hotel is available to purchase. Rooms from $289;

Lonely Planet’s list of the best places in the U.S. to visit in 2017


Asheville, North Carolina


Western Washington


Lincoln, Nebraska


California’s Low Desert


GET THERE Asheville Regional Airport has connections from major hub airports along the East Coast. The airport is about a 15-minute drive to downtown, and is served by a variety of taxis and car services.

Montana’s Flathead Valley


Atlanta, Georgia


The Adirondacks, New York


Texas Hill Country’s wine region


Denver, Colorado


Florida’s Emerald Coast For more, see

Spring 2017



Easy Trips

Antigua and Barbuda Turn your island escape into something a little more exciting this spring: a trip with a delicious mission. Follow Antigua and Barbuda’s newly established Beach Bar Trail to its indulgent, libation-filled end. Comprising one of the less well-known nations of the Caribbean, the two islands are situated where the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea intersect. STAY Stay at The Inn at English Harbour for colonial-style charm with all the luxuries of 21st-century living at your fingertips. Rooms from $732;

These tiny islands are big on personality, with 365 soft, sandy beaches leading out to impossibly blue water. With a year’s worth of beaches to explore, use the Beach Bar Trail map to navigate your way to some of the twin islands’ best waterside bars and restaurants. Serving up plates of West Indian favorites, including sweet, crispy conch fritters, goat


Take a break from your epicurean adventure and burn off some vacation calories at the same time by checking out some of Antigua’s cultural sights. The island was home to an important British Royal Navy base from 1745 until 1889, and it still shows hallmarks of British occupation. The marina at Nelson’s Dockyard remained in use even after the British Navy left, and the Georgian-era architecture is the island’s top historic site. Be sure to explore the Dockyard Museum ( to get a sense of what life was like for naval officers in the 18th and 19th centuries. Exhibits include a telescope used by Admiral Nelson.

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Really get away from it all at the undeveloped and pristine Half Moon Bay, a crescent-shaped beach on the island’s southeast side. The northern half of the bay is good for bodysurfing, while the southern end has calmer waters perfectly suited for snorkeling. Nearby is the lauded Shirley Heights Lookout (, an 18th century fort that has been host to the island’s best barbecue party every Sunday for the past three decades. Along with great food, it offers spectacular views of English Harbour paired with live bands, a steal at just $7.50.


GET THERE Antigua and its shy, quieter twin, Barbuda, offer up true Caribbean charm delivered with a British accent. It’s about a three-hour flight from Miami, with most U.S. carriers offering daily flights.

curry and cold, fruit-filled cocktails made with local produce and rum, these watering holes are loved by locals and those lucky enough to visit.

New Haven, Connecticut Less than two hours by train from Grand Central Terminal in New York City, you’ll find the charming New England town of New Haven. The city has suffered from a less than favorable reputation for decades, with urban blight and spikes in crime grabbing headlines. Happily, New Haven is experiencing a revival these days, with top-notch museums and a thriving culinary community making this city a perfect weekend getaway.

STAY The Study at Yale offers smart, spacious rooms with subtle nods to its namesake, including incorporating the school colors into the decor. Some of the rooms offer incomparable views of the university. Rooms from $199;

New Haven is home to Yale University, which provides the city with a wealth of cultural offerings for everyone to enjoy, regardless of your alma mater. Recent renovations of the Yale Center for British Art and the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library are worth a trip alone, although the school has 10 museums to visit, all of which are open to the public and almost all have free admission (yale .edu/research-collections /museums-galleries). The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Museum is one of the world’s largest repositories of rare books. The building itself is a marvel of brutalist architecture, with Vermont-sourced marble windowpanes that filter the light to shield the 180,000 priceless books on view from UV rays. There is a rotating exhibit of recent acquisitions as well as a permanent collection that features such historic documents as a copy of the Gutenberg Bible and Audubon’s Birds of America.

The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History ( houses a comprehensive look at the natural world, including a significant paleontology collection, impressively displayed in the Great Hall of Dinosaurs, the museum’s centerpiece. This is where Michael Crichton came to research dinosaurs for Jurassic Park, so you can see the velociraptor skeleton that inspired his iconic big-screen terrors. Other highlights include the Discovery Room, which lets you watch high-definition, real-time video of leaf cutter ants in action as they travel around the room in clear tubes, and the dazzling Hall of Minerals that showcases weird and wonderful minerals created by ancient geological processes. The largest collection of British art outside of the United Kingdom resides in the stunning Louis I. Kahn-designed Yale Center for British Art (britishart Spread across four chronologically organized floors, the pieces showcase the evolution of British art from the Elizabethan period to today.

One of the standout museums, the Yale University Art Gallery (pictured; artgallery.yale .edu) is like a miniature version of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is the oldest college art museum in the U.S. and has a collection of more than 200,000 objects, spanning cultures across the globe, from ancient times to the present day. The building itself is so vast it covers three city blocks. The gallery's collections contain an extensive display of American art; there's an outstanding exhibit of American decorative arts, including silver made by none other than Paul Revere. Intersperse your museum visits with some of the restaurants and shops along Chapel Street and Broadway. Atticus Bookstore Café (atticusbookstorecafe .com) is a great option for hungry book lovers, with a menu of sandwiches and light entrees and an excellent coffee and pastry counter. The bookstore setting gives this place a relaxed yet erudite vibe.


City of Firsts New Haven has a lot of history to boast about.

First planned city, with everything being built around New Haven Green GET THERE Trains run at least hourly from NYC’s Grand Central Terminal and take just under two hours. Tweed New Haven Airport offers connections from major hubs.

First public library – built in 1656

First tree planting program, giving it the nickname Elm City

Invented in Haven + New • The cotton gin • The Frisbee • The telephone book • Automatic revolvers • Both pizza and the hamburger (the U.S. versions, anyway!)

Easy Trips


3 Ways


Jacksonville Best for: Families, adventure, food Standouts: Kayaking the Intracoastal Waterway, relaxing on sugary sand at Atlantic Beach, candy making at Sweet Pete’s

This city in Florida’s northeastern corner offers a boredombusting array of activities for all ages. Classic beach fun can be found at Atlantic Beach, with pristine, soft sand. Get your caffeine fix and delicious light bites all day at Southern Grounds (, a Neptune Beach coffee shop with modern sensibilities that also serves local craft beers and wine.

The Sunshine State is well known as a spring break hotspot, with at least one popular beach town swelling to more than 20 times its usual population this time of year. If sharing the sand with throngs of springbreakers isn’t what you’re looking for, check out these three alternative destinations to chase away the winter blues.

Spend a day in downtown Jacksonville exploring the shops and museums in the area. Stop at local favorite Sweet Pete’s (pictured far left; sweetpetes for a Willy Wonka-esque experience. This candy factory and sweet shop also houses a restaurant and dessert bar. You can even try your hand at making your very own confections: chocolate and candy-making classes are offered here as well.

Atlantic Beach at sunrise


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Trade a day at the beach for a few hours paddling down the Intracoastal Waterway with Kayak Amelia ( Take one of their guided ecotours to see the wildlife of the marshlands, from herons and ospreys to manatees and otters.


Sanibel and Captiva Islands Best for: Empty nesters, families with young children Standouts: Beachcombing, wildlife watching, no chain hotels or retail stores



Located about an hour from the Fort Myers airport, south of Tampa, these islands offer an easily accessible location for an idyllic island getaway.

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum (, part of the Smithsonian Institution, provides a fascinating look at the biological and cultural impact that shells have in our world.

Commercialization is severely restricted on Sanibel (pictured) and Captiva, so there are lots of independent restaurants and accommodations to choose from, enhancing the feeling of being in a quiet, far-flung corner of the Caribbean. Sanibel Island's unique geography, oriented eastwest against the mainland instead of the usual northsouth, makes it into a kind of scoop for the tides, resulting in Sanibel and Captiva having some of the best beachcombing in the world.

Stock Island, Key West Best for: Friends, couples, solo travel Standouts: Local hangouts, smooth rum, fresh fish

Stock Island, just across the bridge from the Key West mainland, offers a glimpse into what life was like in Key West a few decades ago, with chickens roaming free across gravel roads, and uncrowded, interesting local hangouts to explore. This neighborhood is home to COAST (bottom left;, an eclectic watersport repair shop/music venue/clothing boutique/boatbuilder that embodies the independent and creative spirit of the Florida Keys. For seafood so fresh you can watch it come off the boat, try Hogfish Bar & Grill (top photo at left;, an openair, waterside restaurant at the edge of the island. It serves up the eponymous local favorite – a mild, flaky fish – in a myriad of preparations, from ceviche to hogfish tacos.

A great day trip from the islands is an excursion even farther afield to Cayo Costa and surrounding barrier islands. Cayo Costa is Florida’s least visited state park, and there is a stark beauty to its sparsely inhabited shores. Overnight camping trips can be arranged. Captiva Cruises ( offers a range of experiences, including trips to Cayo Costa, a sunset sail and a wildlife-watching cruise.

Take your trip all the way off the beaten path and stay at one of the Stock Island Marina’s boatels (stockislandmarina .com), one bed/one bath houseboats that keep your island dreams afloat. Back on the main island, skip the crowds on Duval Street and head over to the First Legal Rum Distillery (keywestlegalrum .com) for a cocktail and a brief history of rum running in the Keys. The business was started by a local chef, and the rum barrels are salt-cured in the ocean to impart a unique flavor in the rum, including the tart and delicious key lime variety, distilled with locally sourced fruit. Smathers Beach offers the best sandy, tropical experience on the island, which is better known for its superb diving.

Spring 2017




LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017

Spring 2017



London to Venice BY TRAIN

Iconic gondola on the Grand Canal in Venice, in front of the Santa Maria della Salute church


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Skip the plane and take the train from London to Venice instead; you’ll cross mountain ranges and borders, stopping in some of Europe’s most beautiful cities on the way. By Oliver Smith @OliSmithTravel Photographs by Justin Foulkes @justinfoulkes


LONDON–PARIS One summer morning in 1994, I did something historic. At age 7, Game Boy in hand, I traveled through the Channel Tunnel on a family vacation to France. The undersea tunnel had opened just two weeks previously, and much of my journey was spent waiting for the ceiling to crack, at which point I would reach for my inflatable armbands as cod and eels peered through the window. But it wasn’t long before we disembarked at Paris’s Gare du Nord station at the end of a seminal journey. We were among the first people since Stone Age hunter-gatherers to travel from England to France without leaving terra firma; they had walked the Channel before it filled up with saltwater, some 9,000 years earlier. Boarding a Eurostar high-speed train one summer’s morning 20 years later, it was clear that this trip isn’t epic anymore. Commuting businessmen and French tourists carrying Beefeater British teddy bears shuffle

en masse beneath the cathedral-like ceiling of St. Pancras International station. Britain is now hooked up to the great cobweb of world rail lines, part of an ever-evolving network that makes it possible to travel from the U.K. to Vietnam, Tibet and even North Korea without leaving two rails. You can catch trains from Peterborough, England, to St. Petersburg, Russia, or from the U.K.’s Barry Island to Bari, Italy, and from London to Venice. The Eurostar exits St. Pancras into the sunshine and soon the industrial estates lapse into green fields. Flying from England’s Gatwick Airport to Venice takes two hours, but traveling to Venice by train you can watch the landscape change from Kentish weald to French oak forest, from Swiss mountain meadow to Italian olive grove. The train plunges into darkness as it enters the tunnel; everyone’s ears pop. The first blueprints for the Channel Tunnel date to 1802; they imagined horses clip-clopping through tunnels while mollusks drifted overhead. Other peculiar ideas followed,

including steel tubes dropped on the seabed. Generations of the British public feared a secret tunnel invasion from the continent, by Napoleonic troops or Nazis. Our train emerges into daylight and eventually we roll into Paris, trundling among the wide boulevards of the capital. Leaving Gare du Nord, I catch Metro line 8 southbound, popping out at ground level by the Seine before rattling beneath the iron feet of the Eiffel Tower.

London Essentials St. Pancras station is a marvel of Victorian engineering and the departure point for the Eurostar in London. The St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel is attached to the station. Recently renovated, it is as opulent today as when it first opened its doors (as the Midland Grand Hotel) in 1873 (from about $310,

Spring 2017



Paris Essentials The grandest station café in Europe, Le Train Bleu is in the departure hall at Gare de Lyon station (breakfast from about $7; main courses from $31; The Hôtel Sèvres St. Germain has rooms overlooking the Seine (from $150; sevres-saint

Brexit Bargains U.S. visitors in the U.K. are currently getting excellent value as the purchasing power of the dollar has increased since the U.K. voted in June to leave the European Union. The U.K. won’t be exiting the EU for at least two years. – Tom Hall, Editorial Director at Lonely Planet


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Zürich Essentials Hauptbahnhof station is a 10-minute walk from St. Peter’s Church and the Old Town ( Hotel Schweizerhof has grand, chandelier-lit rooms looking onto the station square (from about $160;



The British invented mechanized railways, but the French perfected them: they made them faster, more glamorous and with better sandwiches. The case in point is Le Train Bleu in Gare de Lyon, the grandest station café in the world, and the place to stop for breakfast before catching a train to Zürich, Switzerland. “You have to be rapid when you’re serving people,” says Jules Inisan, a waiter dashing between tables. “Customers have to run to catch their trains. It has happened that people run off without paying their bill.” Le Train Bleu has a menu that spans foie gras, veal cutlets and $700 bottles of wine. But this is nothing compared to the decor: a mini-Versailles of columns, gold paint and frescoes of vacationers – men sporting mutton-chop mustaches, ladies with parasols. Le Train Bleu takes its name from the luxury sleeper service that transported clientele from the Gare de Lyon to the Mediterranean.

Passengers included Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill and F. Scott Fitzgerald, but, sadly, the sleeper train is no more. A glance out of the café window explains why: the TGVs. The fastest trains in Europe barely allow time for a snooze, let alone eight hours’ sleep between crisp sheets. Where British trains shamble and scuttle around the network, the French TGVs slice through the landscape like a knife through brie. They can reach 357 mph. During a TGV service to Zürich, the shortcomings become apparent as landscapes flash past like a movie in fast-forward. Every so often, there’s just time to subliminally take in countryside scenes like a village square. Arriving in Zürich, it’s clear this is a town of clocks. There’s the clock on the spire of St. Peter’s church (the largest clock face in Europe), whose bell booms on the hour. There are the tweetings of Swiss cuckoo clocks, and there are watches inlaid with crystals, all ticking in shop windows. The most important clock is the first one you notice on arrival at Hauptbahnhof

station. It’s a design that makes barely any noise at all, yet it keeps time everywhere from Zürich to Zanzibar – not least because Apple borrowed its design for use on iPhones and iPads. Designed in 1944, the Swiss rail clock is a timekeeping classic, with a second hand that doesn’t tick-tock but glides smoothly around the clock face. By the time the station clock shows 6, Zürich is stirring with evening life, as city workers amble riverside promenades and tables fill at cafés. By 9, the shadows of the surrounding hills swallow the city. And by the time the clock strikes 8 the next morning, it’s time for me to set out on the most beautiful railroad journey in the world. Clockwise from top left: Jules Inisan at Le Train Bleu; Zürich is set at the meeting point of a river and a lake; 0n the Swiss railway clock in Hauptbahnhof station, the second hand is in the shape of a guard’s signaling disc.

Spring 2017



Tirano Essentials The southern terminus of the Bernina line, Tirano is also the starting point for a lovely stretch of rail running south past Lake Como to Milan. Stop for dinner at lakeside Varenna; Al Prato is a rustic restaurant on a leafy square (main courses from $14; Piazza del Prato).



