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DHS 15





EUROPE issue! 4Classic Paris 4Locals’ Madrid 4Switzerland’s valleys 4Sardinia’s island cuisine 4La Dolce Vita in Italy 4Shop the Cotswolds 4Party in Croatia


ON THE COVER The Eiffel Tower still stands tall over Paris




Hamburg 4Seville 4Croatia 4San Francisco 4Turin 4Wales

expe ri en ce


Swissôtel Métropole, Geneva

Feel the fresh spirit of Swissôtel. Where life is a fusion of simplicity and refinement, relaxation and activity, leisure and work, local culture and Swiss-inspired design, an attentive service and a sincere smile.


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


EDITOR Georgina Wilson-Powell +97150 574 2884 CONTRIBUTORS Oliver Berry, Matthew Fort, Rory Goulding, Nicola Monteath, Mark Read, Ben Rossi, Anders Schønnemann, Pete Seaward, Steffan Snow, Chris Suttenfield ART DIRECTOR Sérge Bones


SALES DIRECTOR: Tim Calladine /+971 50 458 7752


ONLINE Louie Alma

PRODUCTION Devaprakash


Rochelle Almeida



Emirates Printing Press LLC, Dubai


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


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

Editor Peter Grunert Art director Hayley Ward Publishing director Alfie Lewis Publisher Simon Carrington

The Europe issue Europe is a multi-faceted, multicultural, historical behemoth. A year long trip around this most varied of continents still wouldn’t be long enough to get a real grasp on the endless cultures, cuisines and landscapes that have been thrown together geographically. It means something different to everyone, and these varied stories are what we’ve tried to cover in this month’s special Europe issue. From the stories behind the icons of Paris, one of Europe’s most famous modern daughters (page 30) to the ancient dual cuisines of Italy’s largest island, Sardinia (page 56), Europe bubbles away with so many options for those looking to escape the Middle East summer. Uncover sultry Madrid, as locals show us their secret go-to spots (page 48) whilst elsewhere we take to the road in Switzerland (page 40), uncovering some of the most dramatic European landscapes, made even more dazzling covered in fresh grass, rather than wintery snow. With more options in our Easy Trips (page 23) and Mini Guides (page 73) sections, there’s no need to trudge back to the same old holiday resort this year; branch out and embrace all that Europe has to offer. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

FROM TOP Paris is perfect this time of year (page 30); Summer brings out a different side of Switzerland (page 40); locals introduce us to Madrid (page 55); eat your way round Sardinia (page 62)

Georgina Wilson-Powell, Editor

Lonely Planet Traveller is published by CPI Media Group under licence from LPG, Inc. (part of the Lonely Planet group). Lonely Planet is a trade mark of Lonely Planet Publications Pty Limited (part of the Lonely Planet group) and is used under licence. Copyright © Immediate Media Company London Limited All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part prohibited without permission.

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


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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 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 page 18 for Tony Wheeler’s column, The Road Less Travelled.

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July sees the release of Cantonese Phrasebook (Dhs30), Discover China (Dhs120), Discover Great Britain (Dhs108), Discover Malaysia & Singapore (Dhs102), Hungary (Dhs96), Perth & West Coast Australia (Dhs96) and Pocket Phuket (Dhs48).


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

Contents June/July 2013


Your travel photos and the stories behind them 8

From Cuban cigars to Vietnamese boats


This month’s travel news, views and events 15

Paul Theroux talks about the joy of travelling and we discover New York’s surf school


Short breaks to book now 24 COTSWOLDS, UK Take a retro road trip and find vintage stores 24 MUSCAT, OMAN Watch the turtles hatch on an Omani beach 25 SPLIT, CROATIA This summery city is ready for a festival 26 BASILICATA, ITALY Live la Dolce Vita at Francis Ford Coppola’s place 27 MADAGSCAR Take to the island’s wilderness on a small photography workshop 27 COPENHAGEN, DENMARK Enjoy fireworks, music and a relaxed vibe in the Danish capital 28 KEA, GREECE This little island has a hidden history beneath the waves 28 BAKU, AZERBAIJAN The City of Flames will warm your heart


In depth experiences to add to your wish list 30 ON THE COVER PARIS Rediscover classic Parisian attractions as we delve into the stories behind them 40 SWITZERLAND The tiny alpine country is perfect for a road trip. We criss-cross the country for another Perfect Trip 48 MADRID Let the locals introduce you to this passionate city, from their chocolaterias to where to buy flamenco shoes 56 SARDINIA Food is a serious business in this untouched island paradise, whether it’s caught from the sea or climbed down the mountain 64 HIGH 5: DUBAI STAYCATIONS If you have to be here during Ramadan, treat yourself with one of these fab options 6

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013


Uncover the stories behind classic Paris p30 Hit the Swiss roads on a fonduefuelled trip p40

Fall in love with the simple life in Sardinia p56


Party Croatian style p25

Books, apps and websites that will feed your passion for travel 70 We look back at the history of Everest, discover luxury eco-tourism and fall for airport apps


Themed guides to pull out and take with you 75 HAMBURG It’s not just Scandinavia that does cool design 77 SEVILLE Flamenco and festivals, find it all in Spain 79 CROATIA Discover the Dalmatian coast’s islands 81 SAN FRANCISCO Eat well, eat local, eat organic in ‘Frisco 83 TURIN Art Nouveau and amazing architecture 85 WALES Seek adventure in this wild land


82 SUBSCRIBE At only Dhs120 for 12 issues, a year’s subscription is a steal for all your travelling inspiration every month

Cafes, tapas bars and more - this is locals’ Madrid p48

COMPETITIONS 87 WIN A TWO NIGHT STAY at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa 88 WIN THREE NIGHTS at the boutique Beach House in the Maldives!

