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GLO B A L T RAVE L INS PI R ATI ON FROM L OC A L EXP ERTS ON THE COVER Rome’s Colosseum looks as imposing as ever, 1,933 years on






From Angkor Wat to private islands


On the trail of aliens in America

Dublin 4 Valais 4 Venice 4Mauritius 4Istanbul 4Canary Islands

DHS 15



PUBLISHER Dominic De Sousa GROUP COO Nadeem Hood ASSOCIATE PUBLISHERS Carol Owen Georgina Wilson-Powell


EDITOR Georgina Wilson-Powell / +97150 574 2884 CONTRIBUTORS Matt Bolton, Imogen Lilywhite, Mike MacEacheran, Nicola Monteath, Roger Misun-Gray, Chris Suttenfield, Amanda Tomlinson ART DIRECTOR Sérge Bones


PUBLISHING DIRECTOR: Tim Calladine /+971 50 458 7752


ONLINE Louie Alma

PRODUCTION Devaprakash


Rochelle Almeida



Emirates Printing Press LLC, Dubai


Head Office, PO Box 13700, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 440 9100, Fax: +971 4 447 2409 Group Office, Dubai Media City Building 4, Office G08, Dubai, UAE A publication licensed by IMPZ ISSN 2306-6547 © Copyright 2013 CPI. All rights reserved. While the publishers have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of all information in this magazine, they will not be held responsible for any errors therein.


Managing director Nicholas Brett Publishing director Chris Kerwin Editorial director Jenny Potter Unit coordinator Eva Abramik


Chairman Stephen Alexander Deputy chairman Peter Phippen CEO Tom Bureau Head of licensing & syndication Joanna Alexandre International Partners Manager: Aleksandra Nowacka

Editor Peter Grunert Art director Hayley Ward Publishing director Alfie Lewis Publisher Simon Carrington Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East is published by CPI under licence from BBC Worldwide Limited, Media Centre, 201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TQ. The BBC logo is a trade mark of the British Broadcasting Corporation and Lonely Planet is a trade mark of BBC Worldwide; both are used under licence by Immediate Media Company London Limited. Copyright © Immediate Media Company London Limited All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part prohibited without permission.

Discovering new places This month’s features I believe really sum up what Lonely Planet Traveller is all about. Giving you the inside track on popular once in a lifetime trips, such as our guide to Cambodia (page 42), while hopefully introducing you to some new destinations that deserve a visit, such as Belgrade in Serbia (page 56) and New Mexico in the USA (page 48). And finally we throw in a huge heap of suggestions for making the most of your precious time off, with our cover story on 20 best short breaks feature (page 32). Rather than send you to endless chain hotels, we’ve selected some of the more unusual options for four or five days away, staying in everything from a treehouse to a houseboat and come up with some fresh ways to experience some of your favourite destinations, from local dinner parties in Berlin, to seeing Tuscany from a Vespa or hitting the waves in Oman as a kitesurfer. We were inspired in some ways by your photos sent in for our photography competition, they really did encompass so much of the world, and told so many stories. The winning four were hung alongside international photographers at our first exhibition, which was a great success. I hope that this issue is as inspiring to read as it was to put together.

FROM TOP Cambodia hides a whole range of secrets (page 44); discover George Orwell in Barcelona (page 35) and get a taste of Belgrade (page 56)

Georgina Wilson-Powell, Editor

COMPETITION WINNERS Our 'A Taste of Travel' competition winners were (from left to right) Enjo Mathew; Sanjay Pradhan; Celso Creer II; Leila Cranswick; Shaikha Al Khayyal

March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


Our promise to you Lonely Planet Traveller provides trusted, independent travel advice and information that has been gathered without fear or favour. We aim to provide you with options that cover a range of budgets and we reveal the positive and negative of all locations we visit. Because we believe it is important that our journalists experience first-hand what they’re writing about and because you require comprehensive information from every corner of the world, at times it may be necessary for us to seek assistance from travel providers such as tourist boards, airlines, hotels, national parks and so forth. However, when receiving such assistance, we ensure our editorial integrity and independence are not compromised through the following measures: by publishing information on all appropriate travel suppliers and not just those who provided us with assistance, and by never promising to offer anything in return, such as positive coverage.

Get more Lonely Planet this month BEST ROAD TRIPS IN EUROPE Not all roads lead to Rome – some go to Florence, through the Italian Alps and along the coast of Sicily. There are more than 30 trails in Italy’s Best Trips, a compilation of the most beautiful drives in Italy – one of three new guides celebrating holidays by road in Europe (Dhs101). Each trip begins with an overview of the route, including the best time to go and the highlights to expect. In the two example pages below, the World Heritage Wonders route takes in nine of the biggest-hitters among Italy’s 47 Unesco-listed marvels, including the medieval centre of Modena and Padua’s Orto Botanico – the oldest botanical garden in the world.

On the grapevine Get involved! find us, follow us and like us: LonelyPlanetTravellerMiddle East


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All prices correct at time of going to press. Prices for hotel rooms are for double, en suite rooms with breakfast in low season, unless otherwise stated. Flight prices are for the cheapest return fares, including one piece of hold baggage, unless otherwise stated. is owned by BBC Worldwide and produced on its behalf by Immediate Media Company London Limited, Vineyard House, 44 Brook Green, Hammersmith, London W6 7BT. ISSN 2050-635X. Printed by Polestar Group. BBC Worldwide’s profits are returned to the BBC for the benefit of the licence-fee payer. Immediate Media Company is working to ensure that all of its paper is sourced from well-managed forests. This magazine can be recycled for use in newspapers and packaging. Please remove any gifts, samples or wrapping and dispose of the magazine at your local collection point.

BOOKS OUT THIS MONTH March sees the release of Australian Language and Culture (Dhs30), Berlin (Dhs84), British Language and Culture (Dhs30), The Cities Book (Mini edition; Dhs90), Czech Phrasebook (Dhs30), Discover Paris (Dhs84), England (Dhs102), France (Dhs108), Germany (Dhs102), Greek Phrasebook (Dhs30), Hebrew Phrasebook (Dhs30), Irish Language and Culture (Dhs30), Munich, Bavaria and the Black Forest (Dhs90), Pocket Amsterdam (Dhs48), Pocket Hong Kong (Dhs48), Polish Phrasebook (Dhs30), Scotland (Dhs84), Spain (Dhs108) and The Travel Book (Mini hardback; Dhs90).


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013













OV E R 6 0 M A J O R C I T I E S

Contents March/April 2013


Your travel photos and the stories behind them 10 An Omani wedding, boats in Kuwait and Taiwan



Head to Rome and 19 other must-see destinations p32

This month’s travel news, views and discoveries 17 Richard E Grant talks hotel secrets, James Martin loves American cakes and see the biggest flower


Short breaks you can book right now 26 MANAMA, BAHRAIN Whizz into town to catch the F1 Grand Prix 26 JORDAN Discover the unique flora and fauna 27 AGRIGENTO, SICILY Almond trees flower in bloom amongst the Greek ruins 28 MZAAR, LEBANON Hit 80kms per hour on a snowmobile 29 VIENNA, AUSTRIA It’s wall to wall music from opera to AV 29 KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA Turn back the clock at the Hotel Majestic 30 BERKSHIRE, UK Learn how to become a proper English gent 30 NAPLES, ITALY Join the America’s Cup flotilla


Discover the world with these in depth 32 ON THE COVER SHORT BREAKS Start booking those days off we’ve got 20 of the most unusual and exciting destinations for you 42 CAMBODIA Uncover the mysteries of Angkor Wat, Phomn Penh and Siam Reap 48 NEW MEXICO Go hunting for alien landings in some of America’s most surreal landscapes 56 BELGRADE From battleground to foodie haven, the Serbian capital is buzzing 62 HIGH 5: FUJAIRAH HOTELS We investigate the best hotels for a weekend escape on the east coast


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013

Did aliens really land in New Mexico? p48

Angkor Wat will amaze all your senses p42

ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER Books, apps and websites that will feed your passion for travel 70 Airplane seat booking apps; house-swap websites and explore the Lake District


Themed guides to pull out and take with you

Eat, drink and be merry in Belgrade p56 Fujairah fancy p62

75 DRINKING IN DUBLIN Experience the musical craic in Ireland’s capital 77 WINTER IN VALAIS From on-piste action to walking St Bernard dogs, check out Valais 79 EATING IN VENICE Get off the tourist trail and experience Italy’s finest gelato and pasta 81 COASTAL MAURITUS For a spot of island living, explore the beaches of this paradise 83 HISTORIC ISTANBUL The infamous East meets West city has many a tale to tell 85 CANARY ISLANDS Uncover these dramatic Atlantic islands on foot and by car

PLUS 74 SUBSCRIBE at only Dhs120 for 12 issues, a year’s subscription is a steal for all your travelling inspiration 87 WIN A STAY Win a two day culinary journey at Yas Viceroy! Travel the world, one restaurant at a time in Abu Dhabi 88 WIN A TRIP to see the F1 Grand Prix in Bahrain! March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East



POSTCARDS Why not get involved? We’d love to include your best new travel photos (at 300dpi) and the inspiring stories behind them. Send them with a pic of yourself to


Shipwrecked I took this shot of a ‘graveyard’ shipwreck at the Old Doha Port in Kuwait. It is popular because of the historic stories behind the port and the ships themselves. I have found that the best time to take photos here is during winter, when there’s a low tide and at sunset. That’s when I took this shot when the winter sun’s light revealed the best colours and angles of the sad shipwreck. Rizalde L. Cayanan, is a Filipino from Manila, who has been living in Kuwait for the last decade.

March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East



Pot boiler This photo was taken during traditional Omani wedding preparations. The old man inside the pot is beating out the base with a small hammer before it’s filled with a dismembered goat carcass. The meat is slowly cooked over an open fire for about five hours. It’s served with rice which is literally shovelled on to enormous communal platters with garden spades. Guests squat on carpets and eat with their hands. More than 250 people were fed that night; which is a regular attendance for a small Omani village wedding. Chris Suttenfield is a Dubaibased Australian freelance writer.


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013

POSTCARDS Why not get involved? We’d love to include your best new travel photos (at 300dpi) and the inspiring stories behind them. Send them with a pic of yourself to

March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


POSTCARDS Why not get involved? We’d love to include your best new travel photos (at 300dpi) and the inspiring stories behind them. Send them with a pic of yourself to


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013


Island charm It was my ďŹ rst time to visit and see the beauty of Taiwan and Heping (sometimes called Hoping) Island Coastal Park was one on my list, simply because of its unique sandstone formations. Heping Island is just off the coast of Keelung City and it is connected to the mainland by Heping Bridge. Leaving Taipei while it is still dark, we reached the island just in time for sunrise. Jose Mari Donaire is a Filipino living in Dubai who loves to spend weekends shooting landscapes

March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


! g n ashi d

ce n l e i p r ailan h e S T p n x li g

inkran Festiva z a Am Song



b Cele

SONGKRAN FESTIVAL 13-15 APRIL Come to Thailand and celebrate the coolest festival on earth! During 13-15 April the whole country will celebrate the Songkran Festival, represent the traditional Thai New Year, or known as the “World Famous Water Festival�

For more information please visit

Tourism Authority of Thailand ( TAT) Dubai & Middle East Office P.O. Box 450019 Dubai - U.A.E. Tel. +97143250184-5 Fax. +97143250187 E-mail:

Our Planet


This month’s travel news, views and discoveries A L OCAL’S VIEW

discovered dinosaur bones literally emerging from the earth. If you know what you’re looking for you can see dinosaur tracks too – we find one most times we go hiking. Here, I’m facing a Diabloceratops, a replica of a fossil we found in southern Utah. I named it because the horns reminded me of the devil. I’ve also named species after people I’ve known and respected. I hope that one day there’ll be a dinosaur named after me! Discover more at


Jim Kirkland, Utah State Paleontologist, USA I grew up a dinosaur-crazed kid and have now been working on the Colorado Plateau for almost 40 years. It’s here that most of the dinosaurs in Utah reside. Currently, we’re experiencing an amazing renaissance for dinosaur discoveries in Utah. This was once a very remote part of the planet, with few roads and people. Now that we’re exploring, we’re finding a new dinosaur species here every few months. Utah is eroding so we’ve

March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


OUR PLANET IN AUSTRALIA, EASTER EGGS are brought by the Easter bilby not bunny. It stems partly from a story written in the 1960s called Billy The Aussie Easter Bilby and partly because rabbits are seen as a pest. An endangered marsupial, chocolate bilbies are sold around Easter to raise money for their protection.


Richard E Grant Richard E Grant is a broadcaster and actor, famous for his roles in films such as Withnail and I and Jack & Sarah. He has recently filmed a TV series on the world's luxury hotels

The Standard Hotel in Manhattan, where floorto-ceiling windows make indiscretions somewhat less-than-private

Why scandal checks in at luxury hotels The anonymity of checking in and having carte blanche to do what you like is part of the attraction of hotels. Little wonder that the great and not so good have been caught with their figurative pants down in them. Hotels at a bank-busting level of luxury – such as those I visited for my new series – are a total refuge from reality. They induce and seduce punters to fulfil whatever fantasies they might have, with no responsibility other than to pay handsomely for the privilege. Luxury rooms designed to anticipate things you’d only dreamt of are what divide these pleasure palaces from a chain-gang of Premier Inns. State-ofthe-art audio and TV equipment. Underfloor heating in the bathrooms. Bung a grand piano into your suite alongside acute attention to every detail, and within five nanoseconds you are seduced into feeling godlike, ready to order up a feast from room service while you sniff the avalanche of fresh roses. Nowadays you can’t burp or break wind without someone Tweeting about it or posting it on Facebook – but as long as humans continue to breathe, our appetite for hanky panky remains the same. Hence The Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan, where your room is an exposed, floor-to-high-ceiling clear-glass box, so


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013

that punters can perform their most private of passions ‘in public’. Its unofficial motto might be: ‘Private is the new public’. The absence of a dress code in many luxury hotels makes for an outward show of democracy, which is mightily welcome. Someone suggested that ever since Bill Gates became a billionaire in trainers, the notion of clothing being a barometer of wealth went the way of the wing collar. The result is that it’s almost impossible to discern the depth of a guest’s credit rating according to their clothes. Of all the hotels I visited, the legendary Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan is probably the epicentre of hotel scandal – artists, actors, musicians and writers down the decades have magnetically crossed its ‘Welcome’ mat knowing that the usual rulebook of etiquette and good behaviour doesn’t apply. Another place I visited – the aptly named Barkley Pet Hotel & Day Spa for dogs and cats near Los Angeles – was an exercise in suspending disbelief. It’s all too easy to scoff and dismiss this level of extravagance, yet if pets are your passion and you have more money than sense, who’s to argue that surfing lessons for your pooch or fillet steak room service from The Four Seasons Hotel across the road for your little

OUR PLANET THE EGYPTIANS were the first ones to associate bunnies with spring as they were the symbol for fertility, later the Celts followed this tradition. The Germans began the tradition of bunnies delivering chocolate eggs and immigrants took this with themto America, where it exploded.

THE SWISS DECORATE old wells with spring flower displays and eggs to celebrate Easter. This confirms the importance of the gift of water to the continuing cycle of life and this tradition can still be seen in local villages and towns.


James Martin JAMES MARTIN is a chef, author and TV presenter. He is a regular in Dubai, often appearing at Taste of Dubai food festival in March

darling is unjustifiable? One lady, who has a beloved pet hen, brings her in for a weekly pedicure, wherein her claws are varnished red. My worst hotel experience was ‘The Smell Hotel’ in Eilat 20 years ago. It wasn’t fully built and there was olfactory competition between the drains and buffet. I flew from Tel Aviv to the Red Sea for the weekend to scuba dive, without my passport. I was accused of being an Egyptian spy and strip-searched at the airport on the way back.

For my series United Cakes of America, we travelled from Washington all the way up the East Coast to Boston in an old ’80s Cadillac – as far as we could go in two weeks. One of the best things I bought on the trip was a whoopie tin, which looks like a very shallow Yorkshire pudding tin, with indentations about 5mm deep. It’s used to make whoopie pie – a cross between a cookie and a bun. This is an iconic cake in America, and there are lots of different stories about where and how it came about, and how it got its name. One story we heard was that it originated in Pennsylvania, when schoolchildren used to

shout ‘whoopie!’ as they looked in their lunch boxes and discovered they had one inside. I bought the tin in a cookery store in New York, which is where I learnt to make the pies. I met up with a local guy who runs his own bakery and hosts whoopie pie parties – we stocked up on ingredients at a local chocolatier and made some in his amazing flat overlooking Manhattan. It was a pretty special experience. In the USA, you get lots of different flavours, but back home I tend to just make chocolate whoopies, which are like a sort of soft chocolate biscuit. I’ve only had my tin a few months, but I’ve already used it several times.

If I had to spend the rest of my life in one hotel, it would be the Ballyfin in Ireland. It’s an astonishingly luxurious country pile with only 15 rooms, so you feel as if you’re a guest at a great friend’s house. Fishing, riding, archery and reading may sound like distinctly 19th-century pursuits, but they’re all here, and as effortlessly available as the scones and fruit compotes that appear beside the log fires in the vast library in the afternoon. Most important is the indefinable charm of the Irish hosts, that I wish could be bottled: a unique mix of immediacy, warmth and a way of looking at the world, expressed in language that uses 60 words whilst everyone else settles for a measly six.

