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MIDDLE EAST

MAY/JUNE 2013 lonelyplanet.com

GLO B A L T RAVE L INS PI R ATI ON FROM L OC A L EXP ERTS ON THE COVER Villingili Island, the Maldives

DUBLIN

DISCOVER IRELAND’S LITERARY LEGACY

RAS AL KHAIMAH

FIND OUT WHY THE NOTHERN EMIRATE ROCKS

WASHINGTON D.C.

HAVE A CULTURAL CAPITAL ADVENTURE

The Perfect Trip the Maldives Romantic, adventure, peace or party - find it all inside MINI GUIDES Ibiza 4 Tokyo 4 Iceland 4Normandy 4Almalfi coast 4Cologne

PUBLICATION LICENSED BY IMPZ


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

EDITORIAL

EDITOR Georgina Wilson-Powell georgina.powell@cpimediagroup.com/ +97150 574 2884 CONTRIBUTORS Fahad Ali, Rory Goulding, Tom Hall, Fergal Keane, Sophie McGrath, Roger Misun-Gray, Nicola Monteath, Sarah Reid, Ben Rossi, Chris Suttenfield, Amanda Tomlinson ART DIRECTOR Sérge Bones

PUBLISHING

SALES DIRECTOR: Tim Calladine tim.calladine@cpimediagroup.com /+97150 458 7752

MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Marizel Salvador marizel.salvador@cpimediagroup.com

ONLINE Louie Alma

PRODUCTION

A fresh look

Devaprakash

DISTRIBUTION

Rochelle Almeida rochelle.almeida@cpimediagroup.com

SUBSCRIPTIONS

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PUBLISHED BY

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.

BBC WORLDWIDE MAGAZINES UNIT

COVER PHOTOGRAPHY: TAKEN AT SHANGRI-LA VILLINGILI RESORT & SPA

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

MANAGEMENT

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

With this issue we take a fresh look at many destinations well known to many, either through first hand experience, TV and movies, or by reputation, and as per usual, when you take a closer look at things, nothing is as expected. We explored a huge array of the Maldivian islands to bring you this month’s Perfect Trip (p30). Whether you’re after peace and quiet or a party, romance or reef diving, there is an island suitable for everyone. On the other side of the globe, America’s capital, Washington D.C. (p56) is known for its politics and role in many blockbusters. But behind the scenes, there’s a gentle, open plan city bursting with arts, culture and proud people eager to share their secrets. Another capital city, Dublin (p40), hides its treasures in plain sight but take a literary walk round and you’ll discover a past jam-packed with intrigue. And it’s not all about far-flung destinations, our own emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is home to plenty of surprises (p64). Have you done them all? And for a quick glimpse into a variety of different holiday options, we bring your our summer travel secrets (p48). All this is even easier to access as you can now subscribe and enter our competitions online at lonelyplanettraveller.me.

FROM TOP The Maldives has some of the most beautiful coral reefs (p30); a bear stands guard in Georgetown (p59); explore Dublin’s charm (page 44); discover Roman ruins in Turkey (p94)

Enjoy! 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.

Georgina Wilson-Powell, Editor

May/June 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East

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Our promise to you

The Lonely Planet story

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.

In 1972, two years after meeting on a bench in London’s Regent’s Park, newlyweds Tony and Maureen Wheeler went on an unforgettable honeymoon. With only a shabby car and a few dollars to their name, they travelled overland across Europe and Asia to Australia. At the end, broke but inspired, they sat at their kitchen table to write their first travel guide, Across Asia on the Cheap. Within a week of its publication in 1973 they’d sold 1,500 copies, and Lonely Planet was born. The Wheelers began publishing books on Southeast Asia, India and beyond. Over the years, coverage extended to most countries, and on lonelyplanet.com. BBC Worldwide became the sole shareholder in 2011, and Lonely Planet now makes books, ebooks, apps, TV shows and, of course, this magazine. Turn to p18 for Tony Wheeler’s column, The Road Less Travelled.

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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 May sees the release of Belgium & Luxembourg (Dhs90), China (Dhs126), Discover France (Dhs108), Discover Germany (Dhs102), Discover Spain (Dhs102), Fast Talk French (Dhs15), Fast Talk German (Dhs15), Fast Talk Italian (Dhs15), Falk Talk Latin American Spanish (Dhs15), Fast Talk Spanish (Dhs15), Great Britain (£18.99), Iceland (Dhs114), Indonesia (Dhs126), Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei (Dhs108), The Netherlands (Dhs90), Romania & Bulgaria (Dhs90) and Slovenia (Dhs96).

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Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East May/June 2013


Every moment unveils a

unique story Tales of rich Arabian traditions at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara Surrounded by the vast expanse of dunes and a heritage of centuries inherent to the Liwa Desert, delve into the glorious past of Arabia. Discover a fine blend of contemporary luxuries and a touch of royal opulence. Embark on a voyage of the creation of over a thousand unforgettable moments, cherished and shared for a lifetime. Design your Arabian adventure now at anantara.com Call +971 (0)2 656 1399 or email crome@anantara.com

Thailand

Indonesia

Vietnam

Maldives

United Arab Emirates

China


Contents May/June 2013

POSTCARDS

ON THE COVER

10 Uncover tuk tuk stars and beautiful boats

The Perfect Trip to the Maldives p30

Your travel photos and the stories behind them

OUR PLANET

This month’s travel news, views and events 15 Darryl Hannah, cliff-diving and summer solstice

8 EASY TRIPS

Short breaks to book now 26 BALKANS, EUROPE Take a road trip across Eastern Europe 26 BERGEN, NORWAY Head north for a series arts fix 27 SINGAPORE Experience a night safari in the Asian city state 28 ABU DHABI, UAE Plan a foodie break with a trio of new fine dining restaurants 29 CORSICA, FRANCE Join the 100th Tour de France as it kicks off 29 BOROVSK, RUSSIA Enjoy a festival, Russian style at the three day Wild Mint gathering 30 MALMÖ, SWEDEN Midsummer is a big deal this far north. Bring a picnic and learn the ‘frog dance’ 30 STANLEY, HONG KONG Find the British seaside in ‘Honkers’

FEATURES

In depth experiences to add to your wish list 32 ON THE COVER THE MALDIVES The Perfect Trip to the most beautiful atolls in the Indian Ocean. Romance, adventure, peace or a party, we know where to go. 42 DUBLIN, IRELAND Take a literary tour of Ireland’s capital and uncover the centuries of charm 50 SUMMER TRAVEL SECRETS Bored of the same old places? We have some truly unusual and off the beaten path options for a summer holiday with a difference 56 WASHINGTON D.C., USA The American capital has shaken off its dull political coat and has become a lot more hip 64 RAS AL KHAIMAH, UAE Ghost villages, microlighting, hot springs and more. Who knew RAK was so exciting? 6

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East May/June 2013

Discover Swedish midsummer rituals p30


Go down a literary path in Dublin p42 Discover old world charm in Washington D.C. p56

ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER Books, apps and websites that will feed your passion for travel 70 Track down free Wi-fi spots when you’re away and discover life under the sea

MINI GUIDES

Themed guides to pull out and take with you

Indulge in a beachside massage p64

75 DISCOVER TOKYO What to see and do in Japan’s capital 77 RURAL IBIZA The party isle offers more than all night clubbing if you know where you to look 79 CULTURE ON THE ALMAFI COAST From art galleries to al-fresco concerts, find some high end sophistication 81 FOOD & DRINK IN NORMANDY Northern France offers up plenty of oysters, cheeses and local bistros 83 ICELAND ACTIVITIES While the ice has melted explore the beautiful countryside with hikes and volcanic encounters 85 MEDIEVAL COLOGNE Germany’s Middle Ages can still be seen today in this beautiful city

PLUS 74 SUBSCRIBE at only Dhs120 for 12 issues, a year’s subscription is a steal for all your inspiration

COMPETITIONS 87 WIN A THREE NIGHT STAY at Devon Valley hotel in South Africa! 88 WIN A HOLIDAY to Tbilisi, Georgia! May/June 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East

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Postcards

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Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East May/June 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 photos@lonelyplanettraveller.me

KENYA, AFRICA

Zebra crossing I was on our annual holiday at Amboseli National Park, in the Rift Valley Province in Kenya. It was so stunning with amazing views of Mount Killimanjaro. I am fascinated when animals are in full flight – it’s such a brilliant display of power and grace. Of course, the trail of dust they left behind just added to the picture. The moment I took the picture, the first thought that crossed my mind was it would make for a great caption: zebra crossing! Joy Chakravarty is a sports journalist. Originally from New Delhi he's lived all over the world.


DICKWELLA, SRI LANKA

Stormy seas I was on holiday with another family, touring around Sri Lanka. We were on our way back from Galle. Our guides took to us to a local ďŹ shing harbour as the boats were unloading their daily catch. This scene was perfect with stormy clouds contrasting with a tiny amount of sunlight in the late afternoon and I couldn’t resist the symmetry of the boats and their vibrant colours. Lara DeBruyn has been in Dubai for three and a half years and originally hails from Halifax, Canada.


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 photos@lonelyplanettraveller.me

May/June 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East

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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 photos@lonelyplanettraveller.me

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Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East May/June 2013


AGRA CITY, INDIA

Hang tight I was travelling around India on my own, my most memorable trip and this was the ďŹ rst time I tried out street photography. I was in Agra City on my way to the Taj Mahal, these men overtook us and I was fascinated by their looks. I asked my rickshaw driver to slow down so I could take their photo. Everything fell into place, the men looked straight at me, it felt like a special moment. Joe Agdeppa has been in Dubai eight years. His favourite country is Scotland, for castles and rainbows.


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.

You’ll never want to leave

emiratespalace.ae


Our Planet

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

Eva Holá, tour guide, Prague, Czech Republic I work as a guide for CorruptTour, a new travel agency that shows a side to Prague that most tourists don’t see. We take in places – a businessman’s grand suburban villa, the foyer of City Hall – that don’t feature on any Unesco list, but once you hear the stories behind them, you can understand why they deserve our attention. Venues change all the time, but we currently include the presidential offices at Prague Castle (pictured), because of a scandal involving our outgoing president, Václav Klaus. My uniform and placard, which feature the colours of the main political parties, often attract curious attention. But surprisingly few people react badly when a tour group turns up on their doorstep. I wish I could say I’m shocked by the news stories that provide the raw material for CorruptTours, but unfortunately not. For some tour-goers it’s a deeply emotional experience; for others, it’s like going to the cinema. But it is supposed to be fun and we try to make guests laugh – and mostly we succeed.

INTERVIEW: ORLA THOMAS. PHOTOGRAPH: MARK READ

CorruptTours cost from Dhs132 per person; corrupttour.com

April/May 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East

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OUR PLANET THIS MONTH SEES the Skyscraper Festival return to Frankfurt on 25-26 May. Visitors will get to glimpse inside the high rises normally closed to the public, while urban climbers and hot air balloon rides, light shows and high-wire acrobats celebrate all things lofty.

ANYTHING TO DECLARE?

Daryl Hannah

Pisa is where Darryl Hannah discovered her love of travel

DARYL HANNAH is an actress (Kill Biil, Splash) and an activist. She was a guest speaker on sustainability at the recent World Travel & Tourism Council Summit in Abu Dhabi

Think about travelling smart, not travelling less It has really enhanced my life to enable me to be able to travel, but from where I live I can go an hour down the road from my house into somewhere that’s deeply different and I appreciate that as much as going to another country. Through travel I’ve met people who have become like my family. I was taking a misguided acting class in Germany and fell out with the teacher. I was too scared to tell him I was leaving so I crawled out of the window in the middle of the night. I got on a train that I thought was going to France, and ended up in Italy. I didn’t have any directions but someone sent me to Pisa. Here I ended up staying in a centuries-old hotel and it was a quiet time outside the tourist season. The owners took me under their wing and showed me a side of the city I’d never have otherwise seen like an old palace that had been converted into a cinema. I saw so many great things on that trip, and it came about by chance. Messages concerning travelling and living sustainably are simple and common-sense. Collectively it’s about continually sharing

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information. Choices are so overwhelming that it’s imperative to communicate and share information about the best possible ways to do things. Tourism goes wrong in insulating travellers from culture and the world, creating a fabricated reality. We’re drawn to it sometimes because it’s easy but it’s unhealthy for us all ultimately to disassociate from the real world. It also help us continue with the notion that disposable stuff just goes away. It doesn’t have to be this way though, and there’s so much that the tourism industry can do. It costs less to act in a sustainable way. It’s a real win-win. Luxury travel can be sustainable too. It depends on your concept of luxury, and how you want to live your life. I live in what I consider to be a very modest fashion but it is very comfortable. It doesn’t mean it is hideous and on a non-human scale. If customers don’t see the change they’re looking for from hotels they should demand something different. Hoteliers should lead the way, but travellers should call them to account. It’s pretty simple in a lot of cases – hotels should avoid using chemicals in cleaning


OUR PLANET DUBLIN WILL CELEBRATE all things James Joyce with Bloomsday on 16 June (named after Ulysses protagonist, Leopold Bloom). Its most famous author inspires Edwardian dress up and parties across the Irish capital, as well as readings and music sessions.

STONEHENGE IN WILTSHIRE is the place to be for the summer solstice on 21 June, as thousands of pagans and druids camp out at one of Europe’s oldest and most dramatic monuments in hope of a spectacular dawn.

IN MY CASE

Fergal Keane

products, and avoid unneccesary use of plastics. People shouldn’t be made to pay more for goods and services that are sustainably sourced or produced, at home or on holiday. That notion drives me crazy. Sustainable practice in business shouldn’t be about profit and branding. In effect it has created the backlash against sustainability - it makes it a club that you need to pay to get into. Ethical living should be for everyone. It’s not that hard. I don’t believe in carbon offsets for flights, or anything else. The idea is to put out as little carbon as you can. You can’t clean up your mess once you’ve done it. If you’re going to do something to alleviate what you’ve done then do it in a way that you know that you’ve given back. When I helped to green a music festival I suggested that rather than offset we put a solar power system on a local school. I’m not saying travel less, but travel wisely. Travel regionally. Explore what’s around you where you live. You can still have a vacation and see something new, then do one big trip a year.

WORDS TOM HALL. INTERVIEWS BY OLIVER SMITH. ILLUSTRATION: LOUISE MORGAN. PHOTOGRAPHS: SHUTTERSTOCK, TON KOENE/ HORIZONS WWP/ALAMY, SHOTSHOPGMBH/ALAMY, DENNIS MACDONALD/ALAMY, NICK CUNARD/REX FEATURES, COLIN MCPHERSON/ CORBIS

Fergal Keane is a BBC correspondent and a regular contributor to Lonely Planet Traveller

It sits on our sideboard in the shape of a mythical bird, flightless and too big for the room, but always majestic. I was a scared man when I bought it, frantically scouring the antique shops for some memento that would make me look more like a tourist when I arrived at Rangoon airport to catch my flight home. The previous week had been spent dodging the military surveillance teams that were busy following anybody they thought was a foreign journalist. Arrest and deportation loomed at every corner. It was the time of the Saffron Revolution: the Buddhist monks’ revolt against the military in 2007.

But with the Burmese harp – a saung – under my arm, I sailed through passport control and on to my flight home. Since then, the saung has always been a symbol of freedom for me. It is a beautifully made instrument: lacquered and inlaid with mica and coloured glass, with red tassels at the base and a peacock’s head at the top – the symbol of both ancient monarchies and the more recent democratic opposition. Although I play the guitar, I have not tried to play my saung. The tuning defeated me at the first attempt and I content myself with listening to saung masters on my iPod or, far better, enjoying the real thing on one of my frequent trips to Burma. Now I can sit and listen to that haunting music in Rangoon without feeling afraid.

May/June 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East

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MEXICO

DISCOVER A SACRED MAYAN JOURNEY T H E R O A D L E S S T R AV E L L E D , WITH TONY WHEELER

Rwanda

WHY NOW? Rwanda’s recovery from its genocide – which took place nearly 20 years ago – continues. It’s become Africa’s major centre for gorilla trekking and a bunch of new airline links are making it much more accessible.

WHAT CAN I SEE? Gorillas, plus green hills and walking trails. For a city break in capital Kigali, catch a band playing by the pool at the Hôtel des Mille Collines (‘Hotel of a Thousand Hills’): this is the real Hotel Rwanda, as made famous in the 2004 movie of the same name.

HOW SAFE IS IT? This could be the safest country in East Africa, but take care on the ubiquitous motorcycle taxis – they’re required to provide you with a crash helmet.

WHAT SHOULD I EAT? Nile tilapia is caught in Lake Kivu and often served with matoke, or cooked plantain. The Belgian colonial influence still shows up in great steak and chips – hilltop New Cactus Restaurant in Kigali offers an authentic taste of Brussels.

WHERE’S TRULY OUT THERE? The Parc National des Volcans is Rwanda’s most famous national park, but the Nyungwe Forest National Park can certainly give it a run for its money. There are no gorillas here, but trekking permits to visit chimpanzees work out much cheaper than looking for the big guys.

WHAT SHOULD I PACK? A jumper – you’ll quickly find that Rwanda can be one of the coolest countries in Africa. Even daytime temperatures can dip as low as 10°C in the higher mountainous areas. TONY WHEELER, Lonely Planet’s co-founder, never stops exploring unusual places. Next month on his wish list: Papua New Guinea.

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Every year for the last six years an ancient Mayan pilgrimage has been taken in late May (this year 23-25 May) on the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo. Men and women take to the ocean on handmade wooden canoes in full ceremonial dress to the island of Cozumel to worship Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of fertility.


OUR PLANET FREE WORLD

ROME Lonely Planet’s Rome author takes her pick of the capital for free over the coming months... CIRCO MASSIMO MARKET Spring is when free tastings at Circo Massimo farmers’ market turn into a veritable feast, with luscious vegetables, fruit, jams, cheeses, olive oil and cured meats available to sample. In season now, you’ll find broad beans, asparagus, wild strawberries and the last of the year’s big, round Lazio artichokes (mercatocircomassimo.it; Via di San Teodoro 74; 9am–6pm Sat, 9am–4pm Sun).

SPANISH STEPS IN BLOOM This is a special time to be at the Spanish Steps – Rome’s 1725 Baroque flight of fancy, which ascends the hill from the Piazza di Spagna to the Trinità dei Monti church above. To celebrate the season, the steps are decorated by 600 vases of azaleas from April to mid-May. Rome’s civic gardeners bring the flowers from municipal nurseries, returning them once they’ve finished blooming.

BIG BAMBÚ

Eye-catching azaleas

From now until October, it’s adorn the Spanish Steps every spring free to visit the Big Bambú installation outside Rome’s contemporary art museum MACRO Testaccio. The 25-metre-high, haystack-like structure looks like something from a Terry Gilliam film – two American artists have woven 8,000 bamboo rods together, creating a tangled forest through which visitors can stroll (museomacro.org).

WALKING THE VIA APPIA ANTICA

PHOTOGRAPH: TIBOR BOGNAR/AGEFOTOSTOCK.COM

In May and June, wildflowers splash the countryside close to Rome with brilliant colours. Take a walk along the ancient Roman road, the Via Appia Antica, stretching south of the city through its own national park, to see pea-green scenery dotted by yellow and lavender flowers, and thousands of blood-red poppies (parcoappiaantica.it).

LETTERATURE FESTIVAL Against the very backdrop where, according to Shakespeare, Mark Antony asked people to ‘lend me your ears’, the Letterature literary festival takes place from late May until late June. The Roman Forum makes for a superlative setting: readers last year included Robert Hass and David Nicholls, and there will be more English-language events this year. Apply for the free tickets well in advance (festivaldelleletterature.it). ABIGAIL BLASI has authored Lonely Planet guides to Italy, Malta and India.