Look at the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites and there, in among Machu Picchu, the Pyramids of Giza, the Taj Mahal and other triumphs of civilization, you’ll find a small Swiss railroad. The Bernina Line is a railway that can convert anyone into a militant trainspotter: traveling through Alpine scenery so exquisite, every camera battery onboard is drained. Soon we’re climbing above church spires and treetops, crossing rushing rivers and passing meadows where wildflowers sway and cowbells clang melodically. The Bernina Express is, it seems, a train with a rather confused personality. Sometimes it’s a roller coaster, storming up steep gradients, shimmying along cliff edges and plunging into tunnels. At other times, it pretends to be a car, barging down the middle of main roads and halting traffic. It twists and turns constantly, giving the impression of a train that’s making up its route as it goes along.


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“You have to be prepared for anything on this railway,” explains train driver Rolf Gremlich. “Sometimes, I have to stop the train to chase away cows sitting on the line. And, once, a driver turned a corner and found a bridge had been washed away by floods.” Runaway bridges are not the only cause for concern. Midway through the journey, the meadows turn to rocky passes as we reach Lago Bianco, the highest point on the railroad, a spot visited only by shivering winds and lost goats. In winter, this is one of the wildest corners of the Alps: there are archive photographs of trains half-buried by avalanches here. But in traversing these wild passes, the Bernina was regarded as a miracle of engineering when work was completed in 1908; it served remote mountain communities which at that time were cut off from roads. At lunchtime, we grind to a halt by the stone station at Alp Grüm, a place still only accessible by rail in winter. Residents have groceries and furniture imported by train. In return for this mild inconvenience,

they have one of the finest vistas in the Swiss Alps: tumbling waterfalls, hulking glaciers and forests hugging the slopes. To the south, Italian mountains are visible, standing proudly beside their taller Swiss comrades. Beneath them is the modest border town of Tirano, where the Bernina Express terminates beside a tricolor flag and a square lined with pizzerias. Presiding over the scene is the Bernina range, home to the highest point in the Eastern Alps at more than 13,280 feet. Wispy clouds are snagged on its summit, and little red trains trundle along its foot. “You never get tired of this,” says Sylvie Kissling, a teacher from Zürich. “Even as a Swiss person this journey is amazing.” Above: Varenna village on the shores of Lake Como Right: The Bernina Express passes Lago Palü, as seen from Alp Grüm station.

Spring 2017



Milan Essentials Catch Metro line M3 from Milano Centrale to Duomo to pay a visit to the city’s 13thcentury cathedral of the same name ( and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping center. Book into Hotel Anderson (from about $105;



One of the pleasures of crossing Europe by rail is listening to automated announcements. On French TGVs, the tone is cheery. On Swiss trains the announcer is serious; certain stops (Kloten, Spinas, Rabius-Surrein) are announced with the solemnity of a doctor breaking bad news. But in Italy, each stop sounds rhapsodic and poetic. Even an announcement to “stand behind the yellow line” on the platform is spoken like it might be a stanza from Dante. From Tirano, I board an ancient local train to Milan; the carriages, covered in graffiti and gasping for oil, make loud creaking noises. Outside the window, pine forests make way for shady orchards, log cabins for mustard-yellow villas. For one magic hour, the train skirts the shore of Lake Como in the dwindling afternoon sunshine, and it is here the stops sound most beautiful: Varenna, Piona, Chiavenna – names the announcer recites with the


LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017

fondness of someone on their deathbed remembering former lovers. These towns are every bit as lovely as they sound: lofty belvederes, piazzas and houses with lavender-swathed balconies squished between mountains and pebbly beaches. For one fleeting moment outside Varenna, the train sweeps right beside the shore. In the distance, yachts glide through waters ablaze with the reflection of the setting sun, and below us are gardens where statues of classical gods stand ankle-deep in the ivy, their backs turned to the train and their stone eyes fixed on the lake. Before long, the light fades and the lake tapers to its end. Soon, a great orange glow lights the southern horizon, and the thrum of Milanese traffic can be heard through the open window. Clockwise from top: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, in central Milan; the village of Varenna on the eastern shore of Lake Como; a cobbled street in lakeside Varenna.

Spring 2017





The last leg of the journey takes me across the plains of northern Italy from Milano Stazione Centrale to Venezia Santa Lucia, two stations that couldn’t be more different. Boarding at Milan feels like catching a train from inside a Roman temple, a vast space where stone lions growl and mythical beasts threaten commuters on the escalators; an oversize Pantheon designed for the day when Neptune comes to collect his trident from lost and found. Built in the 1930s, it hogs the skyline and is bigger than Milan cathedral and grander than the city’s palaces. Two hours’ puttering across the farmland of Lombardy, past the cities of Verona and Padua, and the train hauls into Venezia Santa Lucia, the station in central Venice. As I stand on the forecourt, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for Virgilio Vallot, the architect who, 80 years ago, stood in this spot, blueprints in hand, confronted with the same heartbreakingly beautiful prospect.


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All around, palaces straddle the banks of the Grand Canal, barnacles clinging to the foundations, flower boxes on the balustrades, their reflections wobbling in the water. On the opposite shore rises the copper-green dome of San Simeone Piccolo, and beyond, the terra-cotta rooftops of the city. Tasked with building a gateway to the most beautiful city on Earth, Virgilio Vallot did the honorable thing and gave Venice a shoebox for a station: a lump of concrete that neither competes with nor distracts from the glories around it. It makes stepping out into the city all the more sublime – for locals returning home and for tourists walking out into a city that can seem like a daydream. I catch a water taxi bound for St. Mark’s Square and, for the first time since London St. Pancras, leave terra firma behind. Clockwise from top left: Milan’s Stazione Centrale; the Gothic marble facade of Milan Cathedral; a view across Venice’s Grand Canal toward the church of Santa Maria della Salute; gondolas on the Grand Canal.

Venice Essentials For a grand introduction to the city, catch Vaporetto (water bus) lines 1 or 2 from Santa Lucia station to Piazza San Marco ($5; Stay at the Hotel Saturnia, a salmon-pink hotel with high ceilings, just a five-minute walk from Piazza San Marco (from about $250;

MAKE IT HAPPEN London to Venice by Train Getting There & Around A good resource for understanding the entire

For More Information

European rail network is the website,

Lonely Planet’s

which has detailed notes on the various ways to

Western Europe is a

get to Italy from London. The country-specific

detailed guide

railroad websites are helpful for timetables: SNCF

covering all the cities

in France (, both SBB ( and

and regions visited

Rhaetian Railway in Switzerland (, and

during the journey

Trenitalia in Italy (


If you’d like to fly back to London, airlines including BA and easyJet fly from Venice Marco Polo airport to various London airports (from $22 one-way; A tour operator such as Railbookers ( can arrange train tickets as well as hotel bookings, transfers and connecting flights across Europe, for packaged tours or customized excursions.

Spring 2017



THE ART OF FINNISH LIVING In 2017, Finland, the land of wood, water and vowels, celebrates 100 years of independence, making it the perfect time to explore the country’s wild Lakeland region and the capital, Helsinki, to try your hand at nine definitive Finnish experiences.

By Tim Moore @mrtimmoore Photographs by Simon Bajada @simonbajada

A Sex in the Forest cocktail, made of gin, blueberries, thyme and cranberry black tea, devised at Helsinki’s A21 bar // Opposite: Bathing in Lake Saimaa after a sauna

Spring 2017









Beyond the sun-dappled porch of a cabin lies a realm of scenic serenity.
A brook percolates gently through the foundations of an old sawmill into the gilded waters of massive Lake Saimaa, and a sigh of wind riffles the distant tops of spindly birch and aspen trees. Covering some 1,700 square miles, Lake Saimaa appears on maps as a mess of spindly inlets and speckled islands. “Any Finn who lives in the city needs
a quiet place to escape to,” says Marko Fabritius, piling his family’s weekend provisions on the lichen-blotted decking. The summerhouse in the woods is the defining native institution, a link with the rustic upbringings enjoyed and endured by the bulk of Finnish grandparents. With a sauna and a big flat-screen TV, the Fabritius family’s rented cottage is a far cry from the off-grid, ultra-spartan pine sheds that some Finns call their home away from home, but it still ticks the vital sensory box. “Silence is deep in our nature,” Fabritius says, with a look of contentment. The Finns even have a phrase for it: omissa oloissaan – alone with one’s thoughts.

“You just need to wait,” declares Joonas Häkkinen, reeling his fluorescent lure back through the stubbly reeds that fringe one of Saimaa’s innumerable islands. “But that’s not so bad when this is your waiting room.” For rod-shy novices, this is fishing at its lazy, unchallenging best: dragonflies on a spangled surface, an epic panorama of blue, gray and 50 shades of green, and waters dense with suicidally naive perch, sander and pike. Häkkinen, an angling guide who has been casting bait since he was 4, struggles to remember sitting down to any meal that didn’t incorporate fresh fish. Fishing is the most archetypal Finnish pastime, a perfect fit with their passion
for solitary nonconfinement. “The quality of the product also helps,” Häkkinen says. Later, as the sun settles down to meet
 Lake Saimaa, Häkkinen’s signature dish emerges from a tin-topped smoking oven by the Linnansaari foreshore: a venerable iron pan filled with butter, onions and vendace, a toothsome little sardine-like salmon plucked from the dark shallows beyond.

At first glance, the dark, steep woods that loom over the lakeside guesthouse of Järvisydän seem an unpromising pantry. But Tanja Heiskanen, whose family has operated lodging here for 12 generations, runs a practiced gaze across the somber forest floor and swiftly homes
in on a festive splash of color: garish clusters of red and dusky blue, bursting through the puffy moss in astounding profusion. “At school we were given two days every summer term to go out together to pick berries,” she says, stooping to pluck the first haul into her basket. “In the fifth grade, all children still have a test to identify and gather 20 samples of forest foods. So it’s really like a habit for us.” Such codified devotion is a tribute to their ancestors, for whom the annual harvest of blueberries and bright-red lingonberries was more than just a sticky-fingered day outdoors: the dried and preserved fruits were a scurvyforestalling nutritional necessity in the long, barren winter. These days, the right to forage is enshrined in Finnish law.

• Sahanlahti is a collection of wooden villas
with an on-site sauna, bicycles and motorboats for rent (from $165;

• Oravi offers three- to four-hour guided fishing trips ($435 for up to eight people; Alternatively, book fishing equipment from $11 per day.

• Järvisydän, a resort on Lake Saimaa, offer guest rooms, villas and cottages (from $150; Berrypicking tours are $27 per person (minimum three people).


Filing beneath the mighty towers that girdle Olavinlinna castle, a 2,000-strong crowd has gathered for the Savonlinna Opera Festival. The setting makes it seem less likely they’ve come to savor high-end Puccini than bear solemn witness to a medieval execution. For more than 100 years, the castle’s graniteflanked courtyard has hosted the summertime festival; set at the edge of a cobbled old town beside Lake Saimaa, which dominates southeastern Finland, the site is the perfect Gothic backdrop for tragedy and intrigue.

• The 2017 Savonlinna Opera Festival runs July 7 to August 4 (from $28; A short walk from the castle, Original Sokos Hotel Seurahuone has waterside rooms (from $125; 54

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A basket of freshly picked lingonberries

Spring 2017



A lakeside cabin near Sahanlahti // opposite: Rump of reindeer fawn at Savotta, a restaurant in Helsinki


LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017

Spring 2017




Marketta Paunonen’s workplace is like
a dragon’s lung: a slow-cooked chamber
of rasping steam encrusted with years of soot and cinders. “The smoke sauna is
the original and I think the best,” says
the woman who has been stoking the pine-fired ovens at Järvisydän resort for 10 years. At noon, Paunonen set afire the split logs stacked beneath a bed of stones in her realm’s darkest inner sanctum; now, six hours later, with the smoke thinned
to a resinous smog and the temperature
at its soul-wilting peak, it is ready for
its first victim. “The heat is deep,” she whispers. “It will clear your mind.” In a nation with more sweat cabins than cars, the traditional down and dirty smoke sauna is king, though the cook-chill ritual remains the same. First a “dry” roast with the odd thwack of a birch branch to open the pores; a dip in any nearby body of cold water; a steamed broil with a few ladlefuls conveyed from bucket to rocks; then another chilled immersion. It’s a meditational time-out and an opportunity for Finns to showcase their world-class skills in silent companionship and hard-bastard forbearance. While the locals nonchalantly sip beer and toss more water onto the furnace, less acclimatized visitors cling fuzzily to the purgative release that lies just outside:
a bleary, broiled stumble down the jetty, then headlong into Lake Saimaa with an almost audible hiss. Rinse and repeat.

• Järvisydän’s smoke sauna, which accommodates up to 30 people, can be privately rented ($290 for two hours; For a cheaper option, Löyly is a public smoke sauna in Helsinki (from $21 per person;


Starting out from the edge of a jetty in Linnansaari National Park, the glazed horizon of Lake Saimaa lies bestrewn with beckoning little kingdoms of spruce and smooth rock. The only way to explore them is to hop in a boat and grab a pair of oars. Huge osprey nests squat on pine tops, and the occasional Saimaa ringed seal pops up for air. With 3,500 largely unpeopled islands


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around, land is never too distant from rowers on Lake Saimaa, and Finland’s proudly enshrined everyman’s right grants the freedom to go ashore and pitch a tent almost anywhere. With the boat tied up and a few perch grilling on the fire – the nation’s bold faith in honesty and competence grants open access to communal axes, log piles and barbecue pits – it’s impossible not to gaze out and entertain grand ambitions for the onward voyage: with strong arms, a spare week and a visa, St. Petersburg, Russia, lies within range, just a couple of hundred miles of waterways away. 

• Oravi has a collection of eco-huts sleeping four in Linnansaari (from $55; It also rents rowboats (from $32 per day, $160 per week).


“Real people making real drinks from
real stuff,” says master distiller Mikko Mykkänen, explaining the Helsinki Distilling Company’s mission. He slaps a copper still beside him, as if to drum in his point. “Drinks to sip and appreciate, not, you know . . .” Raising several imaginary glasses, Mykkänen conveys the quantity-over-quality approach that has defined his nation’s attitude to alcohol. Along with urbane restraint, his firm exemplifies a renewed pride in all things Finnish: the distillery is housed in a former dock-zone abattoir that is a brick-and-whitetile monument to 1930s Helsinki modernism, and its award-winning spirits incorporate a sweeping range of native botanicals. A complex gin is crafted with lingonberries and angelica; whiskey and aquavit are distilled from Finnish rye; there’s even a superbly smooth sea buckthorn grappa. For good measure, the Helsinki Distilling Company’s forthcoming bar will tap into the whiskey still’s residual heat to power the world’s first “whiskey-fired sauna.” Back in the city center, the refinement and renationalization of Finnish drinking culture hits an apotheosis at A21, a sepulchral cocktail bar
that hides behind net curtains at the
foot of a 1980s office block. “We asked ourselves: how would all those American cocktails taste if they’d been invented here?” says chief bartender Laura Nissinen, garnishing a birch mojito with artful clumps of moss. “You know, everyone’s had Sex on the Beach, but

A branch of fragrant silver birch, called a vihta, used to gently beat oneself during a sauna

Spring 2017



what would Sex in the Forest be like?” A21’s mysterious but most palatable answer is a coniferous, earthy infusion of Helsinki gin, thyme, blueberries and cranberry black tea, sipped through a silver birch straw. Finland’s traditional Rudolf-and-spuds cuisine has proved more cheerfully resistant to epicurean trends – no-nonsense fuel for no-nonsense people. But a quiet revolution is underway at Savotta, a former police station neatly tricked up as a plank-floored old farmhouse that overlooks Helsinki’s showpiece imperial Senate Square. A headscarfed waitress lays out wooden trenchers with the cornucopia that sprouts from Finland’s summer forests: rump of reindeer fawn in chanterelle butter; Arctic char with black currant leaves. Desserts come smothered in berries, birch syrup and a scattering of black pellets that are referenced with a knowing smile. “Visitors always ask if these are something from the reindeer,” she says. “Sometimes they are even more surprised when I tell them it is licorice.”