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East




Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 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


Floating restaurant I was travelling through Thailand with my wife a few years ago and we stopped at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, which is the longest oating marketing in Thailand and where sellers paddle up to sell their food, arts and crafts. This woman paddled over and sold my wife some porridge and I just took the shot. Roger P. Alfonso is a Filipino civil engineer based in Dubai. He loves Sir Bani Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.


Cuban smoke This is Elaine, she was in her 60s when I took this in November 2010. We were in Havana and we just came across her on a back street, smoking her cigar. She let us take her picture and we talked through sign language and broken English. I loved the look in her eyes, she’s weary but the contrast of colours is fantastic. I loved Cuba, for all the talented musicians and bands who will perform in the streets for free. Lama Kabbani is Lebanese and lives in Dubai. One of her favourite places in the world is Tibet.

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

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


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


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013


Boat party I spent a month in Vietnam a couple of years ago and I was travelling on the Mekong Delta all the way up to Sapa on a train, from Hoi An. This river ran through the town and a this female Vietnamese vendor just sailed past selling her food. A storm was coming in and just created a perfect setting for a sense of real drama. Belinda Muller is a Canadian living and working in Dubai. She’s planning a trip to Cuba next.

Our Planet

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

Frank Cullen, surfing instructor, Rockaway Beach, New York City It’s hard to believe there’s a beach with a surfing heritage right in New York City. Tourists think the Empire State Building will be the highlight of their trip – they don’t expect it to be surfing in Rockaway! Last October, Hurricane Sandy arrived on a Monday, after guys had been out surfing on the Sunday before. We had no idea it would hit this area so hard: the flooding; no electricity, heat, transport or cellphones. But no other neighbourhood could have handled it like we did. The surf club did a lot of organising. Teams went knocking on doors, making sure there weren’t any old people who needed help. The storm destroyed the boardwalk but now these beautiful breezeways (sheltered passages) are being built. The breaks changed too – some for the better. Surfing is catching on again. A day is all it takes to get hooked.


Visit Frank’s surf school at

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


OUR PLANET AS PART OF THE DANISH celebrations of their UK invasion 1,000 years ago, the longest Viking shipwreck will be exhibited at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen from 22 June – 17 November.


Paul Theroux PAUL THEROUX is a best-selling author, whose works include The Great Railway Bazaar and The Old Patagonian Express. He travels through Africa in his new book, The Last Train to Zona Verde (Dhs120; Hamish Hamilton)

When to disconnect from home


I’ve spent the past 50 years travelling in Africa. Familiarising myself with it, returning there, seeing it change, and trying to keep current with the continent has been a big part of my life – more with Africa than anywhere else. I first went to Malawi at the very end of 1963, which was an astonishing experience. It was Nyasaland then; I got there just before independence when it became Malawi. It was a country of a very small population, most of them living on pastures in mud huts with thatched roofs. The mode of transportation was bicycle. Seeing that, I felt I was looking at the past. It was an experience that changed my life.

The landscape they live in is hot, flat bush. The soil is sandy, so the paths are very soft. There’d be a big tree in one place and that would be where people camp or gather. I felt two ways about meeting them. I felt firstly these are real people and they’re much like our ancestors. But I also thought they’re doing it for me – it’s a charade, and they dress up for tourists. You can’t be a huntergatherer in Africa now. But if there’s a lesson there, it is in mutual help. The San have kept family unity; they get along, they help each other. Mankind wouldn’t have prospered if there hadn’t been an exchange of goodwill. That’s what you see in these good people. That’s the ancient aspect of it, I suppose.

For my new book, The Last Train to Zona Verde, I thought I would go back. I had it in my mind to go from Cape Town to the Eastern Cape, Botswana and Namibia and even further. Namibia’s landscape is fascinating, with the population spread very thinly. The San people here are said to be ‘the aristocrats of the planet’ and, meeting them, I can believe that. Anthropologists say they’re the closest we can get to seeing our ancestors today and you can see that in some aspects of their culture. That’s how we managed: by hunting and gathering and moving on, by being nomadic and living off the land. It’s a pre-town, pre-village existence.

The level of change in Africa over the past 10 years varies from country to country. South Africa in some respects has improved greatly; the townships, the housing, education and so forth, but there’s still not enough jobs, and not a lot of trust in the government. So some things have improved, others not at all, and I think that’s true of a lot of Africa. Probably the greatest change of all, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, is urbanisation.

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

Train was the main mode of getting around for me during the early part of my travelling. It was the best way to see a place. What is it about the

OUR PLANET THE 55TH VENICE BIENNALE kicked off this month, bringing 150 artists together to exhibit in the city at the Encyclopedic Palace until 24 November. An Architecture Biennale, directed by legendary architect, Rem Koolhaus, will run alongside it.

