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

SPRING 2017 lonelyplanet.com

Walking England’s wild northern frontier

REDISCOVER

WIN

AN ISLAND GETAWAY

EUROPE

+

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

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Editor’s Note

@peter_grunert

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: COURTESY OF PETER GRUNERT; GETTY IMAGES/ANDREA ROAD; COURTESY OF JAMES KAY; COURTESY OF AUBRIE PICK

@petervg73

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

Contributors

Aubrie Pick Photographer Contributed to A Taste of San Francisco p. 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, lonelyplanet.com Contributed to President Obama on the Power of Travel p. 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

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Contents Spring 2017 / Volume 3 / Number 1

Features

42

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

52

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.

62

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

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:GETTY IMAGES/GLOW IMAGES, INC

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

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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.

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// 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

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: AUBRIE PICK; GETTY IMAGES/LASZO PODOR; GETTY IMAGES/RAINER KIEDROWSKI

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


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

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AUBRIE PICK

DESTINATION INDEX


Globetrotter A WORLD OF TRAVEL TRENDS & DISCOVERIES

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

AUBRIE PICK

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

p. 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

@noplacelike_it

@go_AnnaT

March 11–12

March

@FaheyDaniel

Tom Stainer @TomDoesTravel

April

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

@Smartbadger

April

16

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

@megoizzy

May

11

Java, Indonesia

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

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// 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

@dorawhit

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: GETTY IMAGES/ BUYENLARGE; GETTY IMAGES/IVANCHANG; GETTY IMAGES/ OSCAR SIAGIAN; GETTY IMAGES/ IVANMATEEV; GETTY IIMAGES/ZYSMAN

Globetrotter /


Globetrotter /

7 New Ways to See

/

Venice

Take Note

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.

Venetian residents have been 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

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3

2

4

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. • bragora.it

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. • visit-venice-italy.com

5

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; yogavenezia.com

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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; teatrolafenice.it

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: MARTINES/COURTESY OF BRAGORA; GETTY IMAGES/GSO IMAGES; JUSTIN FOULKES; HELEN CATHCART

Off-season perks


7

Paddle the canals

GETTY IMAGES/OLIVIER RENCK

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, supinvenice.com

Spring 2017

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Globetrotter /

Former President Obama on the power of travel

OBAMA

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.

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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.

D

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.

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


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: GETTY IMAGES/DEA PICTURE LIBRARY, GETTY/GADO, GETTY/BETTMANN

POTUS ABROAD

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

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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.

Q&A

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 (craftsman-wolves.com) 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.

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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!


CHEF WERNER'S FAVORITES

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!”

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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


Globetrotter /

A Taste of

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San Francisco

"A MUSTSTOP FOR ANY FOOD LOVER"

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.

CHEF WERNER’S RECIPE FOR A PERFECT DAY IN SAN FRANCISCO

8 A.M.

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

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 (foreigncinema.com).

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 (selfedge.com).

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 (astersf.com).

10 P.M.

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

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Globetrotter /

Insider Knowledge

/

Honeymoons

THE PERFECT HONEYMOON: Jessica’s Tips

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.

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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).

PHOTO: COURTESY OF JESSICA COLE, ILLUSTRATIONS: DUSTIN JOHNSON

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.


Easy Trips QUICK ESCAPES FOR SPRING

BY REBECCA WARREN

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

» COREY RICH

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


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 (benstuneup.com). 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 (riverartsdistrict.com) 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 (12bones.com), 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 (urbanorchardcider.com) 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 (topofthemonk.com). 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.


STAY

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: COURTESY OF EXPLOREASHEVILLE.COM, THE WINDSOR ASHEVILLE, EXPLOREASHEVILLE.COM, TOP OF THE MONK, BEN'S TUNE UP

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; windsorasheville.com.