• Tours of Helsinki Distilling Company from $18 per person, tastings from $32 (; cocktails at A21 from $11 (; main courses at Savotta from $20 (


From the vast, extraterrestrial cupola of its Temppeliaukio rock church to the broad ellipses of its University Library, Helsinki is a capital that fearlessly embraces the new. The crucible of this restrained nation’s incongruous fervor for bold creativity lies in the Punavuori neighborhood, aka the design district, a grid of quiet streets just south of central Helsinki. Look up and the sky is framed by fortress-like art nouveau mansions. Look around, and every shop window is home to some painstaking arrangement of tactile functionalism. Laid out by Finland’s founding fathers, today Punavuori is home to the country’s latest generation of globally influential designers and their stores: here, a display of exquisite, but practical, hand-crafted ceramics; there, a curious, but practical, woven-rush handbag; and everywhere, bent-birch toast racks, coffee filter holders and Bluetooth speakers, each one a sculptural tribute to Alvar Aalto, the originator of Finnish modernism.


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“We are straightforward people who
like things we can use and rely on,” says Annika Tammi, assistant manager at
the flagship branch of Artek, the design partnership Aalto co-founded in 1935. “At that time we wanted a look that reflected the Finnish personality.” Tammi nods at a stack of Aalto’s trademark arch-legged stools. “Maybe it helped that we were also poor – we used a lot of wood, because that was all we had.”

• Expert guide Leea Lappalainen leads three-hour design tours of Punavuori (from $195; Art nouveau Hotel Lilla Roberts is a short walk from the center and Punavuori (from $185;


“Maybe this is just a country where you need a hot drink,” reasons café manager Ioannis Himonas, asked why Finns down more coffee than anyone else on the planet. “In the war, our grandparents drank boiled-up wood pulp.” It’s a plain answer that befits his workplace. Café Ipi is a loftily ascetic white-concrete shrine to caffeine, filled
at mid-morning with

Helsinki’s University Library

muted, monochrome worshippers perched neatly on retro birch wood stools. There are plenty of rivals springing up around the Kallio, a formerly low-grade tenement district in the east of the city now completing the transition to hipsterdom. But Ipi has the most potent espressos and an enlightened selling point: its workforce is disabled, and here they are offered a unique employment opportunity and a supportive environment. With four cups a day to get down (the national per capita average), Finns never like to be far from a fix. Back in the center of Helsinki, even in late afternoon, the cylindrical art deco coffee stops guarding the shady corners of Kaisaniemi Park
each have a line, and each recidivist drinker offers a different theory on the national addiction. Caffeine is a chemical companion to the proud native ethos: “sisu,” which is best defined as “fearless determination.” Or it’s a social lubricant for a famously reserved people. Or, perhaps, and in common with most of this nation’s very particular fixations, it’s just an inscrutable fact of Finnish life, as mysterious to them as it is to everyone else.

• Cup of coffee at Café Ipi from $2 (



/ Finland

Moomin Mania

Perhaps the bestknown thing to come out of Finland, and

MAP KEY 1 Savonlinna 2 Sahanlahti 3 Järvisydän 4 Linnansaari 5 Helsinki

certainly the best loved, Finnish artist Tove Jansson’s hippo-like Moomins can be found almost everywhere in the country: embroidered on bath towels, embossed on tableware, even emblazoned on the side of Finnair airplanes. Jansson (1914–2001) drew her first Moomin after an argument with one of her brothers about German philosopher

GETTING THERE Finnair flies nonstop from New York City to Helsinki-Vantaa international airport in eight to nine hours. American Airlines and British Airways are among other airlines flying to Helsinki from cities throughout North America. Finland is easily accessed from Europe and beyond; there are direct flights from many destinations, and Baltic ferries are another good option.

GETTING AROUND Helsinki is a walkable city and has a good bus, metro and tram system (day tickets from $9; With flat streets and well-marked bike paths, the Finnish capital is also ideal for cycling (rent from $17 per day; Savonlinna is connected to Helsinki by bus and train (journey time four to six hours; see and and from here boats connect to other towns on Lake Saimaa. To properly explore the Lakeland region and get to some of the sites mentioned
in this feature, renting a car is your best option; there are several rental agencies in Helsinki and Savonlinna (from $30 per day;

FOR MORE INFORMATION For more information, see Finland’s official tourism site, visitfinland .com. Delve deeper into everything the country has to offer with Lonely Planet’s comprehensive Finland guide ($24.99) or download the separate “Helsinki” and “The Lakeland” chapters from ($4.95 each).

Immanuel Kant (above). She drew “the ugliest creature imaginable” on an outhouse wall and wrote “Kant” below it. The Moomins later transformed into plump, friendly trolls. The first published Moomin drawings appeared in Jansson’s political cartoons in the early 1940s. The characters made

their literary debut in 1945 in The Moomins and the Great Flood book. The Moomins were based closely on Jansson’s own bohemian family, while their innocent and sweet world is viewed as an escape from the horrors of World War II. The Moomins appear in nine novels, four picture books and a worldwidesyndicated comic strip. In each, they embark on adventures through a land of forests and lakes, valleys and mountains, embracing nature in all its forms, reflecting the Finns’ national obsession. HERE’S HOW TO ACHIEVE FULL MOOMIN IMMERSION : MEET THE CHARACTERS Based on an island off the harbor town of Naantali (two hours from Helsinki), Moomin World theme park mixes costumed characters with the fairy-tale scenery of the Finnish archipelago that helped inspire many of Jansson’s naturefilled tales (open February and June–August; $31; SEE THE DRAWINGS Set to reopen in June after a revamp, the Moomin Museum in Tampere, Finland, contains more than 2,000 of Jansson’s original artworks and a charming original model of her five-story Moomin house ( DRINK MOOMIN COFFEE In December, Finland’s first Moomin Café opened its doors in Helsinki. In keeping with the inclusive, diversity-celebrating ideals
of the Moomin books, the café aims to employ people over 50 and immigrants, to be kidfriendly, and to celebrate Finland’s favorite beverage: coffee ( Spring 2017




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Along England’s wild northern frontier, Hadrian’s Wall crosses a sublime landscape that still bears witness to ancient Rome’s relentless expansion ambitions. — By Marcel Theroux @therouvian Photographs by Justin Foulkes @justinfoulkes

Spring 2017



Roman artifacts such as boots, jewelry and coins have been found at Vindolanda fort and the surrounding area.


here’s something about longdistance walking that puts you in a slightly altered mental state, but I’m still surprised when I see a Roman legionary coming toward me above Walltown Crags in northeast England. The man’s breastplate catches the light as he makes his way up the steep slope. Behind him, stretching away into the mist, is Hadrian’s Wall, a 73-milelong stone fortification built by Romans in the second century, one of several barriers designed to separate the Roman Empire from “barbarians.” On the northern side of the frontier – barbarian country – there are a few animals grazing, but the farmland looks wilder and


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more untamed than the pasture to the south. Even for someone fit, the climb uphill is testing. At the summit, the legionary gasps that he’s marched from Segedunum (presentday Wallsend in Newcastle), before pausing to catch his breath. I fumble for my schoolboy Latin and can’t remember any: the word I’m looking for is cur – why? “I like difficult things,” he says. “I’m not being unkind, but anyone can walk Hadrian’s Wall in that.” He gestures at my anorak and sensible shoes. Richard Parker is the legionary’s name. He poses gamely for pictures with his plastic sword. There are lots of good reasons to walk Hadrian’s Wall: it crosses the entire width of England; the landscape is spectacular; it’s an

archaeological site of supreme importance; it’s a physical challenge, though the truth is there’s no reason to do it bare-legged and wearing a heavy helmet on your head, even if, like Parker, you’re doing it to raise money for a neonatal unit in Plymouth. He says goodbye and sets off toward Barrow-inFurness, past the wall’s western end. He plans to be there in four days. As I watch him go, with his red nylon cape flapping out behind him, he looks more John Cleese than Julius Caesar, and it strikes me that many of our associations with ancient Rome are comic. But walk the path for any distance, and as the wall unfolds in front of you, it reveals a past that was also epic, poignant and strange.

I’d begun my walk the day before, heading east from Lanercost in Cumbria. It’s my plan to walk the 40-mile stretch to Heddon-onthe-Wall in Northumberland over four days. I set off early in the morning as a man named Maurice brings out the honesty box from his shed to set beside his bag of homegrown apples. Munching on one of the apples as I walk past the first standing remnant of the wall at Hare Hill, I find it hard to reconcile the peaceful atmosphere around me with what I know of the region’s history. Ripe sloe berries and crab apples line the path that runs along green pasture where sheep and cattle graze happily in the soft rain. Hadrian, Roman emperor from AD 117 to 138, ordered the construction of his wall in

AD 122 “to separate the Romans from the barbarians,” his biographer wrote. It stretched in its heyday from coast to coast, with a pair of turrets and a “castle” or small fort every mile, and deep earthworks on either side. Larger forts, some of which predated the wall, garrisoned the troops and housed their dependents. Until antiquarians began to realize the significance of Hadrian’s Wall and fought to preserve it in the 19th century, it was pillaged by locals for building material. Along its length, farmhouses that have been built out of Roman masonry still sit next to denuded sections of the wall. All the same, according to Richard Hingley, an archaeologist and historian in Durham,

England, who wrote a book focusing on the post-Roman history of the wall, locals never entirely forgot its importance. It helped define the border between England and Scotland. And as early as the 16th century, local landowners were collecting stones from the wall to display in their gardens. Today, much of the wall is gone; sections of it are no more than dots and dashes of stonework. Every now and again you come upon a stretch that is sufficiently intact to give a sense of what it must have been like during the centuries when it was Rome’s northern frontier. Ruts cut by centuries of wagon wheels can be seen in the stone gateways of forts, and scattered around are stones carved by soldiers to mark their work. Spring 2017



On the eastern side of the River Irthing lie the remains of the bridge that carried Hadrian’s Wall across the water.

A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT The course of the river has changed over the years and the new Millennium Bridge (right) reconnected the route in 2001, taking walkers from Cumbria to Northumberland. RESTORED RUINS The peaceful, russet-colored ruins of Lanercost Priory (below) in Cumbria are all that remain of a building founded in 1166 by Henry II and inhabited by Augustinian canons. After the dissolution, it fell into disrepair until the nave was restored as a parish church in 1740 ($5;


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ix miles east of the village of Lanercost, I reach the tranquil bend of the River Irthing, where a new bridge carries the longdistance footpath to the hamlet of Willowford. The bridge, lowered into place in 2001, is the first to span the Irthing since Roman occupation. The remains of the abutment that supported the Roman bridge stand a hundred yards from the present course of the river. It’s odd to think that 1,600 years after the Romans left, the infrastructure they built has only just been equaled. I begin my second day plodding up the path from Walltown quarry to embark on the most dramatic stretch of the wall. This

section was shaped by forces even more ancient than the Romans. Between Walltown and Sewingshields Crags, the wall sits astride a natural geological feature – the Whin Sill, a big prow of dolerite that towers over the moorland in front of it. This is the toughest, most exhilarating walking of all. You hug the ridge of a huge inland cliff, looking out over a sea of moorland and trees toward the Scottish uplands. It feels as though the wall itself has been energized by the extraordinary landscape; it seems to defy both gravity and common sense as it runs dizzyingly close to the edge of the cliff, switchbacking over the peaks and dips of the escarpment. Off in the distance, the sheep look like clumps of tiny white mushrooms.

HIGH DRAMA AT HOUSESTEADS The wall’s most dramatic site, and the best preserved Roman fort in the country, is at Housesteads (below). From the ridge, you can see Northumberland National Park and the wall snaking into the distance. The foundations include a hospital, barracks and even flushable toilets (from about $8.50;

It’s impossible to walk Hadrian’s Wall and not become fascinated by the Romans and Britons who lived, worked and died here. In the 1970s, archaeologists excavated the remains of a Roman garbage dump in the fort of Vindolanda. The airless condition of the site’s dense soil means that organic matter has been preserved: leather, wood and textiles have survived almost two millennia in the Northumbrian earth. There is something strangely moving about the familiar objects that have turned up here: beautifully worked shoes, a chair leg, a hairnet, a child’s wooden toy sword. The excavators also discovered wooden fragments bearing Latin handwriting. What have come to be known as the Vindolanda

Tablets include a letter of complaint, roll-calls of troops, a derogatory reference to the locals as “brittunculi” (“little Brits”) and, perhaps most poignantly, a 1,900-year-old invitation to a birthday party. The invitation is written in part by a professional scribe but includes a brief message by the hostess of the party. “I shall expect you, sister. Farewell, sister, my dearest soul, as I hope to prosper, and hail.” It is among the earliest examples of a woman’s handwriting in Latin. Vindolanda today occupies a surprisingly big site about a mile to the south of the wall. The gray stones of Roman foundations – homes, temples, bathhouses – stand out against the green grass, evidence of a complex and thriving community.

It’s impossible to walk Hadrian’s Wall and not become fascinated by the Romans and Britons who lived, worked and died here. Spring 2017



Hadrian’s Wall snakes across the Whin Sill, a ridge of high volcanic rock, in Northumberland.


fter the Whin Sill, the return to ground level comes as an anticlimax. It’s steady going from here until Heddon-on-the-Wall, a village in Northumberland. I share the almost empty path with cattle and sheep. A big chunk of wall runs through the middle of their pasture. I skirt behind it to avoid what looks like a bull; two millennia on, the wall is still serving a useful defensive function. The Roman soldiers left Britain in AD 410. The confidence of their predecessors seems to have evaporated. “In [AD] 122, the Roman empire had the northern frontier largely under control,” Hadrian’s Wall historian Hingley had told me. “By the early 5th century, things were seriously running down, and the priorities of Rome were far away from Britain.” They made an orderly retreat. At Brocolitia Fort, the departing soldiers blocked up gateways to render it unusable. Over time, grass has carpeted the remnants of its walls with green. In the parking lot by the fort, Ant Wright serves espresso from his stall and enlightens his customers about the more arcane aspects of Roman religion. Just behind him lie the remains of a temple to Mithras, or Mithraeum. It is one of the most complete in


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Britain. “The Romans believed Mithras was born on December 25th, out of a rock or an egg,” says Wright. “The more you look at it, the more parallels there are with Christianity.” There is certainly something eerie about the excavated temple. Although roofless, it feels oppressive: a tight rectangle of low walls and odd sculptures. Mithraeums were small, designed to evoke the atmosphere of the mythical cave where Mithras slew a bull and new life sprang from its blood. By the door is the place where adepts underwent ordeal by fire as part of their initiation; three altars – copies of the originals – stand at the end. Back in the parking lot, I ask Wright when the Mithraeum was discovered. “Ask her,” he says. “Her dad found it.’” Jennie DuCane is walking past with her dog, Wesley. “Actually, my father’s dog found it,” DuCane says, and tells me the story. In 1949, DuCane’s father, Richard, bought the land on which the Brocolitia Fort sits. The turf had been cut in preparation for raising fence posts. Richard’s dog, Adam, pawed at the ground and revealed a piece of stone that had clearly been shaped by hand. Even in the temple’s reduced state, it still maintains a shred of mystery. I add some change to the offerings on the central altar and set off on my way.