May/June 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East

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From here to there... Midnight golf, Portuguese cliff diving and the biggest bike ride...this month takes on a sporty feel

Paris and other French towns should come alive to the sounds of music on 21 June

AND ELSEWHERE IN THE WORLD... Go Green in Bristol. The BIG Green Week will celebrate all things environmental, kicking off on 15 June with the Festival of Nature, Europe’s biggest free natural history event and ending with the Biggest Bike Ride which will clear the Clifton suspension bridge of traffic for eager bikers. biggreenweek.com. Play golf in 24 hour daylight! Take advantage of Iceland’s summer, all day long light at the Annual Arctic Open Golf Championship. An 18-hole championship course awaits as does a geothermal pool and spa at the neat by Icelandair Hotel Akureyri. arcticopen. is. Take a running jump. The tiny island of Azores will see professional cliff divers take a leap of faith in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series on 29 June. redbull.com. See a million tulips in bloom. Think this should be in Holland? Think again. Ottowa in Canada’s Tulip Festival (3-20 May) is the largest in the world, having originated as a gift of 10,000 tulips from the former country in 1945. Each year more bulbs arrived until this, the 61st year, which will feature a cool million blooms of red, yellow, white and pink. Live concerts make this a

PA R I S , F R A N C E

VIVA LA FÊTE DE LA MUSIQUE What started as a loose collection of street festivals celebrating traditional French music, is now a national day of celebrations dubbed the ‘Fête de la Musique’. All over France (and its neighbouring countries) come 21 June, concerts will spring up at museums, parks, train stations, castle and streets, with everything from classical to rock filling the French towns and cities. fetedelamusique.culture.fr

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must-see if you’re around. tulipfestival.ca. Shop til you drop in Istanbul. The Istanbul Shopping Festival is a Turkish version of the Dubai Shopping Festival and offers visitors up to 30% off tax free across souks, markets, stores and malls. If you’re after carpets, now’s the time to go. Just remember to haggle! istshopfest.com. Belgrade just got easier… Fly to the Serbian capital from Abu Dhabi on Etihad Airways from 15 June. etihad. ae. …as will Mattala. flydubai will launch a route to Mattala, Sri Lanka’s second city from 21 May, flying three times a week. flydubai.com. Fly direct to the Windy City. Qatar Airways have begun a route to Chicago’s O’Hare airport from Doha, its fourth in the USA. qatarairways.com.


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Discover your own deserted island in the Maldives! Beach House Iruveli is a luxurious escape like no other At the most northerly point of the Maldivian atolls lies Haa Alif atoll, and within that atoll •‹–• ”—˜‡Ž‹Ǥ ‡”‡‹•™Š‡”‡›‘—™‹ŽŽϐ‹†–Š‡ sanctuary that is Beach House Iruveli. A luxurious resort that is more like a home, staffed by friendly Maldivians who want to share a piece of their ancient world with guests, it’s time you made Beach House Iruveli a part of your story. You can learn culinary or handicraft skills or listen to ageold tales from the village elders. Want to snorkel, learn to dive, go sailing or even kayaking? It can all be done off shore, along with jet-skiing, wake-boarding and water-skiiing. With seven bars and restaurants, your taste buds will be well and truly spoilt, with plenty of local cuisine and ϐŽƒ˜‘—”•‰‹˜‹‰›‘—ƒ”‡ƒŽˆ‡‡Žˆ‘”‹•Žƒ†Ž‹˜‹‰Ǥ The resort even has its own, even more exclusive desert island, Govva fushi. Guests

can visit for the day or overnight for a castaway experience, where you can enjoy everything the Maldives has to offer in complete and utter privacy. Bespoke picnics or Champagne dinners on the sand can be rustled up or there’s hammocks and sunbeds to just relax in. Although it’s only seven minutes away, with dolphins often accompanying the boat over, you’ll feel like you’re in utter heaven. ‡ƒ…Š ‘—•‡ ”—˜‡Ž‹‹•–Š‡ϐ‹”•–‹ƒŽ‹‡ ‘ˆϐ‹˜‡•–ƒ”’”‘’‡”–‹‡•™Š‡”‡ƒƒ„‹Ž‹–›–‘ ‘craft the extraordinary’ happens like magic. Personalised, heartfelt service and a deep attachment to local culture are the hallmarks of Beach House resorts. Beach House Pasikudah in Sri Lanka will open this year, with further resorts planned in Bali and across the Indian Ocean. Beach House is owned by Sun Siyam, a Maldivian company committed to building authentic hotel experiences.

What are you waiting for? As if you didn’t have enough reasons to head to Beach House Iruveli, until 30 September 2013, book an Experience Romance package with a Beach Suite and get an 80 minute Couple Experience treatment, a romantic candlelit dinner for two, round-trip transfers from Male, daily breakfast and a three course dinner in any of the a la carte restaurants or buffet night for only Dhs3,989 (USD$1,090). For more information or to book a stay please contact +960 3325 977 or email: reservations@beachhousecollection.com


EASY TRIPS

Discover new places this summer with Swedish dances, Russian festivals, night safaris and road trips across the Balkans

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8 EASY TRIPS

Bergen, Norway Scandinavian art

Cruise the Croatian coastline

Balkans, Europe Hit the road

WHY GO NOW? Located in the south of the country, Bergen has always been an artistic city. Ibsen once ran the city’s theatre and its Philomonic Orchestra is one of the oldest in the world. It’s that commitment to art in all forms that can be seen alive and kicking at the Bergen International Festival. From dramatic new operas to cutting edge circus performances, music to debate, this is a grown up arts festival. Split into Disturbances, Diversions and Dialogues, the

programme is heavily weighted in favour of Scandinavian artists, most of which will be new to most readers, but don’t let that put you off. The Piazzolla Orchestra from Denmark will bring alive the sounds of Buenos Aires, while Icelandic jazz guitarist Bjørn Thoroddsen and Bergen colleagues will celebrate local songs, one of the world’s top violinists Vilde Frang Bjærke will take to the stage…and there are many more must-not-miss performances. Bergen is also the entrance to

Norway’s spectacular fjords so enjoy the dramatic scenery, resplendent in the summer sun.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 The Bergen International Festival is from 22 May-5 June (three day pass Dhs569; fib.no/en/). 4 Fly KLM to Bergen (from Dhs2,740; klm.com). 4 Stay on the historic waterfront at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel (from Dhs2,000 including breakfast; free Wi-fi; radissonblu. no/royalhotell-bergen).

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 All tours are inclusive of accommodation and breakfast only (Dhs1,200; Slovenia to Croatia or Greece to Croatia, Dhs4,800 for the top to bottom 13-day Balkan trip; balkanroadtrip.com). 4 Fly to Slovenia from Dubai on Turkish Airlines (from Dhs2,700; turkishairlines.com). 4 Some nationalities do not have access to the Schengen countries, so make sure you apply for any visas needed, prior to your travels. Also make sure you keep copies of your passport and itinerary on hand.

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Uncover dramatic arts in beautiful Bergen

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East May/June 2013

WORDS - NICOLA MONTEAH PHOTOGRAPH - MARK READ

WHY GO N OW? Fancy a summer road-trip? They are quite rare in this region – the farthest away usually travelled by road is Oman – so why not make the most of your next trip to Europe and cover Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Greece, Albania and Croatia? The tour comprises small groups and the local guides will take you on tailor-made excursions, book your accommodation and link you to other road trips as part of the Balkan tour, or organise a Croatian boat cruise. If you’ve visited this area before, you can choose a three-day itinerary, if not, the 13-day tour which covers all the Balkan states plus the Croatian cruise is a must do. From exploring waterfalls to Albanian horse-riding and partying in the cities, this tour has everything. Just remember to pack some energy!


They only come at at night, so you should too

WORDS - BEN ROSSI

Singapore Go on safari WHY GO NOW? As arguably the most international city on the continent, you’ll get culture without the culture shock in Singapore, from super-clean streets to well organised urban spaces. But what you really need to experience is the world’s first safari park for nocturnal animals. Yup, that means at night. Regular zoos often fail expectations because animals are nocturnal and often rudely sleep through your visit. Sensible Singapore has gone for a rainforest at dusk experience that introduces

you to the Malayan tiger, leopards that get close and personal and free-ranging wallabies who are wide awake after dark. The expedition tram tour poignantly guides you through the changing habitats of seven geographical zones, whilst the brilliantly interactive Creatures of the Night show is a fantastic spectacle no matter how old you are (watch out for the snake under the seat!). And it’s not just all for show, the Singapore Night Safari was the first zoo to breed the Sunda pangolin in captivity.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 Emirates fly daily to Singapore direct from Dubai (Dhs2,555; emirates.com). 4 The Singapore Night Safari is open from 7.30pm-midnight (Dhs104 per adult; nightsafari.com.sg). 4 Singapore is famed for some of its quirky designs, so shun the corporate hotels for a more unique experience. The Scarlet Hotel, whose design is based on a desirable woman, is housed in a preserved pre-war shophouse in Chinatown (Dhs595; free Wi-fi; thescarlethotel.com).


8 EASY TRIPS

Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal has raised the fine dining stakes in the capital

Abu Dhabi, UAE Extravagant dining

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However, focus on the food. The hotel has three signature restaurants, designed by the award-winning Japanese team Super Potato. South Asian restaurant Li Jang, resembles a vibrant Asian market complete with a colourful spice wall; Mijana is a trendy modern-styled Arabic restaurant with semi-open kitchen and The Forge steakhouse, which serves succulent marbled agedsteaks and has a masculine flair.

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East May/June 2013

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 From Dubai, follow signs to Abu Dhabi, pass the coin-shaped building and take the exit towards Maqtaa bridge. Stay right and take the next exit, following the Zayed Sports City sign, go straight over Maqtaa bridge and turn right immediately after (at the Falcon club sign). Turn right and go under the bridge. Go straight through the

first roundabout and then left. 4Special offers at the hotel

include a B&B deal (Dhs925 per night for a deluxe room, executive suite or one or two-bedroom villa; Dhs50 per hour for Wi-fi; ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/ AbuDhabi). 4Take a taxi to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque to check out the exquisite architecture.

WORDS -NICOLA MONTEATH

WHY GO NOW? While Abu Dhabi is already home to luxurious hotels and fine-dining restaurants, there’s always room for more! The newly-opened Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, a 532-room resort inspired by 15th-early 17th century Renaissance architecture, is the new hotspot for those looking to live it up in the capital. Lavish rooms and a 1,600 square metre pool are some of the main reasons to stay here.


8 EASY TRIPS

Corsica, France French fancy WHY GO NOW? The 100th Tour de France will push off from this charming French island in the Mediterranean this summer. Beach lovers, culture fans, hikers, and leisure travellers will all love Corsica for its enchanting beauty, mountainous backgrounds, and sports activities, while devotees of the famous cycle race can watch the excitement and action at the start line. Instead of venturing across the island in a pack you could book the Le Grand

Depart Corsica guided tour which allows you to soar through the mountains on your bike at your own pace and provides exclusive access to the Cannondaile Pro cycling team. It also allows you to watch all the action live, from Porto Vecchio, Vizzavona and Porto. The tour is a great way of discovering the island and includes three meals a day, to keep you topped up with energy, and luxurious hotel stays to rest your weary legs!

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 Fly daily to Bastia in Corsica from Dubai on KLM (Dhs5,000; klm.com). 4 The 100th Tour de France takes place from 29 June-12 July (letour.com). 4 The tour is organised by the Duvine cycling and adventure company from 29 June-4 July, and is available for six days and five nights, inclusive of hotel stay and meals (Dhs22,000 per person; duvine.com/tours).

Raise the roof in Russia

Borovsk, Russia From Russia with love

WORDS - NICOLA MONTEATH - CHRISTOPHER SUTTENFIELD

WHY GO NOW? Cast aside your preconceived Russian stereotypes associated with meteor catastrophes and frozen gulags and salute the summer warmth of Wild Mint. When the tundra thaws, Russia comes out to play. Wild Mint is a world music festival that embraces alternative art and tunes, a collaboration of culture, food and dance curated from across the globe. This year’s headline acts include Sinnead O’Connor, Oquestrada and Tonino Carotone. Set against the striking green Russian countryside this three day celebration welcomes the first days of summer, and is centred around the ‘Ethnomir’, a temporary village serving as the nexus of activities. Wild Mint is Russia’s answer to Burning Man, albeit smaller and with less sand in your sleeping bag.

Explore the ancient Cliffside towns like Bonifacio in Corsica

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 Three day tickets are ridiculously cheap (Dhs140; eng.mintmusic.ru). 4 Camping on site is recommended and you will need to bring your own camping gear – a campsite pass costs Dhs135 for three days and can be booked on site at the festival when you get there. 4 The nearest airport is Domodedovo International, which is on the outskirts of Moscow (also the nearest city). Aeroflot operates direct flights daily from Dubai (from Dhs1,470; aeroflot.ru).

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8 EASY TRIPS

Malmö, Sweden Midsummer fun WHY GO NOW? Having long been overlooked by tourists for the quaint cobbled streets of Stockholm, Malmö is finally having its moment. Thrust into the spotlight following the international success of Swedish/ Danish TV series The Bridge, Malmö will also host May’s 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. But there’s more to Malmö than popstars and police dramas. Sweden’s southernmost city recently welcomed its own arm of Stockholm’s terrific Moderna Museet (Modern Art Museum) and

boasts a great café culture, edgy design-orientated shopping, and Copenhagen is just a 12km hop over the Öresund Bridge. But the real fun begins in June. Celebrated all over Sweden, Midsummer’s Eve (21 June) will see locals converge in city parks to make flower wreaths, play traditional games and feast on a typical smörgåsbord of salted herring, boiled dill potatoes, smoked salmon, meatballs, Västerbotten cheese and wild strawberries. Dating back to pagan times, this celebration culminates in the erection of a maypole,

around which is performed Små Grodorna, Sweden’s famously quirky ‘frog dance.’ Simply pack a picnic basket and join in.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 It’s just a short stroll to Kungsparken, Malmö’s oldest park, from the centrally located, design-led boutique Hotel Duxiana. (Dhs1,000 per night, per room; malmo.hotelduxiana.com). 4 In August, Malmö will also host Malmöfestivalen, a week-long showcase of free music (malmofestivalen.se). Learn Sweden’s quirky ‘frog dance’

Don’t forget your bikini in Hong Kong

Stanley, Hong Kong Beachfront break WHY GO NOW? Float your boat at the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. The popular celebrations, which are also known as the Tueng Ng Festival, will see races at locations across Hong Kong on 12 June. Rather than staying around Victoria Harbour, head 30 minutes along the pretty coastline to Stanley, and immerse yourself in a quieter, quainter side of Hong Kong. A seaside resort modelled on the south coast of England, once you’ve had your fill of the paddlers racing to the beat of a drum, then stroll along the promenade and around the famous Stanley market to bag yourself a bargain. Jade, jewellery, cute teacups and Chinese inspired artworks are all on offer, as are the ‘genuine fakes’ handbags and friendly bartering can be heard throughout the bustling market. After all the bargaining tuck into an old school ice cream float at the Pickled Pelican on the promenade. HOW DO I MAKE IT HAPPEN? 4 Stay in style at the JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong which offers 602 elegantly-designed guestrooms and is located in the heart of central Hong Kong Island in Pacific Place. Try the afternoon tea – the scones are divine (from Dhs1,655; free Wi-fi; marriott.com). 4 Take a bus from opposite the hotel to Stanley (Dhs4 return). 4 Fly to Hong Kong via Delhi on Jet Airways (from Dhs2,393; jetairways.com).

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B E AC H H O U S E COL L E C T I ON CRAFTING T H E E X T R AO R D I NA RY


THE PERFECT TRIP THE MALDIVES WORDS GEORGINA WILSON-POWELL

The island of Vilingili includes a nine hole golf course. OPPOSITE A mural on the old Port T naval base


THE PERFECT TRIP Maldives

This coral atoll island chain is many people’s idea of paradise, however it’s not just a haven for honeymooners. There’s much more to this Islamic nation than meets the eye. You just need to pick the right atoll…

WHERE TO STAY

ADDU ATTOL

Best to get a slice of real Maldivian life Palm trees blow in the wind, the sandy beach is dotted with the odd lounger, tiny breakers roll in, and the sea, once you get near it, shines with at least fifty shades of blue, crystal clear and mesmerising. The Addu Attol is the furthest out from the capital Male (over 500kms), sitting below the equator in the southern hemisphere. The country is comprised 26 atolls with over 1,000 coral and sand islands that extend 700kms end to end. From the air, the darker blue rings of the coral atolls sit like the eyes in a peacock’s tail in the electric blue ocean. Even the most industrial island, the capital Male, to a first time visitor, seems as though the entire landscape has been Photoshopped, with the various blues at such a contrast they seem unreal. At three kilometres long, Vilingili on the Addu Attol, is large enough to offer a nine-hole golf course, an eco-discovery centre, private dinners hidden away in candlelit jungle groves and plenty of watersports including night fishing. One of the best things is it’s a short boat hop to Gan, which housed a British naval base during the Second World War. ‘Port T’ brought 1950s style suburbia to the island complete with a tiny post office and cinema. The British left in 1976 and the base is now relatively deserted but easily accessed. On the other side of the island meet the locals who decorate their homes in bright colours to rival the sea and create wonderful snacks from tuna; they have an obsession with this fish which is eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Local election ‘posters’ have been stenciled onto old white-washed walls, men in traditional skirts sit in swinging chairs on rotting verandas and coconuts cluster on every tree. Gan is a refreshing change from the modern expense of the resorts, it is the only place where you can cycle around and meet the locals, it gives a feel for what it was like here before the rest of the world decided it was a holiday destination.

Shangri-la Vilingili Resort & Spa With over the water, beach and jungle villas, the relatively large resort is great for families and friends wanting to do more than just sunbathe. Home to an organic veggie garden, a wonderful beach restaurant and the biggest breakfast offering ever seen, this is a resort perfect for those that want to have fun (Dhs2,745; free Wi-fi; shangri-la.com).

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Breakfast views don't get much better than this on your own private island LEFT Each villa comes with its own hot tub

NORTH HUVADHU ATOLL

Best for absolute privacy 400kms from Male sits the largest natural atoll, Huvadhu, which is split into Gaafu Alifu in the north and Gaafu Dhaalu in the south. Historically the atoll was a centre of Buddhism, and a sense of calm and peace with the world, still pervades the waves. Just as the atoll is split in half, so is the tiny island of Dhevanafushi. It is a totally isolated island escape, a 30 minute boat ride from the local domestic airport. Once on the boat, the enormous distance that the atolls are spread over is really brought home, there is nothing around but calm blue ocean. However deserted above sea level, below the waves, it is teeming. Dolphins use the stretch around the island as a playground, leaping in and out of the shimmering ocean in huge numbers and these playful mammals are the only pairs of eyes on you as you arrive at your tiny destination. An even smaller island, more or less a small circle of decking, is home to some seriously private hideaways. With around a dozen over the water villas, you couldn’t get any closer to the sea if you tried. A wide wooden deck backed by floor

to ceiling windows is your access point to an amazing reef, home to a colourful array of fish, literally under your feet. If you wanted to come away and not see anyone else, other than the butler that will bring room service (even in a tropical storm!), this is the place to do it. On the main island, a laid back cocktail bar has dug itself into the sand and with a clear sky, the sunsets over the sea that is as flat as a mirror are everything you want them to be – romantic, beautiful and burn the sky with dusky pinks. Find fish every where you look at Dhevanafushi

WHERE TO STAY

Jumeirah Dhevanafushi Jumeirah Dhevanafushi is the only option here. Chose from over the water villas which are on their own private island, or ones on the slightly larger main island. The private island has its own fine dining restaurant, infinity pool and library, whilst each villa has its own pool, outside bath and access to the reef. (Dhs3,347; free Wi-fi; jumeirah.com).

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THE PERFECT TRIP Maldives

EVERY CORAL CLUSTER IS A HIVE OF ACTIVITY WITH FISH OF ALL SHAPES , SIZES AND COLOURS, LIKE A BUSTLING HIGH STREET ON A SATURDAY AFTERNOON May/June 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East

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WHERE TO STAY

Dusit Thani Dusit Thani’s over the water villas each have an infinity pool as well as reef access and come in one and two bedroom varieties. For a touch of Asia, head to Benjarong, a beautiful Thai restaurant with an al-fresco deck perfect for some star spotting (there are plenty of shooting stars as well). (From Dhs2,754; free Wi-fi; dusit.com).