EXPERIENCE SPANISH FLAVOUR like no other at the Bilbao Guggenheim, with its look at all things ‘baroque’, from 17th century sensual paintings to modern day films. Riotous Baroque: From Cattelan to Zurbarán is open from 18 June – 6 October.


The San people of Namibia are descendants of southern Africa’s earliest inhabitants, and speak languages known for their variety of click sounds

I think that, more than ever, people really need to get out of the house, get away from the computer and find out the way things really are by travelling. If you just trawl the internet and try to find out about a place, I think you’ll be misinformed. You don’t find out about any place until you go there – and ideally speak the language too. Technology gives you that sense that you know more than you know. It has made us arrogant and presumptuous. The great thing that travel should do – that it ought to do – is disconnect you from home. It should be a lesson, it should liberate you and allow you to live in a different way – not being dependent on a phone or a computer. You should be separated from home – then you find out about a place, and about yourself. Travelling alone is absolutely essential. If you can do it, if you’ve got the stomach for it, that’s what you should do. I think that the solitary traveller learns a lot.

BETTANY HUGHES is an award-winning historian who has written for Lonely Planet Traveller about Santorini and the Spartathlon.


train? I think it’s the freedom it allows you: you can sleep, you can write, you can read or walk around, get off and get on. Historically it has had great advantages but, in Africa, it’s not a mode of travel that anyone depends on any more. So I think it’s the last gasp of it.

Bettany Hughes

I’d been given a great tip-off that an Aryan civilisation had been discovered on the steppes of Siberia. For a historian, things don’t get much better, so I found myself a plane to Chelyabinsk (now famous because of that meteor-strike). People have a Pavlovian response to the word Siberia and imagine endless swathes of snow, but the colour and oriental culture of these borderlands near Kazakhstan is a brilliant surprise. The first sight on the asphalt was a donkeydrawn cart, piled high with suzanis – the embroidered cloths typically made for a girl’s dowry. Then, driving seven hours east, Siberian shamans, Mongolian horse-traders and Cossack tank enthusiasts gave gaudy diversion

from the relentless grasslands. The promised civilisation didn’t disappoint either – 70 circular Bronze Age settlements, halls packed with ‘swastika’ themed jewellery, the burial of a great warrior with his horse and chariot, and make-up pots still caked with bright pigments. Leaving a fortnight later we passed that same suzani-cart, plodding its way east. Because the cloth’s decoration represented the ancient sun-mandala symbol so degenerated by the Nazis, I bought one. The hanging now keeps the draught out of our unheated suburban semi. When I look at it, I am back in the Bronze Age; it allows me to be in two times at once.

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East





WHY GO? With so many travellers veering either to Gujarat’s northern neighbour Rajasthan or Mumbai to the south, the templetopped mountains, rare wildlife and traditional handicrafts of India’s westernmost state are too often overlooked.

WHAT CAN I SEE? Head to the district of Kutch to see artisans at work on some of India’s most intricate textiles (above). The salt plains of the Little Rann of Kutch are the last refuge of the Indian wild ass and home to breeding flamingos. Visit Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary to see the only Asiatic lions left in the wild.

HOW SAFE IS IT? Gujarat isn’t immune to natural disasters, and experienced a major earthquake in 2001. Violence between Hindus and Muslims has flared up sporadically (the last major riots were in 2002) but underlying tension is unlikely to affect visitors. This is one of India’s most developed states. It’s where the Tata Nano – the world’s least expensive new car – is made.

WHERE’S TRULY OFF THE BEATEN TRACK? Girnar Hill, near the ancient fortified city of Junagadh. Join pilgrims and porters at dawn to tackle some or all of the 10,000 steps leading past Jain and Hindu temples.

WHAT SHOULD I EAT? The Gujarati vegetarian thali – a dish featuring a selection of curries, curds, dhal, pickles and rice – is lighter and less spicy than most, and is usually served with buttermilk.

RECOMMENDED READING? Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Gandhiji was born in Gujarat and co-ordinated his struggle for many years from its largest city, Ahmedabad. TONY WHEELER, Lonely Planet’s co-founder, never stops exploring unusual places. Next month on his wish list: Zimbabwe


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

WIMBLEDON – THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS It’s that time of year, when Dubai is sweating it out, London is praying for sun and eating strawberries and cream around Centre Court at Wimbledon. This year the championship takes place between 24 June and 7 July. Tennis championships have been played here on grass since 1924 and there’s also an interactive museum on site. Tickets for general admission can be bought on the day, you just have to arrive early.