To walk in the footsteps of legionaries and the Roman elite, with their strange gods and oddly familiar habits, is both exhilarating and humbling. It is a peculiar thrill to walk the same hills they did and look at the same views. On the land around the wall, the wild chives they brought with them to season their food still grow. If there were no Roman remains, this place would still be extraordinary. There’s a spaciousness and sweep about the countryside here that feels un-English. On my last day, I revisit my favorite sections of wall, using the bus to hopscotch between them. The mist has rolled back from the ground and there is golden light on the crags and views in every direction: the Pennines, the Lakeland Fells, the Cheviots to the north. In the woods above Housesteads Fort, the butterflies come out and pheasants flop off into the bracken. Beneath the Whin Sill, there is a flash of red and I think it’s another legionary’s cloak. I slither down the hill to see who’s walking in fancy dress this time, but it’s a hunter in a scarlet coat, giving his hounds a run. I chase after him, but he is soon gone. Instead, I’m rewarded with the dramatic view south – the wall from barbarian country, still rolling imperiously over the towering crags.

MAKE IT HAPPEN / Hadrian’s Wall GETTING THERE Multiple carriers, including Aer Lingus and American Airlines, fly from major U.S. cities to Newcastle International Airport. Carlisle (in the west) and Newcastle (in the east) are the nearest mainline train stations; see for timetables and prices. The rail line between the two towns (Tyne Valley Line) has stations at Corbridge, Hexham, Haydon Bridge, Bardon Mill, Haltwhistle and Brampton. Trains run hourly but not all services stop at all stations. Tour operators (see Walking the Wall) will often organize pick-ups and drop-offs at local stations.

WHEN TO GO The trail is open year-round, though walkers are encouraged to visit between May and October, to allow the ground to recover over winter and spring.

WALKING THE WALL The Hadrian’s Wall Path is an 84-mile trail that runs the length of the wall, from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway, and takes about seven days to walk ( The 50-mile route we covered in our story runs through open countryside, from Lanercost to Heddon-on-the-Wall. Highly regarded local company Hadrian’s Wall Ltd. can take the hassle out of a trip, offering selfguided, part-guided or fully guided walks and cycles; providing maps; organizing accommodations; and taking luggage between overnight stops. Accommodations range from “I denarius” (basic bed/bunks with shared facilities; $290 for five nights) to “V denarii” (top of the range; $530 for five nights). Some sections of the route are hilly but anyone of reasonable fitness should be able to tackle it (

Ruins of Temple of Mithras near Carrawburgh

MORE TO SEE Vindolanda offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of a Roman garrison town. The museum here displays leather sandals, Roman helmets and writing tablets. The excavated site also includes parts of the fort and town, and reconstructed turrets and temples ($8; 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Excavations near Brocolitia Fort (also known as Carrawburgh Fort) unearthed the Temple of Mithras (pictured at right), a third-century construction built to worship the eponymous Roman god. Although desecrated, some walls remain alongside copies of original altars (free; A consolidated stretch of Hadrian’s Wall, nearly 7 feet thick in parts, is visible outside Heddon-on-the-Wall in Northumberland. The village marks the journey’s end for many walkers, who prefer this more picturesque conclusion over the city of Newcastle, 9 miles farther to the east. FOR MORE INFORMATION See Lonely Planet’s England guidebook. Also, the websites and hadrianswallcountry provide planning information on the region and the route. Carlisle and Newcastle tourist offices are good places to gather information, but there are also tourist offices in Hexham, Haltwhistle, Corbridge and Brampton.

Spring 2017





LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017

Hamburg The Perfect City Break

Hamburg, in northern Germany, is a handsome city with a flair and charm that leaves a lasting impression. Discover historic warehouses given a new lease on life as museums and galleries, enjoy locally brewed beers at one of the city’s beach bars, and stroll around HafenCity, the old port, where modern architecture now rules.


PANORAMIC PERCH On the north side of the Elbe River, close to Hamburg’s famous fish market, a striking steeland-glass rhomboid rises like a giant speedboat, its “bow” jutting out over the water. This dynamic structure – fittingly marking the entrance to the city’s harbor, on a spit of land that was once the ferry terminal to England – is the Dockland building. Home to offices and a graduate school by day, with elevators

By Alice Braham @AliceBraham Photographs by Jonathan Stokes @jonstokes1

shuttling students and workers diagonally along the sharp contours of the building, this pseudoship really comes to life at night. As the sun drops, students, office workers and courting 20-somethings make their way up the 140 stairs that lead steeply to a large public viewing platform on the deck. Here, they watch as the port takes on a peachy glow, long shadows are cast across the water, and the skyline becomes a silhouette of cranes, container ships and wind turbines.

• Free;

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INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION Hamburg is a rich city with a bold claim: “gateway to the world.” Its position on the Elbe River has put it at the center of world maritime trade since the Middle Ages, and generated wealth that’s reflected in proud waterfront architecture. The old port, HafenCity, is now a quarter that is known for striking new buildings, such as the Herzog & de Meuron-designed Elbphilharmonie concert hall, with its roof like a choppy sea. Wander the boardwalks past angular glass-fronted offices and you’ll see buildings peppered with portholes, or shaped

BOTTOMS UP Few things are as deeply ingrained in the German soul as the love of beer, and there’s a near-religious intensity in the way it’s brewed, enjoyed and celebrated. Hamburg has no shortage of brewpubs, but Altes Mädchen is said to have pioneered the citys’ craft beer scene. Here, in a large industrial-style building, the air heavy with the scent of hops and honey, more than 60 craft beers – at least 12 of which are brewed on-site at the Ratsherrn Brewery – are dispatched to eager


customers from a central bar. For a swift initiation, opt for a mermaid-shaped taster board of five beers. The etiquette is to work your way from the tail to the head, weakest to the most pungent – the malty amber-red rotbier at the head end is a Hamburg specialty. Paper discs under each glass tell you about the beers, and favorites can be bought in take-out bottles from the craft beer shop across the courtyard.

• Tasting boards $6, brewery tours from $10 for 1 hour;

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like a steamship’s funnel. In neighboring Speicherstadt, handsome 19th-century red-andblack brick warehouses that once stored coffee, tea and spices stand beside a network of canals. Many of the buildings now house art galleries, museums and shops, as well as coffee roasters that ensure the rich smell of the brew lingers. The best viewpoints are from the many bridges that crisscross the canals, especially when night falls and 1,000 lights illuminate the buildings and waterways in a play of light and liquid.


The top attraction
in Hamburg is a surprising one: a
miniature railway. Housed
inside a neo– Gothic warehouse, Miniatur
Wunderland is a tiny, magical
world on a huge scale. Nine sections, from Germany to the U.S., are connected by 9 miles of
track, along which 900 trains chug daily. The trains travel over mountains chiseled from plaster, through

tunnels and into stations. Everywhere, small scenes, both mundane and extraordinary, play out, including a tractorpulling contest and a line for portable toilets at a festival. There’s even a fully functioning airport with scheduled arrivals and departures. You can join in the action, too: press a button and you’ll make hot air balloons fly, rock stars perform, and

produce a real, thumbsized bar of chocolate. The newest section, Italy, opened last fall; a separate Venice section is planned for the coming months. Rumor has it that London’s Big Ben is among the next to be miniaturized.

• Admission $14.50; miniatur


NAUTICAL NIGHTS Though 25hours Hotel Altes Hafenamt is the latest of many new openings in HafenCity, the building that houses it is one of the area’s most historic. Built in 1885, it was once the old harbormaster’s office, where sailors met and maps were charted. The hotel takes its nautical heritage seriously, with a ship’s steering wheel hanging in the lobby

alongside a chandelier crafted from knotted ropes. It’s a welcoming place, with large sofas and armchairs in the communal spaces, and rooms equipped with Nespresso coffee machines, UE Boom speakers and day bags. Breakfast is served downstairs, where a huge captain’s table is piled high with pastries, fruit, hams and cheeses. Adjoining the hotel is the city’s hottest nightspot, The Boilerman Bar, overseen by a 10-foot-tall portrait of the venerable harbormaster himself.

• Rooms from $130; 25hours

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MEAT MARKET Not unexpectedly, the city that gave the world the hamburger has a particular fondness for meat. It’s done especially well at Bullerei (“bull’s stable”) a restaurant aptly housed in the city’s former slaughterhouse in Schanze. Owned by TV chef Tim Mälzer, Hamburg’s equivalent to British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, it serves hearty slabs of goodquality organic steak, veal flank and Ibérico pork with sides of creamy mashed potatoes, cauliflower gratin and buttered corn. Diners in the bare-brick and steelbeamed restaurant watch through the kitchen windows as chefs
sear, sizzle and barbecue. Huge haunches of cow hang in glass-fronted fridges, a testament to the building’s legacy and its position on
the old cattle route that runs between Denmark and south Germany.

• Main courses from $19;

RIVERSIDE RETREAT Just 5 miles west of the city lies the hillside labyrinth of Blankenese, a former fishing village nicknamed the “Positano of the North.” The association is not far off: narrow, cobbled streets, with a network of 58 stairways (4,864 steps) connecting them, pass pretty houses that cascade down the hill to a beach and jetty. At weekends in the summer,


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families make day trips from the city, picnic baskets and towels slung over arms, and locals jostle for terrace seating at beachfront restaurants. The best view of the Elbe – nearly 2 miles wide at Blankenese –is from Süllberg Hill. Make your way up to the flagcrowned tower that marks the highest point, to take in the panorama before picking your own path down, perhaps stopping for a coffee at Kaffeegarten Schuldt or a beer at one of the many bistros that invite wearylegged visitors to pause for refreshment.

• S-Bahn from Hamburg to Blankenese $6 round-trip

The comforting smell of freshly baked bread greets all who step into Mutterland, a café and delicatessen amid elegant apartment blocks in central St. Georg. Its name means “Motherland,” and this place celebrates all things good and German. There are no big brands. Instead, beautifully packaged local produce is presented in wooden crates: jars of loganberry jam, chili chutney and labskaus – minced beef, potatoes and onion – stand beside bottles of superior German beer. Vases overflow with foil-wrapped chocolates and licorice, and there’s a

LOCAL EATS counter of homemade cakes. Mutterland is a popular spot for brunch; locals go for the bircher muesli, omelets and the city’s best Franzbrötchen – cinnamon pastries that are a favorite with Hamburgers.

• Coffee from $2.50, jam from $4;

SYLVAN SPIRITS Entering Clockers, a tiny bar in the St. Pauli district, is like walking into an enchanted forest. Spongy moss and grain-end birch trunks cover the walls, spindly branches hang low from the ceiling, and a tree appears to grow out of the floor. Tables and benches are made from rough-hewn planks of wood; it’s like a picnic area in a clearing. A wooden maki – a nocturnal primate and Clockers’ logo – watches

wide-eyed as evenings unfold. The bar is a cozy lair in which to enjoy expertly crafted cocktails made from its privatelabel gin. Choose from enticing concoctions such as Passionate Maki, a smooth blend of gin, lime, mango, passion fruit and ginger purée, finished with champagne, or Mrs. Garfield, a sharp mix of raspberry, beet, lime, gin and a dash of soda. On Fridays and Saturdays, DJs play hiphop and funk music from a treehouse-like booth, and a secret gate opens up to a speakeasy bar on the floor above.

• Cocktails from $9; clockers .hamburg Spring 2017




On balmy summer evenings, it seems that half of Hamburg meets at Strand Pauli, one of several beach bars that have sprung up in the city. Groups of friends, colleagues and couples gather in deck chairs, on daybeds and in the seats of a gold Mercedes, its wheels deep in the sand. Wooden signs on the skew point to various bars – one akin to a Caribbean beach shack, with palm-fringed roof and rows of rum, another a Mexican cabana of brightly painted wood, where beer, cocktails and snacks are doled out by happy staffers. Captainlike, a DJ steers the mood from a booth strung with bulbs, and everywhere there are parasols, palm trees and rusting paraphernalia. In the background, steel cranes jut into the sky as if dancing, while boats are being welded in the harbor – sparks fly here, as they do among the drinkers, who chat animatedly with beers in hand.

• Beer from $3;


/ Hamburg 1. HafenCity 2. Dockland Building 3. Altes Mädchen 4. Miniatur Wunderland 5. 25hours Hotel Altes Hafenamt 6. Blankenese 7. Mutterland 8. Clockers 9. Strand Pauli 10. Bullerei





British Airways, jetBlue, Lufthansa, Polish Airlines and Scandinavian Airlines are among carriers that fly to Hamburg from the U.S. Hamburg Airport has frequent flights to domestic and European cities. The S1 line on the S-Bahn rapid transit rail system connects the airport directly with the city center, including the Hauptbahnhof (main train station). The journey takes 25 minutes and costs about $4.

Frequent trains serve regional and longdistance destinations from the city. Hamburg Hauptbahnhof is the most important train station and an attraction in itself; the views to the busy tracks from the concourse are legendary. There are direct services to Berlin-Hauptbahnhof (1¾ hours), Cologne (4 hours), Frankfurt (3½ hours) and Munich (5¾ hours). A direct service to Copenhagen (5 hours) runs several times daily.

In addition to free public transportation, the Hamburg Card provides discounts on museums and tours (one to five days $11 to $45;

FORE MORE INFO Lonely Planet’s Germany guidebook ($27.99) has a chapter titled “Hamburg & the North,” which can be downloaded at shop ($4.95).

Spring 2017





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The Photographer’s Story David Burdeny

Moscow Metro


“Komsomolskaya is the most extravagant of all
the Soviet-era stations. Opened in 1952 and designed by the same architect as Lenin’s tomb,
it has eight large ceiling mosaics made from semiprecious stones such as jasper and lapis lazuli, showing heroic scenes from Russian military history.”

“I first visited Moscow in late 2014 and discovered that its metro stations were absolutely remarkable. It then took months to get permission to photograph them. With the help of a Russian producer, I was eventually able to gain access after closing, and was allowed 40 minutes in each, shooting about four per night. The metro was opened in 1935 and was intended to culturally jump-start Stalin’s new Russia, instilling a sense of pride and putting forward a grand face to the world. The stations were designed by various architects and reflect their different styles, from art deco to mock-Italian palazzos, with lots of marble, mosaics, sculptures and chandeliers. They were conceived as ‘palaces for the people,’ where workers were given a cultural experience typically reserved for the wealthy; a theme of light symbolizes the ‘bright future’ of Communism. Today, Moscow’s metro is one of the busiest in the world, and it was amazing to be in these spaces when they were empty. I had no idea of the sheer scale of some of them; I tried to translate that in my photos, but it’s really something that needs to be experienced firsthand. Though the stations feel old, they’ve been maintained well in their original state; there’s no advertising, and no sense of the 21st century being laid over the top. Entering the stations feels like stepping into a massive antique, or back in time.” David Burdeny is a Canadian travel photographer with a background in architecture and interior design. See more of his work at

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Moscow Metro

“Elektrozavodskaya [left] was unique among the stations I saw, which mostly had vaulted ceilings with a few soft lights. Here, these intense, almost surgical lights exaggerate the symbolism of light and the sun, which was often used as a metaphor for Stalin. The bas-reliefs depict the war effort during WWII.”


“Aeroport station [below], near Moscow’s former airport, was finished in 1938 and was part of a second stage of station building that took place in the late ’30s. This time saw the most opulent designs, with gold, semiprecious stones, mosaics and 14 different varieties of marble, like the pink and black marbles from Siberia and the Urals used in the panels here.”

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Moscow Metro

“Art nouveau Novoslobodskaya [right] includes 32 stained-glass panels and a mosaic with a political theme – typical of the stations. They were full of messages and information, with the idea that new residents from the countryside were brought up to ideological speed as they moved through the metro all day.”