A UNESCO protected reef acts as your back garden

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THE PERFECT TRIP Maldives

BAA ATOLL

Best for snorkeling A turtle swims past only a few feet away, it’s slow descent into the deep lit by a ray of sunshine that pierces the glass like water. It is one of those moments so perfect, it stands still in time, the enforced deafness of being under water only consolidates the experience. A guided snorkel tour of the outlying reefs of Mudhdhoo island will be a memorable one. Turtles are only the most recognisable inhabitants of the bustling ocean, but every coral cluster is a hive of activity with fish of all shapes, sizes and colours, like a bustling high street on a Saturday afternoon. And through all this the turtles glide by, the agile OAPs of the sea. Nurse and black tipped sharks and sting rays also aren’t uncommon visitors to the local reefs. The Baa Atoll is a UNESCO World Biosphere site and it’s not hard to see

why. 35 minutes by seaplane from Male, Mudhdhoo Island is also close to a domestic terminal, and yet from the island you could be floating in an empty world for all it impacts. Again the resort is split between over the water and beach villas, although as it is a larger island it is more geared towards families and groups, rather than hideaway couples. Bicycles are available for all villa guests, and you will need them to get around. A tree top spa caters to those who want to relax further, while tennis courts and large communal pools are busy with people who are after an active holiday. While Dusit Thani isn’t as luxurious as some other resorts, it has a welcoming feel, and has plenty to offer guests who want to do more than just lie in the sun.

Watch the sun set over the sea at Benjarong LEFT Heaven is having your own private pool only metres above the sea

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NORTH MALE ATOLL

Best for a party

The huge infinity pool lights up with bright pinks, blues and greens, the underwater LED lighting pulses and gives the stars overhead a run for their money. Nearby, underground, select diners enjoy the 6,000 strong wine cellar (the biggest in the Maldives, only outdone when Roman Abramovich anchors nearby – his yacht holds a staggering 8,000 bottles), set to the perfect temperature. Out on a limb on one side of this paradise is another underwater attraction, the first ever underwater spa, where massage seekers will be hypnotised by the clown fish and their friends, who have become rather partial to playing hide and seek with the strange faces they see at the window. This is the Maldives Per Aquum style (Per Aquum own Desert Palm in Dubai). Kate Moss is known to holiday here when she wants to ‘get away from it all’ and British celebrity chefs hire the huge two level CUBE villa on a regular basis. The resort is set up for excess and enjoyment, whether you have a beach or over the water home. There are endless hideaway spots slung with strategic hammocks, double beds hang from trees and a variety of restaurants and bars appeal to those who want to do more than just bunker down in a villa and not emerge for a week. The long thin island is home to only 44 villas but fields an impressive array of activities from perfumery workshops to wine tasting, night snorkeling trips, dhoni cruises and more.

WHERE TO STAY

Huvanfen Fushi Huvanfen Fushi is 30 minutes from Male’s international airport. It’s home to an impressive dive centre as well as RAW restaurant, where everything is served as it sounds. It also has an open-air pizzeria and a large library and games room (from Dhs5,142; free Wi-fi; huvafenfushi.peraquum.com).

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Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East May/June 2013

Expect a friendly welcome at Huvanfen Fushi


THE PERFECT TRIP Maldives

MEN IN TRADITIONAL SKIRTS SIT IN SWINGING CHAIRS ON ROTTING VERANDAS AND COCONUTS CLUSTER ON EVERY TREE

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THE PERFECT TRIP Maldives

NORTH MALE ATOLL

Best for romance

In that inbetween light of night and day, the speedboat glides towards a thin strip of sand. A butler awaits its arrival, Champagne chilling on ice, a table set up for two for a rather lavish breakfast. This is how you see in the morning in style on the North Male atoll. As the water laps only feet away, perched only inches above the waves, you can dine on the freshest seafood watching dawn break. With a main island that you can walk round in 10 minutes, Baros has put serious effort into ensuring there are plenty of activities for its 30 villas’ guests, whether to seduce or surprise. Encircled by a lively house reef that is being encouraged to expand thanks to the impressive environmental efforts of the house team, the Kodhdhipparu-Baros island was one of the first resorts to open in the Maldives in 1973 (when communication relied on wireless morse code and a trip to Male took three hours in

a sailboat). It remains one of its most popular thanks in part to staff who are passionate about their adopted home. Only 20 minutes from the international airport on Male, it’s quick to access and caters to a slightly older, more refined market than some of the newer resorts. For those that don’t want to dive, guests only need to wade out a few metres and swim past the breakwater to be on the house reef and see a staggering array of colourful fish, a peaceful underwater world that seems miles away from the beachside paradise on land. Baros is very much about being spoilt, it has a flotilla of different boats (from the traditional dhonis which are like Arabian dhows to modern speedy numbers) for everything from fishing to sunset cruises, nothing is too much trouble for your personal butler and everything from glass-bottomed canoes to wakeboarding can be arranged.

Sunset at Baros BELOW Day breaks on the small island

See dawn break with breakfast on a sand bar out at sea

WHERE TO STAY

Baros Baros is old school luxury and it's an adults only destination. Its signature restaurant Lighthouse is one of the most impressive in the Maldives and each beach villa comes with a private pool, decking area and beach access, giving you the best of both worlds. Head to the restaurant for sunset cocktails and watch your stress float away (from Dhs1,180; free Wi-fi; baros.com).

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MAKE IT HAPPEN

Maldives The Islamic island nation has become a haven for those seeking romance, snorkeling, diving and peace and quiet in style

Gan's Post Office arrived in the 1950s

OTHER THINGS TO SEE IN THE MALDIVES

ESSENTIALS

Getting around If you’re moving resorts, you’ll need to check whether your airplane, seaplane or boat transfers are included in the overall price. The various islands are further apart than you think so prepared to build transfer time into your trip. Further reading Buy the Lonely Planet Maldives guidebook (Dhs90; lonelyplanet.com). You can download particular chapters for Dhs18 from lonelyplanet. com. For a good idea of where to go on a budget check visitmaldives.com.

DEPTHS & ELEVATION 6ºN

SOUTH THILADHUNMATHEE ATOLL

INDIAN OCEAN

40

400

30

300

20

200

10

100

Funadhoo

6ºN

SOUTH MILADHUNMADULU ATOLL

NOONU

RAA

200m 600m

Manadhoo

Ugoofaaru

1000m

NORTH MAALHOSMADULU ATOLL

2000m 3000m

Naifaru

LHAVIYANI

4000m+

approximate values

FAADHIPPOLHU ATOLL

SOUTH MAALHOSMADULU ATOLL Eydhafushi

Rasdhoo Atoll Meet hammerhead sharks at dawn

BAA

5ºN

GOIDHOO ATOLL NORTH MALE ATOLL

Ari Atoll Swim with a whale shark

KAAFU

RASDHOO ATOLL

4ºN

Thulusdhoo Male Ibrahim Nasir International Airport

MALE

ALIFU ARI ATOLL

Male Explore the fascinating Maldivian capital

SOUTH MALE ATOLL

4ºN

Mahibadhoo

FELIDHOO ATOLL

VAAVU

Felidhoo

SOUTH NILANDHOO ATOLL Kudahuvadhoo

INDIAN OCEAN

KOLHUMADULU ATOLL

Veymandhoo

2ºN

2ºN

HADHDHUNMATHEE ATOLL

LOCATOR

INDIA

Lakshadweep (India)

Bay of Bengal

Hithadhoo

Kochi (Cochin)

ARABIAN SEA

SRI LANKA 73ºE

See Main Map

mm

SHAVIYANI

80m

Climate ˚C

NORTH MILADHUNMADULU ATOLL

MAAMAKUNUDHOO ATOLL

0m+

5ºN

70 km 40 miles

Kulhuduffushi

COLOMBO

500

0 0

HAA DHAALU

Utheemu Visit a 16th-century Maldivian mansion

Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)

50

74 E HAA ALIFU NORTH THILADHUNMATHEE ATOLL

72 E IHAVANDHIPPOLHU ATOLL Dhidhdhoo

70 E

Getting there Fly to Male direct from Dubai with the low-cost carrier flydubai (Dhs1,735; flydubai. com). Saving on the flight means more cash to spend on arrival, and given the high cost of drinks and meals within the resorts, this is a good move.

INDIAN

OCEAN 1ºN

NORTH HUVADHOO ATOLL

MALE

Viligili

MALDIVES

INDIAN OCEAN

Thinadhoo

SOUTH HUVADHOO ATOLL Equator

Equator Equator

0

J F M A M J J A S O N D

Temp max/min

0

INDIAN OCEAN

0 0

500 km 300 miles

Equator

FOAMMULAH ATOLL

Fuamulaku

Gan Gape at the Maldives' best coral

Hithadhoo

73ºE Gan

ADDU ATOLL

74ºE

75ºE

Rainfall

May/June 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East 39


What’s the story? Dublin is a city that has inspired countless writers beyond its most-loved literary son, James Joyce. Join BBC correspondent Fergal Keane on a walk through Ireland’s capital in the footsteps of its novelists, poets and playwrights WORDS FERGAL KEANE O PHOTOGRAPHS ANDREW MONTGOMERY

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This stretch of Dublin’s Grand Canal, looking east to the lock gates at Baggot Street Bridge, was beloved by poet Patrick Kavanagh. OPPOSITE Well-thumbed volumes line the shelves at Sweny’s, featured in James Joyce’s Ulysses as a shrine-cum-bookshop


Grattan Bridge above the River Liffey, looking north towards Upper Ormond Quay

A

T THAT TIME OF DAY when the light is fading and the streets are filled with homebound commuters, a spectral Dublin emerges. For an hour or so it becomes haunted by dead rebels and forgotten kings – the most melancholy and seductive city in which to walk through the twilight. The poet Louis MacNeice, a northern Irish protestant, came to Dublin as a visitor. He did not – could not – love the city. Yet he was unable to resist the power of her past. ‘But yet she holds my mind With her seedy elegance, With her gentle veils of rain And all her ghosts that walk And all that hide behind Her Georgian façades’ EXTRACT FROM DUBLIN (1939)

Poems, plays, novels and stories inhabit the personality of Dublin in a way that I have never encountered in another city. Literary outpourings were first documented in the sixth century, with the Gaelic bards who wrote praise songs for the Irish chieftains: poetry was prized as, unlike earthly treasures, it was considered immortal. After the native poets came the Vikings in the ninth century, with traditions of sagas, and the Normans in the twelfth century, bringing with them an English tongue that the Irish would make their own. As a child, writers and actors came to our home in the genteel suburb of Terenure to talk and declaim. My father, an Abbey Theatre actor, recited WB Yeats and shared stories of the writers he knew. He drank

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with Brendan Behan and the poet Paddy Kavanagh, sipping pints of stout and ‘balls of malt’ – small whiskeys. And on a long, lost night he met a future Booker Prize winner, Roddy Doyle, at a party held at Doyle’s parents’ house. My earliest remembered Dublin landmarks are associated with writers: when my mother took my brother and sister and I into town, she would point out St Patrick’s Cathedral where its then-dean Jonathan Swift wrote Gulliver’s Travels or, bringing us to swim at Sandycove, would show us the Martello Tower, where James Joyce opened Ulysses. In homage to Dublin’s literary heritage, I offer my own pilgrimage through the worlds of some favourite Dublin writers.

Patrick Kavanagh

Kavanagh’s poetry evokes the city beautifully. In his 1953 poem If Ever You Go to Dublin Town, he asked the reader to seek out his presence long after his death:

‘On Pembroke Road look out for my ghost, Dishevelled with shoes untied, Playing through the railings with little children Whose children have long since died.’ I begin my search for Kavanagh on Grafton Street, a busy pedestrianised thoroughfare that thrums to the sounds of itinerant musicians. Here too is one of the great coffee emporiums of the literary world, Bewley’s Grafton Street Café, preserved in its old-world glory. Joyce mentioned it in his short-story collection Dubliners, and he,

WB Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Kavanagh were all regulars. Nearby, Kavanagh immortalised a brief meeting with the great unrequited love of his life, Hilda Moriarty (later O’Malley). A dark-haired beauty whom he met in 1944, she was, alas for Kavanagh, to marry a future government minister in 1947. He wrote her the poem On Raglan Road, later made famous as a ballad by the Dubliners: ‘On Grafton Street in November we tripped lightly along the ledge Of the deep ravine where can be seen the worth of passion’s pledge.’ From Grafton Street I head south through Fusiliers’ Arch, into lovely St Stephen’s Green. There is a bust of James Joyce here facing his old university college, Newman House. With 22 acres in the middle of the city, it is the largest of inner Dublin’s parks. Here, during the Easter Rising rebellion of 1916, Constance Markievicz, scion of Anglo-Irish high society and friend of Yeats, commanded a small rebel force until British sniping from the nearby Shelbourne Hotel forced her and other rebels to retreat. During the fighting, both sides observed a truce to allow the groundskeeper to feed the ducks in the park’s ornamental lake. A 10-minute stroll takes me out towards the Grand Canal at Baggot Street Bridge. This was Kavanagh’s favourite spot – a place ‘leafy-with-love banks and the green water of the canal pouring redemption for me’, as he wrote in 1958. The council erected a statue of the poet, seated on a park bench in eternal admiration of the passing swans, where I join him to read a Saturday copy of The Irish Times; the books page offers some of the best literary criticism in Europe.


L I T E R A RY D U B L I N

Busker Paddy plays his penny whistle on Grafton Street. LEFT Bewley’s Grafton Street Café has drawn a literary crowd since opening

A bronze statue of Patrick Kavanagh recalls his poem Lines Written on a Seat on the Grand Canal, Dublin. RIGHT The grand exterior of Bewley’s

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The Trinity College Library’s Long Room contains 200,000 of its oldest books, and is lined with marble busts – including one of Jonathan Swift, writer of Gulliver’s Travels

Enright is a very modern Irish novelist. She once said that, unlike other cities where clever people make money: ‘In Dublin, clever people go home and write their books.’ Anne did both: her haunting novel The Gathering won the 2007 Man Booker prize and became a bestseller. Although set in the kind of genteel Dublin suburb in which I grew up, her novel reaches beyond Ireland towards a universal terrain of loss:

Anne Enright

‘We each love someone, even though they will die. And we keep loving them, even when they are not there to love any more. And there is no logic or use to any of this, that I can see.’ In her previous, debut novel, The Wig My

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Father Wore, the narrator Grace uses the wig as a symbol of what is false in her own life and the Ireland which has shaped and distorted her: ‘For years my father’s wig felt like an answer. I could say “I am the way I am because my father wears a wig.”’ To sample something of the intellectual world that shaped Anne Enright, I step into the calm, cobblestoned quad of Trinity College, where she was a student in the Seventies. Founded in 1592, Trinity was for centuries a bastion of Protestant ascendancy in Ireland. The first Catholics were not admitted until the late 18th century. The Catholic Church viewed the institution with grave suspicion: until 1970, Catholics needed permission from their bishop to attend Trinity. The college is home to the Book of Kells, an eighthcentury set of gospels created by the monks of the Abbey of Kells in County Meath. A work of incredible beauty, the book helps to attract close to half a million visitors to

Trinity College each year. Other bibliophiles come to spend a contemplative hour or two in the Long Room of the old Library Building – lined with thousands of volumes, and where the atmosphere is heavy with the grace of knowledge. Walking past the busts of notable scholars, each with solemn visage gazing out from the distant past, I pass shelf after shelf crammed with learning. Yet the books on display are but a fragment of the Trinity collection. There are more than three million books in the repository, with extensive collections in the Irish language and a world-renowned children’s literature catalogue. Also here are the depositions taken following the Irish Rebellion of 1641. These feature interviews with Protestant survivors of the Catholic massacres and were used as justification by Cromwell for his notorious campaign later in that decade. The depositions were circulated in England to create public support for a punitive


L I T E R A RY D U B L I N It was here, on Mountjoy Square, that Sean O’Casey, one of the great figures of 20th-century European theatre, lived for a period in a tenement flat at number 35. These terraced, red-brick houses were first built for the city’s elite – lawyers, churchmen, politicians – but during the 19th-century decline of the Protestant ascendancy, their prominent inhabitants departed for London. Many houses became tenements, and by the early 20th century, around 20,000 families were living in one-room flats. Diseases like tuberculosis and rickets – the latter caused by malnourishment – were rife. As O’Casey, growing up in this atmosphere of poverty, caustically observed: ‘Money does not make you happy but it quiets the nerves.’ His best writing drew from the Dublin working class experience of the political turmoil that engulfed Ireland between the rebellion of 1916 and the Irish Civil War of 1922. In his play Juno and the Paycock, the mother of Johnny Boyle, shot by his colleagues in the IRA for informing, calls out to her dead son with words that echo down to the present day:

Sean O'Casey

‘Blessed Virgin, where were you when me darlin’ son was riddled with bullets, when me darlin' son was riddled with bullets? O sacred Heart o’ Jesus, take away our hearts o’ stone, and give us hearts o’ flesh! Take away this murderin’ hate, an’ give us – give us Thine own – Thine own eternal love!’ The architecture of O’Casey’s Dublin might have been cruelly eroded but for campaign against the Irish. Emerging from the hush of the library and finding myself suddenly hungry, I make a beeline for Leo Burdock’s chipper. For nearly a century, Burdock and his descendants have served what Molly Bloom in Ulysses called ‘a nice piece of cod’ in crisp batter, with equally tasty chips. My favourite is the smoked cod, a Dublin staple, to be eaten across the road at the site of the old fish market on Fishamble Street, which entered musical history as the place where Handel’s Messiah was first performed at Neal’s Music Hall on 13 April 1742. Sat here in the open, I catch the scent of roasting barley blown downriver from the Guinness brewery at St James’s Gate. That is the smell of Dublin. Walking east along the River Liffey and then turning north takes me to the greatest of Dublin’s five Georgian squares. Mountjoy Square was named after an Anglo-Irish peer who promoted Georgian Dublin but died fighting against Irish rebels in 1798.

determined campaigning against the depredations of property developers in the 1960s: the Georgian city was seen as a symbol of a British past that some of its most powerful nationalist politicians were keen to bury. Since then, many of the buildings located around Mountjoy Square have been converted into flats or cheap hotels. It is still an area that struggles between the edgy and the elegant. After an afternoon wandering the north inner city a degree of claustrophobia is creeping in, so I head to the nearest DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) station to catch a sea-bound train. The DART runs along the entire curve of Dublin Bay, passing regal Dalkey in the south, home to Bono of U2 and celebrated English foreign correspondent Robert Fisk, all the way north past the urban sprawl of Raheny and Kilbarrack, where Roddy Doyle set his novels of Dublin working-class life.