March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East





KEUKENHOF - THE WORLD’S LARGEST FLOWER GARDEN The Dutch ‘Garden of Europe’ is in bloom Every year over seven million bulbs are planted on over 32 hectares in Lisse, Holland, all primed to burst into colour between March and the end of May. From flower parades to fields of tulips or hyacinths, inspiration gardens and activities for the kids, the flat lowlands of Holland provide the perfect canvas for spring to come to life. Every year the garden chooses a country theme – this year will be the UK with a huge flora mosaic of Big Ben and Tower Bridge. (Dhs75 entrance;

The beach at Jacmel, in the south of Haiti

One of the least explored corners of the Caribbean, Haiti is quietly bouncing back from a disastrous 2010 earthquake. There’s creole food, good beaches and great music, and despite all the horror stories about diseases and crime, it’s simply not as bad as you’re told. The Citadelle – a brooding fortress built in the early 19th century by liberated Haitian slaves to ensure their French slavemasters didn’t try to make a comeback. It’s the most impressive man-made construction in the Caribbean. The Port-au-Prince slums are out of bounds, but elswhere the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice is common-sense caution – keep an ear to the ground and avoid demonstrations. Jacmel on the south coast is a charming seaside town, with galleries, craft shops and a kicking carnival in February. A painting or two. Haiti produces the most dynamic art – particularly naïve art – in the Caribbean. And don’t miss metalwork sculptures from the town of Croix-des-Bouquets. The Comedians – the classic Graham Greene novel featuring Haiti’s longtime dictator, ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier.

TONY WHEELER, Lonely Planet’s co-founder, never stops exploring. Next month: Hong Kong’s New Territories


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013


MUMBAI Lonely Planet’s Mumbai expert, Amy Karafin, shares her pick of the city for free this month GALLERY HOPPING Mumbai has many of the country’s best contemporary art galleries, most of them within walking distance of one another in the Colaba and Fort neighbourhoods. This spring sees a focus on photography: Dhruv Malhotra’s haunting work is on show for free at Chatterjee & Lal gallery (22 March–18 April) while the Focus festival (13–27 March) offers free photography exhibitions in outdoor spaces across town (;

MARINE DRIVE March is hot in Mumbai, so locals come to the shore for cool evening breezes. Take a walk up the Marine Drive, which curls along the city’s western coast, all the way up to Chowpatty, Mumbaikers’ most-loved beach. Watch the sunset and nibbling on bhel puri, one of Mumbai’s savoury street-food specialities.

The Global Pagoda in the northern Gorai Creek

GLOBAL VIPASSANA PAGODA India has a 3,000-year history of meditation. Learn to meditate at the cavernous Burmese-style Global Pagoda. The world’s largest unsupported dome structure seats 8,000 and free 20-minute meditation classes are offered twice daily (

BOMBAY PANJRAPOLE Few people know about it, but right in the middle of a bustling market area in the city centre is this shelter for 350 homeless cows (plus a few donkeys, dogs, goats and birds). Check in on the gals in the Pregnant Cows Department, or, for a small donation, feed them a bushel of greens (

SHIVARATRI In March Hindus will celebrate Shivaratri, the ‘night of Shiva’. After a day of fasting and processions, temples hold colourful all-night prayer vigils. Head to Mumbai’s Babulnath temple to see lingam (phallic statues representing Shiva) ritually bathed and draped with flower garlands as the temple fills with the aroma of incense and the sounds of devotional music ( AMY KARAFIN is a co-author of Lonely Planet’s India guide and a lover of of ghee-based sweets. She lives in New York.

March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


From here to there... From sailing in the Caribbean to Scottish history and hanging out in treetops, spring is finally here SCOTLAND

Highland charm


SAIL AWAY Sailing Capital of the Caribbean, Antigua welcomes all shipmates between 27 April and 3 May with its traditional Sailing Week. One of the most prestigious sailing weeks in the world, the small island sees sailors compete in a variety of regattas and races between nearby islands, with plenty of rum-fuelled parties thrown in for good measure.


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013

Scots can rejoice with the re-opening of the Highlander’s Museum which is housed at Fort George, a 250-year-old registered historic monument. A key site in Scottish lore, the museum traces the history of

the Highland Regiments who were formed from the original Scottish clans in the 1700s. The museum is close to Cawdor Castle, made famous by Shakespeare’s Macbeth play.



Into the trees

Breathe more easily

In our Short Breaks feature on page 32 we show you riverboats, windmills and treehouses you can stay in but we’ve found something to top even that. At the Costa Verde in Quepos, Costa Rica you can now reside in a 1965 vintage Boeing 727. Jutting 50 foot into the air amongst the jungle and with a handcrafted deck atop one wing, this has to be the coolest hotel room on the planet.

Fed up with all the urban smog? Desert dust getting up your nose? According to the World Health Organisation, the cleanest air in the world can be found in Estonia (which itself can be found between Finland, Latvia and Russia). Low population density, decent climate conditions and strict measures on air pollution all come into play to help visitors enjoy some good old fashioned clean air.

AND ELSEWHERE IN THE WORLD... Fly to Mattala, Sri Lanka. Air Arabia are now offering a twice weekly flight to Mattala in Sri Lanka from Sharjah. The frequency will go up to four times a week in the summer. Fly to the USA more easily. Qatar Airways will debut its new direct route to Chicago in April, while Etihad has recently launched direct flights to Washington DC.; etihad. com. Stay in BBC Radio’s old home. Melia Hotel has converted London’s BBC Radio’s old address into a funky boutique with a roof top bar overlooking London. MELondonUK. com. Go looking for jaguars. Bespoke Brazil will take explorers to the Pantanal, the largest floodplain in the world searching for these elusive creatures for 10 days. Eat, drink and be merry in Queensland. The Noosa Festival from 16-19 May will bring together the best food and wine from all over Australia, with over 200 Aussie chefs and winemakers. Pedal across Europe. Hit five countries by bike this spring, ticking off Italy, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Belgium and following in the footsteps of salt traders, ancient merchants and armies whilst tucking into French cheese, Swiss choccies, and Italian gelato to keep your energy up! Climb Mount Athos. The legendary mountain of the ancient Greek gods rises 3,000m above the sea and is next to 70kms of beautiful beaches. Inhabited by 2,000 monks, visitors can climb the peak to feel like a mythical hero. Learn to ride a splitboard. Bored of your snowboard? Splitboards are the next generation in piste sports and RudeChalets is running an intro week in April deep in the back countryof Chamonix with a local expert. The trip includes a six day Mont Blanc pass, seven nights’ accommodation, equipement rental, all meals and tuition. rudechalets. com. Go foraging in New York. Yup, that’s right, nyma hotel will take urban foodies on a tour like never before. Explore parks, the High Line, rooftops and the coastline for berries, bark, mushrooms and herbs with ‘wild man’ Steve Brill.

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March is a month of action, from boats to the F1, and snowmobiling to ora tours in Jordan

March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East



Jordan In bloom

See the F1 in Bahrain

Manama, Bahrain Pit stop

WHY GO NOW? Jordan. Everyone knows about Petra, the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum. But did you know Jordan has a vast flora (double that of the UK)? Garden and landscape designer Paul Hervey-Brookes is taking eager gardeners on a whirlwind 10 day tour of the country in partnership with Cox & Kings. Hervey-Brookes is designing the Discover Jordan entry at the UK’s

WHY GO N OW? The Bahrain F1 Grand Prix whizzes into town this April, and is your first chance this year to see the world’s biggest motorsport in the Middle East. The Bahrain circuit spans just over 5kms and the drivers need to complete 57 THIS TRIP! laps to win. TURN TO PAGE 88 While there has TO FIND OUT HOW… been some controversy over Bahrain’s staging of such a prestigious event whilst political protests seem to be ongoing, the event brings in much needed tourism to the small Gulf country and is an opportunity to get to know Manama better. It has museums, an old Portuguese fort and two water parks for amusement outside of the race.


MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 The Bahrain F1 Grand Prix happens from 19-21 April (Dhs1,755 for a weekend ticket in the main grandstand; 4Fly to Bahrain with Gulf Air. Its business class now features fully-flat beds and mobile connectivity (from Dhs720; 4Stay with Kempinski Grand & Ixir Bahrain City Centre (Dhs1,184 for the F1 package which includes breakfast and entrance to the F1 Grand Lounge; free Wi-fi; kempinski. com/en/manama/grand-andixir-hotel).


Discover Jordan’s incredible flora and fauna on this once in a lifetime tour

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013

Hampton Court Flower Show so he’s uniquely qualified to share his knowledge on the natural wonders of the Jordanian desert, which will be in full bloom. The tour includes visits to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Dihbeen forest and Dana Biosphere Reserve as well as the desert castles of Qasr Amra and Qasr Kjaranah. The botanist will be on hand to give a series of informal lectures and talks.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 The tour includes flights, transfers, excursions, accommodation and breakfast (Dhs12,990 per person; 4 The dates are 18-27 April and spaces are limited. 4 Jordan has over 2,500 species of plant, including 100 endemic ones and guests will be introduced to the national flower, the Black Iris.

The ancient Temple of Concord, perhaps the finest ruin in Sicily’s Valle dei Templi, can just be seen through an orchard of flowering almond trees

Quote ‘Lonely Planet Traveller’ when booking for a


Agrigento, Sicily Almonds in bloom WHY GO NOW? Sicily gets its spring in early. While northern Europe is still shivering its way through the damp, grey days of winter, Sicily is already in bloom. Blossoms add delicate colours to the many almond trees that populate the island’s cool, green hills. A mix of virginal white and gentle pink, said to produce sweet and bitter almonds respectively, the curtain of blossom that sweeps across Sicily from January until the

end of March lends the air a sweetly perfumed scent. Even if you arrive late to the medieval city of Agrigento on the southwest coast makes the trip worthwhile. It is home to the Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples), and the most impressive ancient ruins on the Sicilian island. The collection of temples and city walls was once the site of the ancient Greek city of Akragas, set upon a ridge just below the town.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 The almond blossom season in Sicily runs until the end of March. 4 Agrigento is a two-hour bus ride from Palermo, the capital of Sicily (Dhs66;, and there are regular direct trains too (from Dhs84; Flights to Palermo leave from Dubai with KLM (Dhs3,925; 4 The Atenea 191 is a friendly b&b in Agrigento (from Dhs330;


Too lazy to try skiing? Check our snowmobiling in Lebanon, with machines that can hit 80km per hour!

WHY GO NOW? While dune bashing across the sands of the UAE can sometimes be a let-down – too many 4x4s vying for the same tracks, killjoys in the backseat – nothing beats the sheer adrenalin-fuelled rush of its close winter relative, snowmobiling. It is the ultimate winter activity and Mzaar, the largest ski resort in Lebanon, is the only place in the Middle East where you can do it. An hour’s drive from Beirut, the mountain resort has a winter 28

season that peaks in March and sits at an altitude of 1,850m. So, hop upon a ski-doo, rev up its engine with a flick of the wrist and, after a quick beginner’s lesson from your guide, rocket at speed across fresh, white powder faster than you can say ‘where are the brakes?’ Coast over snowdrifts, make tracks down steep gullies, and wind up and over beautiful mountain plateaus, you’ll find yourself surrounded by more than 40 glistening peaks in Mzaar.

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 is Lebanon’s number one provider of ski accommodation and resort information and is a one-stop shop for organising snowmobile tours and ski hire and passes (from Dhs238 per session; 4 Fly Emirates direct from Dubai to Beirut (from Dhs1,800; 4 Styled on a traditional Swiss

wooden chalet, the Intercontinental Mzaar Mountain Resort and Spa is the most romantic and exclusive hotel anywhere in the Lebanese mountains. To amuse in the evenings it has its own cinema, bowling alley and spa, and its three restaurants include authentic Alpine cuisine (from Dhs1,078; Wi-fi Dhs36 per hour;


Mzaar, Lebanon Taking the piste


Vienna, Austria Sound of music WHY GO NOW? Austria’s capital is awash with the sound of music during April, from grand state operas to an audio visual festival called sound:frame. From April-June over 150 opera and ballet performances will be screened live in the Herbert von Karajan Platz outside the opera house for free, whilst from 4-14 April the av festival will take over clubs and the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art (MAK), for a series of performances. For those that want something a little more chilled the Vienna Blues

Spring ( is a six week festival that runs until the end of April with 40 concerts from jazz and blues musicians from all over the world. And if all that’s not enough for your ears, you can follow in the footsteps of this city’s famous musical sons, with walks that will trace the steps of Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn (free; music-stage-shows/city-of-music/ musicians-walks-download).

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 Stay in style at the new Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna opening

this month; a 19th century historic property in the centre of the city, close to St Stephen’s Cathedral (Dhs1,275 opening offer includes breakfast; free Wi-fi; palais-hansen). 4 Fly to Vienna on KLM (from Dhs4,000; 4 Keep costs down and buy a Vienna card. Travel by bus, tram or underground for three days plus get 210 discounts on attractions, restaurants, cafes and bars (Dhs100; travel-info/vienna-card).

For a touch of colonial glamour, look no further

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Colonial chic WHY GO NOW? The Majestic Hotel in Kuala Lumpur offers a historic stay in the Malaysian capital. The hotel has been the focal point of glamorous social circles since the 1930s as the Hotel Majestic, and it has been protected under the Antiquities Act. Set on 3.2 acres opposite the Moorish inspired railway station, a visit to the Majestic Hotel transports you back to a more refined era. Carry on the indulgence with a spa treatment a traditional afternoon tea or live out rakish dreams at The Smoke House, which has a cigar room, card room and a bar for an early evening tipple. The hotel also has a wine collection that has been collaborated on with the Baron Phillipe de Rothschild. If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming quite the aristocrat abroad, this is the perfect escape.

Austria will ring with the sound of opera, jazz, blues and more during April as many music festivals get underway in this historic city

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 Fly direct on Singapore Airlines (from Dhs3,020; singaporeair. com). 4 From Dhs769 per night including breakfast and a 45 minute massage per person; free Wi-fi; 4 Zip round the city on one of six metro lines or invest in a hop on/hop off ticket for a bus that has 22 stops close to 40 attractions (Dhs45 for 24 hours; kl-hop-on.htm). 4 Most countries are eligible for a visa on arrival from either a few days to three months.

March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East



Berkshire, UK Become a gentleman WHY GO NOW? You’ve seen them in the movies, those frightfully refined, welltailored chaps of English eras gone by. Now you can become one in a six-day tour/makeover in the UK. First you’ll be taken on a private shopping tour of Mayfair and iconic Saville Row, the home of bespoke British tailoring, to get yourself all kitted out. Once in your dapper new threads retire to the impeccably English, Coworth Park

(close to Ascot), a country seat in Berkshire, where you can learn how to ride, shoot, play tennis, polo and the all English croquet. If all that tires the muscles, make like a modern gent and indulge in some spa action, in the sumptuous surroundings. While in London town you’ll be residing at The Connaught, one of the most prestigious addresses in the city, and treated to some of London’s finest dining.

MAKE IT HAPPEN? 4 The six-day tour is available through Ampersand Tours (from Dhs11,200; ampersandtravel. com). 4 Fly to the UK direct from Abu Dhabi on Etihad (from Dhs4,020; 4 The price includes all airport transfers and accommodation. 4 23 April is St George’s Day, the patron saint of England, so there’s no time better to visit.

Watch the marine-based drama as the America’s Cup hits Italy

Naples, Italy Sail away

Cosworth Park might be a historial seat but there’s nothing fuddy duddy about its decor. It has given the antique look a modern makeover with suites in muted pastels (above and below). Learn how to ride like a proper English gent (right)


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013

HOW DO I MAKE IT HAPPEN? 4 The America’s Cup World Series will be in Naples from 16-21 April 2013. 4 Fly to Naples through Munich on Lufthansa (Dhs3,445; 4 Stay in style at Hotel Costantinopoli 104 , a 19th Century period villa with a beautiful garden and pool (Dhs575 per night; free Wi-fi; 4 For a taste of creamy, real Italian gelato and the best chocolates in town pop in to Gay Odin (Via Benedetto Croce 61;


WHY GO NOW? All the best sailors in the world, the fastest boats on one of the toughest professional circuits in sailing, will dock in Naples next month. The America’s Cup World Series can trace its heritage back to a race between England and France in 1851 but it now encompasses the world, and features the most advanced multi-hull boats on earth. What comes with the boats is a flotilla of festivities based around the Race Village, which in Naples will be on the picturesque Via Caracciolo. From here visitors can view the 11 teams’ catamarans racing over 30 miles per hour with fleet and match racing, family entertainment, local food and drinks and a look at some of the latest boating technology. Visiting the city for the first time last year, the America’s Cup circus drew in 500,000 spectators and Naples is the last stop in 2013 before the competition heads back Stateside.

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XXX 1 WHEN IN ROME... Roman tastes haven’t changed much in 2,000 years. Each Sunday, thousands of residents make the pilgrimage to a huge stadium, where they chant and sing, eat and drink and hurl outrageous abuse at each other – and at one unfortunate man at the centre of the arena. Granted, the referees in charge of Roma’s home games aren’t ripped apart by lions, but there’s a hint of similarity between the Roman games once held in the Colosseum and the football matches at today’s Olympic Stadium. The former huge, half-ruined circular stadium is Rome’s most iconic structure, and it was once the home to the ruthless Roman games, in which gladiators and prisoners would battle each other – and wild animals – for the entertainment of a bloodthirsty crowd.The Colosseum – or the Flavian Amphitheatre, as it was originally known – was built in the first century AD. The ring of brick arches was constructed using the same techniques perfected in the building of aqueducts. At the games’ peak, some 5,000 lions, tigers and elephants were killed each year. Plans are afoot for a multimillion-euro makeover this year.