“Made with rich materials, including marble and onyx, Sokol station [below] is unique in using a central column, rather than side columns, to hold up the tunnel. Its design gives the impression of a large skylight funneling in natural light. It was 2 a.m. when I finished shooting, but if I hadn’t known better I’d really have expected to head up and see the sun.”


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Great Escape Colombia

Travelers are rediscovering captivating Colombia, once typecast as the bad boy of South America but now one of the continent’s most remarkable success stories. Riding on the wave of newfound optimism, Colombian cities are experiencing a dramatic rebirth. While one of the country’s calling cards remains its diverse geography, including Andean peaks, rainforests and savannas, Colombia’s greatest asset may be its people – with indigenous, African and European ancestry – who are famed for their hospitality. BY OLIVER SMITH @OLISMITHTRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHS BY KRIS DAVIDSON @HELLOKRISDAVIDSON


Mingle with street artists, cyclists, market vendors and pilgrims in Bogotá, Colombia’s style-conscious capital on the rise.

2 Venture north through verdant countryside to the sleepy, storied towns of Boyacá state.

3 Plunge into the Zona Cafetera, where coffee plants and giant palms grow in the shadow of snowcapped mountains.

4 Explore the shady squares and cobbled streets of Cartagena, the beautiful colonial port on the Caribbean coast.

5 Idle on glorious beaches, hike rainforest trails and meet indigenous communities in Tayrona National Park. // Crafts for sale in Cartagena’s old town area, a UNESCO World Heritage site


Bogotá Explore the squares, markets and mountainsides of Colombia’s resurgent capital. Bogotá is at its most colorful on a Sunday morning. Once a week, city highways are closed to motor vehicles and transformed into a blur of fluorescent spandex as thousands of cyclists, children on tricycles, and teenagers on rollerblades whoosh past. This motley Tour de France passes under the stern gaze of Simón Bolívar, South America’s liberator, whose statue presides over the main square. The group steers under the bell towers of the two-century-old cathedral, where the last hymns of morning mass reverberate inside, as the congregations in their Sunday best step out into the Andean sunshine. The cyclists pedal past the market at Paloquemao, where weekend shoppers wander among roses, lilies and sunflowers, flowers that only hours before were snipped from the surrounding countryside, soon to decorate weddings, funerals, birthday parties and dinner dates. Not so long ago, Bogotá was a city in the same league as Mogadishu, Baghdad and Lagos – synonymous with drug cartels, crime and terrorism. It was a place where no sane tourist ventured and few residents would potter between neighborhoods on a Sunday stroll. Bogotá’s problems are far from fixed, but safety has improved and one of South America’s liveliest cities is blooming. Former no-go areas are now served by cycle superhighways; streets once avoided because of driveby shootings are now busy with artisan coffee shops. The face of the city is constantly changing, especially just after lunchtime on Sundays, when security guards take a siesta and Bogotá’s street artists are often at work. Just over a decade ago, local authorities in Bogotá took steps to partially decriminalize graffiti, with


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ESSENTIALS STAY // Cité Hotel, in a high-rise building on leafy streets in the north of Bogotá, has rooms with vast beds and expansive bathrooms (from $110; DO // Art dealer Federico Ruiz offers graffiti tours of Bogotá’s central neighborhoods (from $120; to book, email info Funicular trains and cable cars depart from Monserrate station in central Bogotá (from $4 round-trip;

some hoping to reverse urban decay by transforming neighborhoods into open-air galleries. Today, like almost no other city in the world, artworks can be found on almost every surface in Bogotá. “Street art is a celebration of our culture,” explains artist Ecksuno, whose real name is Juan Sebastián García, as he embarks on a graffiti tour of the city. “Colombia has so much variety to inspire us; it is almost like a collection of different countries, each with its own styles and colors.” Bogotá’s street art can be a way to gauge Colombia’s political temperature. Sebastián García points to murals advocating rights for indigenous communities, others protesting against Amazon deforestation. It works as an introduction to the country’s natural and cultural riches, too. Sebastián García points to one of his own creations: the frozen peaks of the Sierra Nevada on the country’s Caribbean coast, rising over a sunny plaza. “In Bogotá there is a particular quality to the light,” he says. “We are high up in the Andes. Wherever we go in the city, we have the mountain watching over us.” The mountain is Monserrate – Bogotá’s urban peak, like Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro. It is a Sunday afternoon tradition for pilgrims to climb the 1,500 steps to the church on the summit (everyone else cheats and takes the cable car or the funicular). Along the ascent to 10,341 feet above sea level, the smog recedes and the colors of the city become even more intense. There is the deep-blue dome of the sky, and the bright orange of the cable car. A range of green hills rise beyond the city; on their slopes, roses and sunflowers grow for the Sunday market.

Clockwise from far left: Skateboarders in Bogotá practice in front of a mural honoring victims of political violence. // panoramic view of Bogotá from 10,341-foot Monserrate // flowers at Paloquemao market // Cyclists pass Bogotá’s 19th-century cathedral. // obleas (sweet wafer snacks) for sale by the roadside

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Unfinished ceramic pieces (top) and brightly colored ceramic bowls for sale in Råquira, Colombia’s pottery capital // Opposite: Casa Terracota, a house made entirely of clay in Villa de Leyva, is considered to be the largest piece of pottery in the world.


Follow road 45A north from Bogotá through rolling farmland, then pick up route 60 east to the town of Villa de Leyva. It’s roughly a 3½-hour drive; there can be severe traffic congestion leaving the capital.

Villa de Leyva & Boyacá Potter about in Boyacá, a state of sleepy villages, rolling hills and a millennia-old ceramic-making tradition. Carlos Suárez stands in his studio in the village of Ráquira, dropping a dollop of clay onto his potter’s wheel with a satisfying thwack. He sets about sculpting a vase, watching intently as the material shape-shifts before him, the excess clay accumulating in the wrinkles of his hands. “When I touch this clay, I can tell it is from Boyacá,” he says, not once looking away from his wheel. “And whenever you touch clay, you feel a connection to the earth beneath you.” In the great epic of Colombian history, many defining acts have played out on the soil of Boyacá. It was in this state that Simón Bolívar defeated Spanish armies in 1819 and set in motion Colombia’s independence. And centuries before, this region was the heartland of the Muisca – the preconquest civilization whose gold objects gave rise to the legend of El Dorado. They also created little ceramic snakes and frogs, and human figurines with coffee beans for eyes. The Muisca civilization is long gone, but their earthenware-making traditions have survived. Throughout Boyacá are roadside stands selling all things ceramic, from the practical (flowerpots, urns, amphoras and piggy banks) to the peculiar (ceramic dinosaurs and ceramic likenesses of Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo). “It makes me very proud knowing I’m part of an ancient tradition,” Suárez says. “The Muisca were skilled potters. They didn’t even have electric wheels!” The landscape of Boyacá also has the hue of fired clay. Scrubby brown hills stretch to the horizon, with

ESSENTIALS STAY // Casa Terra offers several characterful rooms arranged around a former convent just south of Villa de Leyva's main square. Inside you’ll find timber furniture, antique woodcarvings and open fires; outside are well-kept gardens and a little fountain frequented by hummingbirds (from $90; hotelcasaterra .com). DO // Casa Terracota is just west of Villa de Leyva’s main square (admission $3.50; Ráquira, the pottery capital of Colombia, is roughly a 30-minute drive from Villa de Leyva (souvenirs from $1).

farmers puttering along country roads in antique tractors. Abandoned railway lines rust in the long grass, with little stations that have not heard the whistle of a passing train in decades. In the valleys are market towns, none more beautiful than Villa de Leyva, where higgledy-piggledy streets are lined with whitewashed bungalows, window shutters painted in racing green. Built in the 16th century as a retreat for military officers and nobility, Villa de Leyva is today where Bogotános come to escape the traffic-clogged streets of the capital. They wander cobbled squares where Mudéjar fountains trickle, and idle away afternoons in cafés set in creaking colonial mansions. A few climb the blustery hills behind the town for views over its ceramic-tiled rooftops. Among the buildings down below, one in particular stands out. This is Casa Terracota, an experimental house entirely made of Boyacá clay, designed by architect Octavio Mendoza. It is a building that uses no steel or cement, and that has no straight lines or corners. It is as fluid and organic as if it were molded at a potter’s wheel. Its walls, roof, gas cooker, oven, beds, showers, staircases, toilets and chairs all have been baked into existence. “It feels like a cross between Gaudí, Star Wars and The Flintstones,” says Barbara Teran, a volunteer builder at Casa Terracota. “When you sit here at night by candlelight, you feel like a little animal who lives underground,” she says. “And whenever you feel the clay between your fingers, it somehow takes you back to an earlier time.” Spring 2017




From Villa de Leyva, return to Bogotá to catch a 40-minute flight to the city of Pereira in the Zona Cafetera. From there, it’s a scenic 50-minute drive through coffee plantations to Salento.

Zona Cafetera

Wake up and smell the coffee in Colombia’s Zona Cafetera, whose landscapes are as rich and textured as the region’s most famous crop. Rain begins to fall over the market town of Salento. It starts as a gentle drizzle, soon evolving into a fearsome downpour: giant droplets bouncing off the sidewalks and up pant legs, drumming on the corrugated-iron roofs and gurgling in the gutters. In the shelter of his café by the town square, coffee evangelist Jesús Bedoya sits by the window looking up at gray clouds, and then into the espresso on the table before him. “A good cup of coffee is like a fine wine,” he says contemplatively. “You can taste the terra: the land where it is created. When I drink coffee I think about the family that grew it – the work, love and pain that has gone into each bean.” Volcanic soil and high-altitude farmland make much of Colombia prime territory for the cultivation of arabica beans, but nowhere more so than the Zona Cafetera. Here, heavy year-round rainfall destroys umbrellas, turns roads into part-time waterfalls, and serves as the magic ingredient for the most flavorful cup of coffee in the Americas. Since the 19th century, coffee has been the lifeblood of the Zona Cafetera: served with breakfast, lunch and dinner, and given to children from the age of 5 (though local parents disagree about whether this is a good idea). The son of a coffee farmer, Bedoya left his job as a lawyer eight years ago to embark on a messianic mission: to open a café selling premium-grade, locally produced coffee in the coffee-farming town of Salento. It may sound like a redundant business model, but in Colombia almost all locally consumed coffee is low-


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ESSENTIALS STAY // Hotel Salento Real in Salento has functional rooms clustered around an atrium. The hotel’s breakfast spread includes excellent empanadas (from $50; DRINK // Jesús Bedoya’s coffee shop is called Café Jesús Martín (coffee from $2; DO // Finca el Ocaso offers tours of the plantation in Salento (from about $3.50;

grade, with all the best beans exported for use in the espresso machines of Europe and North America. “We’re one of the biggest coffee producers in the world, but we don’t know what proper coffee is!” Bedoya insists. “When Colombian people try the real thing, it’s like a conversion. They say, ‘What the hell was I drinking before?’” Just as coffee shapes lives in the Zona Cafetera, it shapes the landscapes, too. Coffee plants cascade down the contours of the hillsides. Snug in the folds of the hills are farmhouses, with canvas sacks full of beans arranged on the verandas. And careering down the single-track roads of the Zona Cafetera are the Willys Jeeps – vehicles exported to Colombian farmers by the United States after WWII. They are beloved for their off-roading skills and their coffee-carrying abilities (a Willys Jeep full of coffee is a legitimate unit of measurement for sale). Hopping aboard the back of such a Jeep is the best way to reach one of the highest viewpoints in the Zona Cafetera: the Valle de Cocora. Here, tracks wind among Andean peaks, with patches of cloud forest clinging to the slopes. Below, coffee plantations appear as a green blur. Rising up above are the Quindío wax palms, the tallest palm trees in the world, growing up to 200 feet high and presiding like antennas over the landscape. The wax palms are so tall that their treetops can vanish from sight: lost in the rain clouds that brew over the mountains before pouring their contents over the Zona Cafetera.

Clockwise from far left: The national tree of Colombia, Quindío wax palms can be found growing across the Valle de Cocora. // customers in Café Jesús Martín // an Andean motmot perched on a branch in Valle de Cocora // coffee being ground in Finca el Ocaso coffee farm in Salento // freshly picked coffee beans

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Clockwise from top left: A painted bus in Cartagena // bus scene painter Martin Padilla // sunset over Cartagena’s battlements // Fruit vendors are a common sight in Cartagena’s old town.


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From Salento, it takes about 17 hours to drive north to Cartagena. It’s much quicker to catch a flight from Pereira back to Bogotá and get a 90-minute connection onward to Cartagena.

Cartagena Head to Colombia’s colonial port city – pillaged for gold by pirates, and plundered for inspiration by novelist Gabriel García Márquez. Martín Padilla dips a paintbrush in a jam jar and pauses to inspect 10 days of work. Flanked in his workshop by a statue of a saint and a pet tortoise, Padilla squints at depictions of his hometown of Cartagena on which the paint is not yet dry. There is the mustard-yellow facade of the clocktower, under whose arches cigar salesmen idle in the midday heat. There is the dome of St. Peter’s church, mingling with the masts of moored ships and the tallest palms in the parks. Beyond the crumbling battlements, dolphins leap from a blue sea. “Cartagena is a city of strange energy,” he says. “And this energy brings me happiness. I feel proud when I paint my city. It’s like when a musician plays his first note: as soon as I make my first brushstroke, I am completely absorbed!” Padilla isn’t painting these scenes on paper, on canvas or on a wall. He is painting them on a bus. And not just any bus, but a chiva, one of the vintage technicolor vehicles that are the kings of Colombia’s Caribbean road network, part public transportation, part miniature carnival. They are given names, flashing lights and mini-murals. They are variously put to use as mobile discos, as transportation for people, shipments of coffee or (in rural areas) protesting chickens, goats and pigs. Wherever they go, they are ambassadors of the Colombian Caribbean: extroverted and fun-loving. “Every bus has a character,” explains Padilla, resting his arm on the hood. “This one is called La Todo Bien (It’s All Good). The whole idea is when you see it drive past, it makes you smile.”

ESSENTIALS STAY // Anandá Boutique Hotel occupies a colonial mansion in Cartagena’s Old Town, with spacious rooms overlooking a palm-lined courtyard. Be sure to visit the roof terrace, which has panoramic views over the church spires and battlements of the city. Bicycles are available to rent (from $280; ananda DO // Several companies run nightly chiva tours of Cartagena (from $17; A few guides offer private Gabriel García Márquez tours of the city (from $120;

The buses often can be found lapping the battlements of Old Cartagena – fortifications built to repel pirates since the town was founded in the 16th century. Rusting cannons that once protected shipments of gold bound for Spain are now pointed at passing traffic. Ramparts once besieged by Sir Francis Drake are today besieged by children flying kites. But the bulky chiva is of no use in navigating the narrow alleyways of the city within. Walking into the city, you temporarily exit 21stcentury South America and enter a place that seems adrift among both continents and centuries. A few streets feel like 19th-century Europe: rows of townhouses where bougainvillea sprouts through the stonework, with little balconies warped by centuries of Caribbean heat. At other times Afro-Colombian culture takes over: Mapale dances strike up nightly in the square of Plaza de la Aduana, the rhythms said to originate from Angola. And then there are indigenous crafts for sale in the arcades – woolen satchels of a kind woven here before Europeans and Africans even knew of the existence of another continent over the Atlantic. In addition to painters like Martín, poets, musicians, sculptors and philosophers have sought inspiration from Cartagena’s cultural crosscurrents. None are better loved than the Nobel-Prize-winning novelist Gabriel García Márquez, who studied and lived in Cartagena and who explained that all his books contain “loose threads” of the town. He borrowed Cartagena’s streets for his classic 1985 novel Love in the Time of Cholera, a story of two lovers kept apart throughout their lives in the same city. With only a bit of detective work you can recognize the almond-tree-lined Plaza Fernández de Madrid as the fictional Park of the Evangels, where the lovesick young Florentino Ariza hopes to catch sight of Fermina Daza. You can identify the wharves from which, in the final pages of the book, Florentino and Fermina cast off on their steamboat journey through the swamps and forests of the Colombian interior. And, walking anywhere in the town, you can recognize the sentiment of Dr. Juvenal Urbino, of whom we are told “all his reserves of passion were concentrated on the destiny of his city which, he said with great frequency and no second thoughts, had no equal in the world.” Spring 2017




From Cartagena, it’s about a five-hour drive east along Colombia’s Caribbean coastline to the gates of Tayrona National Park.