Howth Head, a peninsula at the north end of Dublin Bay. ABOVE A grand Georgian house on Mountjoy Square

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STheTlighthouse R A P and fishing port of Howth – just visible to the right is the island of Ireland’s Eye, a conservation area

Although his narratives often follow a tragic arc, Roddy Doyle is above all a very funny writer. His wit taps into a richly ironic Dublin tradition. It is a world in which a notorious hardman might hear someone shout, from a safe distance: ‘Come on ya coward and fight the nine of us!’ His 1987 novel The Commitments tells the story of an aspiring rhythm and blues band on the city’s northside:

Roddy Doyle

‘They’d been in the folk mass choir when they were in school but that, they knew now, hadn’t really been singing. Jimmy said that real music was sex … And there wasn’t much sex in Morning Has Broken or The Lord Is My Shepherd.’ Passing the anonymous council estates on my left – the fictional Barrytown of his novels – and the glowering sea on my right, some of Doyle’s words about his native city come to mind: ‘It’s a big con job. We have sold the myth of Dublin as a sexy place incredibly well; because it is a dreary little dump most of the time,’ he told a journalist in 2004. Only a man known to love his hometown with a deep passion could get away with a remark like that. Doyle is a champion of the Dublin that stretches, physically and psychologically, beyond the concerns of the metropolitan elite. He lives near the DART line now, on the way to the busy fishing port of Howth. Along its busy quayside, trawlers unload their catch. Some of these fruits of the Irish coast go straight on ice at Wrights of Howth, a seafood store where smoked salmon is a speciality. Salmon has a special place in the folklore of Ireland. In the Fenian Cycle, a body of mythological poems and stories

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first written down in the seventh century, it was said that the great warrior hero Fionn Mac Cumhaill tasted the flesh of the Salmon of Knowledge as a boy, and in doing so gained all the wisdom of the world. On this basis, a side of Wrights’ smoked salmon seems a bargain. Before catching the DART back to Dublin, I make a brief foray up along Howth Head – the ‘Himp of Holth’ in Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake – as a pale sun emerges to light the sweep of the bay. East lies the little island of Ireland’s Eye, to the west the Wicklow Mountains. Beneath them in the valley of the Liffey, the great city awaits twilight. Across the bay are the tall chimneys of the power station in Ringsend, home of Paul Durcan, Ireland’s most exquisitely tender, richly comic and ferociously political poet. I remember the subversive thrill of reading Durcan’s poems for the first time. I was still at school when he wrote of enjoying carnal pleasures outside the presidential residence, Áras an Uachtaráin, in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Durcan’s poem was a challenge to the puritanical spirit of the times as embodied in the austere presence of Éamon DeValera, revolutionary founding father and president for some of the period when Durcan and I were growing up in Dublin.

Paul Durcan

‘When I was a boy, myself and my girl Used bicycle up to the Phoenix Park; Outside the gates we used lie in the grass Making love outside Áras an Uachtaráin.’

of the Liffey where you can spot fallow deer and swooping sparrowhawks and kestrels, and picnic in the shadow of the giant Papal Cross. This 35-metre-high structure stands where Pope John Paul II addressed more than a million people in September 1979. I chose a spot under one of the park’s numerous trees and while away an hour with a copy of Daddy Daddy, my favourite of Durcan’s collections. As darkness falls, my thoughts turn from the solitary wanderings of the day towards more convivial preoccupations. Heading out onto Parkgate Street at the southern end of the park, I walk to O’Donoghue’s pub on Merrion Row. With a history that dates back to the 18th century, O’Donoghue’s was the epicentre of Ireland’s folk music revival in the 1960s. There is still good music, flowing drink and an atmosphere of ease. The great folk singer-songwriter Andy Irvine, who arrived in Ireland from London in the Sixties and never left, immortalised the place in his eponymous ballad. ‘Oh what times and an atmosphere; What more could a young man wish for? How I’d spend my time was never in doubt, This is what life was all about A bowl of soup and a pint of stout’ EXTRACT FROM O’DONOGHUE’S (2007)

I grew up in Dublin between the mountains and sea. I feel the passion described by the poet Donagh McDonagh, who wrote of ‘this arrogant city that stirs proudly and secretly in my blood’. Pack your bag full of her writers and walk these streets and, I promise, the passion will stir within you too.

EXTRACT FROM MAKING LOVE OUTSIDE ÁRAS AN UACHTARÁIN (1978)

The park is lovely in all seasons – a 1,740acre mix of glen and woodland to the north

FERGAL KEANE grew up in Dublin but now lives in London. He is a BBC foreign correspondent, author, broadcaster and historian.


MAKE IT HAPPEN

Dublin

PaZmÍl ma^lmhkr8 Dublin is a city that has inspired countless writers beyond its most-loved literary son, James Joyce. Using the map on page 70, join BBC correspondent Fergal Keane on a walk through Ireland’s capital in the footsteps of its novelists, poets and playwrights

This stretch of Dublin’s Grand Canal, looking east to the lock gates at Baggot Street Bridge, was beloved by poet Patrick Kavanagh. OPPOSITE Well-thumbed volumes line the shelves at Sweny’s, featured in James Joyce’s Ulysses as a shrine-cum-bookshop

WORDS FERGAL KEANE O PHOTOGRAPHS ANDREW MONTGOMERY

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ESSENTIALS Getting there Aer Lingus, Air France, BA, Flybe and Ryanair fly to Dublin from UK airports (from £100; flybe. com). Ferries run to Dublin or nearby Dun Laoghaire from Liverpool and Holyhead (car from £190; poferries.com).

Few places can hold a candle to Dublin as a city of words. Begin your literary journey by reading a book by one of its great writers, before setting out to explore its streets on a walking tour

Doormen outside the Georgian Merrion hotel

Follow Fergal Keane through literary Dublin

WORDS: SOPHIE MCGRATH, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM FIONN DAVENPORT. PHOTOGRAPHS: ANDREW MONTGOMERY

Getting around Dublin is a compact city, good for walking. The Dublinbikes cycle hire scheme is also a handy way to get around (three-day ticket £1.60 plus deposit, fares vary thereafter; dublinbikes.ie). The Dublin Area Rapid Transport (DART) runs along the coast to Howth (£3.70 return; irishrail.ie). Further reading See Lonely Planet’s Dublin Encounter (£7.99) or the more comprehensive Dublin city guide (£12.99). For more visit discoverireland.com. Climate 40

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MAP KEY POINTS OF INTEREST Bewley’s Grafton Street Café &Grafton Street (Coffee from £2.20; 78-79 Grafton Street; bewleys.com) St Stephen’s Green Baggot Street Bridge, Grand Canal Trinity College Dublin (Admission to the Old Library is £7 on the day; tcd.ie) Leo Burdock’s chipper (Fish and chips £6.20; 2 Werburgh Street; leoburdock.com)

Mountjoy Square Dublin Bay Wrights of Howth (Fillet of salmon £27; 14 West Pier; wrightsofhowth.com) Howth Head Phoenix Park (Open 24 hours; phoenixpark.ie) O’Donoghue’s (Pint of beer from £3.80; 15 Merrion Row; odonoghues.ie)

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SUMMER TRAVEL SECRETS Some are remote, others are just strangely overlooked, but these towns and regions, islands and mountains are all worth discovering

1

WAITAKERE RANGES, NEW ZEALAND New Zealand in miniature, within the Auckland metropolitan region

One of the pleasures of living in New Zealand is that, even in its biggest city, locals are just a short drive from thrilling natural habitats. The Waitakere Ranges are an expanse of coastal hills 15 miles west of Auckland, that are almost entirely covered in rainforest and protected as a regional park (aucklandcouncil.govt.nz). Waterfalls and tree ferns abound in this subtropical landscape, and there are a number of giant kauri trees. Two narrowgauge railways offer an easy way through the greenery or, for something more ambitious, the Hillary Trail is a four-day hiking path that takes in the coastal stretches of Waitakere. Here, where the

hills meet the Tasman Sea, are wave-lashed black-sand beaches (also accessible by road), including cinematic Karekare and surfers’ favourite Piha. O STAY Piha Beachstay is an attractive and

eco-friendly wood-and-glass lodge with a six-bed bunkroom (Dhs120 per person) and private double rooms (from Dhs270; pihabeachstay.co.nz).

PHOTOCREDIT

The Waitakere Ranges are criss-crossed by more than 150 miles of walking trails

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PHOTOCREDIT

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Lush Pacific haven with unbeatable diving

First of all, allow plenty of time to reach this island, whose nearest international connections are Honolulu and Guam. Kosrae (pronounced ‘ko-shrye’) is the easternmost of the 607 islands dotted across a million square miles of ocean that make up the Federated States of Micronesia (kosrae.com). This isolation has at least one big bonus – the island is fringed with coral reefs that count as some of the most remarkable and undisturbed in the Pacific Ocean, sheltering groupers, lionfish and a host of other marine life. In summer, the visibility in the water can be an amazing 60 metres, enough to see the submerged remains of an American flying boat and a Japanese freighter sunk during WWII. The rainforest-covered interior and delightful beaches are also highlights of the island. The nearby islet of Lelu has jungle-covered ruins that look like a smaller version of the mysterious ‘lost city’ of Nan Madol, on the main Micronesian island of Pohnpei.

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SAN BERNARDO ISLANDS, COLOMBIA

Soft sand and teeming reefs in the Colombian Caribbean

O STAY The Kosrae Nautilus Resort is an

Colombia’s northwestern Caribbean coast stretches southwards from Cartagena – once one of the greatest ports of the Spanish Empire. The San Bernardo Islands, 10 miles offshore, are a favourite holiday spot for Colombians, but still largely unknown among travellers elsewhere in the world. Together with another island group further north, this archipelago forms part of the Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo National Park – one of the best places along the coast for diving and snorkelling (parquesnacionales.gov.co). There are 10 islands in total, the largest is just two miles long, and together they form a picturesque vision of mangrove lagoons and white-sand beaches bordering on warm, crystalline waters. After a boat trip from the mainland (two hours from Cartagena, one hour from Tolú), it’s simply a question of leaving yourself enough time to slow down to the pace of Caribbean-island time.

upmarket Australian-run place with a convivial atmosphere, close to the causeway that leads to Lelu (from Dhs570; kosraenautilus.com).

OSTAY The choicest accommodation in the islands is Punta Faro on Isla Múcura, with its own private beach (from Dhs1,440; puntafaro.com).

The collection of large statues at Nemrut Da^ı is thought to belong to a royal tomb from the 1st century BC

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BUKHARA, UZBEKISTAN

A former Silk Road city that preserves its splendours Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara – three cities that epitomise the days of khans and camel trains in Central Asia. Of the three, Bukhara has had perhaps the most sensitive restoration, and its historic centre holds around 140 protected buildings. The city blossomed in the 9th and 10th centuries, and again in the 16th century, when it grew to have dozens of bazaars and caravanserais (travellers’ inns), more than 100 medressas (Islamic schools) and at least 300 mosques. Many of those that remain, such as the Mir-i Arab Medressa, display masterpieces of tile-work on their domes and arches. The 47m-tall Kalon minaret meanwhile, with its intricate brickwork, was impressive enough to have been spared by Genghis Khan on his rampage through Bukhara in 1220. See more on Bukhara and the region on local tour operator websites advantour.com and arostr.uz. O STAY The friendly K.Komil Boutique Hotel

(linked to a travel agency, like many Bukhara hotels and B&Bs) is decorated in elaborate Bukharan designs, including ghanch – carved and painted plasterwork (from Dhs210; komiltravel.com).

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SOUTHEASTERN ANATOLIA, TURKEY

Scenic route through thousands of years of history A world away from cosmopolitan Istanbul or Turkey’s laid-back coastal resorts, littlevisited Southeastern Anatolia deserves equal fame. Once the northern frontier of Mesopotamia (the ‘cradle of civilization’), the region encompasses an astonishing array of sites, reaching far back into human history. The recently excavated stone circles of Göbekli Tepe, for example, are thought to comprise the world’s oldest temple. Comparatively youthful at just a few millennia old are S ¸ anlıurfa (‘the Prophet’s City’) – an ancient spiritual centre of mosques, shady courtyards and a labyrinthine bazaar – and the beehive houses of Harran. Equally captivating are Mardin, where golden stone houses look over sunbaked plains, and the colossal ancient statues that crowd a remote mountaintop at Nemrut Dag˘ı. Several of these places are stops on the recently inaugurated Turkish section of Abraham’s Path, a 100-mile trail through sites linked to the prophet’s life, sleeping in homestays along the way (see seanatolianheritage.org and abrahamspathturkey.org). O STAY The beautifully restored Antik Tatlıdede

Konagı hotel occupies a 580-year-old, honey-hued mansion in Mardin (from Dhs300; tatlidede.com.tr).

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PREVIOUS PAGES PHOTOGRAPH: COLIN AND LINDA MCKIE. THESE PAGES PHOTOGRAPHS: VITO ARCOMANO/MARKA/SUPERSTOCK, MCPHOTO/AGEFOTOSTOCK

2KOSRAE, MICRONESIA


T R AV E L S E C R E T S

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SYLT, GERMANY

Windswept beauty at Germany’s northernmost tip

Sylt is no secret to German tourists, many of whom have been flocking here for years. It’s not hard to see why – this large anchor-shaped island in the North Sea combines wild romance with a distinctly civilised drinking and dining scene. Away from the glamorous excesses of its most popular corners, this is a place of quiet beauty, where red-thatched houses sit in flower-thick gardens and candy-striped

lighthouses keep sentinel over green meadows and vast, shifting dunes. Head to the western coast for mile upon mile of secluded fine-sand beaches and dramatic surf, or wander east to the serene Wadden Sea, where gentle waters recede to reveal a natural haven of tidal mudflats. In the evening, tuck into local specialities at one of Sylt’s scores of eateries – from beach bistros to Michelin-starred restaurants, there’s no shortage of fine food (en.sylt.de). OSTAY Run by a renowned gastronome, Hotel Jörg Müller has three restaurants and offers cooking classes (from Dhs930; hotel-joerg-mueller.de).

A lighthouse presides over the sandy northern cape of Sylt, where dunes reach up to 53 metres in height


Remote white-sand beaches and pristine seas In a tropical country made up of more than 18,000 islands, relatively few have become well-established tourist destinations. Towards the east of the Indonesian archipelago are the Kei Islands, which nobody could accuse of hogging the limelight (tinyurl.com/lpkeisecret). The trickle of visitors who make it here do so mostly to enjoy powder-fine white-sand beaches in unaccustomed solitude. The islands have flight and ferry connections to the old spice-trading centre of Ambon, further north in the Maluku Islands, and onwards to Jakarta. Together with a smattering of simple guesthouses, some on the beach, these bring the Kei Islands just within reach of unhurried travellers. The star of the islands’ beaches is twomile-long Pasir Panjang, which curves gently beside a line of palm fronds. O STAY Coaster Cottages comprises four very

different beach houses at Pasir Panjang, ranging in furnishings and mod cons from the two-bedroom Grand Villa (house Dhs330) to the more simple Old Cottage (twin room Dhs90). Bookings are made through English-speaking Obeth (‘Bob’) Aziz (bestbeachbungalows.com).

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RICHMOND, NORTH YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND

Handsome, castle-crowned market town perched over a river There are more than 50 places called Richmond around the world, from a London borough to the state capital of Virginia, but the original can be found just outside the Yorkshire Dales National Park, in a prime spot on the River Swale (richmond.org). Since the days of the Normans, Richmond Castle has sat on a rocky outcrop above the river – one of the oldest stone fortresses in the country. The true heart of the town however is the straightforwardly named Market Place. Based on a charter from Elizabeth I, an outdoor market takes place here every Saturday (a farmers’ market on the third Saturday of the month) with a permanent indoor market off to one side. Cobbled streets fan out from the sloping, half-moonshaped square, lined with handsome Georgian buildings and stone cottages, with glimpses of the dales beyond. O STAY Behind an unassuming green door lies one

of the most attractive guesthouses in England. Millgate House is a Georgian gem crammed with period details, and the delightful garden looks out over the River Swale and the Cleveland Hills (from Dhs660; millgatehouse.com).

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TRIESTE, ITALY

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IKARIA, GREECE

Genteel city of neoclassical façades and Viennese cafés

Experience laid-back local life on an unspoilt Greek Island

If you had to choose one city to serve as the capital of Europe, Trieste might be the fairest choice. A piece of Italy largely surrounded by Slovenian territory, and which was once imperial Austria’s cosmopolitan main port, it lies at the crossroads of the continent’s Latin, Slavic and Germanic cultures (turismofvg.it). This is reflected in the city’s food habits, where panini and fritto misto (fried seafood) might be followed by beef brisket and horseradish. Triestini love their coffee just as much as Romans and Viennese do, and many of the cafés evoke more gilded times. The huge, pristine central square is an elegant triumph of Austro-Hungarian town planning, now ironically named the Square of Italian Unity. Beyond it is the Borgo Teresiano, a graceful 18th-century district that straddles Trieste’s very own Grand Canal, a mosaic-laden Serbian Orthodox church and a richly decorated neoclassical synagogue. The city also has literary note as the place where James Joyce lived for 10 years before the outbreak of WWI.

If you’re after somewhere to eat, drink and unwind, look no further than Ikaria, a place so restorative that living to 100 years here is no big deal. No-one’s quite sure what accounts for residents’ exceptional longevity, but the sheer serenity of the place must have something to do with it (the hot springs probably help, too). A hilly isle in the northeast Aegean mostly bypassed by tourism, it’s strewn with crumbling ruins, secluded bays and tiny villages where residents gather to tell stories, play backgammon and drink. Vineyard-rich Ikaria’s a particularly fine place for this last pursuit, being the mythical birthplace of both Dionysus, god of wine, and of his favourite tipple. Enjoy its signature red over a plate of local produce in the cascading village of Karavostamo or in the easy-going port of Agios Kirykos. Summer is the best time to experience the joie de vivre of Greek island culture, when panigyria (all-night festivals) ring in saints’ days with feasting, drinking and dancing galore (island-ikaria.com).

O STAY James Joyce lived in the building that is now

O STAY The spacious wood and stone rooms of

the Hotel Victoria, and there are homages to him throughout (from Dhs600; hotelvictoriatrieste.com).

Messakti Village have private balconies overlooking the sea (from Dhs300; messaktivillage.com).

Holidaymakers enjoy a deserted beach, one of many dotted around the rocky coastline of Ikaria

PHOTOGRAPHS: PAOLO GIOCOSO/SIME/4CORNERS, GEORG ISMAR/DPA/CORBIS

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KEI ISLANDS, INDONESIA


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MEKNÈS, MOROCCO

A mini-Marrakesh of imperial splendour

walls, dozens of mosques (its nickname is ‘city of a hundred minarets’) and the vast, ornately-tiled Bab el-Mansour gate; located opposite Meknès’s lively medina, it’s the grandest in Morocco. Most of these date back to Meknès’s 17th and 18th century glory days as the sultanate’s base. Nearby is a rather more ancient attraction: Volubilis, site of the largest Roman ruins in the country. With its partially restored buildings and beautiful, on-site mosaics, it’s unmissable (visitmorocco.com).

While visitors pour into Marrakesh, Fez and Rabat, Meknès, the fourth and most modest of Morocco’s imperial cities, is rather unfairly overlooked. With its maze of narrow streets, busy medina and wealth of grand buildings, it’s undoubtedly cut from the same beguiling cloth. Set amidst fertile plains below the Middle Atlas Mountains, Unesco-listed Meknès’s monuments include OSTAY The Ryad Bahia, in the old city, has been numerous palaces, 25 miles of historic carefully restored (from Dhs300; ryad-bahia.com).

A mosaic depicting characters from Greek mythology at Volubilis, Morocco’s best-preserved archaeological site


Carreg Cennen Castle dates back to the 13th century, though prehistoric and Roman remains have also

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CARREG CENNEN, CARMARTHENSHIRE, WALES

Crag-perched castle ruins with panoramic views Although built on a smaller scale than the castles at Beaumaris, Caernarfon and Caerphilly, the ruins of Carreg Cennen must be among the most dramatically sited in Wales (carregcennencastle.com). At the western end of the Brecon Beacons, a limestone crag is crowned with a 13th-century fortress that can be seen for miles around. The path up to the castle is a steep one, but the reward is an unrivalled vantage point looking out over the green hills of Carmarthenshire. Carreg Cennen is defended by two drawbridges and three gate towers, although it hasn’t seen much action since it was partly dismantled in 1462, during the Wars of the Roses. One rare feature of the castle is unchanged however – the stone passage that leads down to a natural cave underneath. O STAY A Victorian townhouse given a chic

makeover, Fronlas has rooms dressed in fresh tones, designer wallpaper and travertine marble tiles. The b&b is in Llandeilo, 10 minutes’ drive from Carreg Cennen (from Dhs360; fronlas.com).