SHORT BREAKS YOU NEED TO BOOK NOW Looking for travel inspiration beyond the UAE? Want to do something different, exciting and get away from it all? We’ve rounded up some truly unique adventures across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India, from finding inner peace on a houseboat in Kerala to whipping round Tuscany on a Vespa or discovering how to eat like a local in Berlin. Don’t settle for a boring hotel stay when you could be doing so much more!




p36 On the trail of George Orwell in Barcelona p37 Go kayaking in Malta p37 Hire a Vespa in Tuscany p41 Move into a Spanish treehouse p38 Eat like a local in Berlin p38 Drink in a French vineyard p35 Book into a windmill in Santanorini p38 Have a spa break in Budapest p38 Cruise along a river in Portugal p32 Discover bloodthirsty Rome p40 Dine out in Kalkan, Turkey p39 Enjoy a hammam in Baku

p38 Go kitesurfing in Oman p40 Take a balloon ride over Wadi Rum p34 Wine tasting in Lebanon

OARRIVE Emirates flies direct to

Rome (from Dhs3,100; OSTAY Spic n’ span My Guest Roma is

a modern B&B in Piazza Bologna (from Dhs350 per double inc breakfast; free Wi-fi;

AFRICA p36 Trek Morocco’s past p40 Uncover the botanical gardens of Mauritius p39 Take a spice tour in Zanzibar

p35 Find a wildlife sanctuary in Goa p39 Be calm with Averyurdic treatment on a houseboat in Kerala

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013



2 0 S H O RT B R E A K S

2 0 S H O RT B R E A K S 3 A WINDMILL IN GREECE On the northeast coast of the volcanic island of Santorini lie three whitewashed windmills, their canvas sails creaking in the wind (from Dsh1,350; each sleeps up to five; open from May to October; Designed and built by owners Nikos and Fotini, each has three storeys, with magnificent views of the Aegean Sea from the bedrooms on the upper floors. Much is made of the windmills’ curves – beds, staircases and

bathrooms are built into the walls rather than fight against them. There’s little reason to leave your little circular home (each has a private pool and a terrace) but there are plenty of beaches nearby, including Pori Beach with its unusual black sand. Perfect for that long awaited peace and quiet. OARRIVE Emirates and Aegean Air will get you to

Santorini via Athens (Dhs3,658; A windmill villa on Santorini, Greece

Meet the mouse deer in Goa

2 WILDLIFE SANCTUARY, SOUTH GOA Enchanting Goa, a land of palm trees, beaches, churches, flea markets and mouthwatering cuisine, is also a place where people party like mad or do absolutely nothing. But it has much to offer when it comes to nature, from hot springs and canoeing (the journey begins from the popular Palolem beach) to other activities in the southern part of the state such as visiting a wildlife sanctuary. The Cotiago Wildlife Sanctuary, located in Canacona Taluka, is made up of a dense forest filled with 30m tall trees and moist deciduous trees. Visit the sanctuary during dusk or dawn and spot the animals that rock up to drink from the watering hole from the watch tower up above. You’ll come across creatures as diverse as flying squirrels, mouse deer, fourhorned antelopes, heart-spotted and white-bellied woodpeckers and Malabar tree toads. Once you’ve had a look at the wildlife species, visit the tribal groups that live in and around the sanctuary and get to know more about their lifestyle (Dhs2; OARRIVE Air India flies directly to

Goa (from Dhs1,500; The sanctuary is located 12kms away from Palolem Beach, and can be reached by taxi or car. OSTAY The Ferns Gardenia Resort is an eco-friendly resort located 1km away from Palolem Beach (Dhs357 per room inc breakfast; free Wi-fi;


4 WINE TASTING IN BEQAA VALLEY, LEBANON Lebanon might be a small country but it’s packed with things to do from beach parties in Beirut to Roman temples in Baalbeck and skiing in Faraya. Done all those? Head to the Beqaa Valley located towards the east of Beirut. Centuries ago, the valley was a major agricultural source, and is now one of the most significant regions for farming in Lebanon. The valley consists of a Mediterranean climate and is popular for the wines that are produced in the region, in the first and oldest winery, Chateau Ksara. Established in 1857, the region’s first dry white wine was developed in this chateau and has since been exported globally. Visit the cellars with a

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013

guided tour, and explore the caves, take in the aromas of the grapes, and indulge in a wine, cheese and cold-cuts tasting (free;

OARRIVE Fly to Beirut twice daily

from Dubai (Dhs1,300; OSTAY Hotel Massabki is a boutique

option in Beqaa (Dhs563; free Wi-fi; Chateua Ksara offers free wine tours

5 A WEEKEND HOMAGE TO CATALONIA George Orwell wasn’t always especially polite about Barcelona – describing the city’s most famous landmark, the Sagrada Familia, as ‘one of the most hideous buildings in the world’. Nonetheless, his masterly 1938 account of the Spanish Civil War, Homage to Catalonia, means his name has long been enshrined in city folklore. Iberianature offers regular Spanish Civil War day tours of Barcelona, covering various locations associated with Orwell’s time here. Casting the city’s most familiar streets in a new light, tours revisit the scenes of gunfights and bomb blasts around La Rambla and the Barri Gòtic, as well as offices where Orwell and his Marxist comrades were headquartered (tours Dhs80; For some R&R, head to the seaside town of Tarragona, a 90-minute train journey south (from Dhs72 return, up to Dhs330 for fast train taking 30 minutes; – Orwell spent time in the city recovering from injuries during the war. OARRIVE Fly Lufthansa via Zurich

(Dhs3,330; OSTAY Hotel Banys Orientals is a

popular boutique hotel in El Born, just north of the Barri Gòtic (from Dhs660; free Wi-fi;

Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia – in construction since 1882

6 GO TREKKING IN MOROCCO’S PAST Head to the Anti-Atlas, the Ameln Valley and Jebel L’West around Tafraoute to explore Morocco’s vast flora and fauna and its deep history. This is Berber country, a population derived from Morocco’s original inhabitants, who have stayed fast in the mountainous area, and to Islam which arrived in the seventh century and have seen off almost every invader since. The area is a two hour drive from Agadir, a few days here is going back in time, where traders busy themselves manufacturing babouches – leather shoes, locally regarded as the only footwear worth wearing as you traverse the hillsides amongst date palms and pomegranate trees. To the south of this area sits the

Sahara desert, a local story tells how originally the land was green and lush but every grain of sand represents a lie and so it has become desert. The oases still dotted around because of the good and honest people With many young gone to find fortune in the city, what visitors will find is a slow pace, generous people and plenty of pilgrim trails to work your way along. ARRIVE Qatar Airways flies to Agadir (Dhs3,346; or Etihad flies direct to Marrakesh (Dhs 4,200; Tafraoute is a six hour drive from Marrakesh. OSTAY Hotel Salama is a clean, cheap option in Tafraoute (from Dhs110 for a double ; free Wi-fi;

2 0 S H O RT B R E A K S

Sea-kayaking in the Blue Lagoon on the tiny Maltese island of Comino




The faithful Vespa would without doubt win a contest for the most quintessentially Italian vehicle. Tuscany Scooter Rental hires out these zippy numbers for self-guided tours through the Chianti hills (Dhs1,380 per person for a two-night package including hotels; tuscanyscooterrental. com). Back roads lead past rows of grapevines to hilltop towns and villages such as Radda in Chianti. The scooters can fit two riders (some previous riding experience is highly advisable) and, in a twist to Henry Ford’s dictum, you can have any colour you like, as long as it’s red.

People have come to Budapest since Roman times to benefit from the healing properties of the thermal water bubbling up from the 118 springs beneath the city. And the very best way to enjoy that water is by staying at the Danubius Hotel Gellért, a huge Art Nouveau edifice on the banks of the Danube (from Dhs510; Guests have direct access to the Gellért Spa and Bath, with its thermal pools decorated with mosaics, massage rooms and dry and steam saunas. Taking the waters in the main hall, under a galleried glass roof, has been likened to swimming in a cathedral. Rooms in the hotel are comparatively plain, but after all that therapeutic soaking you’ll be too nonchalant to care.

Less than 30 miles from end to end, Malta is an archipelago in miniature whose crinkled coastline fits in as much Mediterranean blue as possible in this, the smallest EU member state. Sea-kayaks are the most versatile means of exploring the shores of the main island (also confusingly called Malta), its smaller partner Gozo and baby Comino, which sits in between. Sea Kayak Malta arranges tours that take in caves, sea arches and an uninhabited island where St Paul is said to have been shipwrecked, with stops for swimming, snorkeling and a picnic lunch (full day Dhs300;


OARRIVE Fly KLM and Air France

(Dhs3,628; and it's a 75-minute drive by car to pick-up locations in the region (from around Dhs150 per day; OSTAY Tour prices include hotels. For longer stays, Podere San Lorenzo is a farmstay near Volterra (fromDhs480; free Wi-fi;

Fly to Budapest via Istanbul on Turkish Airlines (Dhs2,968; A one-day travel pass for public transport in the city costs Dhs27.


OARRIVE Fly Emirates to Malta with

one stop in Larnaca (Dhs3,000; OSTAY Hotel Juliani is a boutique hotel in a seafront townhouse on Malta’s main island (from Dhs390; free Wi-fi;

March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


2 0 S H O RT B R E A K S


Enjoy a vino in your garden

10 STAY AT A VINEYARD IN BORDEAUX Sat in a stripy deckchair on the sunny terrace of a charming 17th-century château surrounded by five hectares of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec vines – there are few places in the world where a glass of wine could taste better. In the hands of the CharmetThomas family since the 1830s, Château Lestange is a working vineyard, its abundant grapes used to produce a red AOC Premières Côtes de Bordeaux. Current incumbent Anne-Marie Charmet also rents out rooms – featuring softly faded paintwork, original floorboards and antique mirrors and portraits – to wine-lovers wanting a base for further exploration in the region (from Dhs480; Bordeaux is only 15 miles down the road, and the wine estates of Saint-Émilion are less than an hour’s drive away. OARRIVE Fly direct to Paris on

Emirates in only six hours (Dhs3,950; then a three-hour train to Bordeaux (from Dhs216 return; Hire a car from the station (Dhs300 per day;





Hidden among the German capital’s apartments are some of the city’s best places to eat. Supper clubs, privately hosted dinner parties for paying guests, also offer the chance to have a nosy round the homes of real Berliners. Try Fisk & Gröönsaken (Dhs120;, where locals serve modern dishes such as beetroot consommé with dumplings in their art-filled living room.

Compared to the UAE, Oman’s lush climate is perfect for all those off road activities from mountain climbing to watersports. Muscat is slowly gaining popularity for the adventurous activities the country has to offer such as wakeboarding, surfing and paragliding. At Al Zaiba beach, kitesurfers take to the waters in droves, this stretch of coast has distinguished itself as a real hangout for those wanting to get some ‘air’ down on the sea. Novices to the sport can get a six-hour crash course from professional instructors that includes kite and safety equipment. Ras Al Hadd lagoon is another popular destination for kitesurfing and is located two hours away from Muscat. (from Dhs1,449;

Deep in the São Mamede Natural Park in the Alentejo region of Portugal lies the Moinho do Pego Ferreiro, an abandoned mill restored in 2006 by British couple Cathy and Richard. A river runs through the smallholding, swathed in olive, cork, walnut and fig trees, and it’s here that you’ll find the River Lodge, a wooden platform covered by canvas and home to a double bed (from Dhs210; open April to October; uk). There is nothing here to distract from the art of simple living. So light a camp fire, take a dip in the river, watch for otters or freshwater turtles and enjoy the seasonal produce (including homemade beer) made on the premises.

OARRIVE KLM to Berlin (from Dhs2,670; OSTAY Ackselhaus offers 12 bedrooms (from Dhs720;

DOWNLOAD THIS! The Adidas Urban Art guide pulls together the best examples of street art and where to find them. In Berlin, you’ll be tripping over the urban art, but this is worth a look. Available on Apple.

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013

OARRIVE Fly from Dubai to

Muscat on flydubai (from Dhs495; OSTAY Park Inn by Radisson Muscat (from Dhs800; free Wi-fi parkinn.

OARRIVE Emirates fly directto

Lisbon in eight hours (Dhs4,395; River Lodge is in Relva, 140 miles east of Lisbon. ). The airport has the usual car-hire firms (from Dhs120 per day;

14 HAMMAM TREATMENT, BAKU, AZERBAIJAN Many know of hammams as the popular Moroccan treatment, where you are scrubbed from head to toe with an exfoliating soap or scrub, and emerge with rejuvenated glowing, supple skin, but the cleansing process is equally popular in Baku, Azerbaijan. When you’re done soaking up the culture and heritage of this city, and have made your way through the mosques and historical sites such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 12th Century Maiden Tower and the Shirvanshah’s Palace, head to the luxurious penthouse spa at the Four Seasons Hotel in Baku to choose your hammam treatment. Whether you want to experience the traditional, straight-forward hammam, or try an innovative seaweed detox version, it’s one of the finer ways to treat yourself to a luxurious afternoon. The ritual includes an aromatic exfoliation, body mask and hair treatment, to leave you purified and revived (from Dhs561 for the treatment;

Enjoy a traditional hammam in Baku

OARRIVE Baku can be reached on Qatar Airways (from

Dhs1,262; and FlyDubai (from Dhs1,233; OSTAY Four Seasons Baku Deluxe rooms overlook the architectural preserve – Icheri Sheher, the UNESCO World Heritage sites and a park that surrounds the National Philharmonic Theatre (from Dhs1,400; free Wi-fi;

DOWNLOAD THIS! Baku Mobile Info includes a subway map, an inbuilt currency converter and you can also call local taxis. Available for Apple and Android.

Follow your nose in Zanzibar

16 AYURVEDIC TREATMENT ON A HOUSEBOAT, KERALA In the 15th century, the lucrative spice trade was what attracted most expats to Kerala, specifically the Portuguese. Fast forward to the 21st century and Kerala is now one of the leading spice exporters in India. Amongst the spices, beaches and hill-stations, some of the most popular attractions are the houseboats, where guests can stay overnight, eat authentic cuisine and relax with massages and body treatments. Ayurveda, a traditional system of medicine, is prevalent in Kerala, amongst most spas and it extends even to the houseboats. For an authentic Ayurvedic experience, book a Ayurvedic spa package on a houseboat to explore the Keralan backwater attractions in Alleppey and Kumarakom, and heal your body with treatments specified by doctors and meals to heal you from the inside (from Dhs442 per day; kumarakomhouseboatholidays. com). OARRIVE Emirates flies to Cochin

(Kochi) (from Dhs1,430; emirates. com). Flights from Cochin to Kerala can be accessed by Jet Airways (Dhs310; Airport transfers are offered through the houseboat holidays company. OSTAY The Kumarakom Houseboat Holidays luxury option is ideal for ultimate relaxation and zoning out from normal life (Dhs850; Drift away on a houseboat of calm

15 A SPICE TOUR, ZANZIBAR The land of Zanzibar is made up of an archipelago of islands, each is distinct in its own way, situated 35kms off the coast of mainland Tanzania. Coral cliffs and white sandy beaches make up most part of the main island of Unguja, which helps to make it warmer all year round, with the north and north-east coast enjoying a healthy sea breeze. Zanzibar’s appeals lies in spices, as the islands produces cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper. Trace the spice routes with a guided tour

of local farms near Kidchi and Kizimbani. Awaken your senses as you see, smell and taste a variety of tropical fruits such as jackfruits, pineapples, mangos and malay apples, as well as spices including cloves, ginger, vanilla pods, lemongrass and nutmeg (Dhs95; OARRIVE Qatar Airways flies to Zanzibar (from Dhs2,462; OSTAY Tembo House hotel is located on the seafront in Stone Town (Dhs385; free Wi-fi; Pick-ups are organised by Zanizbar Quest.

March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


17 BOTANICAL GARDENS, MAURITIUS Home to sandy beaches, tranquil waters, watersports, luxury spas, and all things linked to relaxation, Mauritius is the ideal destination to head to for a bit of rest and relaxation. Amongst the multiple activities and sights to see on this island, the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic Garden, located in Pamplemousses, near Port Louis, is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island. Named after the man who led the country to independence and a former Prime Minister of the country, the gorgeous garden covers an area of 33 hectares and is home to over 85 types of palm trees that have been brought over to the garden from other countries. Wander through one of the oldest botanical gardens in the southern

Explore Jordan’s largest wadi

hemisphere, with the help of the guides available at the entrance, and be entranced by the sights of giant water lilies, ranges of medicinal plants, ebonies, sugar canes, a variety of spices and a healthy collection of creaky 200-yearold giant tortoises. You can either walk the botantical garden or be lazy in a golf buggy but don’t miss the focal point of the garden – a pond filled with giant Victoria amazonia water lilies, native to South America and rare in this part of the world (admission Dhs40; OARRIVE Emirates flies directly o Mauritius (from Dhs5,160; OSTAY The Le Méridien Ile Maurice offers stunning views of the Indian Ocean (from Dhs928; Wi-fi Dhs92 per day;

18 HOT AIR BALLOONING, WADI RUM, JORDAN A visit to Jordan isn’t complete without the customary visit to Petra, Jerash – to visit the ancient ruins – and the Roman amphitheatre, the Dead Sea and the Citadel in Amman but there are tons of adventurous activities to get stuck into as well. Head to the coastal city of Aqaba (located in southern Jordan) for a dive, or perhaps take in the bird’s-eye-views of Wadi Rum on a hot-air balloon ride. Wadi Rum, also known as ‘the valley of the moon’, has been cut into sandstone and granite rock and is the largest wadi in Jordan. The highest point in Wadi Rum is Mount Um Dami (6.040 ft high), and on clear day you can see right across to the Red Sea and border of Saudi Arabia. If you’re staying in Aqaba book one of the hot-air balloon rides over Wadi Rum, take in the exquisite views of the mountains and experience a view like no other. (Dhs674 per person;

South American waterlilies in Mauritus


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013

OARRIVE Royal Jordanian flies to Aqaba (from Dhs1,580; Taxi it from central Aqaba to Wadi Rum (from Dhs105; OSTAY The Intercontinental Aqaba Resort overlooks the Red Sea and has a 300m private beach (from Dhs455; free Wi-fi; hotels/gb/en/aqaba).