Tayrona National Park The Caribbean coast is at its wildest in Tayrona National Park: home to white-sand beaches, swathes of rainforest and ancient indigenous cultures.

In 1499, the first Europeans to reach the South American mainland came in sight of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. They would have spied snow-crested mountains rising ahead of the bow made of Spanish timber. Sailing closer, they would see a spine of green hills and a strip of white-sand beaches. Finally, standing on the cusp of the new world, they would have encountered indigenous tribes, thatched villages and a rainforest that stretched into the heart of the continent. In the five centuries since then, rainforests have been felled, cities built and many indigenous cultures lost across Colombia and South America. Yet Tayrona National Park is a pocket of Caribbean shore preserved: a slice of land appearing much as it would have long ago to a Spanish sailor’s eyes. Well, more or less. It isn’t clear what the conquistadors of Castile would have thought of today’s beachfront bars blaring out reggae, or corrugated shacks serving up plates of red snapper and coconut rice to hungry sunbathers. It’s doubtful whether they would have taken a siesta in the hammocks that line the seafront, the fabric stretched and deepened by years of post-lunch naps. But this is only one side of the park. From the beach, a few little paths wander vaguely through mangrove


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ESSENTIALS STAY // Ecohabs comprises a dozen stilt houses at the eastern end of Tayrona National Park, overlooking the beach of La Piscina. The huts are based on the designs of indigenous Kogi dwellings, and feature thatched roofs, ceiling fans and comfortable hammocks on the patio (from $290; DO // The main gateway to Tayrona National Park is at El Zaino (admission $12; The village of Pueblito is roughly a two-hour hike from the beach at Cabo San Juan del Guía. The walk requires sturdy footwear.

swamps and climb up into the hills. The sounds of crashing waves and human voices retreat, and the buzz of hummingbirds and the hoots of howler monkeys grow louder. Iguanas scamper among the leaf litter and on all sides is dense jungle, sometimes visited by jaguars on their nighttime prowls. The trail becomes wilder too: knotted ropes are on hand for scaling boulders, rickety bridges span mountain streams. The reward for a two-hour climb from the beach is arriving at Pueblito, which translates to English as “little village.” There are just two or three thatched huts belonging to the indigenous Kogi tribe. Set in a forest clearing, the huts rest on foundations laid long before Columbus stood on the sands of the New World. It offers a small insight into preconquest life across the Americas: chickens clucking about the terraces, smoke rising from a hearth, and, hidden in the ravines around the village, sacred places where ceremonies are performed and no outsider may step. The silence is total but for the cooing of doves. “I could never live outside this forest,” says tribal elder Manuel Sauna Digala, sporting a flowing white robe. “Pueblito is the inheritance from my ancestors and they chose well. I want to live forever in this forest. And when I die I want to be buried here.”

Clockwise from far left: Palms and jungle foliage in Tayrona National Park in northern Colombia // Beautiful and nearly isolated Caùaveral beach is at the park’s main entrance. // children playing outside a village on the edge of the park // Ecohabs at Tayrona National Park

Spring 2017




From Miami

Flight Times

Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport, which handles nearly all domestic and international flights, is 8 miles northwest of the city center. Several airlines, including Colombian national carrier Avianca, Delta and jetBlue, fly direct from the U.S. to Colombia. U.S. citizens do not need a tourist visa for stays of less than 90 days. There are regular, affordable flights between Bogotá and Pereira, and between Bogotá and Cartagena.




From LA



Renting a car can be a good idea if you want to explore rural areas. Rentals are available in major towns (from $25 daily; Most visitors travel via comfortable longdistance coaches, which run between major towns (Bogotá to Cartagena, 12 hours, from $30).

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Eat Arepas – These ground-maize flatbreads are popular across Colombia for breakfast, lunch and dinner (or as a snack in between). They can be served plain, but often are stuffed with cheese, ham or egg. Play Tejo – This game, Colombia’s national pastime, involves throwing a metal disc at a firecracker mounted on a clay stand, and is traditionally played with a cold beer in one hand (the loser pays for a round of drinks). Buy Ceramics – From terra-cotta pots to ceramic birds, the pottery-making capital of Ráquira in Boycacá is the place to go shopping. Read In Gabriel García Márquez’s classic One Hundred Years of Solitude, the fictional town of Macondo is said to be modeled on the author’s hometown of Aracataca, between Tayrona National Park and Cartagena. Watch The Netflix series Narcos recounts the rise and fall of Medellín drug baron Pablo Escobar; it was filmed on location across Colombia. Discuss After many years in the doldrums, Colombia’s national soccer team now ranks among the world’s elite, thanks in no small part to Colombian-born James (pronounced HAH-mes) Rodríguez, who plays for Spain’s Real Madrid team and captains the Colombian team, nicknamed Los Cafeteros (The Coffee Growers). SAFETY & SECURITY Recent years have seen Colombia’s internal security situation improve dramatically, helping trigger a boom in tourism, but problems are far from over. Though a cease-fire was in place at the time of writing, the FARC rebel group remains active in large swathes of the country, along with some smaller rebel groups. All the destinations in this story are far from areas of rebel presence. Crime remains an issue, particularly in larger cities, such as Bogotá. A number of neighborhoods in the south of the capital are best avoided, and it’s advisable not to walk alone after dark. For advice on areas of the country to avoid, and more information about staying safe in Colombia, see the U.S. Department of State website (

FOR MORE INFORMATION See our Colombia guide for detailed information on the country ($26.99). Individual chapters can be downloaded at ($4.95).

Spring 2017



Mini Guides 6 tear-out themed guides to your favorite destinations


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Austin’s South Congress Avenue is a Texas landmark.

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Trudy’s is a Tex-Mex joint with a consistently good menu, but we’ll let you in on a little secret: this place could serve nothing but beans and dirt and people would still line up for the margaritas, which might very well be the best in town – and they’re usually just $3.50 (trudys .com; 409 W. 30th St., 8820 Burnet Rd. and 901-C Little Texas Lane; 11am–2am Mon–Fri, from 9am Sat–Sun; main courses from $8). POLVOS


Food & Drink in Austin Called the live music capital of the world, this Texas city is the king of alternative cool and has an abundance of retro diners, hidden bars, and some of the best barbecue joints and Mexican cantinas in the South.


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It’s well worth the 20-mile drive just to see the massive outdoor barbecue pits at this parklike place off U.S. 290. It’s family-run and the barbecue recipe served today has its roots in the wagon-train days of the 1800s, when the meats would have been served around the campfire. Crowds are huge and it’s BYOB (; 18300 FM 1826, Driftwood; 11am–10pm; main courses from $9; cash only).


Austin has dozens of hidden bars, but this one, squirreled away inside a parking garage in the city’s warehouse district, is a favorite. There is a stark contrast between the mundane exterior and what lies within. Its cozy, dimly lit lounge draws a hip but not overly precious crowd that gives high marks to the first-rate cocktails, novel location and handsomely designed space (; 503 Colorado St.; 5pm–2am Mon–Sat).

Retro Dining

Barbecue Considered one of America’s best barbecue spots, Franklin Barbecue serves only lunch, and only until it runs out. To avoid missing out, get in line by 10am (9am on weekends). Treat it as a tailgating party: bring beer or mimosas to share, and make friends. When your turn arrives, go for the two-meat plate, or nab all you can for a feast to enjoy later (; 900 E. 11th St.; Tue–Sun; sandwiches from $6).

Fun, festive and just a little divey, Polvos serves central-Mexican food and always packs in a crowd. Try some of the dozen or so salsa varieties with one of the fierce margaritas. Eight different “top shelf ritas” are made from tequila brands including Herradura, Chinaco and Don Julio; a variety of fruity options are served too, from mango to coconut (polvos; 2004 S. 1st St.; 7am– 11pm; main courses from $9).

Trudy’s Texas Star is known for its Mexican martinis and margaritas.

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Sausages, pork ribs and brisket sizzle over the pit at Salt Lick. STILES SWITCH

The lines are manageable, so you won’t have to wait long to enjoy fantastic smoky brisket at this popular eatery 6 miles north of downtown. The vibe is nostalgic, and the name actually comes from an 1800s railroad stop. Don’t miss the corn casserole and local microbrew (; 6610 N. Lamar Blvd.; 11am–9pm Tue–Thu & Sun, to 10pm Fri–Sat; meat plates from $11.50).

Dating from the mid-1850s, the building inhabited by this bar is a well-preserved homage to Austin’s early days. Within its exposed limestone walls, you can enjoy comfort food, happy hours and a lavish Sunday brunch buffet (; 303 Red River St.; 11am–10pm Mon–Thu, to 11pm Fri–Sat, 9am–2pm & 5pm–10pm Sun; main courses from $12). LAUNDERETTE

This modern American restaurant is in a former launderette, with a stylish design that provides a fine backdrop to the inventive cooking. The menu is broad and features crab toast, wood-grilled octopus, Brussels sprouts with apple-bacon marmalade, and wonderful brick chicken (; 2115 Holly St.; 11am–2:30pm and 5pm– 10pm Sun–Thu, to 11pm Fri– Sat; main courses from $9).

Skillet apple pie with ice cream at Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill. GÜERO’S TACO BAR

Set in an 1800s feed-and-seed store, Güero’s is an Austin classic and always draws a crowd. Come for homemade corn tortillas (the tacos al pastor are excellent), chicken tortilla soup and great margaritas. Live music and dancing is a fixture in the oak-shaded garden Wednesday to Sunday (; 1412 S. Congress Ave.; 11am–10pm Mon– Wed, til 11pm Thu–Fri, 8am–11pm Sat, til 10pm Sun; entrees from $7).


Spring 2017



MINI GUIDE Food & Drink in Austin





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Firehouse Hostel’s lounge is hidden behind a bookshelf.

(; 605 Brazos St.; from $139 with private bath). Austin’s Inn at Pearl Street is a lovingly restored property decorated in
a plush European style. Rooms are in two buildings: Victoria House and Burton House (innpearl .com; 809 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.; from $185). Hotel San José, in a revamped ’30s-vintage motel, is a chic retreat with minimalist rooms and a courtyard bar known for its celebrity-spotting potential (; 1316 S. Congress Ave; from $225).

Food trailers, trucks and carts are a permanent fixture in Austin, even if they sometimes move around on a whim. You can often find clusters of them. Try these spots (and visit for more info): • South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery This food trailer park community has a fence and picnic tables. Look for Torchy’s Tacos, which whips up some of Austin’s best (1311 S. 1st St). • 1503 S. 1st St. You’ll find a collection of food trailers here, among them Gourdough’s, which serves gourmet doughnut combos, including a doughnut burger. • South Congress Avenue Between Elizabeth and Monroe, there are lots of food options, including the decadent Hey Cupcake! • East Austin There’s a little enclave conveniently located among the bars on the corner of E. 6th and Waller Streets.


Lonely Planet’s Texas ($24.99) has a chapter on Austin; the chapter can be downloaded at ($4.95), or try the San Antonio, Austin & Texas Backcountry Road Trips guidebook ($12.99) if you’re interested in regional touring. Vintage is
a lifestyle in Austin; for the lowdown on the best spots, go to Visit for live music and other entertainment listings.



A former fire station, Firehouse Hostel has the perfect downtown location. It offers private rooms, bunks and dorm rooms. The stylish cocktail lounge features red walls, flickering candles and bespoke cocktails. The lounge’s entrance is concealed behind a sliding bookshelf


The Know-How


Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is about 10 miles southeast of downtown. You can also fly to Houston, rent a car and drive the three hours to Austin. Capital Metro runs a limited-stop Airport Flyer (bus 100) service between Austin-Bergstrom and downtown and the University of Texas for just $1 each way, with departures every 40 minutes. There’s a handy new app with schedules and a journey planner function; visit the website ( to download it. A taxi between the airport and downtown costs $25 to $30.


The Seattle skyline, with the Space Needle seen at left.

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Seattle’s 605-foot-tall modernbefore-its-time tower, built for the 1962 World’s Fair, is the city’s most recognizable symbol. More than a million people visit its flying-saucerlike observation deck each year. Note: if you have a meal in the rotating SkyCity Restaurant atop the Needle, the entry fee will be waived (; 400 Broad St., Seattle Center; $22 regular admission). PIKE PLACE MARKET


Offbeat Seattle An endless appetite for displays of creativity, a musical ear and some truly zany monuments make Seattle a diverting getaway for lovers of counterculture, fun and sights that must be seen to be believed.

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The Fremont neighborhood does bizarre like the rest of the world does normal. Nowhere is this more evident than in public art. You’ll find the most famous pieces around the neighborhood’s south, abutting the Lake Washington Ship Canal. Of particular note are the Fremont Troll (corner N. 36th Street & Troll Avenue N.) and a provocative bronze statue of Lenin (corner N. 36th Street & Fremont Place N.).


Designed to resemble an electric guitar, the MoPOP is a marriage of modern architecture and rock ’n’ roll history. Founded by Microsoft co-creator Paul Allen, created by Canadian-born architectural rock star Frank O. Gehry and inspired by the music of Seattle-born guitar icon Jimi Hendrix, it includes a Sound Lab where you can jam in a studio. A Rube Goldberg exhibit opens in February (; 325 5th Ave. N., Seattle Center; $25).


Art & Sculpture This exquisite exposition of the life and work of locally born glass sculptor Dale Chihuly requires a sharp intake of breath on first viewing. The masterpieces, split between an exhibition center, a glass greenhouse and a garden, reflect Chihuly’s influences, most notably Native American art, Puget Sound sea life and boats (; 305 Harrison St.; $22).

Century-old Pike Place is a living community, a cabaret show, a way of life and an intrinsic piece of Seattle’s soul. Watch out for fish flying through the air in the Main & North Arcades, where fresh produce is piled high; add your contribution to the artistic Gum Wall; and browse shops that look like they’ve sprung from a Harry Potter movie (; between Virginia and Union Streets, and 1st and Western Avenues).

The Seattle Center Monorail takes passengers to the Space Needle.

The Glasshouse is the centerpiece of Chihuly Garden & Glass. OLYMPIC SCULPTURE PARK

Hovering over train tracks, in an unlikely oasis between the water and busy Elliott Avenue, this $85 million sculpture park makes the most of limited urban space. More than 20 large pieces dot the landscape, including Typewriter Eraser, Scale X, by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, with its weird blue sprouts bristling over Elliott Avenue (seattleartmuseum .org; 2901 Western Ave.; free).