DUBLIN Lonely Planet’s Ireland expert Fionn Davenport shares his tips for what’s free in the capital this summer BLOOMSDAY June sees James Joyce fans dressing up in Edwardian garb and turning out across the city to celebrate ‘Bloomsday’ in honour of Ulysses character Leopold Bloom. On 16 June, the James Joyce Centre will host a variety of celebrations, including a special cooked breakfast with black and white puddings and a Ulysses walk with ad hoc readings and dramatisations in settings from the novel. Bring a copy if you have one (

CHESTER BEATTY LIBRARY The best small museum in Ireland is home to a collection of books, manuscripts and other objets d’art and is currently exhibiting a selection of 30 paintings from Irish-American mining magnate Chester Beatty’s private hoard. Representing the Barbizon School (French art movement that preceded impressionism) you’ll find works by Corot, Jacque and Millet (


Bloomsday sees

Dublin’s perfect stroll for a James Joyce fans summer afternoon takes you dressing up to along the Great South Wall – at four miles, the world’s longest sea wall when it was finished in 1795 – to the Poolbeg Lighthouse. Reach the end and you’ll be rewarded with views of the city skyline, while to the north you can see the nature reserve of North Bull Island and, beyond that, the peninsula of Howth Head.

NATIONAL GALLERY Opened in 1864 after the local success of a great Irish exhibition, the National Gallery is now home to over 15,000 works of art from the 13th-20th centuries. As well as a Yeats Collection and Ireland’s favourite, a suggestive number from 1864, make time for the National Portrait Collection and spot the famous Irish, from Jonathan Swift through to Seamus Heaney, and yes even, Bono.

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF IRELAND The schools are busy with exams in June, so you’ll have Ireland’s foremost museum all to yourself. Its collections include some of Europe’s finest Bronze- and Iron-Age gold artefacts, as well as a number of the most intact examples of medieval Celtic metalwork in the world – notably the 8th-century Ardagh Chalice, uncovered in a potato field in 1868 ( FIONN DAVENPORT is currently researching Lonely Planet’s Ireland guide. He lives in Dublin.

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


From here to there... Cool off and get a feel for an older time with dinners in volcanos and an Olympics based on Eskimo survival

Are you as brave as a Bosnian? Would you leap from this 24 metre high bridge?

M O S TA R , B O S N I A & H E R Z E G O V I NA

EXPERIENCE A REAL CLIFF-HANGER The Mostar Bridge Diving festival in Bosnia and Herzegovina vina on 31 July isn’t for the faint hearted. Mostar’s 24 metre high bridge has been the place local men prove their worth for over four our centuries. 10,000 visitors now descend on the historic town wn over the last weekend in July to compete and celebrate the deathathdefying dives. Bars and clubs stay open late as local divers rs celebrate cheating the reaper, for another year at least!


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

AND ELSEWHERE IN THE WORLD... Do the wine run. The Lanzarote Wine Run on 23 June is a half marathon with a difference. Along the course runners can sample the local vineyards’ latest offerings as they make their way through the Geria region, finishing at the Bodega Rubicon. Winners can win their weight in wine! There’s a slower 10km ‘Wine Walk’ for those who want to enjoy it at a slower pace. Festival trippin’. The Balkans are home to the coolest festivals this summer. Take a three day festival tour (10-14 July) taking in Slovenia and Croatia, hitting a different festival site every night. Music in Monte Carlo. The luxurious Med destination will see a host of five star concerts between 6 July and 19 August including Rihanna, Rod Stewart and Joe Cocker as part of its Sporting Summer Festival. Eskimo Olympics! Alaska will see the World Eskimo Indian Olympics take place between 17-20 July. The games have been derived from ancient hunting techniques and include games where contestants are tossed as high as possible in walrus skins and carrying lead inglots by the ear lobe! Dine inside a volcano. Head to San Santorini’s up on latest resort, The Katikies Hotel, which sits 300ft 3 the cliffs and has four tables at its signature restaurant which are suspended on a rooftop veranda on the volcano’s rim. The hotel is made up of a free-form collection o of stairs, bridges and cottages. Summer sounds. Forward-thinking musical festival ATP will head to Ic Iceland for day gathering the first time for a two d on an old NATO base at K Keflavík, Iceland on 28-29 June. Expect plenty of Scandina Scandinavian sounds, whilst Nick Cave Seeds headline. & the Bad See Go Brazilian! Eti Etihad launch their first non non-stop service to Sou South America on 1 June, heading to Sao hea Paulo. etihad.

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Shop the UK’s Cotswolds, watch turtles hatch in Oman, discover Baku and learn to cook in an Italian palazzo

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East



Muscat, Oman Turtle power!

Pretty villages hide a wealth of shops

Cotswolds, UK Roman to retro

WHY GO NOW? Meet a real life turtle ranger! Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa is lucky enough to have been built around traditional turtle nesting beaches on the Muscat coastline and now is the perfect time to watch the endangered eggs hatch and see the baby turtles make their way to the sea for the first time. Thousands of Hawksbill turtles return to these Omani nesting ground every year to lay the precious eggs; 55 days or so later,

WHY GO N OW? One of the prettiest areas of England is the Cotswolds, bucolic countryside that’s as famed for the pretty villages and limestone cottages as it is for the celebrities who have moved there. Settled by the Romans and made rich in the Middle Ages, the Cotswolds is about as iconically English as you can get, but there’s more to the area than just beautiful views across rolling green fields. The small market towns have become home to a range of independent shops and markets that highlight everything that’s great about the UK. From fashion designers to homewares, retro and vintage boutiques to antique fairs and car boot sales, Cotswold Vintage Tours have come up with four routes that take in all these, plus organic farms, wildlife parks, cute country pubs and plenty of boutique accommodation options. MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 Download the four different vintage shopping route maps for free from 4 Stay at the Inn at Fossebridge, a 17th century coaching inn with riverside gardens for two nights and get the third night free (Dhs750 per night including breakfast; free Wi-fi; cotswolds-country-pub-hotel. 4 Fly to London Heathrow on Gulf Air via Bahrain (from Dhs2,445; 4 Hire a car from Thrifty at Heathrow Airport (from Dhs1,458 per week;