19 RESTAURANT HOP IN KALKAN, TURKEY Travel along coastal Turkey and discover the small harbour village of Kalkan that is bursting with culture and foodie finds. Turkey’s fishing villages have always been popular with the locals who enjoy the fresh seafood and produce, but Kalkan – on Turkey’s Turquoise coast – is soon becoming a haven for travellers who want to taste the real Turkey. The picturesque town is made up of cobbled streets and bougainvilleas which line the pavements and backed by the Taurus mountains. It has over 100 restaurants, where people can sample authentic Ottoman cuisine from menus that change constantly. Restaurateurs from Istanbul have established themselves in Kalkan to make use of the fresh produce the village has to offer and to create Ottoman inspired dishes at affordable prices. Most restaurants are nestled on roof terraces or on the harbour front and offer stunning views of the sea. Try the Turkish pide, a healthier style of pizza ( OARRIVE Flydubai flies to Istanbul

(from Dhs1,243; OSTAY Patara Prince Hotels and

Resorts offers villas, apartments and rooms (from Dhs485; free Wi-fi;

2 0 S H O RT B R E A K S 20 A TREEHOUSE IN SPAIN The treehouse has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years, with canopylevel accommodation springing up all over Europe. Cabanes als Arbres takes things up a notch, with a veritable village of houses perched up in the branches of the Forest of the Guilleries in Girona (from Dhs480; Each of the 10 cabins is built around a Douglas fir or beech tree and has its own terrace, perfect for a sunset drink with views of the surrounding mountains. To preserve the natural atmosphere of the woodland, there is no electricity – guests are warmed by a paraffin heater, can read by candlelight and hoist up their breakfast from ground level using a basket and a rope. OARRIVE Fly Lufthansa via Zurich

(Dhs3,330; a car at the airport (from Dhs125 per day;

Treehouse at Cabanes als Arbres in Girona, Spain

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Market stalls in Phnom Penh; the bas-relief carvings at Bayon temple; Song Saa’s private island villas on stilts; some statues remain at Angkor Wat


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013



Ancient temples emerge out of the early morning mist, noisy scooters ebb and flow in the capital’s streets and backpackers traipse between neon-lit bars. Cambodia has one foot in the vine-covered past and one firmly in the present


LEFT to RIGHT: Children help the family business in the busy market in Phnom Penh; tourists start to arrive at Angkor Wat; the delicate Khmer carvings can be seen at all the temples; Bayon temple ‘s ruins are enchanting



HE ANCIENT LAND OF CAMBODIA (pronounced ‘Kampuchea’) appears on many travellers’ wishlists. The friendly people, the temples and culture, the food and the old colonial touches (the French appeared in the 19th century and didn’t leave until 1953) all capture what is heady about the country for many. And while the past includes the Khmer Rouge and civil war ravaged the country between the mid 1970s and 1993, Cambodia now is a safe and inspiring destination, perfect for those who want to lose themselves in history, enjoy the famed hospitality and discover a land of myth and legend.

central daily market which has an indoor jewellery hub, with different sections of the market for food, clothes, DIY essentials and so on shooting off from it at angles like the spokes on a bike. Head to the food section, for the smells and sights of Cambodian cuisine, there’s a slightly claustrophobic eating area, packed with the city’s people slurping down bowls of pho. For a taste of the nightlife, hit Riverside and work your way back, the further from the water, the less neon signs and the more refined the drinks on offer. You can still see echoes of the French colonisation in the architecture but the city seems to keen to build new, with skyscrapers and malls in development.

Cambodia’s capital is a heady mix of culture and nocturnal indulgence. Spread out with wide boulevards, the city’s pavements is where every aspect of life is playing out, from cooking dinner to playing badminton, while shops that only sell one thing, create huge piles of their products out on the pavements. From traffic cones to cardboard boxes, tractor steering wheels to suitcases, if you want to buy anything, the street is where it’s at. Scooters whizz through the traffic, carrying anything from one person to a family of five, whilst others use them to transport seemingly impossible items – from stacks of chickens in baskets to an entire exhaust pipe. Nowhere is more bustling and crowded (and has a sense of being the real Phnom Penh) than the

An hour by plane from the capital is Siam Reap. This ancient city gets its name from the defeat of the Thai in the 16th century, when all of Cambodia had been swallowed by what was then Siam. The Khmer (Cambodian is a term imposed on the people by foreigners) are a proud and humble people and in Siam Reep’s 13th century heyday their empire stretched from Thailand to Laos and Vietnam. But by the 20th century it had dwindled to a village, until Angkor Wat was ‘rescued’ from the jungle by French explorers. Now the city has over 10,000 hotel rooms and thanks to the increase in Asian tourists, is phenomenally busy. After you’ve ‘done’ the temples surrounding the town, head to the Night Market for Siam Reap’s backpacker-esque nightlife. Pub Street is similar to Walking Street in Thailand’s

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Pattaya or Khao San Road in Bangkok, with slightly less nudity. Bars blare out the latest Rhianna hits or ‘Gangnam Style’, young travellers earnestly discuss their next move or latest cultural discovery over Dhs2 beers and the streets are lined with market stalls and Dhs5 massages, manicures and pedicures. Follow the noise and lights to the right at the end of Pub Street to get to the official Night Market which has smaller craft-like artisan stalls and sells plenty of local silk pashminas, spices and other souvenirs.

The magnificent Angkor Wat temple was the largest pre-industrial complex in the world when it was built in the late 12 century by Suryavarman, and it stood at the centre of the Khmer’s empire. It’s hard to imagine anyone not being stunned by it as early morning risers wait for it to appear in the dawn, jostling for position by the reflecting pool to capture that perfect shot. (If you want a front and centre space then consider arriving at around 4.30am). There are entrances at the east and west gates (the west is the popular one, with a stone bridge over what used to be a 2.5kms moat) but head east first and you’ll be rewarded with a quieter, less tourist filled approach. The entire complex is open to explore, the long colonnaded walkways with their incredible carvings representing the Hindu gods and the scenes of Suryavarman’s court, are astounding in their detail and decoration, you could


Raffles, Phonm Penh Originally the Hotel Le Royal, Raffles opened in 1929 and the imposing 170 room hotel centres around two pools with a mix of Khmer, Art Deco and French colonial style. (Dhs791; free Wi-fi;

lose an entire day here. Angkor Wat now attracts over 3 million visitors a year, so if you’re expecting calm, mysterious and ancient, forget it. Your best bet is to get in early and stay ahead of the mammoth tour groups taking pictures of themselves against almost every stone. March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


LEFT to RIGHT: Song Saa’s private villas look straight out across the ocean; the trees take over at Ta Prohm temple


Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa This French colonial inspired five star hotel is a touch of calm amongst the busy temples. Built round a large pool, with courtyards (and a pond with mini crocodiles) in the main building, the Victoria is perfect for sundowners on the terrace after a day out trekking. (Dhs732; free Wi-fi;

As much as Angkor Wat is the headline act, you should make time for the supporting temples, as they are smaller complexes, they seem to have more of an effect on the soul, than the city-sized Angkor. First up should be Bayon temple. Bayon temple at Angkor Thom looks like a giant has stomped through, knocking over walls in a petty fit. Most of its towers remain, each home to four faces, weathered by the years but still watching over the world unflinching. These bas-relief carvings provide an eerie yet more personal connection than Angkor Wat. Again every inch of this temple is delicately carved and a smaller number of tourists mean more opportunity for climbing in amongst the ruins and really getting a feel for the incredible history woven into the stones. Despite it being more ruined than either Bayon or Angkor Wat, the Ta Prohm temple is perhaps the most decrepitly picture-perfect. Angelina Jolie used it as a backdrop for her Lara Croft: Tomb Raider film, the temple is home to a particular type of tree which needs stone to anchor itself. The result is a crumbling assortment of towers and doorways that have become part of the forest around them. Tree limbs intertwine amongst the stone, slowly eating the carved walls and lintels. The stones themselves seemed to have aged gracefully, with moss bringing out stunning reds and greens in the dead rock. The temple has been left to decay naturally, rather than


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receive the sometimes over enthusiastic ‘restoration’ that Angkor Wat has seen, and as such it has an atmosphere and a beauty that is just unrivalled. Again, arrive early. Many of the structures can only be seen along a decked walkway which becomes incredibly busy with large tour groups and guides with megaphones.

Cambodia isn’t just about the past. The private island Song Saa (or twin islands – the name means ‘sweetheart’) is firmly about Cambodia’s future as a tropical refuge from the modern world. Only accessible by a 45 minute speedboat ride, the island has been developed as an uber-luxe eco-resort. A mixture of individual villas, some over the water, some facing the ocean hide amongst the slightly manicured greenery of the island. This is a proper ‘getaway’ of the A-list kind. Yoga platforms sit atop rocky perches waiting for skinny VIP bottoms or retreat to your private infinity pool and order a fine-dining meal cooked on your terrace while you soak up the sunset. The resort is already finding favour with those looking for somewhere other than Thailand, India and the Seychelles and it also runs multiple projects to aid local people, flora and fauna. Guests can donate to these projects if they’d like to give back to this beautiful country. Song Saa really brings out a different side to Cambodia, it might be firmly on the backpacker trail but it doesn’t mean that’s all that is available.(Dhs7,206, free Wi-fi;


Cambodia From private islands and film set-worthy temples to some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet, it’s easy to fall in love with Cambodia. Discover sights like no other here ESSENTIALS Getting there Fly to Phnom Penh on Qatar Airways, the only airline to do so from Dubai, via Doha with a one hour stop in Ho Chi Minh (from Dhs2,7600; Fly from the capital to Siam Reep or Shanoukville on Cambodian Angkor Airlines (Dhs476 for Siam Reep return; Getting around At Siam Reep, it’s best to get a tuk-tuk to take you to the temples or to the night market (from around Dhs50 but remember to barter) and you’re best off sticking to this mode of transport in Phonm Penh as well. Further reading Lonely Planet’s Cambodia guide (Dhs75) is available from


Get off the hotel trail at the Tree of Life villa in Siem Reap. It has 12 bedrooms and a garden full of hammocks and is situated near to the Night Market and Pub Street for those that want more nightlife options after exhausting all the temples (Dhs73 per room; Wi-fi extra;



The five star InterContinental, Phonm Penh is the tallest building in the city and has a holistic spa, a high-tech gym and an open-air pool. It is only ten minutes drive from the Grand Palace and Riverside with its nightlife options (Dhs710; free Wi-fi; hotels/gb/en/phnom-penh).



Sofitel Phnom Penh

Sofitel, Phnom Penh Phokeethra is a modern affair with hard wood floors and high ceilings that mixes Art Deco with Khmer-style interiors. The Sunday brunch is popular amongst the capital’s well-heeled types desperate for French food. It has great oysters (Dhs915; free Wi-fi;

Frangipani 60s Villa, Phnomn Penh is a four star hotel from a local brand who have several boutique, fresh and reasonably priced hotels in the capital and Siem Reap. This hotel has a number of studiso with large terraces to enjoy the temperate weather (Dhs223; free Wi-fi;

Want to keep it real cheap in the capital? The Terrace on 95 is a boutique B&B built in the 1930s as a traditional Khmer house. It has eight distinctly designed bright rooms round a lush green courtyard, which all come with a free breakfast and a healthy dose of local hospitality (Dhs146, free Wi-fi;



Climate 40

Intricately detailed Angkor Wat, which has stood since the 12th century, has become a symbol of Cambodia

Raffles Grand d’Angkor 400











Had enough of backpacking, slumming it , tiny bathrooms and cheap beer? The classy and historic Raffles Grand d’Angkor hotel comes with plenty of chic style and recently hosted ex-US Secetary of State Hillary Clinton (Dhs1,043; free Wi-fi;


Spend the night before Song Saa island at the beachside resort of Shinoukville, which is where the local Khmer from Phnom Penh holiday. Sokha Beach Resort is the best option with its own private beach (Dhs724; free Wi-fi; sihanoukville).


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Shiprock rises into a starry sky above the New Mexico desert. This isolated outcrop was formed by volcanic action, but Navajo legends give it a far stranger origin


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THE TRUTH IS UT THERE New Mexico is alive with conspiracy theories and strange stories, a place where aliens lurk and mountains aren’t all that they seem WORDS MATT BOLTON PHOTOGRAPHS JUSTIN FOULKES

A streetlamp in the guise of an alien, in Roswell. LEFT Roswell’s flat plains. RIGHT The alleged alien landings of 1947 made headline news



HE BADLANDS OF NEW Mexico epitomise the raw, stark beauty of the Wild West. Vast mountain ranges and plateaued mesas stand impassive in the desert haze. Ragged gorges, carved out by the Rio Grande River, rip into the land like an open wound. Rows of aspen trees turn to a chemical yellow in the relentless southwestern sun, spotlighting the rolling ranches that are home to cattle and horses. And above it all, the infinite New Mexico sky, an almost physical presence pressing down upon the horizon like a paperweight. The state of New Mexico has so much beauty that you can’t help but feel sorry for poor old Roswell, a small town in the south. The country round here is lacking almost all of the above. In fact, the only thing that Roswell country has got going for it aesthetically is… flatness. Nowhere does flatness like Roswell. The desert here is a ruler-edge sheet of mute brown dirt, studded with the occasional spiky yucca tree, and goes on and on and on, much in the same interminable way as a pub bore. But while Roswell might not have much, what it does have is out of this world. This town is the UFO capital of the USA – perhaps the only place on Earth where aliens have actually landed. The story goes that, in 1947, a Roswell rancher named Mac Brazel came across a field of metallic debris. The metal was unlike any he had seen before; he could pick it up, scrunch it in his hand and watch it spring back to its original shape. That same day, a local undertaker received a call from a military base asking for a supply of child-sized caskets. Arriving at the hospital, he was met by a nurse who told him in a panic that she’d seen military doctors examining the


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bodies of a number of child-sized grey aliens with huge saucer-like eyes. Immediately after the incident, the military released a press release confirming that there had been a UFO crash in the area. But a week later this was retracted, and another release was written, saying that the debris was simply that of a military weather balloon. It was too late. The legend of an alien landing in Roswell spread across the country, and then the world. In 1991, a museum dedicated to the incident was opened and subsequently sparked an entire alien economy in the town. Roswell has dozens of alien souvenir shops and bars selling alien beer, all capitalising on the extraterrestrial economic stimulus. Even the streetlamps have alien eyes painted on. Mark Briscoe is the library director of the UFO Museum and, unsurprisingly, has no doubt that aliens landed here. He believes that the military covered up evidence of the landing in to order to prevent mass hysteria, but used information from the captured aliens to develop new technology. ‘In the 20 years after Roswell, humans invented more new technology than we had done in the previous 200,’ he says. ‘The iPhone 5 is more powerful than the computer we used to land on the moon! Humans are smart, but we’re not that smart. We’ve definitely had help. Probably through reverse engineering from alien technology.’ Despite Mark’s adamant stance, the museum is careful to leave all options on the table, which is a relief given the somewhat flaky nature of the evidence. One section even lists common ways by which fake photos of UFOs are made – by photographing a lit lampshade reflected through a window, hanging a hat on a string, and throwing a hub cap in the air.

The White Sands Missile Range Museum displays more than 50 types of rockets and missiles in a park just off State Road 213

Alien souvenir shops abound in Roswell



W The 2,100m peak of Shiprock rises eerily over the landscape Traditional Navajo terracotta pottery. RIGHT Chilli is the defining ingredient of New Mexican cuisine.

HATEVER THE truth of the 1947 incident, there is undoubtedly something otherworldly about New Mexico. The vast space – it’s the fifth biggest state in the US, with a population of only two million – lets the imagination run free. And the infinite emptiness of the brilliant sky above means that on the rare occasions when an object, such as a plane or a hot-air balloon, does pass through, the bright contrast lends it such a fierce intensity that it confuses the eye. After spending time here, you can easily understand why virtually everyone you speak to has a story about seeing a light or unidentified shape in the sky. But not everyone puts it down to extraterrestrial activity; other explanations are easily at hand. In the centre of the state, a four-hour drive from Roswell, lies an enormous segment of fenced-off flatland, almost devoid of population. This is the White Sands Missile Range, the perfect place for the US military to test out their latest bombs, rockets and planes without fear of upsetting the neighbours. Everything from V2 rockets – technology co-opted from the Germans after WWII and used for the first space shuttles – all the way through to modern missile defence systems has been tested here. Nearby lies Trinity, the site of the first atomic bomb trial in 1945. And New Mexico remains at the forefront of space-age technology – Richard Branson is even building his Spaceport America base here, in the hope of breaking the final frontier of space tourism. Unsurprisingly, with all these flying explosives zooming about, access to the missile range is restricted, save for one area: the White Sands National Monument. Here,

Cameron Martinez at his home in Taos Pueblo. LEFT Native silver and turquoise jewellery for sale in Santa Fe.

The Pueblo Indian settlement of Taos is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. LEFT Norio Hayakawa stands outside the fence of the former nuclear weapons storage facility at Manzano Base

a remarkable geological quirk has turned some 275 square miles of desert into a glistening, ice-white beach. Rolling dunes of white gypsum eroded from the surrounding mountains stretch out as far as the eye can see. It looks for all the world like Arctic tundra, and if it wasn’t for the desert sun beating down, you’d be excused for putting on an extra layer before leaving the car. Walking across these pristine dunes is a mind-blowing experience – you feel like Lawrence of Arabia discovering Antarctica. And White Sands is certainly consistent with New Mexico’s ET spirit: few landscapes would look so at home on an alien planet as this. New Mexico’s military presence provides another take on the state’s UFO mysteries. Could the Roswell incident have been caused by the misfiring of some new-fangled military equipment? That’s certainly the view of Norio Hayakawa, a JapaneseAmerican who has spent most of the last 35 years studying the history of UFO sightings. Norio lives in the state’s largest city, Albuquerque, which manages to combine Route 66-style roadside motel culture, modern university life and a Spanish-built Old Town that looks like something straight of a John Wayne movie. Norio argues that the US government exploited the American public’s propensity for conspiracy theories and fuelled rumours of an alien crash in order to cover up what they were really doingin New Mexico. ‘UFO just means “unidentified flying object”,’ he explains. ‘UFOs and aliens are two completely separate things. I think that the association of UFOs with aliens is a brilliant strategy by the government in order to create a “laughter curtain”, so that people think you’re a crackpot for talking about places like Area 51 [a supposed alien base in Nevada]. Which is all very convenient, because it means no-one asks

questions about what’s really going on.’