Take a treasured British culinary invention and give it an American twist (ridiculously lavish toppings) and you’ve got a compelling reason to have your breakfast in Pike Place Market. Get in line for organic crumpets made before your eyes and embellished with marmalade, pesto, lemon curd with ricotta, and more (; 1503 1st Ave.; 7am–3pm Mon, Wed & Thu, to 4pm Fri–Sun; crumpets $3). TOP POT DOUGHNUTS

If you can walk past this café without going in, you deserve a medal. Top Pot’s “hand-forged” doughnuts are in a different class, and its cafés
– especially this one in an old car showroom with floor-to-ceiling library shelves and art deco signage – are equally legendary. The coffee’s pretty potent too (toppotdoughnuts .com; 2124 5th Ave.; 6am–7pm Mon–Fri, from 7am Sat–Sun; doughnuts from about $1).

An array of flavors at Top Pot Doughnuts. SERIOUS PIE

Award-winning chef and local culinary phenomenon Tom Douglas has taken the down-to-earth Italian pizza and given it a gourmet spin in this Belltown diner. The crowded communal tables and unusual pizza toppings are popular: here you can enjoy crusty bases crowned by the likes of clams, kale, potato, apple and pistachios (seriouspieseattle .com; 316 Virginia St.; 11am–11pm; pizzas from $17).


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MINI GUIDE Offbeat Seattle



Old-world and allegedly haunted, the Moore Hotel is in
a prime location near the Seattle Center. There’s a sweet café on the premises, and Pike Place Market is about a 4-minute walk (moorehotel .com; 1926 2nd Ave.; from $125).


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Seattle is served by Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, 13 miles south of downtown. The Link Light Rail connects to downtown in 30 minutes ($3;; shuttle buses, taxis and ride-sharing companies stop on the third floor of the airport’s parking garage (one-way shuttles from $18, taxis from about $40). Public buses, streetcars, light rail and water taxis are good-value (from $1). Bike lanes are commonplace in Seattle; many hotels offer free bikes. Try the scenic Burke-Gilman Trail, which passes through Fremont.


Hotel Five’s lobby, where guests enjoy afternoon coffee and cake.

Hotel Five in Belltown mixes ’70s furniture with sharp color accents to produce something dazzlingly modern. The reception area invites lingering, especially when free cupcakes and coffee are laid out (; 2200 5th Ave.; from $130). Perched on a pier overlooking Elliott Bay, Edgewater was once the hotel of choice for rock bands, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin (; 2411 Alaskan Way; from $200).

Seattle’s musical heritage is legendary: the jazz era produced Ray Charles, rock delivered Jimi Hendrix and then grunge arrived with bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Here are some of Seattle’s notable clubs and music venues: Crocodile Everyone who’s anyone in Seattle’s music scene has played at this clamorous 525-capacity venue ( Tractor Tavern The premier venue for folk and acoustic music, with a gorgeous room that has top sound quality ( Neumo’s A legendary punk, hip-hop and alternative-music venue that counts Radiohead and Bill Clinton among its guests ( Shorty’s This dive bar is all about beer, pinball, and punk and metal music. It keeps the lights low and the music loud (


Lonely Planet’s Seattle ($21.99) is a comprehensive guide to the city that includes suggested walking tours, itineraries and day trips. Find Seattle in Lonely Planet’s free Guides app
on iTunes. Stranger is Seattle’s best (and free) newspaper for up-to-date entertainment listings (



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Activities KAYAKING

About 8 miles southwest
of Taylor Head Provincial Park, Tangier’s deserted islands and protected coves make it one of the Maritime Provinces’ best settings for kayaking. Coastal Adventures offers introductions to sea kayaking (half-/full-day $55/$90), rentals (single/double kayaks from $50/ $70) and guided
trips (coastal; 84 Masons Point Rd.; Jun–Sep).

The port town of Lunenburg was founded by the British in 1753.



Outdoors Nova Scotia Maritime heritage, striking lighthouses, wild and wonderfully varied UNESCO-listed landscapes, and great food and wine make this easterly Canadian province a perfect salt-tinged escape.


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Historic Lunenburg is the largest South Shore fishing settlement and one of the province’s five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It was the first British settlement outside Halifax and its heritage is intertwined with rum running and shipbuilding. The town, full of small, independent galleries, is at its most picturesque viewed from the sea around sunset, when the vividly painted buildings glow behind the ship-filled port.


The village of Maitland is an ideal spot for rafting, thanks to the white water formed by the Shubenacadie River meeting the incoming Fundy tides, creating one of the world’s most powerful bodies of water. Wave heights depend on the phases of the moon; book through River Runners and inquire about the tide schedule, since your experience will be dictated by the tides. No expertise necessary (tidalborerafting .com; 8681 Route 215; from $45).

Food & Drink

Seaside Villages Driving southwest from Halifax you’ll come to a series of delightful coastal villages, the first of which is Peggy’s Cove – possibly Nova Scotia’s most photographed spot. The rolling granite cove, highlighted by a red-and-white lighthouse, exudes a dreamy seaside calm, even through the parading tour buses. Visit before 10am or after 6pm to avoid the crowds, especially in the summer.

One of the best whale-watching tours in the province is found near the Tiverton ferry dock at Digby Neck. Ocean Explorations has the adventurous approach of getting you down low to whale level in an inflatable Zodiac. The company donates part of its proceeds to wildlife conservation and environmental education. Tour times depend on weather and demand (; half-day tours $55).

Kayaking around Borgles Island with Coastal Adventure.

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Main Street in Mahone Bay is home to restaurants and workshops. MAHONE BAY

The sun shines more often
here than anywhere else along the coast. With more than
100 islands only 55 miles from Halifax, the town is a great base for exploring this section of the South Shore. Rent a kayak
or a bike on Main Street, or
stroll down this central thoroughfare, which skirts the harbor and its three photogenic churches, and is scattered with shops selling antiques, pottery and local art.

Hall’s Harbour is a great spot to spend an afternoon hiking along the beach. It’s also one of the best places to eat the much lauded Bay of Fundy lobster. Hall’s Harbour Lobster Pound is a gentrified seafood shack where you can pick your own, and the dining room is a prime spot for watching the tides rise and fall (hallsharbourlobster .com; 1157 W. Halls Harbour Rd.; lobster roll $15). GOOD CHEER TRAIL

This food and wine trail connects more than 30 wineries, breweries, artisan producers and other foodie outlets across the province. It runs from Yarmouth to Cape Breton and passes through heritage sites, wild beaches and bucolic farmlands along the way. To explore without driving, book a tour with Grape Escapes Wine Tours (novascotia; May–Oct; from $45, including lunch).

Lobster fishing remains a key industry across Nova Scotia. FUNDY CLAM DIGGING

Take a food tour with Fundy Adventures and get your hands dirty with locals who have been clam digging around the Bay of Fundy since they were children. You’ll hack through the sand for a couple of hours looking for clams while learning about local sustainability efforts, and then steam your clams right there on the beach for a delicious alfresco meal (; $50).


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MINI GUIDE Outdoors Nova Scotia




LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017




Views over a river from the back porch of Trout Point Lodge.

Lofty Victorian architecture makes Wolfville’s Blomidon Inn feel pleasantly upscale. It sits in perfectly maintained gardens, and the rooms are just as well groomed. Guests can enjoy free afternoon tea and sweets (; 195 Main St.; from $100).
 Trout Point Lodge, nestled
 in the wilderness of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, can organize outdoor activities to accompany cooking classes and foraging trips. Rooms feel like cozy cabins (; 189 Trout Point Rd., East Kemptville; from $120).

Maritime Museum of the Atlantic This flagship museum in Halifax includes a popular Titanic display and another on the extraordinary 1917 Halifax Explosion disaster ( Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 Between 1928 and 1971, more than a million immigrants entered Canada via Pier 21 in Halifax; this museum presents many of their stories ( Hector Heritage Quay
A replica of the ship Hector, which carried the first 200 Highland Scots to Nova Scotia, sits alongside displays about the passengers ( Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic This museum commemorates the fishing heritage of Canada’s Atlantic Coast, and features tales of life in the fishing industry, told by retired fisherfolk (fisheriesmuseum


Lonely Planet’s Nova Scotia, New Brunswick & Prince Edward Island ($19.99) has in-depth coverage of the Maritime Provinces; the “Nova Scotia” chapter ($4.95) can be downloaded at shop.lonely For good novels set in Nova Scotia, try No Great Mischief, by Alistair MacLeod ($15.95; Vintage), a saga about a family of Scottish ancestry and their life in Canada; and The Birth House, by Ami McKay ($14.99; Harper Perennial), which delves into rural midwifery traditions.



The Lighthouse on Cape d’Or, an original lighthouse keeper’s residence, is now a simple four-room guesthouse commanding views of the Bay of Fundy at one of Nova Scotia’s most beautiful spots (; Advocate Harbour; from $75).


The Know-How


There are multiple flights daily between Halifax Stanfield International Airport and Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa, Saint John and Moncton, and less frequent flights to Boston and New York. The Halifax airport is 25 miles northeast of Nova Scotia. There’s a bus that runs downtown half-hourly to hourly between 5am and midnight. A taxi costs about $35. Renting a car is the easiest way to get around, and can be more economical than taking the bus. Car rental chains are at the airport and downtown Halifax (from about $35 per day;


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Notre-Dame Cathedral, on the Île de la Cité.

Food & Drink LADURÉE

One of the oldest patisseries in Paris, Ladurée has been around since 1862; it was the original creator of the lighter-than-air macaron (not to be confused with the macaroon). Its tearoom is a top spot to indulge on the ChampsÉlysées. Alternatively, pick up some pastries to go – from croissants to macarons, it’s all heavenly (laduree .com; 75 Av des Champs-Élysées; pastries from about $2.50). LE MIROIR


Paris for
 First-Timers The City of Light has stolen visitors’ hearts for centuries. If you’re preparing for your first visit, expect to be bowled over by some of the world’s finest bistros, grandest gardens and most exquisite architecture.

Art & Architecture EIFFEL TOWER

No one could imagine Paris without it today, but Gustave Eiffel only constructed this 1,000-foottall signature spire as a temporary exhibit for the 1889 World Fair. Fortunately, the tower’s popularity assured its survival. Visitors can walk up to the second floor via 704 stairs, or take an elevator. At the very top, there’s a champagne bar (; Champ de Mars; 9:30am–11pm; lift to top $19). Tear out page here then fold along dotted lines


This masterpiece of French Gothic architecture has been the focus of Catholic Paris for seven centuries. Its interior accommodates 6,000. Highlights include the rose windows, treasury and bell towers. From the north tower, 400-odd steps spiral up to strange gargoyles and a spectacular view (cathedraledeparis .com; interior 8am–6:45pm,
to 7:15pm Sat–Sun; interior free, treasury $3, bell towers $11).

It would be criminal to come to France’s capital and not spend time in pretty Montmartre, the hilly, bohemian area once notorious for its red light district, which fed the Moulin Rouge. It can be touristy, so it’s a welcome surprise to find Le Miroir, a modern bistro smack in the middle of it all. It serves delightful pâtés and rillettes, and other wellprepared French staples (restaurant; 94 Rue des Martyrs; menus from about $20).

A peach tart with crème fraîche and lavender served at Frenchie. FRENCHIE

Tucked down an inconspicuous alley, this bijou bistro with stone walls and wooden tables is a classic. Frenchie is always packed, and for good reason: excellent-value modern dishes prepared with just the right dose of unpretentious, creative flair. Book in advance, or try tapas across the street at no-bookings Frenchie Bar à Vins (; 5–6 Rue du Nil; closed weekends; five-course tasting menu $80).


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The silhouette of the Eiffel Tower, the defining symbol of Paris. CENTRE POMPIDOU

The Pompidou’s modern art collection is Europe’s largest, but the museum is just as well known for its radical architecture. Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers designed the building inside and out with plumbing, pipes, air vents and electrical cables forming part of the facade. There’s a roof terrace (centre; Pl Georges Pompidou; 11am–10pm, til 11pm Thu; closed Tue; $15, free first Sun of month).

Nicknamed la ligne de vie de Paris (the lifeline of Paris), the Seine cuts through the city center. Its riverbanks are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. On the Right Bank, east of the Hôtel de Ville, walkways and bikeways whizz past the water. On the Left Bank, a 1.5-mile stretch from the Pont de l’Alma to the Musée d’Orsay is dotted with bars, restaurants and floating gardens. JARDIN DES TUILERIES

With fountains, ponds and sculptures on 60-plus acres, the formal Tuileries Garden, which begins just west of the Jardin du Carrousel, was laid out in 1664 by André Le Nôtre, who also created the gardens at Vaux-leVicomte and Versailles. The Tuileries was the most fashionable spot in Paris for parading about in one’s finery. It’s still a wonderful place to lounge in a deck chair or regroup after visiting the nearby Louvre.

The illuminated facade of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. SACRÉ-CŒUR BASILICA

Sacré-Cœur is a veritable experience: the view from the terrace is one of those perfect Paris postcards, and it’s said you can see up to 20 miles on a clear day. Ivy-clad streets climb the hill of Montmartre in northern Paris’s 18th arrondissement to a funicular that glides up to the church and white domes (metro tickets can be used). Below, musicians perform on the steps and people picnic on the hillside park (6am–10:30pm).


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MINI GUIDE Paris for



Hôtel du Nord – Le Pari Vélo has a soft spot for bikes, which are available for guests to borrow. The hotel itself is quaint and in a great spot near Place de la République (; 47 Rue Albert Thomas; from $80).


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Most large U.S. cities have nonstop flights to Paris, an air-transport hub serviced by virtually all major airlines. Most European train and bus routes cross Paris as well. The city has three airports. Most international airlines fly to Charles de Gaulle Airport (called “Roissy” in French), about 20 miles northeast of central Paris. Orly and Beauvais are the other airports. Travel from the airports into the city is on RER commuter trains, the Roissybus or Orlybus express bus services, or the Beauvais shuttle bus. Single metro tickets are $2, and a 10-ticket booklet is $16 (


• An unforgettable intro to the city

The 150-foot-long outdoor pool at the Art Deco Hotel Molitor.

There’s no forgetting what city you’re in at Sublim Eiffel, where Eiffel Tower motifs adorn the rooms and reception area (along with metro-tunnel-shaped headboards). There are glittering tower views and a hammam (; 94 Boulevard Garibaldi; from $113). Home to Paris’s best swimming pool in the 1930s, Hotel Molitor was abandoned in 1989. The art deco complex has since been restored to fabulous effect. The pool is heated year-round and there’s a rooftop bar (; 2 Av de la Porte Molitor; from $270).

is a river cruise along the Seine, floating past landmarks including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre-Dame. See bateauxparisiens .com for trips. • Prebook attractions online to avoid long ticket lines. • Don’t cram too much into your schedule. Allow time to soak up the atmosphere of the neighborhoods in Paris – as much a part of the experience as visiting major sights. • Dress up rather than down for restaurants, clubs and bars: no jeans, shorts or athletic shoes. Bring sturdy shoes; cobbled streets aren’t kind to high heels. • Despite what you may have heard, never say “garçon” (boy) to summon a waiter; instead, say “Monsieur” or “Madame.” • A 15 percent service charge is usually included in your restaurant bill; no tip is required at bars and cafés.


The city is covered by Lonely Planet’s Paris ($21.99) city guide, the smaller Pocket Paris ($13.99) and
the new Best of Paris guide ($21.99). Download Lonely Planet’s free Guides app, featuring Paris, from iTunes. Parisians: An Adventure History of Paris ($18.95; W.W. Norton & Co.), a New York Times bestseller by Graham Robb, is an unexpected page-turner for history lovers. Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog ($15; Europa Editions), unveils the world behind a Parisian facade.



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The tranquil setting of Loggos harbor in Paxos.