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

the babies make their dangerous dash to the sea. The hotel has a full time member of staff dedicated to the turtles, and he can accompany you on a late night beach excursion to see the heart-warming event. Hatching usually runs throughout the month of June.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 There are three hotels at Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah resort complex. From the family focused Al Wada and Al Bandar properties to

Oman’s most luxurious hotel Al Husn. The resort is home to 21 restaurants and bars, a spa and an Omani Heritage Village (from Dhs700 for a Superior room at Al Bandar inc breakfast ; free Wi-fi; barraljissahresort). 4Fly to Muscat on Oman Air every day from Dubai (Dhs495; 4Don’t miss Muscat’s Natural History Musuem which includes the skeleton of a sperm whale! ( Hawksbill turtles can live for up to 50 years, but they all start out on a beach

Split dates back to a 6th century Greek settlement

Great things happen to people that don’t give up.

Meet Catherine Todd, Ultramarathon athlete supported by


Split, Croatia Summer lovin’ WHY GO NOW? The city of Split, located in the Mediterranean Basin on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea, is the second-largest city in Croatia. The entire country is becoming more and more popular for summer holidays, and the Split Summer festival is yet another reason to visit. A month long cultural festival that hand-picks theatres, ballets, operas, jazz musicians, street performers and more from all over the world, the events all take place at a Roman

ruin, the Diocletian Palace, built in the fourth century AD, for an out of this world setting. The dynamic festival has been in place for 59 years and shows no sign of slowing down. And of course, Split is the key to the Dalmatian coast, for some of the best Mediterraneanbased sailing you can find, if the mood should take you.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 The Split Summer festival takes place from 14 July -14 August. For a detailed list of events and

performances check the website (prices tbc; 4 Fly to Split from Dubai with Lufthansa (from Dhs2,900; 4 Stay at the historic Hotel Vestibul, created in the remains of Roman palaces and located in the heart of Split (Dhs1,360 per night; free Wi-fi; 4 Organise a day sailing or kayaking tour and head out to one of the beautiful islands. See page 79 for our guide to the Croatian islands (

Photo © Woulter Kingma

Times Square Center Dubai, UAE TEL +97143466824 800 ADVENTURE


Feast on fine food and films from director Frances Ford Coppola

WHY GO NOW? No one does pizza, pasta and bread quite like the Italians! Foodies (and carb-lovers) are in for a treat when they book themselves in for the La Dolce Vita package at Francis Ford Coppola’s lavish property, Palazzo Margherita – yup it even sounds good enough to eat! The iconic director has turned his hand to luxury hotelier and offers up the faded elegance of a fresco-covered Italian palace. It’s the perfect place 26

to indulge in Italy’s food scene. Over three or eight days discover local markets, historic sites, ancient wine cellars and specialty restaurants for a taste of southern Italy. Cooking classes at the property will teach you how to make proper pizza dough amongst other delights and you can spend evenings admiring the beautiful courtyards and gardens, vino in hand or at an Italian film screening. La Dolce Vita indeed.

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 Stay for three nights in the Suite Six in the Palazzo Margherita. There’s a in-room bar and yoga and masage therapists can be brought in on request (Dhs17,000; free Wi-fi; palazzomargherita). 4 The three-day La Dolce Vita package includes lunch, dinner,

cooking lessons and historic site visits, while the eight-day package includes breakfast and all of the above (from Dhs2,700 per person; 4 Fly to Bari – Palese – with Qatar Airways (from Dhs5,575; 4The hotel is 20 minutes from the Ionian Sea and close to Puglia, first colonised by the Greeks.


Basilicata, Italy La Dolce Vita


Madagascar Get snap happy WHY GO NOW? Photographer and blogger Catalin Marin is organising an 11 day travel photography adventure to the wonderfully wild island of Madagascar. The trip will take in capital Antananarivo and camping along the Tsiribihina river with plenty of time for waterfalls, picnics and meeting some local villagers. You’ll also take in the Tsingy National Park, home to 11 species of lemur, and arrive at sunset to photograph the

phenomenal baobab trees at Baobab Avenue. Madagascar has flora and fauna like no other country in the world, and this trip will give you the opportunity to shoot birds, people, animals, landscapes in a once in a lifetime trip, with a small group of fellow photographers.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 The 11 day trip leaves Dubai on 16 August. All domestic flights, transfers, guides and entrance

fees, accommodation (hotels and camping) and some meals are included (Dhs10,248 per person excluding international flights. The price is for double occupancy. A single supplement costs Dhs1,098). To sign up email 4 The trip is limited to 10 people. A deposit of Dhs1,380 will secure your place. 4 Kenya Airways flies to Antananarivo via Nairobi (Dhs5,886;

Copenhagen, Denmark Park life


WHY GO NOW? We all know what’s coming. It’s mid-August, it’s 45 degrees, and the end of Ramadan means the unwelcome return of normal working hours. So what better place to escape to than the happiest nation on earth, Denmark! The United Nations awarded the feat to the Danes in its World Happiness Report after it scored highest on its ‘life evaluation’ test, taking into account things like good health and strong relationships. But the happy-chappy population and cool-air summer of Copenhagen, aren’t the only attractions to lure you from the dry desert heat. 15 August marks the 170th birthday of the world’s most popular city park, Tivoli Gardens. To celebrate, the famous pleasure-gardenscum-amusement-park will have an elaborate fireworks show every Saturday night through summer. Tivoli is also putting on 82 concerts, the majority of which are free when the Dhs60 park entrance fee is paid.