LBUQUERQUE HAS ITS own version of Area 51, the Manzano Mountains in the centre of yet another military base. Norio drives me there, pointing out the electric fences that surround it. He explains that the main mountain is actually hollowed out, Thunderbirds-style, in order to store nuclear weaponry and airborne technology. Norio believes that the US military were once developing new flying machines here that were crescent-shaped, and from a distance would look like flying saucers. ‘It could have been one of those that crashed at Roswell,’ he says. ‘They didn’t want anyone to find out what they were up to, so encouraged the alien rumours.’ The idea of an alien conspiracy is thus a conspiracy itself. And so the plot thickens. But maybe

those searching for extraterrestrial beings in Roswell are looking in the wrong place. Perhaps they should start at Taos, a small but lively northern town which has become a haven for New-Age spiritualists, hippies and artists. Here lives a group of people certain that they are not from this planet. The road from Albuquerque to Taos runs through Santa Fe, the oldest state capital in the USA. It is New Mexico’s cultural centre, a beautiful city packed with art galleries and studios. Its high altitude, sharp light and mountains have provided artistic inspiration for thousands of painters and sculptors ever since Georgia O’Keeffe, one of America’s most revered painters, moved to the area in 1949. The town is built almost entirely with adobe – desert clay mixed with straw, sticks and water – and the buildings are low-lying, with rounded corners. Adobe is true desert architecture; the buildings look as if they have arisen out of the earth of their own accord, strong and hardy like yucca trees, but with a childlike

The White Sands National Monument protects rare gypsum dunes, which would wash away over time in most other places.

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naivety that makes a stroll around town feel like you’re entering a cartoon world. An ancient example of adobe architecture exists at Taos Pueblo, a Native American settlement on the edge of Taos, in the north of the state. The Pueblo peoples are one of the oldest groups of Native Americans, and there has been a community living in the multi-tiered adobe buildings in Taos for some 1,000 years. Small, boxy, yet surprisingly spacious rooms are stacked up on each other, with ladders between the levels. When they were first built, the only way into each apartment was through holes in the roofs – the lack of ground-level entry points meant that the Pueblo could draw up the ladders in defence when attacked by groups such as the Spanish conquistadors or rival Native American nations. Cameron Martinez, or New Eagle to give his Pueblo name, is a 29-year-old film student who grew up in a second-floor ‘apartment’ on the north side building. ‘I feel lucky to have lived somewhere with such a historic link to our ancestors. Unlike other Native nations, we’ve never been relocated – our people have lived in this place for centuries,’ he says. ‘There is no electricity or running water within the Pueblo. Most people have a modern house elsewhere on the reservation, and so the time spent living in the Pueblo is for intense


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religious rituals, for learning how to live in the traditional ways, to become selfsufficient.’ The Pueblo people are avid hunters and Cameron says that he still uses a handmade bow and arrow to shoot down birds from the sky. As for so many people in New Mexico, that blindingly blue firmament plays a significant role in Pueblo culture. Indeed, the Pueblo people here believe that they actually come from the skies or, to put it another way, that they are extraterrestrial. ‘Our stories tell us that we originated in the cosmos,’ says Cameron, scanning the 360-degree mountain horizon that wraps around the settlement. ‘We don’t believe we are from this planet; we are forces of energy that came from somewhere else, but took human shape. And when we die, our bodies will return to this Earth, but if we have lived according to the traditional ways, our souls will flow back to the sky as energy’. Much of the northern swathe of the state belongs to Native peoples – Pueblo, Apache, Navajo. Each nation has its own creation stories, its own legends that help to explain how the environment in which they live came to be, and how they as people arrived in these lands. But for all the differences, there is a common thread – and it’s no surprise that the sky is the overarching link.

Shiprock is a roadside town and administrative centre in the Navajo reservation. It takes its name from the huge, red rock that stands aloof in the desert, towering above a narrow ridge that points towards it like an arrow. In Navajo language, this rock is called Tsé Bit’a’í, the rock with wings. Legends about its origin vary from it being a flying rock that brought the Navajo people to this area, to being the home of two huge bird monsters who occasionally swoop down from the sky and feast upon any Natives they find below. The tension between the two Navajo legends – on the one hand, the sky being the source of life, on the other, a constant threat – is one that lies at the heart of the alien obsession here: are aliens helpful friends contributing their technological expertise? Are they intruders looking to abduct anyone who crosses their path? Or are tales of their existence a front for the military who want to dominate the skies with explosive force? Whatever the truth, there’s no doubt that travelling through this huge land makes you conscious of how small human beings are in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that New Mexico is MATT BOLTON is a writer who recently won National

Consumer Travel Feature of the Year for his piece on Tallinn (Dec 2011 issue of Lonely Planet Traveller).


New Mexico The vast mesas and rolling ranches of New Mexico are perfect road-trip material. Make your way through this land of cowboys, aliens and Native Americans with our insider’s guide ESSENTIALS Getting there There’s no real easy way to do this but the quickest way to get to Albuquerque is on Royal Jordanian via Amman and Chicago (from Dhs7,341; rj. com). Getting around Car hire is vital in a state the size of New Mexico. Car rental firms such as Holiday Autos have offices in Albuquerque airport (Dhs600 for sevendays’ hire, with a pick up and drop off at the airport;

9 STEPS TO YOUR NEW MEXICAN JOURNEY Two-hours’ drive from Albuquerque are the radio telescopes of the Very Large Array (vla. Stay in Truth or Consequences, in the Sierra Grande Lodge and Spa. It uses hot springs that run underneath the town to heat its pools (from Dhs300;














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The ice-white desert landscapes of the White Sands National Monument are a fantastic place to go wandering. Star-gazing and picnicking are popular and if you tire of them, buy a plastic sledge from the visitor centre and hit the dunes (from Dhs10;

Santa Fe is just over three hours north of Roswell. The pick of the roadside inns here is the Santa Fe Sage Inn (left) – it’s a cut above your average motel, with Native American tapestries in the rooms and a heated outdoor pool (from Dhs225; santafesageinn. com). The centre of social life in Taos (as well as the best place to stay) is the Taos Inn, a Westernstyle inn dating back to the 1800s that combines cosy cottage-like rooms with the crazy Adobe Bar, which hosts live music and dancing from the locals (from Dhs325


No trip to Roswell is complete without a visit to the UFO Museum and Research Centre (left), which tells the story of the 1947 alien landing (Dhs17.50; Follow it up with Galactic Vino at the Pecos Flavors Winery (from Dhs20;



Further reading Lonely Planet’s Southwest USA has an in-depth chapter on New Mexico (Dhs60 individual chapters Dhs10 from For further information on travelling in the US, visit Discover America ( Climate

Many of the buildings in Santa Fe imitate the adobe style of architecture seen in Taos Pueblo

The ancient adobe architecture of Taos Pueblo is a 10-minute drive from the town centre. Many of the ground-floor houses have been turned into small shops selling Native American pottery and traditional foods, such as blue-corn fry bread (Dhs35;



The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is set in one of Santa Fe’s trademark adobe buildings, with a wide collection of the New Mexico-based artist’s works, including the seminal Black Iris series, and her iconic depictions of large flowers and vast landscapes (from Dhs45;


There’s plenty of eating choices in Santa Fe, but the Cowgirl BBQ takes some beating: steaks and chilli-laden burritos, a great choice of beer – including local micro-breweries – and a real Western ‘yeeha!’ atmosphere (mains from Dhs60; cowgirlsantafe. com).


Farmington is a friendly town in the northwest, and a great base for Chaco Canyon National Historical Park (left), another ancestral home of the Pueblo. Stay at the Casa Blanca Inn, a series of cottages surrounding a quiet courtyard (from Dhs400;


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A CROSSROADS OF CULTURE The beating heart of central Europe has been a battleground for 1,000 years but in amongst the history is a city which loves to eat, drink and be merry WORDS GEORGINA WILSON-POWELL

THIS PAGE: A flag flutters over the remnants of Belgrade’s castle RIGHT: The Danube can be seen from Old Belgrade’s city walls


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“The city’s bloody history has left its mark on everything from the architecture – with Islamic mosques, baroque churches and Austrian style pedestrianised promenades slotting together across the city – to the country’s diet”


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YING AT THE CROSS ROADS OF TWO of Europe’s main rivers, the Danube and the Sava, Belgrade has seen history wage war around it for centuries. One of Europe’s oldest cities, it has been inhabited since 6,000 BC. In more recent times it has been occupied by the Romans, Balkans, Slavs, Ottomans, the Austrian Hapsbergs, was rolled into Yugoslavia in 1918 until the civil war in 1999, and then finally has been created as a separate country, Serbia, in 2006. As a result of this rollercoaster of ownership, the city’s bloody history has left its mark on everything from the architecture – with Islamic mosques, baroque churches and Austrian style pedestrianised promenades slotting together across the city – to the country’s diet. The odd mixture of Islamic and Austrian influences is particularly prominent because the city ping-ponged between these two warring sides for nearly 400 years, from 1521 to 1918, either being the northern most outpost of the Ottoman Empire or the frontline southern defence for the Austrian Hapsbergs. The city has seen 115 wars, which has given its people both a spirit of hardiness and a love of life, that is similar to the vibe felt in Beirut – party now, because who knows what tomorrow will bring. To get a short physical introduction to the fascinating past of Belgrade, head out on a guided walking tour, that can be arranged through the tourist board ( Old Belgrade is a walker’s city, set mostly on one side of the sprawling riverbanks where the rivers meet, Its ancient fortress, built between the 1st and 18th centuries, stands tall still guarding the mouths of the Sava and Danube. It has been home to tsars, kings and generals all looking to

keep a steady hold on this city, the bullseye in Europe’s heartland. From Kalemegdan Park that surrounds the fortress, you can see across the river to ‘new Belgrade’, where modern Communist style blocks of flats have crept up, and in the distance, Zemun, a tiny, country style suburb that still clings to its Austrian heritage. Here you’ll find the more old fashioned family seafood restaurants (think dark wood furniture and plenty of heavy linen) which sit along the peaceful Danube Kej. For those that want to delve deeper (literally) into the past, underground tours of the city can also be arranged through the tourist board.

THE FOOD… Nowhere can the range of influences found in Belgrade be better seen than in its cuisine. As stereotypes go, Eastern Europe tends to get a bit maligned when it comes to people’s ideas of what the food is like. Heavy and dour, drab or hearty come to mind. Thankfully Belgrade’s gastronomic scene will come as a heavenly surprise. The capital has some captivating restaurants hidden all over the city, the most interesting tucked away in former houses in residential districts. Organic, fresh and local are the watchwords of most of the breakout places to eat. Restaurant Djordje (restaurantdjordje. rs) leads the way, with a menu that focuses on Serbian cheeses, local sausages, organic salads and rustic breads while you sit in a conservatory outside a former detached home, the bar now on the front steps of the house. Close by is Zaplet (, one of the city’s favourite fine dining options, all

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: An organic cheeseboard at Restaurant Djordje; the restaurant’s conversatory; the locally based menu. LEFT: The suburb of Zemun.

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and honey, that come in many flavours including chocolate. If you’re after a larger taste of Belgrade’s past, then the Centre for Cultural Intiatives ‘Kulltura’ has created a ‘Sweet Belgrade’ tour which takes in chocolatiers, traditional baklava sellers, cafes and a slab of the locally infamous Moska Cake, from the rather quaint art deco Moscow Hotel. The two and a half hour tour balances Belgrade’s fascinating history in between your stops for sweet treats and is utterly addictive (


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: The twe Skadarlija district where Serbian writers would gather their thoughts; get your clubbing on at Freestyler, a two level party boat; the Art Deco Moscow hotel, famed for its Moska cake, which is unique to Belgrade.


brushed concrete, kooky light fittings and a funky outside space. Both of these independents are making great efforts to take the more traditional Serbian ingredients and make them lighter, more modern and refined, with great success. But nowhere takes on the mantel of revolutionising the Serbian menu more than Little Factory of Taste ( This gourmet bolt hole is set in a renovated cottage in the middle of the garden in the city centre. Long pine tables sit between shelves groaning with locally made crockery, herbs hang from wooden beams and a jolly family atmosphere weaves its way between the tables. You’ll need to leave an entire evening for this place, its tasting menu is 12 courses long. Traditional kamak (sweet cream cheese) comes as a delicate dollop on a slate plate with a piece of dyed green bread that looks like a sponge, smoked hams wrap dried fruits that melt in your mouth, salads look like art installations and meat stews are deconstructed at your table. It’s an impressive feast, and despite any calorie based forgivings, you’ll end up loving Serbian food by about course five. Everything Serbians like, they like in big portions, and the same goes for sweet treats. Baklava are the traditional after dinner sweets, but unlike the delicate morsels that you find in Arabic countries, in Belgrade they are weighty slabs of pastry, nuts

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013

Belgrade doesn’t just know how to eat. It knows how to drink. Raki, the national drink which comes as a sherry or a schnapps, is available everywhere in many flavours such as cherry, and has a worthy kick to it that would see off the coldest Eastern European chill. The city has a local reputation for being able to party with the best of them, and thankfully it has remained off the stag and hen do circuit, despite it’s relatively cheap beer and flotilla of bars and clubs. Flotilla is literally the right word too. Based along the Sava are the ‘spivs’, boats of all sizes that house a number of bars and clubs, catering for just about every musical genre. Head to the popular two level boat, Freestyler (, to kick off your clubbing adventure around midnight. While the boats are fine for summer weather, in winter the city’s nightlife makes use of the huge caves beneath the city, with venues changing from year to year. For a quieter drink or just to let the food settle, Sava Dock is a new riverside development that’s worth checking out. Formerly old warehouses, it now fields a range of bars and restaurants offering cocktails, wines and live music. Cantina de Frida ( would be our pick with a nod to Frida Khalo, it serves Spanish and South American inspired food and drink. For more a more historic drink head to Skadarlija, an area of cobbled streets, twee houses and shops, where the city’s liberal writers and thinkers used to gather. It’s more of a tourist trap now with restaurants offering pizzas, chips and lagers but the pretty area demonstrates a softer side to Belgrade, in amongst the fractious past.


Belgrade, Serbia Serbia is not yet a mainstream European destination, but the ingredients are there – from the heady nightlife to the fantastic local restaurants ESSENTIALS Getting there Flights to Belgrade leave from Dubai on flydubai and the flight takes around 5.5 hours (Dhs2,300; Getting around Belgrade has trams, buses and trolleybuses and single tickets can be bought at kiosks and on board. Taxis however aren’t expensive, most driver speak some level of English and once booked over the phone, taxis turn up astonishingly prompt, within three minutes (try Akademac taksi 00 381 2417 022).

9 THINGS TO DO TO WORK OFF ALL THAT FOOD... Fantastically located in the centre of Belgrade, just a short walk from the bars and restaurants of the cobbled streets of the Skadarska, Beograd Art Hotel has hip, minimalist décor and great views across the rest of the city (from Dhs500; Knez Mihailova 27;



You’d never know Belgrade’s best bar, the Federal Association of Globe Trotters, was there unless someone told you. This bohemian den – filled with sewing machine tables and 1930s portraits – serves great cocktails (cocktails from Dhs19 ; bul Despota Stefana 7/1;



Tito’s Mausoleum, part of Belgrade’s Museum of Yugoslav History, is the final resting place of ruler Josip Broz Tito. Gifts received in office includes embroidery and smoking pipes (admission Dhs7; Botic’eva 6; closed Mon; BARGAIN!

The village of Gu a (left), home of the Gu a Trumpet Festival, is a three-hour drive south from the capital Belgrade. There’s no charge for the festival, which also takes place throughout the village’s streets, but there are nominal vehicle and parking fees (daily car fees Dhs400;


Further reading Lonely Planet’s Eastern Europe (Dhs70) has a chapter on Serbia, and you can find more at Belgrade Tourism have a decent map app to download at

There’s plenty of camping space in the fields that ring the festival site (from Dhs25 per day). Or book a room in one of the many local homes which turn into guesthouses for the duration of the festival, via the Gu a website (five days’ b&b from Dhs1,000 per person;


Gu a is a 30-minute drive from some of Serbia’s most beautiful landmarks, like the deep valleys of the Ov ar-Kablar gorge. The region also has medieval monasteries, including the Unescolisted Studenica Monastery (guided trips from Dhs140;















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The city has over 6.5km of bike trails along the Danube and Sava rivers which are popular with tourists and locals in the summer. If you fancy a bit of pedal power book a four hour bike tour with I Bike Belgrade (Dhs63 per person including bike hire;


Haremluk (right), set in rooms that once housed a harem in the city of Vranje, has been repurposed as a restaurant and retains much original character. Meals – grilled meats and flatbreads – are simple but beautifully prepared (mains from Dhs50; Cara Dušana; 00 381 17 431 696).