15 A glimpse of the Gothic grandeur of pre-war Poland

While WWII spelt devastation for many of Poland’s finest historic towns, Torun´ – a walled medieval port on the Vistula river – miraculously escaped entirely intact. Today it continues, puzzlingly, to be overlooked, meaning that visitors have its wealth of glorious Gothic architecture largely to themselves. From towering churches to ornately decorated houses, the impressive red-brick buildings of its Unesco-listed old town form one of the best-preserved collections in northern Europe. Standouts include a light-filled cathedral that glitters with beautiful stained-glass windows, the medieval ruins of its castle and walls, and the 14th-century town hall – head up to its tower to enjoy sweeping views over the city. Directly below, the old town’s grand market square is a fine place to watch the world go by – grab a café table and sample Torun´’s signature snack of pierniki (gingerbread), famous country-wide (visittorun.pl). O STAY Hotel Karczma Spichrz is housed in a

converted 18th-century granary with timber eaves and views over the river (from Dhs360; spichrz.pl).

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BYBLOS, LEBANON

Serene ancient fishing harbour of cobbled streets and ruins

Though Byblos looks, at first glance, like simply a picturesque fishing harbour, beyond its shimmering waters you’ll also find a real historical heavyweight. This serene settlement north of Beirut has been around for a long time (some claim it’s the oldest continuously inhabited town in the world), during which it has featured in the Bible, been conquered by Crusaders and given the world the modern alphabet (courtesy of the sea-trading Phoenicians of the first millennium BC). Today, its many ages are well-represented in its patchwork of ruins, which include ancient temples and tombs and Neolithic houses. Three sites in particular steal the show: the reconstructed Roman amphitheatre, set on a cliff overlooking the sea; the imposing 12th-century Crusader castle, with its commanding views; and the beautifully restored medieval souq, where you can buy everything from antiques to fossils. That’s another few millennia ticked off, then (destinationlebanon.gov.lb). OSTAY Boutique hotel Byblos Sur Mer is on the

harbour edge (from Dhs660; byblossurmer.com).

Small city with big cultural and historic clout Rhode Island is the smallest state in the US – more like an English county in its expanse. Its capital, Providence, has many of the attractions of Boston, an hour’s drive away, but in a city a quarter of its size (visitrhodeisland.com). Ivy League member Brown University and the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) give the city a strong student influence, dignified campus buildings and the impressive RISD Museum of Art. Providence has the only downtown area in the US that is listed in its entirety on the National Register of Historic Places and, up on College Hill, east of the Providence River, are leafy streets lined with 18th-century wood-framed houses. More colourful districts include Federal Hill, with its Italian restaurants and food shops, and Fox Point, home to a Portuguese community and increasing numbers of coffee shops and small galleries. Try to time your visit for one of the 10 or so weekends a year, between May and October, when 100 flaming braziers light up the city’s waterways during WaterFire (waterfire.org). OSTAY Cosy quilts and fireplaces add a warm glow

at Christopher Dodge House, an inviting B&B overlooking the Rhode Island State House (from Dhs540; providence-hotel.com).

PHOTOGRAPHS: ADAM BURTON/SUPERSTOCK, MAURIZIO RELLINI/SIME/4CORNERS

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TORUN, POLAND

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND, USA


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WA S H I N G TO N D. C .

CAPITAL CITY The iconic political centre of Washington D.C. never used to be much more than a stage set for government wrangles. Now, the city is a hotbed of arts and culture, cool bars and plenty to do WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHS GEORGINA WILSON-POWELL

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MODERN WASHINGTON IS MUCH MORE THAN THE SUM OF ITS GOVERNMENT PARTS

WHERE TO STAY

Ritz Carlton Georgetown Built around an old incinerator, this small hotel has a lovely red-brick feel, while a roaring fire in the lobby makes everyone feel welcome. You’re only minutes away from M Street (from Dhs1,716; Wi-fi Dhs36/day; ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/ Georgetown).

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WA S H I N G TO N D. C .

The Newseum is an interactive look at the media, a stone's throw from capitol hill

LEFT AND THIS PIC Exhibitions at the Newseum include a look back at the way the FBI has been potrayed in the media

AM SITTING IN A CAR IN rush-hour traffic thinking how true it is that a picture says 1,000 words. I have just seen a collection of Pulitzer Prize winning photos. It is a solemn exhibition of harrowing shots from the last 60 years of wars that seeps into your brain. Then Barack Obama’s helicopter suddenly flies low over the road and lands on the lawn of the White House, not 500m away. This moment for me juxtaposes very neatly the difficulty in trying to reconcile the past and present of Washington D.C, where a succession of men in the house built by George Washington in 1792, sitting just to my right, have had a role to play in the gory history now on show at the city’s most high tech and interactive museum. The Newseum, is a seven storey building, dedicated to the history of journalism and the telling of the news. From 16th century newsbooks recounting tales of witchcraft through to daily newspapers, radio, then TV and now the internet, it traces the history of what is known as ‘history’s first rough draft’ and the efforts of a few to tell the truth – and how complex that can be. It also shows how key events (the moon landing, John F Kennedy’s assassination) during the last 100 years of American’s psyche have been shaped by television. But despite all the wonderful exhibits and interactive elements, it is that collection of photos that remains the most poignant. Washington D.C then is a city of contrasts and contradictions. Up until perhaps only five years ago, it had a reputation for being provincial, dangerous and dull, all at the same time, and seemingly offered very little for those outside politics. “Washington is changing, it’s becoming much less formal and there’s more on offer here for those not involved on the ‘hill’, ” May/June 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East

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FORMERLY NO-GO AREAS NOT FAR FROM CAPITOL HILL ARE BEING GENTRIFIED AND THE HIPSTERS HAVE TAKEN OVER says Maria Trabocchi, owner of the popular Fiola restaurant. She is just about to open two more outlets, as a reaction to Washington finally picking up the foodie baton. But it’s not just Maria who has a positive outlook for Washington’s future outside of government, everyone I talk to speaks of a huge change in the capital over the last few years. This has been helped by a number of blue chip and Fortune 500 companies moving into Tysons Corner in the last few years, a suburb only 20 minutes away from Downtown, and brought with them a raft of younger, cooler professionals who have breathed new life into the sometimes stuffy club of Washingtonians. Formerly no-go areas not far from Capitol Hill are being gentrified and the hipsters have taken over. H Street, which was razed in the riots following Martin Luther King’s death in 1968, is now a mix of intriguing bars – try the H Street Country Club which has its own

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indoor mini golf course (thehstreetcountryclub.com) – and trendy restaurants, but it still has a rough and ready feel. Over the other side of town, 14 Street, is home to a strip of fine dining but informal restaurants, micro-breweries and roof top bars, and on a Friday night it is teeming with young life that is a million miles away from the Yale/Harvard Republican brigade that you might expect to find in America’s capital. As the capital, Washington D.C. is unlike any other American city. Not only is it not part of any state, its location and development was spearheaded by George Washington who chose the city’s site on the Potomac River in 1790. Virginia and Maryland both donated land and the District of Columbia was born. Its aim was to provide a neutral and safe home for the country’s three strands of government (the President, Congress and the Supreme Court). Driving around Downtown and the

areas around the many memorials, it strikes me that Washington D.C. doesn’t seemed to have aged. It doesn’t have that feel of organic growth, where layers of history have been built on top of others. Rather it was planned well in the beginning and has remained, in the centre at least, in some kind of stasis. The grand Georgian federal buildings that line Constitution Avenue house every government department and museum going, the Treasury sits squat in the middle, overshadowing the smaller White House and the drive up to Congress on Capitol Hill is as grand and imposing as any you'd find in much older European cities. All this can be put down to the vision of one man, Pierre Charles L’Enfant, an American architect who studied at the Louvre before joining the Civil War. He was tasked by George Washington to build the capital city in 1791 and his grandeur has set the tone for the capital ever since. There is still a skyscraper ban in the city, which


Georgetown grew around the C&O canal at the start of the 20th century but persistent oods put it out of business TOP RIGHT Abraham Lincoln's memorial is poular with americans as well as international tourists

Find kooky boutiques in Georgetown BELOW LEFT Martin Luther King has a stunning memorial BELOW RIGHT

Georgetown still has a few diners for a greasy burger

WHERE TO STAY

Ritz Carlton D.C. When Rihanna or Beyonce are in town, they book into this centrally located grand affair. For a slice of political life head to the Club Lounge, where Senators and Congressmen are known to meet. West End Bistro downstairs supports many local food producers with gusto. (Dhs1,460; Wi-ďŹ Dhs36/day; ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/ WashingtonDC).

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WA S H I N G TO N D. C .

WHERE TO STAY

Ritz Carlton Tysons Corner If shopping is more your bag, head out of town a little way and book into the welcolming Tysons Corner which is the most popular hotel in town for Middle East guests. It is attached to a luxury mall (Dhs1,753; Wi-fi36/day; ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/TysonsCorner/).

Head to Eastern Market at the weekend for arts n' crafts and local food RIGHT Capitol Hill presides over Downtown D.C.

gives a real feel of both open space and intimacy. If you want to see the city from up high, and get a different view of the White House head to the roof lounge at the W Hotel (wwashingtondc.com). In the past, visitors could climb up the inside of the Washington Monument to peer out over the capital, but it has been shut since an earthquake in 2011 caused it to crack. Modern Washington is much more than the sum of its government parts however. From world-class museums to the formerly mentioned different streets that have eventually recovered from Washington’s shaky past in the 1960s and 1970s, the whole city today feels optimistic and welcoming. To get a feel for local Washington D.C., head to Eastern Market at the weekend. Found on Capitol Hill, a red brick market building that houses various organic food producers and florists, is almost hidden behind arts and crafts stalls, selling everything from local jewellery to soap and food stalls and trucks. Try the food truck take on a taco or Shrimp n’ Grits for a real American lunch. Dupont Circle, previously a den of Washington politics, has also become much more lively in recent years. After dark, this is where clubs can be found hidden behind innocuous doorways and the well paid bump and grind in basement private members clubs (try and get into Heist on

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1802 Jefferson Pl; heistdc.com). Georgetown, across the Potomac river, should also not be missed. This wealthy enclave of Washington D.C. predates the grandiose capital, and the city’s oldest house from 1776 can be explored on the main M Street for free. Set alongside an old canal, this quaint area is full of shuttered red brick houses and brightly coloured clapperboard streets and has a small town feel, only 15 minutes from Downtown. This is where JFK lived as a senator, proposing to Jackie Onassis in a local tavern (you can still sit in the same booth). On a sunny day, nothing is nicer than exploring its funky boutiques and organic cafes before watching the sun set over the river. On the horizon sits the infamous Watergate hotel; in this small city history is everywhere you look. For a more in-depth jaunt down memory lane, the capital is home to 19 art galleries and museums, which come under the Smithsonian label (number 20 will come in 2015 and be the African American History Museum). Mostly located in Downtown and the National Mall, each one is worth a morning or an afternoon explore. Head to the National Portrait Gallery for a look at the canon of famous Americans (from Walt Whitman to LL Cool J) who have made it into the prestigious hallways (and stop for a coffee in the beautiful interior courtyard) or drop into the Natural History Museum to

catch the glittering, famous Hope diamond and exhibits dating back thousands of years. All are free and well thought out (si.edu). While Washington D.C. is now a melting pot of art, culture, food and music, there’s no escaping how the history of America is woven into every turn here. From memorials to Thomas Jefferson, Franklin D Roosevelt, Martin Luther King and of course Abraham Lincoln, to the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights which sit in the National Archive, the varied and sometime violent history of the USA unravels before visitors, whether you go looking for it or not. Follow the memorial route, along the side of the Potomac and take in the imposing Washington Monument and its reflecting pool and the 19 foot statues of Lincoln and Jefferson. The spaces laid out are much more green, peaceful and spread out than you would imagine after watching movies where Washington has a starring role, while every other street corner seems to have had some bit part in some drama or other. For a city of only 630,000, Washington D.C. feels like an intimate town, always historic and now, finally hip. Where New York has razzle and dazzle, Washington has grace, and a more laid back approach. The city is a great introduction to 21st century America.


MAKE IT HAPPEN

WASHINGTON D.C. Washington D.C. might be the home of the White House, but it's also home to 19 world-class art galleries and museums and you'll find America's history everywhere you look ESSENTIALS

ALL YOUR WASHINGTON D.C. ESSENTIALS

Getting there Fly from Dubai to Dulles International Airport just outside Washington D.C. via London on Virgin Atlantic (from Dhs5,045; virgin-atlantic.com). Getting around For those on a budget the D.C. Metro is convenient and easy to navigate. With a SmarTrip® card a journey can be as little as Dhs6 (wmata.com). For those that want to feel like a celeb, US Sedan Services will provide a chaffeur for your stay. Their drivers can also act as tour guides as they're often D.C. locals (price on request; ussedan.com). Further reading Lonely Planet has a Washington D.C. City Guide (Dhs85) which can be downloaded or bought from lonelyplanet.com.

Fiora's the place for a long lunch

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Doormen Georgetown has outside some ofthe the oldest Georgian houses in America Merrion that arehotel still lived in

SHOP

Slurp the best milkshake in D.C.

Muffins at Baked & Wired

Fiola (above), an upscale Italian in Downtown D.C. is a favourite with those on the ‘hill’. Michelle Obama often uses the private dining room. Try the soft shell Chesapeake crab to start (fioladc.com).

Hidden away in Cabal’s Alley in Georgetown is Austrian influenced Kafé Leopold. Arrive early to grab a spot on the sun trap terrace and don’t miss the yummy grilled seabass (kafeleopolds.com).

Masa 14 on hip 14 Street serves Asian tapas from acclaimed chef Richard Sandoval at its long bar downstairs while the roof terrace is full of cool, young Washingtonians kicking back after work (masa14.com).

For Washington D.C.'s best milkshake (above middle) head to Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill. Simply divine organic burgers and herby fries and lip-smacking shake flavours. Try the Salty Caramel Kiss (goodstuffeatery.com).

Sup unique cocktails made with local and seasonal ingredients and a touch of bartender flair at West End Bistro in Foggy Bottom. Follow them up with wonderful nibbles from organic local farms and butchers (westendbistrodc.com).

Start a tour of Dupont Circle's bars and clubs after dark with a drink at Eighteenth Street Lounge – an entire house that has been turned into a bar/ lounge, and different DJs take over different rooms (eighteenthstreetlounge.com).

For those that can’t go without luxury, check out Nermin Marcus at Tysons Corner. It’s slightly out of town but has the best range of up and coming and classic US designers (neimanmarcus.com/).

Georgetown’s M Street is home to a mix of upscale designer boutiques and quirky independent stores. Don’t miss Baked & Wired or Georgetown Cupcakes for a sit down and a coffee stop.

H Street has gone from a relative ghetto to offering a mix of vintage boutiques, art galleries and unusual bars. Don’t miss Studio 8 Gallery for a range of local artists’ work (studiohdc.com).

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The lushest emirate in the UAE is packed full of things to do, that you won’t find anywhere else. From clipper cruises to ghost villages, Ras Al Khaimah’s not short on excitement. We’ve rounded up our picks

WORDS – ROGER MISUN-GREY, BEN ROSSI, CHRIS SUTTENFIELD, AMANDA TOMLINSON, GEORGINA WILSON-POWELL

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RAS AL KHAIMAH

CRUISE ABOARD THE PRINCE OF THE SEA “If it’s good enough for royalty!” should be the new slogan for the Prince of the Sea, after none other than Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr al Qasimi, the ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, spent his birthday aboard the boat. To be exact, it’s a gulet, which is a traditional Turkish wooding sailing vessel, and it happens to be the only one of its kind in the UAE. Having sailed 37 days from Turkey – through ghastly storms, we’re told – the Prince of the Sea is now at your service for both a relaxing and fun day out. Enjoy the tranquility of the Arabian Gulf in style whilst the friendly crew tend to your every need and stun you with their wacky activities (the ‘body drag’ and ‘side board flying’ have to be seen to be believed). A stop-off at a secluded beach in the form of Al Marjan Island breaks up your day, before a seafood lunch settles your stomach for an afternoon sunbathe and snooze on the deck. For a more romantic alternative, you can opt for the sunset cruise to enjoy the experience under the stars. (Full day cruise Dhs375; sunset cruise Dhs130; rasalkhaimahtourism.com/downloads/ prince%20of%20sea.pdf). GETTING STARTED From the heart of RAK (or at the end of Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road) bear left away from the city centre at the roundabout. Pass Ice Land until you see an isolated supermarket, and take the next right. The Al Hamra marina is on your left after a few hundred metres, with rather belated signage.

The Prince of the Sea is the only Turkish gulet in the UAE


Indulge in Al fresco massages at The Cove, Rotana

INDULGE IN A MASSAGE ON THE BEACH A massage is hardly big news in the UAE, where they seem to be part of a weekly or monthly routine, but being able to have one to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach and it not being a recording…now that is unusual. The Cove, Rotana has two beachside majlis, placed close enough to the shoreline for you to drift off to the surf on the shore and feel the wind across your skin. The majlis’ billowing curtains do make changing in and out of your clothes a little interesting, but the feel of being outside is absolutely wonderful and

makes the massage all the more refreshing. The masseuse is experienced and professional, and checks with you at several points to make sure you’re relaxed and happy and the best thing is the moment it’s finished you can run straight into the sea and float around without a care in the world (Dhs300; thecoverotana.com). GETTING THERE Follow the E311 to Ras Al Khaimah until it becomes the E11. The Cove Rotana is on your left as you come into town.

TAKE TO RAS AL KHAIMAH’S SKIES WITH A MICROLIGHT ‘If it flies, we fly it!’ says Arslan the microlight pilot and man in charge at Adventure Sports at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa, the only place in the UAE where you can take to the skies at 1,000 feet with a small engine and a large parachute. Unfortunately due to this year’s biggest sandstorm, we’re not flying anywhere. Those that are lucky enough to lift off are treated to 15 minutes flying over the Hajar mountains, along the coast of Ras Al Khaimah, over the mangroves and Royal Palace and back again, often at sunset. ‘You feel what birds feel, and we move with the wind’ says Arslan, ‘we often

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fly above or beside the birds, it’s incredible.’ His microlight, which looks like a three wheeled buggy with a fan on the back, can only take up one passenger at a time but he will soon be offering two microlights so partners can go up together. Sunset flights are especially popular and after watching several videos of the contraption in action, I’m sadder than ever about the weather related grounding (Dhs500 for 15 minutes; adventuresports.ae). GETTING THERE Take the E11 into the centre of RAK, left at the Grand Cinemas, left again past the DoubleTree by Hilton and follow the signs for the hotel. The microlight centre is on the beach behind the hotel.

VISIT A GHOST VILLAGE This abandoned village, Al Jazirah Al Hamra, often described as a ‘ghost town’, is an eerie relic from Ras Al Khaimah’s textured history. It’s the former home of the Al Za’abi tribe, Ras Al Khaimah indigenes. When cultivated Japanese pearls decimated the pearl diving industry in the 1960s, the shockwaves reached the shores of Ras Al Khaimah. Many villagers,feeling the financial impact of a more competitive pearling market, were lured by the government to a nearby alternative village promising


RAS AL KHAIMAH better living conditions. They left behind them a crumbling village, providing the UAE’s only comprehensive snapshot of pre-oil life. Sweating through the narrow back alleys of the village at dusk, crunch of coral bricks underfoot, cries of tiny birds above, it’s easy to imagine what life was like when Al Jazirah Al Hamra was alive. The abandoned houses have been empty for decades but they still hold a feel of the past, littered with the inhabitants’ belongings, a rotting leather suitcase layered in dust lays next to medicine bottles strewn beside a pair of children’s shoes. According to Emiratis, Al Jazira Al Hamra is said to be haunted by djinn. Teenagers work themselves into a frenzy, daring each other to spend the night in the ‘haunted’ village. However the only thing haunting here are memories of a more simple time. GETTING THERE Follow the E11 heading north. After you pass Majan Printing on your right continue for one kilometre and make a u-turn. Take the first road on the right (there are signs for Al Jazira Al Hamra) and drive for one kilometre. On your left you will see a mosque with a green and white minaret, on your right a crumbling fort. Park on the right and continue on foot.