The baobab trees here are over 800 years old

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 Emirates flies daily to Copenhagen direct from Dubai (Dhs3,385; 4 The Square hotel is ideally situated just 200 metres from Tivoli Gardens and Copenhagen Central Station, and sports a very Danish-typical minimalist design. Book soon to avail decent summer discounts (Dhs850; free Wi-Fi;

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East



Kea, Greece Get wrecked WHY GO NOW? The nearest island to capital Athens, Kea has had a varied history, having been owned by the Byzantines, Ottoman Turks and the Venetians in its time. But its sandy shores hide a treacherous sea, which has seen plenty of dramatic shipwrecks. The largest dive-able wreck in the world lies here; the HMHS Britannic was the sister ship to the also ill-fated Titanic. Working as a hospital ship she was attacked in World War One just off the coast and is now just one of many historic wrecks

beneath the glittering Adriatic Sea. She was discovered in 1975 by Jacques Cousteau and compared to her famous sister, is in a much better condition and much more accessible to divers. However, if your interest remains firmly above sea level, the lively port, Ioulis, has plenty of restaurants and bars and 65kms of walking trails criss cross the historic island, making it easy to explore.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 Fly daily to Athens direct from Abu Dhabi on Etihad (from

Dhs4,385; 4 Kea is two hours from Athens. Take the bus to Lavrio port and a ferry to Kea (Dhs25 for the bus one way; Dhs110 for a return ferry; 4 Stay at family-run Red Tractor Farm, a guesthouse with its own vineyards and farm, where they make their own condiments. It also has a traditional, hand-built sail boat that can take you out for day trips on the water (Dhs1,750 for three nights in the St George studio; free Wi-fi; This pretty Greek island has had a rocky past

Let the ‘city of fire’ illuminate you

Baku, Azerbaijan Fire power WHY GO NOW? Locally known as the ‘flame towers’, a trio of new curved skyscrapers cast a shadow over the rest of Baku. They house the new Fairmont Baku. This huge hotel opening showcases Baku’s potential on the cusp of an exciting new tourism boom. Known as the ‘city of fire’, perhaps thanks to the bursts of natural gas and oil erupting from its landscape, Baku sits at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, and has long been a centre for trade. It was on the Silk Road and traded artisan copper long before its current oil hey day. Baku’s Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage site; for the best view of it, climb the 1,000 year old Maiden’s Tower, but for a leap into Baku’s future, check out some of the biggest hotel rooms the country’s ever seen, at the Fairmont. HOW DO I MAKE IT HAPPEN? 4 Book into the Fairmont Baku (from Dhs1,404; free Wi-fi; 4 Visas are still fairly fiddly things for Azerbaijan. You will need a confirmation from your hotel to get a tourist visa. Leave plenty of time to arrange it. Download the forms from 4 Fly to Baku on flydubai (every day except Saturdays) from Dubai (Dhs1,276; 4 For traditional food and costumed waiters visit Yeni Bah Bah Club ( 4 For more info on Azerbaijan check new tourist website


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

Classic Paris Get to the heart of the allure of Paris with a tour of ďŹ ve of its star sights, from the heights of the Eiffel Tower to the depths of the catacombs, and a day trip to the splendour of Versailles WORDS RORY GOULDING O PHOTOGRAPHS PETE SEAWARD

At night, a light show made from 20,000 bulbs illuminates the Eiffel Tower

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


If all the iron in the Eiffel Tower, seen here from the Palais de Chaillot, were melted down into the shape of its base, it would ďŹ ll the square to only 6cm


Eiffel Tower


HE WORLD IS FILLED WITH buildings and monuments named after monarchs, generals and businessmen, but it’s rare to find great landmarks that credit the architects or engineers who actually built them. The giant tower that greeted visitors to the Paris Universal Exposition of 1889 was planned to be merely a temporary construction. Perhaps that’s why it was excused from bearing the name of some national symbol or lofty ideal, and instead commemorates the genius of Gustave Eiffel. To appreciate the impact of the Eiffel Tower on a Parisian of 1889, consider the timeline of the record-breaking structures that came before. The Great Pyramid at Giza set an early standard, at over 140 metres tall. Much later, a few medieval cathedrals managed to edge past it. By 1888, the tallest thing made by man was the 169-metre Washington Monument – a giant stone obelisk. Impressive, but still something that a time-travelling ancient Egyptian would have instinctively understood. So for 4,400 years the ceiling of architectural achievement had been raised only modestly when Gustave Eiffel