There were once hopes that hot springs in Vranjska Banja would become a tourist spot. A hotel was built and is now empty – a monument to failed Communist ambition. A health centre remains, so you can enjoy the springs just as Tito intended (from Dhs96;


March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East



FUJAIRAH RESORTS Hit the east coast to soak up the sun, sea and snorkeling before the summer hits. Here are our suggestions for the best place to lay your head


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013

The Rotana Fujairah Resort & Spa is dwarved by the ancient Hajar mountains

FUJAIRAH ROTANA RESORT & SPA – THE FAMILY ONE The Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa is a handy retreat for families. The hotel’s demographic seems to be split into two groups – families from within the UAE or the Gulf who want to make a long weekend of it or tourists from Russia and Germany, who are after a longer sun-filled break. The friendly staff see many returning customers year after year. With its position between the Hajar Mountains and the Indian Ocean, the hotel is an attractive enough place to simply sit on the beach or by the pool. While there are plenty of activities to keep the kids or big kids occupied, (beach volleyball, tennis and other games including giant chess) it is also a place for the whole family to take part in a serious chill out. A

half-hour yoga class led by a bilingual teacher takes place daily on a lawn daily. Despite the class’s location right next to the bouncy castle, it is surprisingly easy to tune out the noise of the playing children and concentrate on your downward facing dog. Then, try the Zen Signature Massage, a treat a full body massage that uses warmed bamboo canes rolled across your back to ease out everyday aches and pains. GETTING STARTED The Rotana Fujairah Resort & Spa is in Al Aqah, 90 minutes from Dubai. (Dhs415 per night including breakfast; massages start from Dhs365; yoga classes free; free Wi-fi;

HIGH 5: FUJAIRAH Make sure you arrive in time for sundowners at Miramar Al Aqah


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013


MIRAMAR AL AQAH BEACH RESORT THE SNORKELING ONE A trip to Fujairah, even for just a night, can leave you feeling relaxed and at ease. Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort, sited a few minutes away from the popular Snoopy Island, is flanked by the Indian Ocean and has a mountainous backdrop, which makes a perfect setting for photo ops. Hotel rooms offer views of the mountains as well as Snoopy Island, lush date palm trees and the beach, and have modern Arabian-style interiors, complete with a cave like ceiling. For those looking for a relaxed getaway, begin the day with an appetising breakfast at Al Majlis, the all-day dining restaurant, try out the waffles and pancakes. Once done, make use of the hotel’s facilities such as the swimming pool, wellness centre (Jacuzzi, sauna and steam), archery, billiards, kids’ club and the Adam & Eve spa. We recommend the back, neck and shoulder massage that releases stress and tension in muscles, leaving you rejuvenated and revitalised. While there’s much to do in the hotel itself, one of the main selling points of the hotel is its range of water activities and easy access to Snoopy Island. Water babies or adventure junkies can try out the snorkeling trip. Swim in the ocean and be one with nature, as you float over coral reefs, parrot fish and various other marine life. If you’re lucky, you may even get a glimpse of a few turtles! Once done, relax on the beach, sip a cocktail or two and order a fresh platter of fruits from the Bahari beach bar. There’s nothing more relaxing than lazing around and taking a dip in the water at sunset. GETTING STARTED To get to Al Aqah take the E44 then the E102 towards Dibba (Dhs1,250 per night on half board basis; snorkeling from Dhs200 per person for one hour; Wi-fi Dhs45/per hour;

March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East



Major expansion of its watersports facilities in 2012 has made the Hilton Fujairah an appealing choice for divers and anyone keen to pack activities into their break. Partnering with Arabian Diver, the resort offers PADI tuition – from discover diving tasters, up to month-long Divemaster and rescue diving qualifications. Abundant marine life makes the local coves a perfect location: even snorkeling off the hotel’s private beach is worthwhile. Diving is accompanied by a full range of water-based activities, from banana boats and wakeboarding to fishing. Prices are reasonable: an hour’s waterskiing is Dhs150. More leisurely options include fishing trips (the hotel will cook your catch) and a popular sunset cruise. Back on land, there are two tennis courts, basketball and volleyball, plus a decent-sized gym. If you prefer to relax, the resort ticks the boxes too: heated pool and Nirvana Massage centre, children’s


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013

pool, playground and crèche. Relatively small, at just 104 rooms, the Hilton is a low-level and slightly quieter alternative to the region’s mega resorts. Its row of 12 chalets is ideal for families and groups, and rooms are comfortable and better-furnished than the hotel’s exterior initially suggests. For dining, the open air Breezes Beach Bar and Terrace is big plus: varied menu; relaxed vibe (including shisha section) and an ideal location for sunset drinks. The team can create a private tented area and set menu for special occasions. There’s also a pub with large screen sports and quiz nights, and a nightclub next to the main building. GETTING STARTED The hotel is in Fujairah city not Al Aqah, around two hours from Dubai (Dhs1,050; free Wi-fi; hilton. com/Fujairah).




Enjoy the clear waters of the Gulf of Oman for snorkeling or more active water pursuits

LE MERIDIEN AL AQAH THE FRIENDS ONE This number is pretty hard to miss. It’s the only high-rise building for miles on the Fujairah coast and as such enjoys the best views of the Indian Ocean and surrounding beach. Each room has an uninterrupted view of the sea and Fujairah’s rugged coastline, which is one of the hotel’s main standout features, and many rooms have balconies, to enjoy the scenery even more. Spacious and comfortable, the rooms have everything you’d expect from a five-star hotel, including a walk-in wardrobe. As well as spectacular views, those staying on the Royal Club floors (floor 15 and above) get free happy hour drinks at the 20th-floor Astros bar between 7pm-9pm. The hotel has a range of activities at

its watersports centre and an Al Boom scuba diving centre, which offers try-dives, scuba courses and day trips to Musandam and nearby wrecks. There’s also a mini golf course, tennis courts, table tennis, children’s and teens’ clubs and a great swimming pool with a swim-up pool bar. Guests are spoilt when it comes to dining. In addition to the main restaurant, Views, there are Italian, Thai and Indian options and a beach bar and grill. GETTING STARTED Dont’ forget to take your passport or ID card (Dhs1,250; free Wi-fi;

March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East



RADISSON BLU FUJAIRAH THE BEACH ONE There’s one constant at the Radisson Blu Resort in Fujairah, the pervasive sound of the Gulf of Oman. From the restaurants and pools, to the rooms and suites, the sound of waves follows you throughout your stay. All of the 257 rooms face the ocean and overlook the hazy mountains of Oman’s Musandam Peninsula, which punctuates the horizon. The architectural team has played to this aspect, designing the public spaces with floor-to-ceiling glass, elegantly blending nature and modernity and inviting the outside, inside. The resort proudly claims to having the largest private beach on the East coast, with white sands sprawling for half a kilometre, tightly hugged by emerald lawns. What’s pleasing is that the resort is spread across the length of the beach, so that even when it’s full (it was when we stayed), it doesn’t feel crowded. All rooms are equipped with what you’d expect from a five-star resort – well stocked minibar, LCD TV and a personal safe. Internet cables are provided in the rooms free of charge and Wi-fi is available in the public areas. The resort has four restaurants, three of which cater to a mainly European palette. A few Asian dishes are thrown into the mix for variety, but pastas, steaks and salads feature predominantly on most menus. Those wanting a more local experience can dine at Al Nokhada, which offers an à la carte spread focusing on fresh seafood with an Arabic twist. Curiously, the resort has a fur shop stocked with coats, shrugs and hats. Despite the heat, it was doing a brisk trade with Russian tourists when we visited; it’s refreshing to know that hundreds of minks didn’t die in vain. GETTING STARTED The Radisson Blu Fujairah is the first hotel in Al Aqah before the Le Meridien Al Aqah (from Dhs421 per room off peak, Dhs858 peak; free Wi-fi;


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013

HIGH 5: XXXXXXXXXXXX From the coast you can see Snoopy Island, so called because it looks like the lazy cartoon dog lying on his back



Can’t get away? Check out the latest TV, apps and books to keep you exploring C A I R O T O C O N S TA N T I N O P L E : F R A N C I S B E D F O R D ’ S P H OTO G R A P H S Sophie Gordon (Dhs210; The Royal Collection) In 1862, the art of photography was barely into its third decade when Francis Bedford was commissioned for a very special assignment. The 20-year-old Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Victoria and later to be crowned Edward VII, was due to set off on a royal gar peayr-cum-diplomatic tour around the eastern Mediterranean, then largely under the rule of the declining Ottoman empire. Bedford accompanied the prince along the coast of the Adriatic and onwards to Egypt, Jerusalem, Damascus, Constatinople and Greece, recording some of the earliest images taken of these ancient lands.

Prince of Wales and party among the ruins of Karnak, Egypt.




With the exception of Peter Rabbit and William Wordsworth, nobody’s more synonymous with the Lake District than Alfred Wainwright. The rambler spent a lifetime conquering its fells, partly to write his guides for walkers, partly to avoid an unhappy marriage back home. In her book, peppered with pub recommendations, anecdotes and pictures of misty peaks and craggy contours, Julia Bradbury pays tribute to him. Biographical accounts of his life are entertaining enough; however, like a lost group of teenage orienteerers, Bradbury’s own musings often ramble too far without clear direction. BEST FOR: Budding ramblers.

THE WORLD UNTIL YESTERDAY Jared Diamond (Dhs120; Penguin)

Jared Diamond tackles a subject close to his heart: life in traditional societies. Discussing topics such as conflict resolution and child-rearing amongst peoples from the Kalahari Bushmen to Papua New Guinean tribes, he compiles a captivating summary of diverse ways of living. The product of decades’ of living with traditional societies, the book offers insight into a much misunderstood swathe of contemporary human experience. It also illuminates our own lives, looking at the ways in which the first-world might benefit from these practices. BEST FOR: Seeing remote lands – and our own – with fresh eyes.


The latest work from polymath


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013




A new digital single lens mirrorless camera from Panasonic has been designed for travellers, with a dust-proof, rugged body packing some impressive features. Record continually ultra-high bitrate video in 72 Mbps (ALL-Intra) or 50 Mbps (IPB) and use a smartphone or tablet as a remote controller or


monitor with the camera’s in built Wi-fi. Never be disappointed with dull photos with the optimal balance of resolution and noise reduction which produces life-like rendering. RAW files can be transferred wirelessly to tablet or the LUMIX Cloud Sever meaning you can share, edit and stream your photos seamlessly.

Laptops used to weigh a ton, they were like high tech bricks. Toshiba’s new Portégé Z930 weighs just 1.12kg and has been designed with frequent travellers in mind. It features 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ i7 processors and full size ports and has a whopping six hours battery life. For on the move, it’s perfect for movies or


BLACKBERRY Z10 (Dhs2,599;

The updated version of Samsung’s popular Galaxy – the large phone that is also a small tablet – comes with plenty of extra features. It’s now possible to split the screen to browse the web whilst you have other programmes open, which increases the day to day functionality no end. The phone’s become sleeker and slimmer, and more in line with the S3 range than before and the battery life, which was an issue, especially if you’re not near regular power sources, has been improved. With the unique S Pen and the large screen for streaming content, the Note II could be answer to ditching the heavy and breakable iPad.

So the attempt to save the Blackberry, which everywhere other than the Middle East, has become long suffering, has arrived. Longer and thinner in line with Apple and Samsung, the large screen will appease people still using older style versions, but the functionality is difficult. With no buttons, you rely almost totally on touch sensors to access different options but things aren’t always where you would expect them to be, although like any new system, this will get easier over time. For those that loved the focus on emails and the qwerty buttons this will be a hard transition but the generous screen, decent camera and full HD video recording mean Blackberry is now a lot more fun.

music with inbuilt SRS Premium Sound 3DTM. Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) and Bluetooth® 4.0 technology will keep you connected seamlessly as well. If you’re not going to go down the tablet route and still want a traditional laptop, you could do a lot worse than this little beauty.

March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East



ONLINE EXHIBITION This miniature amphora, and earrings showing the Greek god Eros astride a goat, date from the 2nd–1st century BC. They are among 250 objects unearthed during archaeological digs and now featured in an exhibition exploring Bahrain’s funerary traditions. Tylos: The Journey Beyond Life is currently at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia. Explore more at



SeatID Although we’re not so sure on the morality of this app, or how well it work long term, we have to admit we love the idea. SeatID lets you choose your seat on a plane based on other people’s (and your) social preferences, so in theory this might be a smart way to avoid that crying child that is plonked next to you just before take off. As much as you can try and avoid certain people, more positively you can also choose to sit next to someone because you have work or hobbies in common. Great if you love to chat away on flights but if you like to zone out, indulge in movies and generally be anti-social, this might be your idea of hell. In the interests of privacy, the app will only connect with people who have opted in and it uses Linked In, Facebook and other sites to get an idea of your ideal person.





Want to explore the world, travel with family and friends, and discover new cuisines and cultures, but on a tight budget? is a one-stop travel destination website, with the best offers on hotels and flights. With fairly simple to use options, choose flights by price range, carriers and layover options. The all new fare alert feature is great for those who want to get recommendations on when to book for the most affordable fares. Maps, guides, sights, restaurants, nightlife and shops to visit are also available on the Small World tab on the website. Prepare your own itinerary, and enjoy a fun-filled, affordable holiday.

If you’ve ever seen the movie The Holiday and wondered how to facilitate a home swap, then this website is definitely your go-to. Home base holidays helps people arrange home exchange vacations, so that they can get a piece of home away from home and save money while on vacation. The easy to surf website allows you to see homes and listings in your desired destination, read testimonials, view last minute offers, and swat up on all you need to know before signing up. With five easy stages to follow, it’s ideal for families looking to save on hotel bills, who have pets and plants to be looked after; and prefer living in a fully furnished house.

Go back in time and immerse yourself in history, as you plan your travels and surf through a selection of historical sites in 13 cities in Germany. Germany has long been a centre of art, culture and history, so surf through the events happening in various cities. Tour packages are also available for those looking for a complete guided experience. Authentic options await those who check out the blog on the website to find undiscovered highlights including great shopping, food and accommodation in each city. So if you’re planning a trip to Germany anytime soon, make use of the knowledgeable website to create an individual schedule.

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013


MINI GUIDES Six themed guides to take on the perfect short break

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Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March 2013

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March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East




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Traditional KAVANAGH’S

A cosy music session underway at O’Donoghue’s


DRINKING IN DUBLIN The best way to truly understand Dublin and its people is to cross a pub’s welcoming threshold and settle in for a night of raucous conversations, impromptu sing-songs and plenty of pints of black velvet.


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O’DONOGHUE’S Situated in Georgian Dublin, O’Donoghue’s is the most renowned traditional music bar in the city, and where well-known folk group the Dubliners started out in the 1960s. The walls, adorned with photographs of the musicians who have played here, demonstrate the heritage of its musical credentials. Sessions begin at 9pm every night and on summer evenings people spill out into the courtyard (free; pint of beer from Dhs22.50; 15 Merrion Row;

THE LONG HALL With wildly ornate Victorian woodwork, mirrors and chandeliers, The Long Hall in SoDa (South of Dame St) is one of the city’s most beautiful and best-loved pubs. From muskcoloured walls to mirrored columns behind the bar, it’s elegantly dingy. The bartenders are experts in their craft, an increasingly rare sight in Dublin these days (00 353 1 475 1590; 51 South Great George’s St; pint of Guinness £3.50).

The Long Hall possesses all the charm of old Dublin

STAG’S T HEAD Built in 1770 and remodelled in 1895 at the height of Victorian opulence, this boozer has not changed a bit since then. It’s so picturesque that it has featured in many films and even in a postage-stamp series. True to its name, you’ll find mounted stags’ heads, plus stained glass, chandeliers and carved wood – the fitters who worked here also worked on local churches (00 353 1 679 3687; 1 Dame Ct; pint of Guinness £3.90).

Modern bars

Musical If you want to hear true Irish folk music, head for M Hughes. Off the beaten track, this authentic pub hosts nightly sessions that often result in a closed door, that is, they go on long past the official closing time. Expect a decent pint, frenzied set-dancing and shaggy bearded locals (free; 20 Chancery Street; no food in the evenings; pint of beer Dhs19 00 353 1 872 6540).

Founded in 1833 by John Kavanagh and still in the family, this pub has hardly changed. Adjacent to Glasnevin Cemetery, it’s also known as Gravediggers after the undertakers who had a secret serving hatch so that they could drink on the job. In summer the square is full of Guinness drinkers basking in the sun (00 353 1 830 7978; 1 Prospect Square; pint of Guinness £3.50).

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Don’t be fooled by the unassuming exterior of Cobblestone

COBBLESTON COBBLESTONE T E Another pub whose walls talk is Cobblestone, on the main square in Smithfield. Rising stars and tried-and-tested old hands of the traditional folk scene play sessions nightly in the front bar until everyone’s turfed out of the door. Look online for gig listings at the Back Room (downstairs), which hosts intimate gigs where you are unlikely to be more than a foot away from the musicians (no food served; back room gigs Dhs40; 77 North King St;

Co-owned by singer Huey from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals, the Dice Bar in Smithfield looks very New York, Lower East Side. Its blackand-red-painted interior, dripping candles and distressed seating, combined with rocking DJs, make it a magnet for Dublin’s beatnik crowds. They also brew their own beer (cocktails Dhs30; 93-94 Benburb St;


The clean lines of the Penthouse bar at The Clarendon


Dublin’s original café-bar draws hip young locals and clued-up visitors. With wooden floors and brick walls, it’s as much a daytime haunt for a latte as a watering hole by night. Eclectic music during the week and DJs at the weekends help it thrive into the early hours (admission Dhs32.50 after 10pm on Weds & Thurs, Dhs40 on Sat & Sun; cocktails from Dhs35; 11 South Great George’s St;

The Clarendon is spread across three floors, each with its own bar. There’s a beer garden and a Penthouse bar with floor-toceiling windows – which makes a bright change to some of Dublin’s dingier traditional pubs. The main draw though is the bar food: fishcakes, burgers and a tapas menu from 3pm (cocktails from Dhs40, mains from Dhs40; 30 Clarendon St;


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MINI GUIDE Drinking in Dublin Drinking

TRANSPORT R Fly direct from Abu Dhabi on Etihad Airways (from Dhs3,900; You can also get the ferry from the Isle of Man, Liverpool and Holyhead in the UK (from Dhs300; Numerous buses link the airport to the city (singles Dhs25), just six miles away. Getting around the city is best done on foot or by bike – the city’s tourist heart is very compact.