SPLASH DOWN AMONGST GIANT PENGUINS AT ICELAND It’s undoubtedly one of RAK’s quirkiest landmarks. But the moment the bluish white peaks appear, you know you’re there: Ice Land Water Park. Themed to evoke Antarctica, Ice Land could surely go for a world record for its number of plastic penguins and it also claims to have the UAE’s tallest artificial waterfall. But skipping past the region’s fondness for slightly off-the-wall superlatives, let’s focus on one that matters: of all the waterparks in the UAE, this is among the cheapest. Factor in reasonably-priced food, with a choice of 150 meals for Dhs35 or less, and one thing you’re not splashing here is too much cash. So what do you get for your money at Ice Land? A great area for tots (Kids Cove), better than in many other parks; an Olympic sized pool; Coral Isle snorkeling experience and popular sprinkler-soaked football pitches. There are 16 major rides, most accessed from one level (so you climb then choose, rather than picking at ground level each time), and the spacious park is ‘carpeted’ throughout to save your soles. All this makes Ice Land a cheerful place. In

fact, fun’s the name of the game here – achieved by perhaps turning down a notch the thrills and frills of other parks. To get there, either take advantage of the courtesy bus from Dubai, or loop round via Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road to avoid the Sharjah shuffle – until you spot those parading penguins. (Dhs150 per adult; Dhs100 for kids under 1.2m; icelandwaterpark.com). GETTING THERE Ice Land Water Park is at the end of the E311 or Shaekh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road (formerly Emirates Road).

RELAX IN NATURAL HOT SPRINGS The Khatt Springs at the Golden Tulip resort are naturally fed from the ground, emanating from a source about 30 metres below the earth’s surface. They are geothermally heated by the surrounding terrain and maintain a constant temperature of 40 degrees. Immersing yourself in them is like taking a very large, very warm and very public bath. The clean emerald green water is rich in minerals, reputed to contain healing properties that Hunt for ghosts at a deserted village


RAS AL KHAIMAH the spa operator claims treat a volley of ailments including nerve pain, muscle aches and skin irritation. While open to both men and women, there are separate bathing sections, with no communal areas. Shower first, then submerge yourself in the spring to melt away your cares. The natural rock base of the pools have been preserved, juxtaposed against a surrounding brick and tile deck to serve as a reminder of the indomitable march of development. For a more intimate experience, private rooms with a small spring-fed pool are available per-hour and accommodate two people. The rooms are very basic however, with the emphasis on enjoying the water, rather than the amenities (Dhs50 for public access or Dhs20 for Golden Tulip guests; Dhs200 per hour for a private room; goldentulipkhattsprings.com). GETTING THERE Follow Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road (E311) from Dubai heading north. After the exit to Dubai Bypass Rd (E611) take the next exit on the truck road and head east. There are signs on the highway to Golden Tulip Khatt Springs Resort and Spa. Ease that tension away with a session in the hot springs

FLY HIGH WITH AN AERIAL TOUR If microlighting is a little too much at one with the elements, you can still get a great view of Ras Al Khaimah with Seawings’ seaplane tours. You can either take off from Jebel Ali and fly up the coast, or pick up the plane from the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa. From Jebel Ali it is a forty minute flight up to and around the emirate, where you’ll take in views of the coastline, the magnificent mangroves and the dramatic mountains. The small planes allow for a real sense of adventure as you cruise at just 1,500 feet, and on a clear day the views are stunning. You’ll land on the water at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa, and the company will chauffeur you back to your car at Jebel Ali – which takes around two hours. And if you haven’t been in a seaplane before, the whole landing on water deal can be thrilling. The flights are suitable for children as long as they are accompanied by an adult. While you need to book the tour, the dates can change depending on the weather (Dhs1,195 per person; seawings.ae).

GETTING THERE The Seawings office is at Jebel Ali Golf & Spa.

HIT THE HIGH SEAS ON A JETSKI Take to the waves for a high-octane watersports adventure at Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa. A favourite of men (and speed-seeking women) the world over, jetskiing is one activity that can be as thrilling or as subtle as you choose. Novices will receive a quick lesson on the controls – start button on the left, accelerator on the right – and a word on safety before being let loose just outside the breakwater. The great thing about this area is that there are no swimmers and very few other obstacles to be wary of. The type of ride you have depends on your nerve and the weather. The windier it is, the bigger the waves and the more thrilling the ride. Don’t wish for too much wind though as the activities can be cancelled if the conditions aren’t safe. Jetskis can be hired for 15 or 30 minutes and make an ideal break in a day of sunbathing. (Dhs175 for 15 minutes, www.adventuresports.ae) GETTING THERE Head for the centre of RAK and follow the signs for the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa, which sits on the Corniche on its own.

DELVE INTO RAK’S PAST AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM Set in the 18th century fort that was the residence of the Qawassim ruling family until the 1970s, the National Museum gives an insight into the history of Ras Al Khaimah and the UAE. It houses a collection of artifacts including jewellery, clothing, pearl diving equipment, weapons, cooking implements and fossils, as well as an interesting display of historical photographs. Unfortunately there is very little information on the fort itself, which has recently been restored and has a number of hidden rooms, alleyways and lookouts begging to be discovered. The museum will appeal most to those interested in UAE history, who have the time and patience to read the information accompanying each display. Others with less patience will appreciate the photographic displays, which bring to life a time in the not-todistant past when the UAE was virtually unrecognisable from what it has become today. (Dhs5 entry). GETTING THERE In Ras Al Khaimah’s City, go straight over the Pearl roundabout and the museum is in the fort on your right hand side after 200m.

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MAKE IT HAPPEN

Ras Al Khaimah, UAE With over 65 kilometres of coast, good ol’ RAK is a fail safe weekend destination for those that need to escape the grey skyscrapers and traffic of Dubai and Abu Dhabi ESSENTIALS

WAYS TO DO IT

Getting there From Dubai take the E311 Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road (previously Emirates Road) north through Sharjah. Take the E11 turn off after around 64kms and follow the signs for Ras Al Khaimah. From Abu Dhabi take the E11 south and follow it through Dubai, Sharjah and on to Ras Al Khaimah. Getting around If you haven’t driven to Ras Al Khaimah you’re reliant on taxis, and since the emirate is fairly spread out, for activities outside the main town, this could prove costly. Rent a car for a cheaper deal (from Dhs115 per day; rentalcars.com). Further reading Oman, United Arab Emirates and the Arabian Peninsula guidebook has a chapter on the UAE – download it for only Dhs17. (lonelyplanet.com).

Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort

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The Cove, Rotana

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Set on a 1.5km private beach, guests can stay in hotel rooms or one of the beachfront villas at Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa (above). (From Dhs1,600; Wi-fi Dhs120/day; hilton.com/ en/hotels/uae/hilton-ras-alkhaimah-resort-and-spa).

For a holiday resort feel check into The Cove, Rotana, a village like collection of private villas that overlook two pools and a beach. The resort is also home to several bars, a health club and watersports (Dhs680; Wi-fi Dhs80/day; rotana.com).

For a more rustic stay try the luxurious Banyan Tree Al Wadi. The tented Bedouin inspired private villas all have their own pools and majestic desert views over the peaceful nature reserve (from Dhs2,090; free Wi-fi; banyantree.com/en/).al_wadi/)

If you’re after a touch of Italian, Basilico at The Cove Rotana, offers decent Mediterranean dishes, that encompass more than just the pizzas and pastas. The rustic décor sits well with diners too. (mains from Dhs80; rotana.com).

Pura Vida at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa is the emirate’s only Brazilian restaurant. For slow cooked Churrasco cuts of beef, lamb and chicken and caiprinhas, you know where to head (mains from Dhs150; hilton.com).

Staying at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa,also check out pan-Asian, Passage to Asia. From spicy Thai curries to soothing sushi, there’s something for every Eastern palette (mains from Dhs95; hilton.com/Ras-Al-Khaimah).

XO at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa offers cognacs, port and a healthy sized cocktail list for a refined post dinner drink. Kids aren’t allowed in this bar making it a quiet refuge (hilton.com/Ras-Al-Khaimah).

The Sunset Bar at The Cove, Rotana is the perfect spot to watch the sun go down on the shoreline after a hard’s day lazing about. It’s casual enough to come straight from the beach(thecoverotana.com).

Esprit Club Bar is set aside for the ‘young at heart’ with an over-21 door policy, trendy cocktails, pool table and darts at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa (hilton.com/ Ras-Al-Khaimah).

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Armchair

Traveller

Can’t get away? Check out the latest apps and books to keep you exploring

BOOK REVIEWS AROUND INDIA IN 80 TRAINS Monisha Rajesh (Dhs66; Nicholas Brealey)

Determined to give India a second chance following two bittersweet years there during her childhood, Monisha Rajesh summons the muse of Phileas Fogg and sets out on a journey up and down India on 80 trains, from the narrow-gauge railways of the Himalayas to the luxurious Delhi-bound ‘Indian Maharaja’. What follows is a rollicking account of Modern India at express pace: from the good – sprawling temples and scrapping tigers – to the bad – groping passengers, churning stomachs and officious ticket inspectors. Rajesh’s quick-fire writing is unflinchingly frank, with details packed in as tightly as passengers on Mumbai’s commuter trains. A lively read, although train buffs won’t learn much about India’s rail heritage and might disembark feeling a bit underwhelmed. BEST FOR A whistlestop tour of India seen from the window of a moving train. OLIVER SMITH

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THE SECRET MUSEUM Molly Oldfield (Dhs150; Harper Collins)

THE LAST TRAIN TO ZONA VERDE Paul Theroux (Dhs120; Hamish Hamilton)

Most of a museum’s treasures never get seen. It’s an intriguing premise and one that provides the inspiration for this unique new anthology. Molly Oldfield, a researcher for BBC Two’s QI, takes on the role of roving curator, burrowing deep into the meticulously cooled, darkened recesses of museums around the world to turn up enthralling artefacts, including segments of the apple tree that inspired Sir Isaac Newton and a spacesuit coated in silvery grey moon dust. BEST FOR A fleeting glimpse of hidden treasure.

It’s been 10 years since Paul Theroux published Dark Star Safari – his account of travelling overland along the spine of East Africa. It’s therefore with a neat symmetry that he attempts a west coast route in his latest book, striking north from Cape Town to Namibia and Angola. There are laments for the rise of African megacities and erosion of tribal culture but, for all its melancholy, Theroux’s writing is as sublime as ever: a voice that is lyrically meditative describing a continent of endless colour. BEST FOR A reflection on the state of Africa today.

DUNCAN CRAIG

OLIVER SMITH

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East May/June 2013


A R M C H A I R T R AV E L L E R

GADGET REVIEWS SAMSUNG SMART CAMERA 2.0

(Dhs849; samsung.com) Samsung is all about connectivity and this camera it ramps that up. An AutoShare function transfers pictures to a phone or tablet as soon as they have been taken, allowing for instant sharing and back up. A one stop button which can be programmed to a favourite

wireless function, means sharing is almost seamless. The WB250F has an18x optical zoom and a 24mm lens. It has an intuitive touch screen LCD screen and has additional features such as Best Face, which chooses the best expression and allows great group photos.

LG POCKET PRINTER

(Dhs799; lg.com) A smart mobile printer from LG, which delivers high quality prints from wireless connectivity, it is suitable for both Apple and iOS smartphones. From passport size prints to keep in your wallet to instant gifts to people you meet on your travels, this mini-printer is a

SONY XPERIA

(Dhs1,999; sony-mea.com/UAE)

way to enjoy hard copy photos in our modern world. It will fit in the palm of your hand or in a jacket pocket and prints measure 2 x 3 inches. For those that want to take it one step further you can also imbed QR codes into the printed images.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S4

Sony’s latest handset, the Xperia, makes uses of its Bravia TV arm for one of the most intelligent HD smartphone screens with real-time contrast optimisation that sits at 4.6 inches. It also has an 8 mega-pixel fast-capture camera, extended battery life and seamlessly combines Facebook with photo albums and music libraries. A ‘transparent’ element allows for a level of personalization not seen before, where the phone will change colour to notify of incoming calls or messages or will even flash to the beat of a song.

(Dhs2,599; samsung.com) Calling it a ‘life companion’ seems a bit much, but there’s no denying Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is a cool kid on the block. Slimmer and lighter than previous models (130g and 7.9mm), it still has a five inch screen with durable glass, that makes it more hardy than before. Dual Video Call allows you to use the front and back cameras at the same time, to make calls and show people what you’re looking at, while the ‘Sound & Shot’ allows you to capture pictures and voice together for a true memory of moments. It’s also impressively intuitive. A wave of your hand above the screen issues different commands, while a look away pauses a video. Impressive stuff indeed.

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A R M C H A I R T R AV E L L E R

PICTURE OF THE MONTH FROM ABOVE AND BELOW: MAN AND THE SEA Yann Arthus-Bertrand & Brian Skerry (Dhs240; Thames & Hudson)

A tropical fish shelters in the rusty interior of a discarded drinks can in Suruga Bay, Japan. It’s an image that perfectly encapsulates the beauty and fragility of this planet’s increasingly exploited oceans, the twin focus of this dual-perspective book from two of the world’s premier environmental photographers.

APP REVIEW

ONLINE REVIEWS

Free Wi-fi Have you ever found out you didn’t have enough internet data on your phone, right before you were about to send an important email? Don’t want to spend a fortune in roaming charges abroad? There’s nothing worse! Which is why this free Wi-fi finder app is perfect for those who want to locate the closest Wi-fi spot, wherever they are in the world. Simply allow the app to use your location and reveal Wi-fi spots in your area. It allows you to filter venues according to cafes, schools, universities and general areas, and also gives you directions, so that you can make it there as quickly as possible. You can also add the location to your favourites, and post the hotspot details onto Facebook and Twitter. The app doesn’t only work online as it has an offline database. Available free on Apple.

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TRIVAGO.COM

MUDDYBOOTS.IN

GVI.CO.UK

Tired of skimming through websites and going back and forth to find the best hotel deals? Surf through Trivago; a hotel discount deal website that gathers over 650,000 hotels from 165 sites, including popular ones such as bookings.com and hotels.com. The website’s landing page consists of various hotel listings, so choose the currency, country you’re visiting and the duration of your stay, to view discounted deals. You can also lookout for top deals and add your selection to the favourites. The best part about the website is that each listing includes pictures of the hotel, and maps and reviews from all the websites, to make your stay as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Embark on an adventurous journey through exciting, unexplored destinations in India with this travel company that offers bespoke services such as day trips to the beautiful Wayanad highlands, plantations of Coorg or the stunning Malabar coast for hiking, biking and water activities such as kayaking. Pick your activity and MuddyBoots takes care of the rest, including all the accommodation and transportation. Multi-day trips are great for groups of friends, they can arrange everything from cycling to really cool treasure hunts. If you’re not sure the best way to explore India for the first time, this is one way to take the hassle out of it.

If you want your holiday to be more rewarding than getting a tan, then check out a volunteer programme at GVI. Its an award-winning organization which offers projects as varied as marine and wildlife conservation to construction opportunities in Fiji and India. You can also work with children on healthcare and sporting initiatives or go teach in South Africa, Thailand or Kenya. Really if you want to help out the world is your oyster. The programmes are open to anyone over 18 and range from your typical holiday length to much longer gap year style terms. Try giving back when you travel, you won’t look back.

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East May/June 2013


MAY/JUNE 2013

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

The bay of Port de Sant Miquel on Ibiza’s north coast

Santa Maria Assunta by the beach in Positano

MINI GUIDE

MINI GUIDE

MINI GUIDE

WHAT TO SEE, TOKYO, JAPAN

RURAL IBIZA

CULTURE ON THE AMALFI COAST

Long regarded as the ultimate party island, Ibiza has alternative appeal – rugged coastal walking paths, picturesque pine woods and quiet sandy beaches make for a thoroughly relaxing retreat.

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The knife-like sea cliffs at Hornbjarg, on the Hornstrandir Peninsula

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FOOD & DRINK IN NORMANDY

ICELAND ACTIVITIES

MEDIEVAL COLOGNE

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Cologne is like a three-dimensional textbook on medieval history and architecture. A walk around the town will reveal buildings and artwork from the Middle Ages, not to mention scores of traditional beer halls. w ow how h w-h w owow kno The kn Th

Icelanders might be a peaceful people, but their homeland is a place of geological violence. Spewing volcanoes and forbidding lava fields make for a land of beautiful, barren expanses and infinite adventure.

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Sights such as the Bayeux Tapestry, D-Day beaches, Monet’s garden in Giverny and Mont St-Michel are Normandy’s historic draws, but its abundant seafood, cheeses and cider are the best way to fill gaps between sightseeing.

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The terraced towns and rocky coast of this southern Italian favourite bring together a surprising variety of accomplishments. l

Not got long in the bustling and buzzing capital? Here’s where to head for when time is of the essence

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See (continued) BEST FOR HISTORY T Ueno Park is home to a fine clutch of sights and museums, including the exquisite 17thcentury Tosho-gu shrine (Dhs6; 9am-4.30pm) and the Tokyo National Museum, holding the world’s largest collection of Japanese art (Dhs24; closed Mon; 3-9 Ueno Koen, Ueno station; 00 81 3 3822 1111; tnm.jp).

MINI GUIDE

BEST FOR VIEWS

WHAT TO SEE, TOKYO, JAPAN Not got long in the bustling and buzzing capital? Here’s where to head for when time is of the essence

At the heart of Shinjuku’s bright lights and skyscrapers, the stunning modernist Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices lets you enjoy some of the city’s finest views – sometimes as far as Mount Fuji – from its 45th floor observatories (free; 9.30am11pm; Tochomae station; 2-81 Nishi-Shinjuku, 00 81 3 5321 1111).

BEST FOR ARTS ART R S Head to the Ginza area, which saw Tokyo’s first departmente store. As

BEST FOR ACTIVITIES Get to the heart of Japanese culture with activities such as samurai sword training, Japanese cookery classes, paper making, traditional Tokyo painting, taiko drumming and visits to a sumo stable (activities around Dhs480; hisexperience.jp).

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BEST FOR FASHION

BEST FOR FISH Arrive early (by 6am) and wear sensible shoes to see the action at the chaotic Tsukiji Central Fish Market – the world’s largest, and the perfect expression of Japan’s love affair with seafood (free; closed Sun; Tsukijishijo station; tsukiji-market.or.jp;).

well as shopping, plenty of art galleries and musuems have popped up here. Try Gallery Koyanagi (free; 1-7-5 Ginza; 00 81 3 3561 11896) for modern photography and English speaking assistants.

BEST FOR KABUKI Also in Ginza is a famous kabuki theatre, the traditional Japanese white-faced drama. You can bring your own food and drink whilst you watch. (free; 00 81 3 3541 3131).

Eating and drinking

See

Take in the contrasts of Japanese fashion with a stroll down Omotesando avenue, from its haute couture eastern end, home to Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons, to the mind-boggling teen fashions of the Harajuku district (Omotesando station).

Find modern Japan amongst thes skyscrapers in Shinjuku

The 17th-century Tosho-gu shrine in Ueno Park

BEST FOR A SHRINE Previous Lonely Planet forum users (lonelyplanet.com) have rated the Meiji Jingu shrine dedicated to the spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife. The traditional-style cypress wood buildings are set in a beautiful and serene 175 forested acres, which are only a few steps and a world away from the busy streets and fashion stylings of Harajuku (free; Harajuku station; dawn to dusk; ; meijijingu.or.jp; 00 81 3 3379 5511).