opened an entirely new chapter, with a tower more than 300 metres high, and made not out of stone like all its predecessors, but wrought iron. ‘Gustave Eiffel knew how to master the most advanced technology of the time,’ says Stéphane Dieu, who looks after the tower’s heritage. ‘For a start, the foundations of the tower’s four pillars had to be built in damp soil close to the river. Above all, it was his faith and love of science that guided him – you can see that from the frieze around the first floor, which gives the names of 72 French scientists.’ The commercial success of a 300-metre observation tower was only possible of course thanks to the invention of the elevator. Four sets of diagonal lifts climb the tower’s splayed feet to the mid-levels, through a lattice of girders that join in crosses and starbursts. The second journey is a vertical one, up the centre of the structure. As the cabin glides ever higher, the four edges of the tower close in around it. Just before it seems like the iron is about to run out, the lift stops, and opens its doors. Solving technical challenges was only part of Eiffel’s work. When construction had hardly begun, some 50 of the leading

French artists and writers of the day signed a joint letter to the press, condemning this ‘black and gigantic factory chimney’, which would crush the great monuments of Paris under its ‘barbaric mass’. Eiffel wrote a lengthy rebuttal: ‘Why should something that is admirable in Egypt become hideous and ridiculous in Paris?’ he asked. Two years later, the tower received nearly two million visitors during the exhibition. And yet Eiffel’s supreme achievement was meant to be dismantled by 1909. It was only saved on his insistence that it could serve as a testing ground for scientific experiments and later as a radio transmitter. Bridges and buildings by Eiffel survive from Hungary to Bolivia. He even designed the internal framework for the Statue of Liberty. But if it hadn’t been for Eiffel’s determination, the tower that bears his name might be remembered today only from a few yellowing postcards. TOP TIP O If you know your travel dates two or three months in advance, it’s worth booking a timed ticket to skip long ticket office queues (Dhs42 to 2nd floor only, Dhs72 to top; Either print it out or show it on a smartphone screen.

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


Notre-Dame is a rare reminder of medieval Paris. BELOW A devil joins the crowd of statues on the high walkway between the cathedral’s two towers



VERY CATHEDRAL HAS A face it presents to the world, but somehow Notre-Dame’s feels particularly expressive. At the top, two square towers with dark, shuttered arches stare out over Paris. In the middle, a rose window and a filigree of stonework confirm the skill of medieval masons. At the bottom, three sets of doors are surrounded by sculptures of saints and sinners forming a bible without words. Like any human face, the cathedral façade has its slight flaws (the small square holes where the wooden scaffolding went in eight centuries ago), and looks more real for being slightly asymmetrical – just

enough to avoid monotony. The queue to get in passes by a bronze marker in the cobblestones, denoting ‘point zéro’ – the spot from which all French road distances are measured. This makes a certain amount of sense. Notre-Dame is on an island, washed by the strong current of the Seine, that was one of earliest parts of Paris to be settled in Roman times – conveniently neutral ground in the city’s Left Bank-Right Bank divide. In 1160, Bishop Maurice de Sully judged Paris’s existing Saint-Étienne cathedral inadequate, and the construction of a replacement began three years later. The bishop never saw the finished building, which took shape over more than a century. During construction, the builders were worried enough about the growing structure to add the then-novel safety measure of flying buttresses. They must have betrayed a certain lack of confidence at first, but time has been the test, and now they seem at one with the medieval tracery. Inside, the soaring ceilings are further proof that stone can convey delicacy as well as bulk. A lot of what appears medieval however is really neo-medieval. The French Revolution took an anti-clerical turn, and the cathedral suffered. Bells were melted

down and in 1793 the 28 royal statues on the main façade were vandalised, their heads hacked off – the crowd had allegedly mistaken the Biblical rulers for kings of France. By 1831, when Victor Hugo wrote The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, the cathedral had become a dilapidated embarrassment. The architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was brought in to bring it back to glory in the 1840s. As with many of his restoration projects however, he took some creative liberties along the way. These include Notre-Dame’s famous grotesques, or chimeras – not gargoyles, as they serve as decoration rather than waterspouts. A dimpled, well-trodden staircase leads to the Galerie des Chimères. A herd of grotesques perch between the west towers – sinewy, bearded devils, but also a pelican. They weren’t on the original blueprints, but then again Notre-Dame never got the spires that were meant to top its twin square towers. Perhaps a great cathedral is always a work in progress. TOP TIP O On the façade’s left-hand portal, look out for the statue of St Denis. The patron saint of France is said to have walked miles after being decapitated, carrying his head in his arms.