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T The Grafton Guesthouse, a slightly offbeat b&b in a Gothic-style building, gets the nod in all three key categories: location, price and style. It offers the traditional, friendly features of a b&b (including a terrific breakfast), coupled with a funky design – check out the psychedelic wallpaper. It’s hard to beat this price (from Dhs275; 26-27 South Great George’s St;


The know-how DUBLIN’S PUB CRAWLS CRAWL A S Dublin Literary Pub Crawl

A muted palette aids a goodnight’s sleep at Number 31

A short train ride from the city, in Ballsbridge, you’ll find the exquisite Aberdeen Lodge. The owners ensure you feel at home and service is personalised. Most rooms have a four-poster or brass bed (from Dhs600; 53-55 Park Avenue;; ). In the Merrion Square district, Number 31 is a distinctive hotel split between a mews and the main house. Its rooms are furnished with French antiques (superior room from Dhs875; 31 Leeson Close;

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Immerse yourself in Dublin’s literary heritage on this evening tour, which takes you to famous haunts that inspired, or were frequented by, the likes of James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde and WB Yeats. Actors recite extracts from Irish literature, while you sink a pint and learn about the lives of the writers (7.30pm, approx 2¼ hrs; Dhs50;

Dublin Musical Pub Crawl Discover the wild evolution of Irish music while visiting some good old boozers on this Dublin pub crawl. Led by professional musicians, you’ll visit historic pubs and hear the story of Irish music and its influences on modern world music as the craic takes places around you (7.30pm, approx 2½ hours; Apr-Oct; Dhs50;

TOP TIP You may not be able to take home the true taste of a pint of Black Gold but there’s no harm in exporting a rare Irish whiskey. Head to the Celtic Whiskey Shop just off St Stephen’s Green for spirits and for tasting evenings (

FURTHER FURTHE R R READING Lonely Planet’s Dublin (Dhs65) is a guide to the city, while Dublin Encounter (Dhs40) is good for short breaks. Download chapters of the Dublin guide from (Dhs15). Pubs of Ireland: Dublin by MD Healy is a photo book available on Kindle (Dhs10). James Joyce’s Ulysses (Dhs10; Wordsworth Classics) and Roddy Doyle’s The Deportees (Dhs40 Vintage) give a rich insight into Dublin.


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WINTER ACTIVITIES IN VALAIS The mighty Matterhorn put this corner of southern Switzerland on the map, but now it’s home to ski and snowboard enthusiasts, and more leisurely pursuits besides.

Other winter sports SNOWBOARDING Hemmed in by a magnificent amphitheatre of 13 implacable peaks over 4,000m, Saas Fee is a stylish, car-free resort. Its slopes are snow-sure and attract snowboarders who come for the deep powder and big air. In winter the resort maintains a half-pipe and boarders head lower down the slopes at Morenia. A three-hour course costs Dhs200 (

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CLIMBING Zermatt is a holy grail of mountaineering. Rock climbers have been successfully reaching the 4,478m summit of the mighty Matterhorn since 1865. You’ll need to be an experienced climber to take it on, so if you’re after something a little less daunting, try your hand at ice climbing (beginners’ 4–5 hour session Dhs600) or fixed rope climbing on a gorge adventure (3–4 hour session Dhs450), courtesy of the Zermatt Alpin Center (

Skiing in the Aletsch Arena ski area, with its 65 miles of easy or intermediate ski runs, is utterly beautiful, with some runs skirting the Aletsch Glacier. Base yourself in the twin villages of Bettmeralp and Riederalp, only accessible by cable car, where kids are pulled around in traditional sledges and skis are the best way to get to the supermarket (one-day ski pass Dhs200;

The Aletsch Arena is a great introduction to the Swiss Alps



Champéry is a beautiful resort with cosy log chalets and friendly locals. But for adrenalin junkies it means just one thing – the Swiss Wall at Chavanette, a hell-forleather mogul run – one of the world’s toughest. An orange run (outside the usual blue to black rating), it’s a 400m drop and in places the incline is 50 per cent, so is only for experienced skiers (one-day pass for Portes du Soleil ski area Dhs175; telechampery. ch).

Verbier is all things to all people – from schnapps-fuelled high jinks to VIP lounges, from burgers to a Michelin star. The skiing, which is billed as some of Europe’s finest, also offers plenty of variety. Comprising a whopping 255 miles of pistes and 94 ski lifts, the resort sits at the heart of the Quatre Vallées and has varied terrain and some of the best off-piste powder in Switzerland (regional day ski pass Dhs230:

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Get an eagle-eye view of the longest glacier in the Alps

PARAGLIDING Whenever there’s a beautiful breeze and a mountain, there’s tandem paragliding in Switzerland. Bordering on the icy realms of the Aletsch Glacier – the longest and most voluminous glacier in the European Alps – the resort of Fiescheralp is a prime spot to catch thermals. Strap into your harness, take a run, jump and be blown away by a 14 mile-long swirl of deeply crevassed ice (see for flight schools; from Dhs525 for a 30-minute tandem flight).

Up until the 1950s St Bernard dogs were used to rescue lost souls in the snow on the Col du Grand St Bernard. Now Fondation Barry has come up with a master plan – you can take one out for a 1½-hour walk, and a stroke, among Alpine scenery, or along the vineyard-clad Chemin du Vignoble from the in Martigny (winter walks Dhs150;

GLACIER PARADISE Views from Zermatt’s cable cars and gondolas are remarkable but the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise tops them all. Ride Europe’s highest-altitude cable car up to 3,883m and gawp at 14 glaciers and 38 mountain peaks. Don’t miss the Glacier Palace – an ice palace with glittering sculptures and a glacier crevasse to walk through (lift Dhs325 return, Glacier Palace Dhs27;

The Matterhorn is a constant companion in Zermatt

THERMAL SPA P Take to the waters at Leukerbad, Europe’s largest thermal spa resort. Lindner Alpentherme is the luxurious choice – these baths have two warm pools (one inside, one out) with whirlpools, jets and a mountain view you won’t be able to get enough of. To lounge in the traditional Valais Sauna Village or the Roman-Irish bath you’ll need to go starkers (thermal bathsDhs86 for three hours;


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MINI GUIDE Winter activities in Valais V Sights & Activities

TRANSPORT R Fly KLM to Geneva direct (from Dhs2,960; or with Qatar Airways stopping in Doha (from Dhs2,400; qatarairways. com). Check for details of how to take trains to Swiss ski resorts as an alternative to flights. Rail travel within Switzerland is of course efficient but expensive; consider buying a Swiss travel pass for unlimited travel on trains, buses and boats, plus free museum entry. You can buy a pass at stc. or at larger train stations in Switzerland (eight-day pass Dhs1,280).

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T If you want to splurge on ski passes in Verbier and save on accommodation, Les Touristes is your best bet. This rustic chalet has a restaurant which does a mean fondue (; doubles with bathroom from Dhs600). In the heart of Saas Fee, the country-style Sunstar Hotel


The know-how SCENIC JOURNEYS In Switzerland the views invariably make the journey itself the destination:

The Glacier Express

Dream high-altitude dreams at the Kulmhotel Gornergrat

Beau-Site is a beautiful hotel from 1893. In winter nothing beats the fireplace bar or the spa’s steam baths, grotto-like pool and saunas (from Dhs1,000; Obere Dorfstrasse 30; saasfee.sunstar. ch). Comfortably Switzerland’s highest hotel, the Kulmhotel Gornergrat is a late 19thcentury stone redoubt at 3,100m and reached by cog train, with magical views of the Matterhorn and other peaks (from Dhs1,150

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One of the world’s legendary train rides, linking two glitzy Alpine resorts – Zermatt and St Moritz – via 91 tunnels and 291 bridges. The floor-toceiling windows give cinematic shots of proud peaks, glistening Alpine lakes and glacial ravines (

Golden Pass Line Panoramic train coaches travel between Lucerne and Montreux (

Willhelm Tell Express A 2-hour cruise across Lake Lucerne to Flüelen, from where a train winds its way to Locarno (williamtellexpress. ch).

The Palm Express Bus rides along the Engadine Valley and the balmy Lake Lugano (

TOP TIP Switzerland and skiing are both expensive. For deals and packages, check out and Prebook ski and snowboard hire at or, both of which offer discounts on shop rental prices.

FURTHER FURT R HER READING Lonely Planet’s Switzerland (Dhs80) and Discover Switzerland d (Dhs75) both cover the region.The region. The Valais V chapter from the former is available to download at (Dhs15). You can find lots of information on activities at Johanna Spyri’s sentimental favourite Heidi is the most famous Swiss novel set in the Swiss Alps. Much of Walt Disney’s Third Man on the Mountain was shot in Zermatt.


Essentials in Valais V

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Venice’s centrepiece, V the Grand Canal


EATING IN VENICE Visitors have long been enthralled by Venice’s floating palaces and fabulous art. But its seafood-rich lagoon and garden islands also provide a taste of Venetian life – from cicheti (tapas) and fish dishes to rich, creamy gelati.


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OSTARIA T DAI Z ZEMEI EMEI The zemei (twins) who run this San Polo corner joint create small meals with outsized imagination: octopus salad with marinated rocket, duck breast drizzled with truffle oil, and crostini loaded with radicchio, speck and gorgonzola. Arrive early, grab a stool and consult the twin gourmet masterminds Giovanni and Franco for ideal wine pairings (cicheti from Dhs6; closed Tues; Ruga Vecchia San Giovanni, San Polo 1045b;

RISTORANTE RISTORAN T TE AI DO FFARAI This neighbourhood restaurant in Dorsoduro was once one of the oldest wine bars in Venice; now a small restaurant, regulars pack into the wood-panelled room hung with football scarves. Try the tris di saor sarde, scampi e sogliole) or the tasty pasta with clams, mussels and prawns (mains from Dhs60; closed Sun; Calle del Cappeller, Dorsoduro 3278; 00 39 041 277 03 69).

Homemade pasta with sardines, onions and basil sauce at Venissa V

VENISSA Take the vaporetto to Mazzorbo – a garden island that’s home to small hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant. Chef Paola Budel creates magical dishes with produce from the lagoon, such as a main of minuscule whole octopi served on fava bean purée. Bellisimo! Sit out on the patio overlooking the pretty vineyard (meals from Dhs250; closed Mon and Dec–Feb; Fondamenta di Santa Carerina 3;

Best for gelato

Best for cicheti Francesco and his son Matteo invent Venice’s best cicheti with Rialto market finds. On Mondays when the pescaria is closed, Francesco might wrap asparagus in rare beef with mustard; when Saturday’s seafood haul arrives, Matteo might create tuna tartare with strawberries and balsamic (cicheti from Dhs6; closed Sun and Jul & Aug; Calle Arco, San Polo 436; 00 39 041 520 56 66 ).

Alongside the Rialto fish market, this deli-diner specialises in crudi (Venetian-style sushi) and seafood salads. Grab a stool and a glass of wine with folpetti (baby octopus) salad, or enjoy yours dockside along the Grand Canal. Saturday lunchtimes are all about the fish risotto (fish salads from Dhs35; closed Sun & Mon; Rialto Pescheria, San Polo 319;;).

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Cicheti on display in the popular Ostaria Dai Zemei

ZENZERO You could make several trips a day to café-bar Zenzero, one of the best quick eats in Venice. Start with a super-strength espresso with a freshly baked pastry – the profiteroles are good – lunch on filling cicheti such as fresh-baked wholegrain croissants with mortadella and pistachio salsa, and return at sundown for an aperitivo in the square (sandwiches from Dhs6.50; closed Sat eve and Sun; Campo Santa Marina, Castello 5902a;

Off the beaten track in Santa Croce, this tiny, hole-in-the-wall shop sells organic gelato in gourmet flavours invented on site by owner Carlo Pistacchi. These include cinnamon, fig, tangy Sicilian lemon, artichoke and the popular house-roasted local pistachio (gelato from Dhs4; 12pm–8pm daily; Calle Larga dei Bari, Santa Croce 1159; 00 39 0 41 71 52 11).


Over 24 flavours of ice cream tempt passers by at Suso


With three branches in Venice, outlets in Italy and stores in the US and Japan, Grom’s use of seasonal, Fairtrade ingredients has made it famous. Choose flavours such as bacio (chocolate with hazelnuts), granita siciliana (slushy ice), or the flavour of the month, from mango to panettone (from Dhs10; 11am–11pm daily; Strada Nuova, Cannaregio 3844;

At some point in Venice you’ll find yourself wedged among the throngs at Rialto Bridge – make for Suso for locally made creamy gelato. The signature ‘doge’ – mascarpone laced with fig sauce and chocolate-covered almonds – has restorative powers. Or make aa cone of hazelnut and dark chocolate dinner (from Dhs8; 10am–10pm daily; Calle della Bissa, San Marco 5453;


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MINI GUIDE Eating in Venice V Eating

TRANSPORT R Fly direct from Dubai on Emirates (from Dhs3,453; or via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines (Dhs2,638; Bus services link both airports with Venice’s Piazzale Roma (singles £5; The Alilaguna ferry runs from Marco Polo airport (singles £12; and ATVO’s Eurobus connects to Treviso (singles £6; The city’s main public transport is the vaporetto (singles £5, 24-hour ticket £16;

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T 19th-century Palazzo Soderini has minimalist décor and is a welcome reprieve from the visual onslaught of Venice. Take breakfast in the pretty internal courtyard (from Dhs325; Campo di Bandiera e Moro, Castello 3611; palazzo;). The opulence of four-star Palazzo Abadessa is befitting of


The know-how WHAT’S WHAT A ’S ON THE MENU? Be sure to try these Venetian specialities during your stay in the floating city:

Bigoli in salsa Thick wheat pasta in an onion, anchovy and parsley sauce.


Rooms fit for a king at the R decadent Hotel Palazzo Abadessa

A dish of raw meat sliced thinly. In Venice, this is typically raw beef with a sauce of crushed tomato, cream, mustard and Worcestershire sauce..

Fegato alla veneziana a 16th-century palace. Rooms are furnished with antiques and Murano glass lamps. Large rooms have frescoed ceilings and canal views (from Dhs600; Calle Priuli, Cannaregio 4011; Palazzo Barbarigo is Venice’s splashiest design hotel. The 18 rooms get modern, low-key luxury just right, with sumptuous velvets and curvaceous furniture. Breakfast is a real treat (from Dhs1,000; Canal Grande, San Polo 2765; palazzo

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Strips of pan-roasted liver with browned onion and red wine.

Frittura Plate of fried seafood (the test of any Venetian chef).

Sarde in saor Venetian-style sardines in an onion marinade (pictured).

Sepe al nero Cuttlefish in its own

TOP TIP The Rialto markets are closed on Sundays (and Mondays for the pescaria), so many of the best restaurants – those that use fresh ingredients – also close. Instead, pack a picnic and head to the Lido beaches, Biennale gardens or the

FURTHER FURTHE R R READING Lonely Planet’s Venice & the Veneto (£12.99) has extensive coverage of the city, while Venice Encounter (Dhs65) is ideal for short trips. You can download chapters of the Venice & the Veneto guide from (Dhs15). Michela Scibilia’s Venice Osterie is regarded the best dining guide and is available in bookshops (Dhs100; Vianello Libri). Some of her recommendations are also available on her app TapVenice T Tap Venice (Dhs10). V


Venice essentials V

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The natural world ÎLE AUX AIGRETTES

The beaches of Île aux Cerfs are among the best in Mauritius


COASTAL MAURITIUS Sapphire waters and powder-white beaches have made it a hit with honeymooners, but Mauritius is much more than just a fly-andflop destination. Discover an island that is diverse in both landscape and culture.


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LES LAT LATANIERS ATANIERS BLEUS Tables d’hôtes – privately hosted meals at guesthouses – offer an insight into local life. Les Lataniers Bleus offers island hospitality at its finest. The communal evening meal takes place on the veranda, where host Josette MarchalVexlard serves up excellent seafood and conversation. Call on the day, as residential guests are given priority (three-course meal with aperitif Dhs80; Black River; Mon–Fri;

FLIC EN FLAC Some of the best dive sites on the island can be found just beyond the village of Flic en Flac, where shallow waters suddenly give way to the deep. The most popular site is La Cathédrale, with its stone arches and cavern. Also nearby is the Rempart Serpent, a sinuous strip of submerged rock that attracts scorpion fish, moray eels and lionfish. Top local operator Sun Divers offers daily dives (from Dhs175 with equipment;

The boomerang triggerfish is one of Mauritius’s reef inhabitants

TAMARIN BEACH Once mainly a gathering place for surfers, this sandy cove is now better known for its daily visits from friendly pods of bottlenose and spinner dolphins. There are lots of tours offering the chance to travel out by boat and swim with the gentle beasts, choose a sustainable operator. JP Henry Charters offers highly recommended 1½-hour dolphin trips on speedboat or catamaran (tours Dhs150;


Food Mauritius’s capital can feel overwhelming with its honking horns and cajoling vendors, but its alleyways conceal some of the island’s best places to eat. The Central Market is full of stalls peddling street food such as gâteaux piments (chilli cakes) and dhal puri (thin pancakes served with spicy sauce), while a portion of honey-glazed pork is around Dhs3 in Chinatown.

A nature reserve on an island just offshore, this popular ecotourism destination preserves very rare remnants of the coastal forests of Mauritius and shelters unique wildlife, such as ebony trees, wild flora, pink pigeons and Aldabra giant tortoises. Daily tours leave from the mainland. Book in advance (admission from Dhs80;

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Prawns flavoured with wasabi from the Fish and Rhum Shack

FISH AND RHUM SHACK There are many opportunities to dine by the sea in Mauritius, but this beachside barbecue, held one or two evenings a week at the luxurious Shanti Maurice resort, is one of the best, and far from humble. Island fish, game and meat are grilled on request and served with salads and herbs picked from the hotel’s garden, alongside local beer and cocktails made with Mauritian rum (Bel Ombre; dinner Dhs425;; ).

Beautiful stretches of sandy beach have made this area a favoured spot for private villas and chambres d’hôtes (b&bs). At weekends Blue Bay beach can be crowded with picnicking locals, but during the week it is alluringly quiet. Blue Bay has been given marine park status to protect its corals, which means high-speed watercraft are banned.


Le Morne was often a refuge for escaped slaves before 1835


Shaped like a hammerhead shark, this peninsula has some of the island’s best beaches and a particular resonance in Mauritian culture. According to legend, in the early 19th century a group of escaped slaves – ignorant of the fact that slavery had recently been abolished – jumped to their death when they spotted a group of soldiers making their way up the cliff. Hence ‘Le Morne’ (the mournful one).