OKINAWA Sample the cuisine of the tropical Okinawa islands at underground izakaya (Japanesestyle pub) Okinawa. Wash down staples such as rafute (stewed pork with brown sugar) with a potent glass of awamori rice spirit (plates around Dhs36; lunch and dinner; Shibuya Deli Tower, 2-23-12 Dogenzaka, Shibuya station; 00 81 3 3464 2576). IPPUDO Nationally famous, Ippudo is one of a chain of ramen shops specialising in tonkotsu (pork broth) noodles. You get to choose the thickness of the noodles (meals Dhs36;11am4pm; 1-3-13 Hiroo, Ebisu station; ippudo.com; 00 81 3 5420 2225). EDOGIN Super-fresh sashimi and sushi draw the crowds at a little spot

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In Japan, slurping your noodles shows your appreciation

just up from Tsukiji Central Fish Market. The teishoku (lunchtime set meal) is a steal (sushi spread Dhs36-Dhs114; 11am-9.30pm Mon-Sat; 4-5-1 Tsukiji, Tsukijishijo station; 00 81 3 3543 4401). RAKUTEI Rakutei serves tempura masterpieces (set meals Dhs132-22; 5pm-8.30pm closed Mon; ; 6-8-1 Akasaka, Akasaka station; 00 81 3 3585 3743).

TURN OVER FOR MAP AND NUMBER LOCAT LOCATIONS A IONS

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MINI GUIDE T Tokyo, Japan Sights & Activities

WHERE T TO S STAY T TAY

For a great budget choice in the quiet Yanaka district, Sawanoya Ryokan is a typical ryokan (traditional-style inn), where guests sleep on futons. As in most ryokan, the cypress and earthenware baths are shared, although two of the rooms have their own (from Dhs420; 2-3-11 Yanaka; 00 81 3 3822 2251; sawanoya.com). Sukeroku no Yado Sadachiyo is a stunning ryokan that transports you to the samurai era. Well-maintained tatami rooms are spacious and have Western-style bathrooms. Make

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The know-how Technopolis

The Toyoko Inn Kita-guchi No1 is one of the most appealing choices of the standard business hotels near busy Ikebukuro station. Rooms are tidy, if tiny, and a simple Japanese breakfast is included (from Dhs360; 2-50-5 Ikebukuro; 00 81 3 5960 1045; toyoko-inn.com). Impressive views await at the designer Peninsula Hotel

time for the o-furo (traditional baths), one made of fragrant Japanese cypress and the other of black marble (from Dhs780 00; 2-20-1 Asakusa; 81 3 3842 6431; sadachiyo.co.jp). Amid the skyscrapers of Shinjuku, the recently refurbished Hilton Tokyo covers all the main bases and all rooms have park or city views and paper shoji on the windows (from Dhs1,380; 6-6-2 Nishi-Shinjuku 00 81 3 3344 5111; hilton.com).

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East May/June 2013

Where to stay

It’s worth making a visit to Akihabara, Tokyo’s Electric Town. The main street offers amazing computer superstores, arcades, people in costumes and otaku (geek) shops specialising in anime and manga. Watch out for street touts eager to push on you all their latest offers. A look down the side streets will take you to a computer graveyard, the likes of which you have never seen. To cap off your geeky experience, be sure to visit a ‘maid café’ (bizarre rather than sleazy, where otaku go to be served coffee by girls dressed in Victorian pinafores).

West End Do spend an afternoon in Kichijoji (west on the Chuo and Sobu lines from Shinjuku). The area offers a much calmer shopping experience than Shibuya, and the town’s Inokashira Park is large, relaxing, and with its lakes and

woods is great to get lost in and it’s a great antidote from the bustling streets. At one end of the park is the museum dedicated to the iconic Ghibli Studios, creators of Spirited Away (Dhs39, book in advance; ghibli-museum.jp). At night, visit ‘Harmonica Yokocho’ alley near the station for cheap good food and a look at the West Tokyo nightlife.

FURTHER FURT R HER READING Lonely Planet’s Tokyo T City Guide (Dhs84) is your perfect companion to Japan’s capital, while the newly updated Tokyo T Encounter Guide (Dhs48) is ideal for short stays. stays.The The Japan National Tourism T Organisation has more information on travel in and beyond T Tokyo, at jnto.go.jp. Tokyo’s T screen credits include Tokyo T Story, Lost In Translation T and, of course, plenty of Godzilla films.

PHOTOGRAPHS: 4 CORNERS, PHOTOLIBRARY.COM, ALAMY, MYLES NEW/OLIVE

Tokyo essentials

Eating


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Villages SANT CARLES DE PERALT PERALTA LTA

The bay of Port de Sant Miquel on Ibiza’s north coast

MINI GUIDE

RURAL IBIZA Long regarded as the ultimate party island, Ibiza has alternative appeal – rugged coastal walking paths, picturesque pine woods and quiet sandy beaches make for a thoroughly relaxing retreat.

CAN PLANELLS

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AGROTURISMO CAN GALL North of Sant Llorenç de Balàfia lies Can Gall, a 200-year-old farmhouse transformed into a tranquil rural escape, set amongst citrus groves, almond and olive trees (some centuries old), and surrounded by mountains. The nine bedrooms, with their handmade beds and private terraces, are a delight, as are the infinity pool and shared chill-out terrace – ideal places to while away the hours (agrocangall.com).

Sant Llorenç de Balàfia is as photogenic as it is miniature

SANT MIQUEL DE BALANSAT A

SANT LLORENÇ DE BALÀFIA

One of the largest inland villages, Sant Miquel de Balansat, in the north of the island, is overlooked by a shimmering white, boxlike 14th-century church, which boasts 17th-century frescoes within. The views of the surrounding countryside from the village hilltop make the climb well worthwhile. Each Thursday from June to September, there’s traditional island dancing on the village’s pretty patio at 6.15pm.

Overlooking this quiet hamlet is a brilliant white 18th-century fortress, built when attacks by Moorish pirates were the scourge of the island. There’s a bar and a park nearby where you can picnic. Walk to the miniscule, once fortified hamlet of Sant Llorenç de Balàfia, with two towers, flowers and lots of ‘privado’ signs around its few houses – don’t let these deter you from exploring its lanes.

Eating and drinking

Country hotels The country mansion of Can Planells, just a mile outside Sant Miquel de Balansat on the road to Sant Mateu d’Aubarca, is a relaxed and luxurious rural retreat. The house and pool are set in delightful gardens and fruit-tree groves, surrounded by fields, and there are eight tasteful doubles and suites, the best of which have Jacuzzis and terraces (from Dhs711; Venda de Rubio 2; canplanells.co.uk).

This sleepy village sits on the main road north of Santa Eulària on the east coast. Lined with almond, fig and carob trees, it is home to a whitewashed church that dates back to 1785, small bars and restaurants and boutique shops. Just outside the village is the quirky Las Dalias market (Mon Jun–Sep, Tue Jul–Aug, Sat Apr–Oct; lasdalias.es).

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ES BIGOTES

Can Curreu helped to spur the agroturismo trend on the island

CAN CURREU A short drive from the village of Sant Carles de Peralta, Can Curreu was one of the island’s first agroturismos. The whitewashed farmstead sits above terracing of fruit trees, and is surrounded by neat lawns bordered by a kaleidoscope of roses. There are 17 exquisite rooms, a large pool and spa, and a restaurant, serving meals made with home-grown produce (from Dhs1,000; Carretera de Sant Carles Km12; cancurreu.com).

Offering bullit de peix (fish stew), followed by arròs caldós (saffron rice cooked in the broth), this simple shack by Cala Mastella beach is known far and wide. Finish off with café de caleta (coffee with lemon zest, cinnamon and flamed brandy). There’s no phone, but you’ll need to turn up and book ahead in person for the two lunch slots at 12pm and 2pm (Apr–Oct).

BAR ANITA T

Bar Anita is a perfect place to sit out on a warm Ibizan evening

LA PALOMA P

A timeless taverna opposite the village church of Sant Carles de Peralta, this restaurant and bar has been attracting hippies, artists and musicians for decades. It’s the hub of the community and also serves as a post office – locals come to have a drink and a catch up, while others are drawn by the decent pizza, tapas and hearty mains (mains from Dhs45; Plaza de la Iglesia; 00 34 971 33 50 90).

Located in Sant Llorenç, 100m downhill from the church, this is an eco-friendly dining option. It offers creative Mediterranean cuisine and vegetables from its own garden or local producers. Produce from outside the island is sourced from small farms. You can expect homemade pasta, steak with balsamic vinegar and thyme, and an organic vegan ‘bio plate’ (dinner mains from Dhs80; Sant Llorenç 4; palomaibiza.com).

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MINI GUIDE Rural Ibiza Sights & Activities

Ibiza essentials

For a beach guide to the island, visit white-ibiza.com.

Cala Benirràs An unspoiled bay with high, forested cliffs and a couple of bar-restaurants that back onto the beach.

Cala Mastella Ibiza has plenty of stunning coastline with gorgeous views

A tiny, pretty beach hosting one of Ibiza’s most popular restaurants, Es Bigotes.

Hostal Es Alocs is a very friendly choice, sitting right on the beach at Es Figueral in the northeast. The simple rooms occupy two floors and most have a small fridge and balcony. The bar-restaurant has a wonderful terrace, deeply shaded with tangled juniper and chaste trees, which is what you need in high summer (from Dhs148; Es Figueral; May–Oct; hostalalocs.com). Situated on the west coast headland of Cap Negret,

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tranquil Hostal la Torre offers stunning Balaeric clifftop seaviews and has 17 smart rooms that have recently been upgraded (suite from Dhs480; Mar–Dec; Urb Cap Negret 25; hostallatorre.com). Hotel La Ventana is a charming 15th-century mansion set on a little tree-shaded square in the old town of Ibiza City. Some rooms come with four-poster beds and very handy mosquito nets (from Dhs824; Carrer de Sa Carrossa 13; laventanaibiza com).

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The sand here is almost a dark grey and the clear waters are ideal for snorkelling, plus there are a couple of restaurants.

Cala Xarraca West of Portinatx, the north coast’s major tourist resort, this is a picturesque, partly protected bay with a rocky shoreline and dark-sand beach.

Cala Codolars Southwest of Sant Antoni are some very pretty beaches, including tiny Cala Codolars.

TOP TIP Tourist offices give away a terrific little free wallet that describes 23 cycling routes around the island. Varying from easy to tough, and in time from 45 minutes to eight hours, they’re a great inspiration for seeing more of the island.

FURTHER FURT R HER READING Lonely Planet’s Spain (Dhs102) has a chapter on Mallorca, Menorca & Ibiza, which is also available to download at lonelyplanet. com (Dhs17). Official tourist info can be found at Ibiza. travel. For rural villas and houses, visit ibizacasasrurales. com and ibizaruralvillas.com. Stephen Armstrong’s The White Island (Dhs57; Transworld) is a history of the island’s hedonism. For Ibiza’s clubbing calendar, visit Ibiza-spotlight.com.

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM MILES RODDIS. PHOTOGRAPHS: GONZALO AZUMENDI/ AGEFOTOSTOCK, IMAGEBROKER/ALAMY, OSOMEDIA/AGEFOTOSTOCK/SUPERSTOCK, SHUTTERSTOCK

IBIZA’S TOP T FIVE BEACHES

Cala de Boix

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T

Where to stay

The know-how

TRANSPORT R Fly from Dubai to Ibiza via KLM (from Dhs2,600; klm.com). Buses from the airport can take you to Sant Antoni, Ibiza City and Es Canar. To get around the island, bus fares don’t exceed Dhs14 – visit ibizabus.com for a timetable. Numerous car rental companies operate from the aiport – a week’s hire can cost from Dhs284 if booked in advance (enterprise.es).

Eating


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Art and artefacts FRANCO SENESI

Santa Maria Assunta by the beach in Positano

MINI GUIDE

CULTURE ON THE AMALFI COAST

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The terraced towns and rocky coast of this southern Italian favourite bring together a surprising variety of accomplishments.

Located between the colourful boutiques and lemon-themed ceramics shops of Positano, Franco Senesi is a gallery with several rooms showcasing more than 40 Italian modern painters and sculptors. The art ranges from exquisite landscapes to colourful surrealist works, and you can look around free from sales pitches (Apr–Nov; Via dei Mulini 16; francosenesifineart.com).

TORRE A MARE Defensive towers sit all along the Amalfi Coast. Many are empty but the 13th-century one at Praiano is a showcase for the sculptures and artwork of Paolo Sandulli. Most distinctive are his ‘heads’ topped with colourful sea-sponge hairdos. Also check out his sketches and sculptures of local fishermen and plump women playing tennis in miniskirts (admission free; 9.30am–1pm & 3pm–7pm; Praiano; paolosandulli.com).

Architecture

Music

CHIESA DI SANTA T MARIA ASSUNTA T

CHIESA DI SAN FRANCESCO

Pretty much the only major sight in Positano, this church has a delightful Classical interior. Pillars are topped with gilded Ionic capitals, winged cherubs peek from above every arch and above the main altar is a 13th-century Byzantine ‘Black Madonna’ (8am–noon & 4pm–8pm; Piazza Flavio Gioia; chiesapositano. com).

Located next to the Villa Communale gardens, this is one of Sorrento’s most beautiful churches, and is famous for its summer programme of concerts featuring performers from the Classical school (tickets from Dhs45; Via San Francesco). If this strikes a chord, check out the schedule at the tourist office (sorrentotourism.com).

Amalfi’s cathedral shows its best face to the town

AUDITORIUM AUDITO T RIUM OSCAR NIEMEYER

CATTEDRALE CATTE A DRALE DI SANT’ANDREA

Located just below the eastern approach to Ravello, this modern building, which follows the natural slope of the hill, has attracted a love-it or hate-it controversy in town. Designed by the late, great Brazilian architect whose name it bears, it is built in the sinuous profile of a wave and hosts a variety of theatrical performances and concerts (tickets for most events Dhs97; Via della Republica; auditoriumnewenergy.eu).

You can’t miss Amalfi’s fabulous cathedral, sitting like a grand dame at the top of a sweeping flight of steps. It dates in part from the early 10th century and its striking stripy façade has been rebuilt twice. Although the building is an architectural hybrid, the Arabic-Norman style of Sicily predominates. The huge bronze doors were the first of their type in Italy, and the interior is of Baroque style (Piazza del Duomo; open daily).

Discover the imagination of Paolo Sandulli at Torre a Mare

MUSEOBOTTEGA DELLA TARSIALIGNEA Since the 18th century, Sorrento has been famous for its intarsio furniture, made with elaborately designed inlaid wood. Wonderful examples can be found in this an 18th-century palace museum, complete with beautiful frescoes and a collection of paintings and photographs depicting the area in the 19th century (admission Dhs40; daily Via San Nicola 28; alessandrofiorentino collection.it).

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RAVELLO RAVELL A O FESTIVAL FESTIVA V L Between June and September, and often in the surrounding months too, the Ravello Festival turns much of the town centre of this hilltop beauty into a stage. Events range from orchestral concerts and chamber music to ballet, film screenings and exhibitions. Performances by Italian and international musicians are world-class (most tickets from Dhs97; ravellofestival.com).

Ravello’s hilltop setting draws festival-goers each summer

VILLA RUFOLO A 14th-century tower marks the entrance to this villa in Ravello, famed for its cascading gardens with panoramic views. They are known to have inspired Wagner – upon seeing them he declared they’d be the setting for the second act of his opera Parsifal. Villa Rufolo also hosts some of the most unforgettable events during the Ravello Festival (Dhs24; Piazza Duomo; 9am– 6pm; villarufolo.it).

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MINI GUIDE Culture on the Amalfi Coast Entertainment

TRANSPORT British Airways flies to Naples (from Dhs3,700; britishairways. com). From Naples to Sorrento, you can catch a 40-minute hydrofoil across the bay (Dhs110 return; alilauro.it) or take a one-hour train ride (Dhs40; vesuviana.it). Roads along the Amalfi Coast are undeniably scenic, but can be rather hairy. If you’d rather let someone else take the wheel, frequent buses run year-round along the SS163 between Sorrento and Salerno, via Amalfi and Positano.

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T The best budget choice in Positano, Pensione Maria Luisa is run by Carlo, who’ll go out of his way to assist you. The rooms with private terraces are well worth the extra Dhs48 for the bay view (from Dhs398; Via Fornillo 42; pensionemarialuisa. com). Positano’s Hotel California (unlike the one in the song)

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The know-how WALKING The Amalfi Coast has gentle strolls and well-marked hiking trails. Here are some highlights:

Path of the Gods A six-hour walk from Positano, high up into the hills to Praiano. Not advised for vertigo sufferers but the views are incredible and you can get the bus back down. Hotel rooms come in grand style on the Almalfi coast

is housed in a magnificent 18th-century palace. Rooms in the older part have original ceiling friezes (from Dhs740; late Mar–Oct; Via Cristoforo Colombo 141; hotelcaliforniapositano.it). The Grand Hotel Excelsior is the Belle Époque old dame of Sorrento. Past guests such as Wagner and Sophia Loren have slept in rooms that vary from simple elegance to extravagant frescoed affairs perfect for a little affair of your own (from Dhs1,300; Piazza Tasso 34; exvitt.it).

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Where to stay

TOP TIP Learn how to make Italian gelati by taking a 45-minute course at Gelateria David in Sorrento. David is a third-generation ice-cream maker and speaks excellent English. Specialities include a rum baba gelato (Dhs45; gelateriadavidsorrento.it).

Amalfi to Atrani A Just around the headland from Amalfi, neighbouring Atrani is a delight with its ancient piazza and pretty cove beach.

Ravello to Minori An attractive downhill route of steps, hidden alleys and olive groves, passing the hamlet of Torello. Should take no more than an hour. Information on walks is available at local tourist offices. There are also informal hikes run by Free Ramblers (freeramblers.com).

FURTHER READING Lonely Planet’s Naples, Pompeii & the Amalfi Coast (Dhs79) is an extensive guide to the region, and individual chapters from this book, including the Amalfi Coast, can be downloaded at lonelyplanet.com (Dhs17). The region has long attracted the rich and famous – Jackie O shopped here for her Capri pants, while Greta Garbo came to Ravello to be alone. Roberto Rossellini set part of his Oscar-nominated 1946 film Paisà here.

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM CRISTIAN BONETTO AND JOSEPHINE QUINTERO. PHOTOGRAPHS: MARK READ, ALFIO GIANNOTTI/CUBO IMAGES/ALAMY

Amalfi Coast essentials

Sights & Activities


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On the go POISSONNERIE

Mont M ont on o nt St-Michel Stt Mich icchel poised po p poi o oiised e between b wee bet ween n land la and nd n d and an nd ssea ea ea

MINI GUIDE

FOOD & DRINK IN NORMANDY Sights such as the Bayeux Tapestry, D-Day beaches, Monet’s garden in Giverny and Mont St-Michel are Normandy’s historic draws, but its abundant seafood, cheeses and cider are the best way to fill gaps between sightseeing.

LA RÉGENCE

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LE BOUCHON DU VAUGUEUX It’s well worth reserving ahead for this buzzing restaurant in Caen, which serves modern Norman cooking with a wonderful choice of well-priced wines. It’s a locals’ place, so there’s no translation of the chalk-board menu, which might include pork cheek and snail cassoulet, and duck à l’orange (three-course lunch menu from Dhs97; closed Sun & Mon;; 12 Rue Graindorge; bouchonduvaugueux.com).

FROMAGERIE DU VIEUX MARCHÉ Just a few yards off Rouen’s old market square (the market hall itself is a newer building), this shop run by expert fromager Léon Déant specialises in Normandy cheeses such as heart-shaped Neufchâtel, a soft creamy cheese (closed Sun afternoon & Mon; small Neufchâtel Dhs11; 18 Rue Rollon; 00 33 2 35 71 11 00). The nearby market is open every morning except on Mondays.

Trouville’s fishing port has drawn numerous painters and writers

A LA REINE MAT MATHILDE A HILDE Located in Bayeux just north of the cathedral (and named after William the Conqueror’s queen), this is a patisserie and tea salon designed in the sumptuous style of the 1900s, with a wide array of sweet confections on offer. There’s seating here, so, if you have the time, it’s a great spot for a croissant or pain au chocolat for breakfast, or for macaroons with afternoon tea (patisseries from Dhs9; closed Mon; 47 Rue St-Martin; 00 33 2 31 92 00 59).