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

1

Asheville, North Carolina

2

Western Washington

3

Lincoln, Nebraska

4

California’s Low Desert

5

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

6

Atlanta, Georgia

7

The Adirondacks, New York

8

Texas Hill Country’s wine region

9

Denver, Colorado

10

Florida’s Emerald Coast For more, see lonelyplanet.com/best-in-us

Spring 2017

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Easy Trips

Florida

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 (sogrocoffee.com), 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 candy.com) 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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CLOCKWISE FROM FAR LEFT: COURTESY OF SWEET PETE'S; REBECCA WARREN

Trade a day at the beach for a few hours paddling down the Intracoastal Waterway with Kayak Amelia (kayakamelia.com). 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

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: COURTESY OF GETTY IMAGES, REBECCA WARREN, HOGFISH BAR

»

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 (shellmuseum.org), 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; coastprojects.com), 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; hogfishbar.com), 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 (captivacruises.com) 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.

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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

DAY 1

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, marriott.com).

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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; le-train-bleu.com). The Hôtel Sèvres St. Germain has rooms overlooking the Seine (from $150; sevres-saint -germain.com).

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 (st-peter-zh.ch). Hotel Schweizerhof has grand, chandelier-lit rooms looking onto the station square (from about $160; schweizerhof.com).

DAY 2

PARIS–ZÜRICH

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.

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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).

DAY 3

ZÜRICH–TIRANO

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.


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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 (duomomilano.it) and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping center. Book into Hotel Anderson (from about $105; starhotels.com).

DAY 4

TIRANO–MILAN

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

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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.


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DAY 5

MILAN–VENICE

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; actv.it). Stay at the Hotel Saturnia, a salmon-pink hotel with high ceilings, just a five-minute walk from Piazza San Marco (from about $250; hotelsaturnia.it).

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 seat61.com,

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 (sncf.com), both SBB (sbb.ch) and

and regions visited

Rhaetian Railway in Switzerland (rhb.ch), and

during the journey

Trenitalia in Italy (trenitalia.com).

($27.99).

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; easyjet.com). A tour operator such as Railbookers (railbookers.com) can arrange train tickets as well as hotel bookings, transfers and connecting flights across Europe, for packaged tours or customized excursions.

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:

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The Photographer’s Story David Burdeny

Moscow Metro

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:

“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 davidburdeny.com.

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:

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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.”

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:

“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.”

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:

“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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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:

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Fold 2

The tranquil setting of Loggos harbor in Paxos.

Sifnos, Cyclades COOKING AT SIFNOS FARM NARLIS

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 -farm-narlis.com; classes from $55). CHRYSOPIGI MONASTERY

MINI GUIDE

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

Tear out page here then fold along dotted lines

SUMMER FESTIVALS

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 (ikaroschess.gr). 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).

KASTRO VILLAGE

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

Fold 1

GAÏOS

WINE TASTING

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 (afianeswines.gr; 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).

TURN OVER FOR MAP AND NUMBER LOCATIONS

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MINI GUIDE

Lesser-Known Greek Islands Courses

Essentials

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Sights

Eating

Sleeping

EATING FISH ON THE GREEK ISLANDS

• 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 (sifnostravel.com; 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 (paxosbeachhotel.gr; 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.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

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.

COMPILED BY LORNA PARKES, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM KORINA MILLER, ALEXIS AVERBUCK AND MICHAEL STAMATIOS CLARK. PHOTOGRAPHS: XXX

WHERE TO STAY

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 (agriolykos.gr; Ikaria; open May– Oct; from $40).

Drinking

The Know-How

GETTING THERE & AROUND

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 lines.gr). Ikaria has its own airport. A bus network and water taxis operate on these smaller islands.

Festivals


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Lonely Planet Spring 2017 Sample  

Join us on a spectacular rail trip from London to Venice, with original experiences revealed in stops along the way in Paris, Zürich, by th...

Lonely Planet Spring 2017 Sample  

Join us on a spectacular rail trip from London to Venice, with original experiences revealed in stops along the way in Paris, Zürich, by th...