This good-looking offshore island was once populated mostly by stags, imported for hunting from Java, but now it lures plenty of visitors. With more than 2½ miles of sand to choose from, there’s room for everyone to find their beach. Lots of operators in mainland Trou d’Eau Douce offer a water-taxi service for Dhs35 a round-trip (try Bateaux Vicky on 00 230 754 5597).


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MINI GUIDE Coastal Mauritius Sights & Activities

TRANSPORT R Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, near Mahébourg, is mainland Mauritius’s only airport. Fly there direct on Air Mauritus (from Dhs4,978; Island taxis are available from the airport, but by far the easiest way to get around under your own steam is to hire a car (from Dhs175 per day; There’s also a fairly reliable bus network – the National Transport Authority has details of routes (fares from Dhs1.5;

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T Pointe d’Esny has a great selection of guesthouses, and L’Oiseau du Paradis is the pick of the bunch. Rooms are painted in a tropical palette and feature an eclectic mix of traditional wooden furniture. Guests have access to the nearby beach via the owner’s private villa over the road (from Dhs225; Pointe d’Esny;


The know-how UNDERSTANDING T MAURITIAN CULTURE Mauritius’s population is made up of five major groups:

Indo-Mauritians (68%) Descended from Indian labourers brought to the island to work the sugarcane fields.

Creole Mauritians (27%) More than 1,000 palm trees surround the huts at La Pirogue

Wickedly stylish without the price tag, the Récif Attitude gives on to a relatively undeveloped beach, and has plenty of pillowstrewn nooks for lounging (from Dhs500; Pointe aux Piments; La Pirogue is a cluster of hut-villas arranged along 500m of sandy beach. Rooms open out onto a palm-filled grove and the seaside restaurant hosts regular barbecues (from Dhs1,150 half board; Flic en Flac; lapirogue. com).

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Where to stay

Descendants of African slaves, with varying amounts of European ancestry.

Sino-Mauritians (3%) Of Chinese descent; mostly came to the island as selfemployed entrepreneurs.

Franco-Mauritians (1%) Descendants of the grand blancs (rich whites), who still own many big businesses.

South A African ex-pats (1%) The iisland’s Th l d’ mostt recent settlers.

TOP TIP Mauritians have a reputation for tolerance, but do keep swimwear for the beach: dressing skimpily may cause offence. Nude bathing is forbidden, and while women going topless is tolerated at some hotel pools, it’s not OK on beaches. p

FURTHER FURT R HER READING Lonely Planet’s Mauritius, Réunion & Seychelles (Dhs85) offers thorough insight and coverage of Mauritius and some of its neighbouring islands. Alternatively, you can download the Mauritius chapter of the guide from (Dhs15). The Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority provides additional information to help with planning a trip (


Mauritius essentials


Religious buildings R AYA A AY YA SOFYA

The Blue Mosque is one of the jewels of Ottoman architecture


HISTORIC ISTANBUL The city where Europe meets Asia has long played host to history on an epic scale. From Byzantine churches to Ottoman palaces, its well-preserved heritage is still very present on a visit to Turkey’s largest city.

Old City monuments BASILICA CISTERN This magnificent underground reservoir has 336 columns arranged in 12 rows beneath a vast vaulted ceiling. The effect is striking: a symmetrical, softly lit forest of pillars reflected in a mirror of water below. Walk through on raised wooden boards while ghostly carp flit through the waters below (admission Dhs17.50; Yerebatan Caddesi 13;

TOPKAPI T TO PKAPI PA PALACE P LACE Home to the ruling sultans of the Ottoman Empire from the 1460s to the 1850s, this sprawling palace encompasses richly decorated chambers, tile-lined pleasure pavilions overlooking the Bosphorus and the private world of the harem. Relics of the dynasty’s intrigue excess abound, among them lavish costumes and a jewel-encrusted dagger (admission Dhs45, plus Dhs25 for harem; Topkapı Sarayı; closed Tue;

Commissioned by the Byzantine emperor Justinian in 532 AD, this church was Christendom’s crowning jewel for a millennium. It became a mosque under the Ottomans and is now a museum. A vast, seemingly unsupported dome crowns stained-glass windows that bathe it in ethereal light (admission Dhs45; Ayasofya Sq; closed Mon; ayasofyamuzesi.

Aya Sofya is the Turkish name for A Hagia Sophia, or ‘Holy Wisdom’

BLUE MOSQUE In the 1600s, Sultan Ahmed I set out to build a mosque to surpass Aya Sofya. He came close: the curvaceous exterior of the Blue Mosque (formally, Sultanahmet Mosque) and its six minarets (a record at the time) dominate the Old City skyline. The interior features stained glass, marble latticework and tens of thousands of fine blue tiles; after which the mosque is named (Hippodrome; closed to visitors at prayer times; donation requested).

SÜLEYMANIYE MOSQUE This 16th-century mosque atop one of the city’s seven hills was commissioned by the richest and most powerful of sultans, Süleyman the Manificent, and certainly lives up to its patron’s name. Designed by Mimar Sinan, the most renowned of all imperial architects, its spacious, light-filled interior is patterned with Iznik tiles and stained glass windows (Prof Sıddık Sami Onar Caddesi; donation requested).

Leisure buildings ÇEMBERLITA T HAMAMI

Prepare to bargain hard at the venerable Grand Bazaar

GRAND BAZAAR Founded more than 500 years ago by Mehmet II, Istanbul’s first Ottoman ruler, the Grand Bazaar has grown from humble origins (one small warehouse) into one of the most famous souqs in the world. A covered city within a city, its miles of alleyways are lined with over 4,000 shops stacked with everything from antiques and carpets to Turkish delight. Its Old Book Bazaar dates back to Byzantine times (8.30am-7pm; closed Sun; Kapalı Çar ı;

This 16th-century Turkish bath is one of the city’s most beautiful. Designed by the architect Sinan, it has separate baths for men and women, with bathing basins, private cubicles and an ornate, domed chamber at its centre. Treatments include exfoliating scrubs and oil massages (from Dhs80; Vezirhan Caddesi 8


Aubergines and rice recall Ottoman recipes at Asitane


The elegant Zihni bar inhabits a century-old apartment in the Ni anta ı district, designed by Vedat Tek, famed for his ornate Ottoman-style buildings. The whole place is a time-warp of wood panelling, tiled alcoves, ornate ceilings and stained glass, and makes for an evocative place for a cocktail (glass of wine from Dhs30 Vali Kona ı Cadesi 39; closed Sun & May–Sep; zihnibar. biz).

Tucked away in the district of Fatih, this elegant courtyard restaurant offers a taste of Ottoman imperial cuisine. Its team have spent decades hunting down historic recipes. From cinnamon-dusted chicken to vine leaves stuffed with sour cherries, the fruits of their labours are truly fit for a sultan’s table (mains from Dhs45; Kariye Camii Sokak 6;


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MINI GUIDE Historic Istanbul Shopping

TRANSPORT R Fly to Istanbul direct on Turkish Airlines (Dhs1,670; The most enjoyable way to get around is via one of numerous ferry routes. For details of timetables and fares, see (fares from Dhs10). Between them, the city’s handful of metro, train, tram and light rail lines serve a sizeable area. The basic fare across public transport is Dhs2.5, but the Istanbulkart smart card gives discounts ( Taxis are another cheap way to get around, with a Dhs4.5 flagfall then Dhs3 per kilometre.

WHERE TO T STAY STA TAY The Hotel Sari Konak is full of historic touches such as antiques, etchings and embroideries. Relax by the courtyard fountain, or take in city views from the rooftop terrace (from Dhs400; Mimar Mehmet Aga Caddesi 42–46; Next to Galata Tower, Anemon


Sights & Activities

Empires have come and gone in this city. Here is a quick primer:

BYZANTIUM A Greek colony founded in 657 BC, it was taken over by the Romans in 196 AD.


Galata features elegant rooms with painted ceilings and an opulent foyer. The glass-walled rooftop restaurant offers splendid views (Dh600; cnr Galata Meydani & Büyükhendek Caddesi; The 120-year-old, recently renovated Pera Palace Hotel has been the choice of famous travellers, most notably Agatha Christie. The hotel has a sense of luxury in its grand public spaces (from Dhs900; Mesrutiyet Caddesi 52;

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Where to stay


The Pera Palace was a favourite with Orient Express passengers


Emperor Constantine the Great made Byzantium his capital in 330 AD and the city was later renamed in his honour. It was the seat of Byzantine rulers for most of the next 1,100 years.

OTTOMAN OTTO T MAN ERA In 1453, the city fell to the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II, ushering in Turkish rule.

TURKISH REPUBLIC BLIC Nationalist leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (right), overthrew the sultan in 1922, and an nd the capital moved d to Ankara.

TOP TIP The Museum Pass Istanbul is valid for 72 hours, and provides queue-free admission to the Aya Sofya, Topkapı Palace, Chora Church and some of the best museums, plus a range of discounts (Dhs125; muze.

FURTHER FURTHE R R READING Lonely Planet’s Istanbul (Dhs75) is a comprehensive guide to the city, including restaurants and hotels, while Istanbul Encounter (Dhs40) is tailored to shorter vistis. The Cornucopia magazine blog covers history and culture in the city ( For literature, try Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk’s novel My Name is Red (Dhs45; Faber and Faber), a murder-mystery set in 16th-century Istanbul.


Istanbul essentials


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The World Heritagelisted landscape of Parque Nacional del Teide



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Leave the beach resorts behind to experience firsthand some of the natural highlights on three of these seven volcanic islands.

At 3,718m, El Teide is the highest peak in the Canary Islands. The rock formations, colourful craters and volcanic moonscapes of its national park make for dramatic hiking. The undoubted highlight is a tough five-hour trek to the summit. You can enjoy the same views, with less effort, by taking a cable car up (cable car Dhs100;



The sea off the resort town of Los Gigantes is the best place for diving on the island. The tall sea cliffs at the Acantilados de los Gigantes have a submerged base that acts as a haven for marine life. Los Gigantes Diving Centre runs twice-daily scuba diving excursions (except Sundays) and also offers the opportunity to hand-feed sting rays (dive with equipment rental Dhs175;

The waters between Tenerife and La Gomera are prime territory for spotting dolphins and whales. Various companies offer two- to five-hour trips from Los Cristianos, generally including food, drink and a swim. Travelin’ Lady comes recommended (two-hour trip from Dhs60; Sun-Fri; 00 34 609 42 98 87). It’s possible to make the trip in a pirate ship (mardeons-tenerife. com).

La Palma

Gran Canaria



The symbolic centre of La Palma, the Parque Nacional de la Caldera Taburiente is named for the ‘cauldron’ at its heart, a five-mile wide depression carpeted by pine forest and surrounded by soaring peaks. It’s a serene place to hike, with trails winding past waterfalls, rock formations, springs and streams coloured with minerals (

Extending back from the sea near the town of Maspalomas, these impressive sand dunes cover 400 hectares and are home to a variety of protected birds and plants. You can walk here – keep to designated trails – or channel the desert-like atmosphere on a camel trip with Camello Safari (tours Dhs50;

Almost swimming in the Atlantic A at the Piscinas de la Fajana



The north of La Palma is often considered the most beautiful part of the island, with fertile hills and rocky cliffs plunging into the sea. One particularly scenic spot is the Piscinas de la Fajana near the town of Barlovento, where you can take a dip in natural pools of saltwater separated from the sea only by low man-made barriers. With the ocean breaking vigorously just metres away, it’s a starkly beautiful place for a swim (admission free).

Visitors to La Palma don’t have to confine themselves to exploring the surface of its volcanic formations – at Todoque, in the west of the island, it’s possible to go caving inside a volcanic tunnel (a channel formed by the build-up of magma deposited by lava flows). Local activity provider Ekalis offers two-hour excursions with a local guide. The tunnel is quite tall, but be prepared to stoop or squeeze at times (tours Dhs150;

Around 30 species of whales and dolphins live around Tenerife

HIKING IN TEJEDA With its pine forests and volcanic craters, the mountainous interior of Gran Canaria is a dramatic place to explore. From Cruz de Tejeda, a viewpoint that marks the centre of the island’s historic caminos reales (king’s highways), paved paths snake around rock formations on their way to sights such as the towering monolith of Roque Nublo, a two-hour walk away. Tejeda tourist office has

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An Arabian touch in the golden landscape of Maspalomas

CYCLING IN PICO DE LAS NIEVES At almost 2,000m high, this is the tallest peak on Gran Canaria. Shuttle up and freewheel down with cycling specialist Freemotion. Its four-hour Green North tour heads downhill at a leisurely pace from the top of the peak, before finishing in the historic town of Teror. Bike, helmet, food, shuttle and hotel transfer are included (tours Dhs225;


March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


MINI GUIDE Activities in the Canary Islands Sights & Activities

TRANSPORT R KLM and Air France fly to Tenerife, with one stop in Amsterdam (Dhs4,279; klm. com). The journey takes from 17-20 hours including transit time. All the islands are served by inter-island flights on Binter Canarias (Gran Canaria–Tenerife from Dhs475; bintercanarias. com). The islands are also connected by a network of ferries (return fares around Dhs250; Car hire is the best option for getting around an island, and the major rental companies are represented here (from Dhs150;

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T West of Gran Canaria’s capital Las Palmas, Hacienda del Buen Suceso is a country estate from 1572. Rooms take inspiration from this time, with canopy beds and wooden balconies (from Dhs450; Arucas; The pastel-coloured Parador


The know-how ONLY L IN THE CANARIES The Canary Islands are home to a host of endemic flora and fauna. Here are a few of the more curious species:

El Hierro giant lizard A critically endangered reptile, up to 45cm long, found only on the island of El Hierro.

Drago (Canary Islands dragon tree) The Hacienda del Buen Suceso was once a sugarcane plantation

de la Isla de La Palma overlooks the ocean on the east coast, and offers elegantly decorated rooms, plus a plant-filled courtyard, pool and botanical gardens (from Dhs550; Breña Baja; A converted 18th-century Tenerife manor house, Hotel San Roque has individually designed rooms featuring rich colours, Jacuzzis and Bauhaus furniture, one street back from the seafront (from Dhs950; Esteban de Ponte 32, Garachico; hotelsanroque. com).

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013

These alien-looking plants (not technically trees) produce a red sap, the ‘dragon’s blood’ once used in medicine.

Tajinaste rojo (tower of jewels, or Teide bugloss) A Tenerife plant which produces spear-like pink-red blooms up to three metres tall.

Blue chaffinch Found in the highlands of Gran Canaria and Tenerife, even its beak

TOP TIP If you go whale-watching, check the environmental credentials of the company you intend to go with. Some operators take their clients too close to the creatures (the legal limit is 60m). The Lonely Planet guide lists companies that comply.

FURTHER FURTHE R R READING Lonely Planet’s Canary Islands (Dhs65) covers all the islands in detail. For more on hiking, try the Walk! series from Discovery Walking Guides, with titles including Tenerife and La Palma (Dhs65; dwgwalking.; ). Good local blogs with articles in English include grancanariasunshine. com and lapalmaisland. The official tourism site for all seven Canary Islands is at


Canary Islands essentials

Where to stay


Enjoy a capital treat with two nights at Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi!

Great hotel, great food, great time. Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi is offering you the chance to win a unique culinary experience a great time to delight and indulge all your senses. Win a two nights’ stay in an amazing Deluxe Suite complemented by unforgettable dining experiences. One lucky reader will win a two nights’ stay for two people in a spacious Deluxe Suite with breakfast in our Origins restaurant boasting a beautiful terrace overlooking the race track. You will also enjoy a delectable tasting menu at Nautilus where you can indulge in a bounty of the ocean’s finest: freshly shucked oysters, Gulf shrimp, Omani lobster and the world’s most succulent and acclaimed seafood. However the culinary delights don’t end there. This amazing prize also includes lunch for two in both our acclaimed and authentic Italian and South East Asian restaurants as well as dinner in Angar, where you will experience Indian cuisine at its best. In between your dining around the world adventures, stop and relax in our luxurious spa with a voucher for ESPA and treat yourself to amazing treatments to soothe your body and mind. Just answer this question to be in with a chance to win this delicious prize. Send your name, contact details and answer to before 31 March. Terms & Conditions apply. Where will you find Yas Viceroy? a) Yas Marina b) Abu Dhabi Corniche c) Dubai Marina

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March/April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle



Win a trip to see the F1 Grand Prix in Bahrain!

Gulf Air and the Kempinski Grand & Ixir Bahrain City Centre have partnered up to give one lucky reader the chance to win flights, tickets and accommodation for two on 21-22 April. Ever wanted to get up close to all the adrenaline action of the fastest and flashest motor race in the world? The F1 <gVcYEg^m]VhWZZcXdb^c\id7V]gV^ch^cXZ'%%)l^aa sweep into Manama this April and you could be there in the grandstand to see it. Gulf Air are giving away two economy flights and two grandstand tickets, while Kempinski Grand & >m^g7V]gV^c8^in8ZcigZl^aaejindjje[dgildc^\]ihhdndj XVcZc_dn7V]gV^c^chinaZ# To win this amazing prize, just email the answer to the question below, along with your name and contact details to before 31 March. What year did the F1 Grand Prix arrive in Bahrain? a.) 2004 b.) 2003 c.) 2012


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March/April 2013

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A hideaway at the Palace A dream or reality? Set amidst 1.3 km of private white sandy beach and 100 hectares of landscaped gardens with more than 8,000 trees, the Emirates Palace is the ultimate hideaway in the city of all fantasies, Abu Dhabi. As our guest your retreat is very important to us. Each sand particle was carefully selected between purity, quality and softness criteria and is cleaned with environmental conscious products in order to ensure you the purest beach experience. After ensuring you the best conditions for a pristine day at the beach, your personal Butler will be ready to assist you with your schedule for another blissful day. All of this in a hideaway at the Palace.

Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll never want to leave

Lonely Planet Traveller ME - Issue 3, 2013 Mar-Apr