Since Nikólaos Tselementés from Sifnos wrote the first Greek cookbook in 1910, the island of Sifnos has had a reputation for producing great chefs. Sifnos Farm Narlis’s classes explore and celebrate the island’s agricultural and culinary traditions. Students gather fresh vegetables and herbs, and do plenty of eating (sifnos; classes from $55). CHRYSOPIGI MONASTERY


Lesser-Known Greek Islands There’s nothing more exhilarating than finding your own slice of paradise in a glistening, golden bay lapped by azure waters. Try these little-known islands for a chance of escaping the crowds.

Ikaria, North Aegean

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In mid-July, Ikaria hosts an annual international chess tournament that draws players around the world. It’s a traditional event that retains a distinctly local flavor; in 2017 it will celebrate its 40th anniversary ( In August, there’s the Dionysos Theatre Festival, staging classical Greek plays. Atmospheric performances are held in open-air theaters at Akamatra, Karavostamo and other villages (tickets from $7).


The walled, chapel-dotted village of Kastro, 2 miles east of Sifnos’s present-day capital, Apollonia, is not to be missed. The village – the island’s capital from ancient times until 1836 – is a magical place of whitewashed houses and buttressed alleyways and surrounded by valleys and the sea. It has a tiny archaeological museum and there’s a small port nestling below it (8:30am–3pm Tue–Sun; entry too museum $2).

Paxos, Ionian Islands

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Ikaria has a long and celebrated history of winemaking, and the excellent Afianes winery in the center of the island offers tours and free tastings accompanied by glorious views. There’s also
a small open-air theater on the grounds and an exhibition room where visitors can take a look at vintage winemaking equipment (; tastings noon– 11pm; free).

The handsome, whitewashed monastery of Chrysopigi, about 35 miles from the city of Chania, dates back to 1650, though it stands on the site of an even earlier church. It perches on an islet connected to the shore by a tiny footbridge. You can reach the monastery on a superb walk from the village of Faros (about 40 minutes one way); en route you’ll walk along beautiful, azure Chrysopigi beach, home to two excellent tavernas.

Chrysopigi monastery stands on an islet in the Aegean Sea.

The Byzantine chapels of Panagia Theoskepasti on Ikaria. KAMBOS

This petite village was once mighty Oinoe (derived from the Greek word for wine), Ikaria’s capital. Traces of this ancient glory remain in the form of a ruined Byzantine palace, Ikaria’s oldest church and a small museum. Kambos’s other main attractions are its sand-and-pebble beach and scenic hill walks, including an interesting day hike to the little Byzantine chapel of Theoskepasti, tucked into overhanging granite.

Waterside Gaïos is Paxos’s largest settlement but still just a dot on the map. Rose- and biscuit-hued neoclassical houses form a necklace around its crescent-shaped harbor, insulated by the nearby wooded islet of Agios Nikolaos and lapped by beautiful teal water. Kids line-fish from the dockside, yachties polish decks, and wine glasses clink at harborside tavernas as old sailors ponder the open seas. LOGGOS

Bookended by white cliffs, wooden slopes climb steeply above the sea at Loggos, where pretty Venetian houses huddle around a tiny bay of crystal-clear water. Bars and restaurants overlook the sea: try terra-cotta-colored Vasilis, which does pan-fried cuttlefish, and sea urchin and octopus in red wine sauce, with an emphasis on locally sourced organic ingredients (00 30 266 203 1587; main courses from $10).

A taxi-boat in Gaïos harbor, Paxos, is destined for Antipaxos. LAKKA

So languid it’s almost slipping into the yacht-dotted bay, Lakka will make you smile and slow your pulse. Small beaches, such as Harami, lie around the headland, and pleasant paths and trails crisscross the area. There are a few choice restaurants with music and tempting aromas, such as Arriva, which has sublime views and seafood dishes, from lobster to red mullet (00 30 266 203 3041; main courses from $9).


Spring 2017




Lesser-Known Greek Islands Courses



LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017





• Fish is sold per kilogram (1 kg

Bungalows at Paxos Beach Hotel are surrounded by pine trees.

Eleonas Apartments & Studios is an idyllic complex set among olive terraces and gardens. It offers roomy apartments that sleep five, as well as smaller studios, and is just a few minutes’ walk from Apollonia (; Sifnos; studios from $55, apartments from $75). In a cove with a private beach, jetty, swimming pool, tennis court and restaurant, Paxos Beach Hotel, a mile south of the island’s main village, Gaïos, has a family-run feel (; Paxos; from $130).

equals 2.2 pounds) rather than per portion, and cooked whole rather than filleted. It’s customary to go into the kitchen to select your fish (go for firm flesh and glistening eyes). Check the weight (raw) so there are no surprises on the bill.
 • It’s prepared Greek style. Fish is often grilled whole and drizzled with ladolemono (lemon and oil dressing). Smaller fish such as barbounia (red mullet) or marida (whitebait) are lightly fried. Octopus is grilled or stewed in wine sauce.
 • Popular Greek dishes include soupies (cuttlefish), calamari stuffed with cheese and herbs, and psarosoupa (fish soup). Also look for grilled gavros (white anchovies). The best way to avoid imported fish is to seek out tavernas run by local fishing families.


Lonely Planet’s Greek Islands ($24.99) guidebook has detailed information on even the smallest islands. Colossus of Maroussi, by Henry Miller (1941), is a travelogue of prewar Greece and is heralded as the American writer’s best work. Search secondhand bookstores (or pay a steep price at online retailers) for Greek Cookery (in English, 1956), by Nikólaos Tselementés, the legendary and highly influential Sifnos chef whose cookbook is still considered the bible on classic Greek cooking.



Agriolykos Pension is a charming lodging sitting on a cliff, with a sea-view courtyard café and stairs that lead down to a small bay. Rooms are air-conditioned (; Ikaria; open May– Oct; from $40).


The Know-How


Most of Greece’s lesser-known islands are accessible only by ferry. Greece has four main international airports; most flights connect in Athens. If you’re coming from outside Europe, consider a cheap flight to a European hub such as London and then an onward ticket with easyJet. The closest airport to Sifnos is Milos; direct ferries from there take about an hour ($15 one-way). Paxos is linked by daily high-speed ferry to Corfu ($18 one-way; 60-90 minutes; kamelia Ikaria has its own airport. A bus network and water taxis operate on these smaller islands.


Oslo Opera House, opened in 2008, is designed to resemble a glacier.

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This centerpiece of the massive redevelopment project sweeping the waterfront precinct is fast becoming one of the iconic modern buildings of Scandinavia. Before venturing inside, be sure to walk up onto the roof, a “carpet” of sloping angles and flat surfaces. It’s free to enter the foyer; to venture farther, join a lunchtime guided tour (; Kirsten Flagstads Plass 1; tour $12). AKER BRYGGE


Weekend in Oslo Norway’s capital has world-class museums and galleries that rival any on the European art trail, plus thriving café culture and top-notch restaurants – all complemented by a buzzing waterfront and the great outdoors.


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Oslo’s Festning (fortress) and Slott (castle) are two of the city’s architectural highlights, located on the harbor’s eastern side. Inside the complex are museums and interesting buildings, dungeons and a chapel. The castle’s front looks medieval, but inside it was renovated into a Renaissance palace in the 17th century (; castle entry $9; fortress free).


This club ranks on a global list of 100 great jazz clubs compiled by the editors of jazz magazine DownBeat. It’s an intimate venue by the Akerselva river that hosts both up-and-coming artists and well-known international acts. Sometimes it veers into other musical styles, such as salsa, and when there’s no live music, DJs get the crowds moving (; Brenneriveien 9; from about $10, but many shows are free).


Saturday All manner of contemporary art is contained within this museum, the artistic highlight of the city. This stunning architectural creation on the waterfront, designed by Renzo Piano and completed in 2012, is a wonderful wooden building floating on jetties and rafts, with sail-like roofs that give the building the look of an old wooden boat (; Strandpromenaden 2; entry $15).

Head to this neighborhood for dinner. It’s a former shipyard west of Oslo’s main harbor that has been turned into a trendy shopping complex with dozens of cafés and waterside restaurants that are among the most popular in the city. If the weather is nice, the local meal of choice is peeland-eat shrimp, bought off a fishing boat and eaten dockside with a fresh baguette, mayonnaise and a touch of lemon.

Formerly industrial Aker Brygge is now a popular dining spot.

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Akershus Festning has survived every siege since the 1290s. BYGDØY PENINSULA

The peninsula holds some of Oslo’s top attractions. To get there, take the 15-minute ferry from Rådhusbrygge Quay, around the corner from the Festning (No 91; $4). Highlights include the Viking Ship Museum, displaying the world’s best-preserved Viking vessels (; Huk Aveny 35; $12), and the Fram polar ship museum (; Bygdøynesveien 36; $12).

Take tram No. 12 west to this park, which is brimming with 212 granite and bronze works by Norway’s best-loved sculptor, Gustav Vigeland. His highly charged sculptures range from entwined lovers and tranquil elderly couples to contemptridden beggars. His most renowned work, Sinnataggen, portrays a particularly grumpy young child stamping his foot (free). NATIONAL GALLERY

The National Gallery houses the country’s largest collection of Norwegian art. Some of Edvard Munch’s best-known creations are on display, including The Scream. There’s also an impressive collection of European art, including works by Gauguin and Picasso, plus impressionist works by Renoir, Monet and more (; Universitetsgata 13; $12 combined ticket for four museums, free Thu).

Tapas bar Champagneria Bodega in Mathallen Oslo. MATHALLEN OSLO

Before leaving Oslo, grab lunch at this seriously hip, post-industrial food court dedicated to the best of Norwegian regional cuisine; there is food from elsewhere too. There are dozens of delis, cafés, restaurants and bars crammed into this space and the surrounding buildings, and the place buzzes throughout the day. Prices are generally low and the quality is high (; Vulkan 5; closed Mon).


Spring 2017



MINI GUIDE Weekend in Oslo



Grand Central, built out of part of the former train station, has lots of character, with graffiti-covered rooms and a central position right next to the newly opened Østbanehallen food court (choice .no; Jernbanetorget 1; from $85).


LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017





Norwegian Air flies nonstop to Oslo from New York (7½ hours), Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco, while Scandinavian Airlines has direct flights from New York and Miami. Oslo’s main airport is Gardermoen; Torp and Rygge airports are farther out. All three have good train or bus links to the city center ( Buy an Oslo Pass from the tourist office and it will get you free public transportation, free museum admission and other discounts (; 1-/2-/3-day pass $40/$60/$75).


The artwork-decked lobby at contemporary hotel The Thief.

Ellingsens Pensjonat is a comfy, historic bed-and-breakfast offering one of the best deals in Oslo. Rooms are spacious, and there’s also a sweet studio. The small garden is an ideal spot for lounging on sunny days (; Holtegata 25; from $120). Part of the buzzing waterfront development, The Thief is a world-class hotel overlooking the Astrup Fearnley Museum. Luxuries include rainforest showers, down duvets and wool blankets (thethief .com; Landgangen 1; from $300).

Tim Wendelboe This coffee shop, roaster and coffee school produces the most authentic Italian-style espresso in the city. Most of the tiny space is given over to a giant coffee bean grinder and roaster ( Kaffebrenneriet Opposite the National Gallery, this relaxed café has dozens of types of coffee, as well as great cakes (
 Zagros Café Enjoy strong Italian coffee, comfy sofas and yummy cakes (Storgata 34C). Stockfleths Founded in 1895, this award-winning coffee shop is one of Oslo’s oldest.
In addition to coffee, it also serves whole-grain bread with brown cheese, a local favorite ( Åpent Bakeri This neighborhood bakery serves coffee in deep bowls, plus freshly baked rolls topped with homemade stirred jam, called røre syltetøy (


Lonely Planet’s Norway ($24.99) has a chapter dedicated to Oslo and its surrounds; the chapter can be downloaded individually ($4.95) at The Almost Nearly Perfect People: The Truth About the Nordic Miracle, by Michael Booth (from $25,; Jonathan Cape), is an entertaining look at modern Scandinavia, with Norway playing center stage.




SANIBEL & CAPTIVA ISLANDS We are offering one Lonely Planet magazine reader a five-day vacation for two to Florida’s gorgeous Sanibel and Captiva Islands, courtesy of our partners The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel and Skyscanner.

P R I ZE I NC LU D ES A five-day/four-night stay in a beachfront suite at Casa Ybel Resort on Sanibel Island.* Experience world-class shelling on Sanibel’s beautiful, unspoiled beaches and get up close with abundant native wildlife as you sail around Captiva in the warm, clear waters of the Gulf. – A $1,000 air travel voucher from Skyscanner, plus round-trip airport transfers courtesy of MBA Airport Transportation. – A shelling cruise to Cayo Costa with Captiva Cruises; parasailing and WaveRunner rentals from Sunny Island Adventures; three-day bike rentals from Billy’s Rentals; and dinner at George & Wendy’s Sanibel Seafood Grille.

HOW TO E NTE R To enter, fill in your details online at – Competition closes at 11:59 p.m. (CDT) on April 28, 2017. – *Special conditions and blackout dates will apply. This competition is open only to U.S. and Canadian citizens who are 18 years of age or older. For the full terms and conditions please go to

THAT TIME WHEN IT ALL WENT WRONG Sometimes, the best-laid travel plans go awry.

The more you travel, the more likely it is you’ll experience a missed flight, a misplaced passport or another travel adversity. Lonely Planet Destination Editor Alexander Howard recounts a story of a disorienting arrival in a foreign land. As told to Rebecca Warren China, Summer 2006 After studying Mandarin for a year, I decided to spend my last summer of college in China. Catching the bus from the Beijing airport was easy. Once the bus dropped me off at campus, though, things started to go off track. Everything around me was recognizable but somehow different. I saw the familiar red brick buildings of college campuses everywhere sharing the landscape with the stark brutalist architecture of China. It made me feel a little disoriented. I walked up to a guard standing next to the campus gate, and I offered up the only phrase my addled brain could construct: “Wo nar qu?” which translates to “I where go?” His look of confusion only added to my discomfort. “Ting bu dong,” he replied. (I don’t understand.) I wandered through the gate and into campus. Everything was in Chinese and nothing was recognizable. I didn’t know where to go, so I started following signs for an English class, before realizing I had no idea what to say when I got there. I was despondent and tired after traveling for almost 24 hours, and it felt like I spent hours walking around campus. Suddenly, I remembered that I had a list of emergency contact numbers. Hope surged through my exhausted body. I walked up to a nondescript building where a man was standing in what looked like a takeout window. “You mei you dianhua?” I asked. (Do you have a phone?) The man nodded and handed me a phone from behind the counter, as the smell of egg and pickled vegetables wafted through the window. I pounded out the first number on my list. It rang for what felt like ages. Finally, a voice came on the line. “Wei”? (Do you speak English?). “Yes,” was the answer. It was a simple response, but it was the sweetest word anyone could have said to me after I had wandered alone in a strange place so very far from home.

Lonely Planet (ISSN 2379-9390) (USPS 18590) Spring 2017, Volume 3, Number 1. Published four times a year (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) by Lonely Planet Global, Inc., 230 Franklin Road, Building 2B, Franklin, TN 37064. Periodicals postage paid at Franklin, TN, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Lonely Planet, PO Box 37520, Boone, IA 500370520. 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, via email at 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.


LONELY PLANET / Spring 2017

BVITOURISM.COM 1-800-835-8530 The British Virgin Islands is a treasured respite from winter’s chill. It’s the warm breeze that fills your sail on sapphire seas. The curiosity that blazes trails on towering mountains. The whispers shared over picnics on deserted beaches and the understated attention to detail, woven into luxe accommodations. More than anything, it’s the satisfaction of knowing these personal experiences can be kept all to yourself.


Lonely Planet Spring 2017  

This is the complete version of our Rediscover Europe edition.

Lonely Planet Spring 2017  

This is the complete version of our Rediscover Europe edition.