Gastronomy

Bistros An old-time Cherbourg bistro, complete with red velvet curtains and red lights, La Régence is housed in a hotel of the same name, right on the harbour. It serves traditional fish, seafood and meat mains, and specialities include mussels, fish soup and scallops with a fondue of leeks and a velouté of prawns (mains from Dhs57; 42 Quai de Caligny; laregence.com).

Trouville has long been famous for its fishing port and its newly restored covered fish market is the place to head to for the local catch. There are stalls selling mussels, sole, mackerel, scallops and oysters. Enjoy a waterfront picnic of oysters with lemon (around Dhs40 a dozen) and a glass of chilled wine (10am–6pm daily; corner Bd Fernand Moureaux & Rue des Bains).

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GILL

La Régence makes a great first stop after the ferry to Cherbourg

LA PETITE AUBERGE This traditional French restaurant is possibly Le Havre’s most charming dining option, with its romantic, low-beamed dining room. There are good-value lunch menus, and ingredients are seasonal. Dishes to expect include duck foie gras with fig marmalade, and cod cooked Dieppe-style, with cream, white wine and mussels (three-course lunch menu Dhs125; closed Sun eve, Mon & Wed noon; ; 32 Rue de Ste Adresse; lapetiteaubergelehavre.fr).

Gill is the place to go in Rouen for French cuisine of the highest order, served in an ultramodern dining room on the banks of the Seine. Specialities include Breton lobster with fennel ravioli and lobster bisque, and there’s also a seven-course tasting menu for Dhs455 (three-course menus from Dhs183; closed Sun & Mon, plus holidays in Apr & Aug; 8–9 Quai de la Bourse; gill.fr).

L’ABSINTHE L ABSINTHE L’

Gilles Tournadre has won two Michelin stars for his menu at Gill

LES VAPEURS V

Facing the Vieux Port in Honfleur, this well-regarded restaurant serves sophisticated French cuisine made with seasonal produce. Specialities include sole meunière, roasted pigeon and blue Breton lobster. It’s a good idea to reserve ahead for Saturday dinner and Sunday lunch, and there are cosy rooms in its hotel (three-course menus from Dhs160; 10 Quai de la Quarantaine; absinthe.fr).

A home from home in Trouville for Parisian weekenders and even for the odd movie star during the Deauville American Film Festival, Les Vapeurs has a selection of locally inspired fish and seafood dishes served up in a grand brasserie style befitting of the Art Deco surrounds. Unusually for France, the menu offers à la carte dishes only (mains from Dhs74; 160–162 Quai Fernand Moureaux; lesvapeurs.fr).

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MINI GUIDE Food & Drink in Normandy Eating

TRANSPORT R Fly to Paris from Dubai, via Emirates (from Dhs4,000; emirates.com) and drive down to Normandy. You can take your car on the Eurotunnel from Folkestone to Calais (from Dhs535 return; eurotunnel.com), then drive on to Normandy (about two hours to Rouen). Alternatively, get the Eurostar from Paris – (from Dhs125; sncf. fr). Bus services between smaller towns and villages are infrequent, so, to really explore the rural areas and D-Day beaches you’ll need your own wheels.

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T To enter the 13th-century Ferme de la Rançonnière is to be transported to another era. Half-timbered rooms in this fortified farm are elegantly furnished, and the restaurant is excellent too (from Dhs455; Crépon; ranconniere.fr). La Maison de Lucie in Honfleur is decorated with

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The know-how A NORMANDY FEAST

La Maison de Lucie was the home of an early 20th-century novelist

antiques and contemporary objets d’art. Some bedrooms have Moroccan-tile bathrooms, and the shady terrace is ideal for a summer breakfast (from Dhs940; 44 Rue des Capucins; lamaisondelucie.com). Hôtel de Bourgtheroulde is a former private mansion in Rouen n that’s been converted to a luxuryy hotel. The rooms are large and beautifully designed, and the lobby’s glass floor looks down to the pool (from Dhs1,420; 15 Plac Place ce de la Pucelle; hotelsparouen.com hotelsparouen.com). m).

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Specialities on the road On menus in Normandy, look out for: coquilles St-Jacques (scallops), huîtres creuses (oysters on the half shell), tripes à la mode de Caen (tripe and vegetables slow cooked in cider) and Dieppe-style sole, with a buttery white wine sauce. Regional cheeses include Camembert, Pont L’Évêque and Livarot. To see how Camembert is made, take a tour of the Président Farm, one of the largest producers in the area (Dhs14; fermepresident.com). Normandy’s AOC ciderr is made with a blend of apple varieties and is fruity, tangy and bitter. Pay homage to this tipple byy followingg the 25-mile Route du Cidre (larouteducidre.fr).

TOP TIP Be sure to cross the Pont de Normandie, a futuristic bridge opened in 1995 that stretches in a soaring arch over the Seine between Le Havre and Honfleur. There’s a narrow footpath and bike lane in each direction, which is free. The car toll is Dhs25.

FURTHER FURT R HER READING Lonely Planet’s France (Dhs102) has a chapter on Normandy, or for more detailed information get Brittany & Normandy, (Dhs79), chapters of which are available to download at lonelyplanet.com (Dhs17). To learn more about D-Day, se ee normandiememoire. see co om and 6juin1944.com. com Antony An ntony Beevor’s D-Day: The Th he Battle for Normandy (Penguin; (P Penguin; Dhs51) is a well-regarded account of w the th he Normandy landings.

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM PETER DRAGICEVICH AND TOM MASTERS. PHOTOGRAPHS: JUSTIN FOULKES, ICONOTEC/ALAMY, LES LADBURY/ALAMY

Normandy Essentials

Where to stay


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Hiking HORNSTRANDIR PENINSULA

The knife-like sea cliffs at Hornbjarg, on the Hornstrandir Peninsula

MINI GUIDE

ICELAND ACTIVITIES Icelanders might be a peaceful people, but their homeland is a place of geological violence. Spewing volcanoes and forbidding lava fields make for a land of beautiful, barren expanses and infinite adventure.

Water Adventures A THE BLUE LAGOON This Icelandic icon is an artificial spa set in an eerie lava field a short distance southwest of Reykjavík. The lagoon itself is landscaped with wooden decks, cavernous saunas and piping hot waterfalls, with its mineral-rich waters fed by the futuristic Svartsengi geothermal plant next door. There’s also a café and restaurant (from Dhs160; Grindavík;bluelagoon.com)

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HÚSAVIK Húsavik is Iceland’s whalewatching capital – a fishing town of colourful houses huddled around a small harbour. Two companies in town offers tours in search of these peaceful creatures, spying minke whales, humpback whales and sometimes blue whales. The original outfit, North Sailing, offers a ‘Whales, Puffins and Sails’ itinerary aboard a traditional schooner, setting sail for the ‘puffin island’ of Lundey (Dhs312 per person; Hafnarstett 11; northsailing.is).

The Hornstrandir Peninsula is one of Iceland’s emptiest quarters, with deep fjords, vertiginous cliffs and bleak tundra. It also offers magnificent walking – unless you’re an experienced hiker with your own GPS, it’s best to go with a guide. West Tours offers four-day hikes (four-day hikes from Dhs2,103 per person; Ísafjörður; vesturferdir.is).

LAUGAVEGURINN The trail from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk – also known as the Laugavegurinn (Hot Spring Route) – is one of Iceland’s most well-trodden, and with good reason. Hikers pass through a variety of landscapes, through lava fields, across black obsidian ridges and over mountain-tops. The four-day hike can be completed by anyone in reasonable shape, ovenighting in huts or campsites. Book well ahead for the former (fi.is).

The Laugavegurinn trail takes in volcanic landscapes

LAKE MÝVATN MÝVAT A N An otherworldly body of water teeming with birdlife, Lake Mývatn was created by volcanic eruptions just over two millennia ago. Its eastern shore makes for a fascinating half-day hike – running five miles from Reykjahlíð to Dimmuborgir, passing the scorching hot waters of the Grjótagjá cave on the way. Hike and Bike offers regular guided tours of the area (tours from Dhs170 per person; Reykjahlíð; hikeandbike.is).

Volcanic Encounters V

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SNÆFELLSJÖKULL

The heated, restorative waters of the Blue Lagoon

THE EASTFJORDS Sea kayaking is gaining in popularity in Iceland, with the calmer, more accessible waters of the Eastfjords proving an excellent spot for a paddle. Kaj Kayak Club in the town of Neskaupstaður offers two-hour guided trips around Norðfjörður, exploring sea caves and encountering resident birdlife along the way. Midnight kayaking trips can also be taken during the summer (tours from Dhs200 per person; Kirkjufjara; 00 354 863 9939).

Made famous by Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Snæfellsjökull is a glacier-covered stratovolcano (see ‘The knowhow’, p.86). It hasn’t erupted in 1,900 years: Snjófell offers summer snowmobile tours traversing the glacier. From the top, there are staggering views to Faxaflói Bay and the Westfjords (from Dhs625 per person; Arnarstapi; snjofell.is).

HEKLA

Horse-riding trips run through wild lupines by the Hekla volcano

SURT SURTSEY R SEY

Close to Hekla – one of Iceland’s most notorious volcanoes – the town of Hella makes for a good starting point for horse-riding trips in the shadow of the mountain. Hekluhestar offers a range of guided tours trotting across the lava fields and ash-coated landscapes nearby, from short excursions to multi-day trips (tours from Dhs683 per person; Austvaðsholt; hekluhestar.is).

The by-product of a sub-sea eruption in the 1960s, Surtsey was once famous as the world’s newest island. Today, it is used by scientists and is off-limits to visitors, but it’s still possible to spy on its bleak mountains and beaches from a boat – Viking Tours runs 3–4-hour group trips by arrangement, sailing from Heimaey in the Vestmannaeyjar Islands (from Dhs398 per person; Tangagötu 7; vikingtours.).

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MINI GUIDE Iceland activities

Iceland essentials TRANSPORT R

The know-how ICELANDIC GEOLOGY

Keflavík is Iceland’s international hub – and can be accessed by Virgin Atlantic (Dhs12,550;

Typical features of the Icelandic landscape:

Hraun Solidified lava flows.

virgin-atlantic.com) A network of long-distance buses runs in summer, covering most places on the Ring Road – the main highway that circles the island. Details are available from the BSI consortium in Reykjavík (bsi.is). If you plan to get off the beaten track, however, it’s worth taking private transport, with car hire available at Keflavík (from Dhs313 per day; budget.com).

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T Guesthouse Baldursbrá is a convivial guesthouse in Reykjavík, set on a quiet road close to Tjörnin lake. Rooms are of a decent size, and there’s a pleasant garden with a jacuzzi and sauna (from Dhs256; Laufasvegur 41; notendur. centrum.is/~heijfis). Perched between windswept beaches and twisting lava fields,

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Jökull Glacier or ice cap: many glaciers cover volcanoes in Iceland.

Geysir Iceland’s architecture can be playful and fun

Sprouting hot spring: the English word ‘geyser’ is derived from Icelandic.

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TOP TIP When out walking in the Icelandic landscape, look out for polar bears, particularly in the north. Although these creatures aren’t native to Iceland, recent years have seen three instances of them drifting over on icebergs from Greenland and swimming to shore.

FFjörður (fjords) Inlet created by glacial activity.

Hotel Búðirr is a poetic hideaway. Rooms have elegant, understated décor and many command views out to sea or up to the volcano of Snæfellsjökull (from Dhs625; Snaefellsnes; hotelbudir.is). Hotel Rangá is one of Iceland’s most luxurious retreats. Cosy wood-panelled rooms have stripy fabrics and verandas, while the World Pavilion suites are themed around different continents (from Dhs1,020; between Hella and Hvolsvöllur; hotelranga.is).

Where to stay

Shield volcano Gently sloped volcano built up by lava flows.

Stratovolcano A classic, steeply sloped conical volcano.

Volcanic bomb V Chunks of lava ejected by erupting volcanoes.

FURTHER FURTHE R R READING Lonely Planet’s Iceland (Dhs85) has more on the country. You can also download individual chapters on regions (Dhs17) from lonelyplanet.com. The Icelandic Touring T Association (Ferðafélag Íslands) has more details on hiking and mountaineering in Iceland at fi.is. Independent People is Halldór Laxness’s darkly funny 1934 novel set in rural Iceland (Dhs57; Vintage Books).

COMPILED BY OLIVER SMITH, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM BRANDON PASSER & FRAN PARNELL. PHOTOGRAPHS: ARCTIC-IMAGES/ALAMY, DAVID FORSTER/ALAMY, ETHEL DAVIES/ROBERT HARDING, JOHNATHAN AMPERSAND ESPER/GETTY IMAGES, SCIENCE FACTION/SUPERSTOCK

Sights & Activities


Fold 2

Art & museums WALLRAF-RICHARTZW WA LLRAF-RICHARTZR MUSEUM

Great St Martin church was built on the remnants of a Benedictine monastery

MINI GUIDE

MEDIEVAL COLOGNE Cologne is like a three-dimensional textbook on medieval history and architecture. A walk around the town will reveal buildings and artwork from the Middle Ages, not to mention scores of traditional beer halls.

Churches & cathedrals KÖLNER DOM

Tear out page here then fold along dotted lines

Cologne’s geographical, medieval and spiritual heart is the Kölner Dom – the city’s magnificent cathedral, built over seven centuries and completed in 1880. With its soaring twin spires, this is an Everest of a building, packed with art and treasures including a bejewelled reliquary said to hold the remains of the three Magi (tours Dhs32; Domkloster 4; koelner-dom.de).

Housing a famous collection of fine art from the medieval period to the early 20th century, this museum occupies a postmodern cube designed by the late OM Ungers. The highlight is the beautiful Madonna and the Rose Bowerr created by Stefan Lochner in the 15th century (from Dhs52; closed Mon; Obenmarspforten; wallraf.museum).

Lochner’s painting has been reproduced countless times

MUSEUM SCHNÜTGEN

KÖLNISCHES STADTMUSEUM STAD T TMUSEUM

East of the Neumarkt is the Museum Schnütgen, a repository devoted to mostly medieval, Christian art, though parts of the collection extend to the modern period. The museum is built around the Romanesque church of St Cecilia, and displays works including carved ivory objects, illustrated manuscripts and stained glass (Dhs15; closed Mon; Cäcilienstrasse 29; museenkoeln.de).

Cologne’s municipal museum, housed in a former medieval armoury, explores all facets of the city – from its history to its inhabitants and everyday life – from the Middle Ages to the present day. Highlights include a large-scale town model and the magnificent silver of the city council along with exhibits on Cologne Carnival and eau de cologne (admission Dhs23; closed Mon; museenkoeln.de).

Drinking & eating

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FRÜH AM DOM

The Kölner Dom is one of Europe’s largest Gothic

This warren of a beer hall, established in 1904 near the Kölner Dom, was once home to the Früh brewery and CentralTheatre. Its dark wood panelling, walls lined with pewter tankards and leaded interior windows conjure up the image of a medieval dining hall. It’s a comfortable place to enjoy a pint of the local kölsch (pint of Früh kölsch Dhs12; Am Hof 12; frueh.de).

Cologne has plenty of places to indulge in a spot of drinking

GREAT A ST MART MARTIN R IN CHURCH

BASILICA OF ST URSULA

BIERHAUS EN D’R SALZGASS

HAXENHAUS ZUM RHEINGARTE RHEINGARTEN R N

Winning top honours for Cologne’s most handsome exterior is this Romanesque church, built between 1150 and 1250. Its ensemble of four slender turrets grouped around a central spire towers above Fischmarkt in the Altstadt (Cologne’s Old Town). Although the church was badly damaged in WWII, restoration work was completed in 1985 (admission free; Am Gross-St-Martin 9; 00 49 221 1642 5650).

The 12th-century church of St Ursula has a grim back-story: it stands atop the ruins of a Roman cemetery where 11,000 virgins were said to have been buried after a massacre by the Huns. In the 17th century, the richly ornamented baroque Golden Chamber was built to house their relics. Its walls are covered in bones arranged to spell out Latin words among patterns (admission free; closed Sun; Ursulaplatz 24; 00 49 221 133 400).

One of Cologne’s better beer halls is a traditional building that once housed the Zur Täsch brewery. It’s full of cosy corners, with barrels on the bar, religious décor throughout and a vast medieval light fixture made of iron on the ceiling. Its kitchen serves Cologne specialities including minced pork with black bread and onions (mains from Dhs31; Salzgasse 5–7; bierhaus-salzgass.de).

This ancient house, close to the banks of the Rhine in the pretty Eisenmarkt area, specialises in medieval food. They do haxen (a ham on the bone), cook up wild boar from the Bavarian forest and serve black beer. The place itself is a single square room kitted out in typical Brauhaus-style, with long pine-topped tables and panelled walls (mains Dhs54; Frankenwerft 19; haxenhaus.de).

TURN OVER FOR MAP AND NUMBER LOCAT LOCATIONS A IONS

May/June 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East

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MINI GUIDE Medieval Cologne Drinking

TRANSPORT R Around 11 miles southeast of the city centre, Cologne/Bonn airport is served by KLM (from Dhs2,600; klm.com) via Amsterdam. The airport’s railway station allows for easy access to Cologne (singles Dhs11; reiseauskunft.bahn.de). Taxis are available from Terminal 1, the 15-minute journey costing around Dhs114 into the centre of Cologne. Cologne’s buses, trams, U-Bahn and S-Bahn services are operated by VRS – short trips cost Dhs4 and day-passes are also available (Dhs32; vrsinfo.de).

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T Original art works exchanged for lodging grace the walls of the Hotel Chelsea’s public areas, and its 38 guestrooms and suites – the most impressive is a penthouse on its eyecatching rooftop extension (from Dhs400; Jülicher Strasse 1; hotel-chelsea.de). The location is somewhat drab,

86

Some of the city’s most recognised exports:

Eau de cologne Johann Maria Farina created a fragrance in 1709 and named it after the city. Eau de cologne (below) is still produced today.

Karlheinz Stockhausen This influential Cologne composer and educator is known for his groundbreaking work in electronic music.

Kölsch but Hotel Santo is an island of sophistication. The design flaunts an edgy, urban feel tempered by playful lights effects, soothing colours and natural materials (from Dhs570; Dagobertstrasse 22–26; hotelsanto.de). History and high-tech mix beautifully at the Hopper Hotel St Antonius, a retreat close to the Rhine built in 1904. Its romantic courtyard and small wellness centre are perfect when you want a break from sightseeing (Dhs795; Dagobertstrasse 32; hopper.de).

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East May/June 2013

Where to stay

The know-how KNOW THE COLOGNE

The Hotel Chelsea roof was added to the building in 2001

Eating

Cologne’s own beer: the name ‘Kölsch’ is protected by law so that only beers brewed in and around the city can bear it.

Wine In the Middle Ages, monks established many of Germany’s finest and best-kept vineyards. Riesling is probably the most famous.

TOP TIP The Rheinauhafen, a former commercial harbour, has been given a new lease of life, with its 19th-century buildings turned into offices, living and entertainment spaces, cafés, restaurants and a river promenade (rheinauhafen-koeln.de).

FURTHER FURTHE R R READING Lonely Planet’s Germany (Dhs97) has a chapter on North Rhine-Westphalia, where Cologne is located. You can download this chapter (Dhs17) from lonelyplanet.com. Tourism website cologne.de is the best place to find hotel and tour information. Duncan JD Smith’s 2011 book Only in Cologne: A guide to Hidden Corners, Little-Known Places and Unusual Objects does as it says on the cover (Dhs100; Brandstätter Verlag).

COMPILED BY JASON RILEY, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ANDREA SCHULTE-PEEVERS. PHOTOGRAPHS: HEINZ-DIETER FALKENST/SUPERSTOCK, INTERFOTO/ALAMY, STEFAN LOCHNER, UWE SPÖRING, VAL THOERMER/AGEFOTOSTOCK

Cologne essentials

Sights & Activities


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Khrami river Kura river Kodori river Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East May/June 2013

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Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East is the first international travel brand to invest in a locally based travel publication, and will cover...

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