HE CITY OF LIGHT HAS A darker twin. While the Paris that knows sun and rain is home to some two million people at its centre, another six million Parisians can be called on during visiting hours in their parallel city, 20 metres below street level. Or at least, what’s left of them. The Paris catacombs were a quick solution to a mounting problem. By the late 18th century, the medieval cemeteries could not keep up with the growth of the city. Old graves were dug up and bones tossed into attic-like charnel houses to make room for more burials, but neighbours complained that milk and soup would spoil within hours because of the miasmas wafting their way, and in one notorious case the walls of a bonerepository broke under the strain, spilling a morbid cascade into nearby houses. This was the Age of Enlightenment, and something had to be done. Luckily, under the hill of Montparnasse to the south of the city, Paris already possessed a network of tunnels, built from Roman times onwards to quarry highquality limestone for buildings such as Notre-Dame. From 1786, the old city-

centre cemeteries were gradually emptied, and their contents brought to the mineshafts in a nightly stream of hearses accompanied by the chanting of priests. The last of the transfers to the catacombs was made in 1860, by which time vast suburban cemeteries such as Père Lachaise had relieved the burden on the city. The level of the catacombs is reached by means of a spiral staircase, but there is a long preamble of tunnels before the bones themselves. Many still bear a black line painted along the roof to help 19th-century quarry workers navigate in low light, and water drips from the ceiling in places. The catacombs proper begin with a doorway over which is written: ‘Arrète! C’est içi l’empire de la mort’ (‘Stop! Here is the empire of death’). This is the first of many cheery inscriptions that were designed, in the words of the quarries’ overseer Louis-Étienne Héricart de Thury, to ‘break the sinister and dark monotony’ of the catacombs, and to put the living into a philosophical frame of mind. ‘Think that in the morning you may not last until evening, and that in the evening you may not last until morning,’ reads one. ‘God is not the author of death,’ reminds another. The embankments of bones on

either side of the passageways have signs stating the original cemeteries and dates of reburial. Passing these carefully stacked communities of the dead feels at times strangely like wandering through a sepulchral wine cellar, but even here the human urge to be decorative expresses itself in patterns of skulls and femurs. The first bones had been thrown in haphazardly, in a rationalist 18th century that just wanted these unsavoury remains put somewhere safely out of sight. But when burials resumed after a hiatus caused by the turmoil of the French Revolution, Romanticism had become the zeitgeist, and the catacombs were refashioned into a place where visitors could enjoy a kind of dignified melancholy. Their modern successors are returned to the surface by way of an unmarked door, onto an unremarkable Parisian backstreet, perhaps now taking a little more care crossing the road on the way back to the Métro station. TOP TIP O Queues to get in can be long (sometimes over an hour), so try to arrive before the catacombs open at 10am. Dress for a temperature of around 14°C, with a few drips of water from the ceiling.

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


The central courtyard of the Louvre was only cleared of townhouses in the mid-19th century – the glass pyramids came later, in 1989



HE LARGEST PAINTING on display at the Louvre is The Wedding Feast at Cana, painted by Paolo Veronese in 1563. In any other room it would be the focus of attention. On the wall immediately facing it however is a modest-sized portrait in smoky colours of a woman smiling enigmatically. Thanks to the Mona Lisa, known in France as La Joconde, the figures in Veronese’s masterpiece spend most of their time looking at people’s backs. The world’s most visited museum has plenty of similar treasures hiding in plain sight, such as a 9,000-year old human figure in ghostly white plaster from Ain Ghazal in Jordan. Tutankhamun of Egypt lived closer in time to us than to the people who made this statue. The Louvre gets its particular character because it evolved into a museum rather than being designed as one. It began around 1200 as a fortress built to protect the western walls of Paris, its chilly foundations still


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

visible in the basement of the museum. Enveloped by an expanding city, the fortress lost its defensive function and beame the royal palace that stands on the eastern side of the great glass pyramid. IM Pei’s bold, geometric addition to the Louvre attracted some criticism when it was built in 1989 to give the museum the single, grand entrance it had never had. But it is only the latest stage in eight centuries of reinvention, in which the opening of a public museum in 1793 was just one milestone. To the west of where the pyramid was another royal palace, the Tuileries, and it was a long-term ambition of French kings to link up both residences with two parallel wings, creating a great central courtyard. It was an emperor, Napoleon III, nephew of the more famous Napoleon, who completed the project in the 1850s. In 1871, he was overthrown and the Tuileries burnt down. The central courtyard remains open on its western side. Before it was home to the Mona Lisa, the Salle des États was the venue for state

openings of parliament. Older royal reminders are also threaded through the museum. In room 26 of the Egyptian galleries, a headless statue of the boy-king Tutankhamun is watched over by portraits of Louis XIII and his queen, Anne of Austria – their great-great-great-greatgrandson Louis XVI and his own queen would come to a similar end in real life. And in the Grande Galerie, built between 1595 and 1610 to link the old Louvre to the Tuileries, French kings carried on the practice of ‘healing’ sufferers of the skin condition scrofula with a royal touch of the hand, as proof of their divinely ordained powers. Yet despite the parade of kings and emperors who have passed through its corridors, the Louvre has never looked as splendid as it does now. TOP TIP O The museum offers a variety of themed, self-guided trails, including palace history, horse-riding, The Da Vinci Code and artworks depicting love through the ages (


A 9,000-year-old figure from Ain Ghazal in Jordan. RIGHT The Charles X rooms were decorated in the 1820s

The Mona Lisa was finished around 1506 and is one of five paintings by Leonardo da Vinci in the Louvre

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


The Southern Parterre is part of three square miles of gardens at Versailles. BELOW Louis XIV, King of France and Navarre (1643–1715)


HALF-HOUR RIDE WEST from the centre of Paris on the commuter train, the town and suburb of Versailles has grown up around a palace that stands as perhaps the most splendid example of control-freakery the world has ever seen. In 1661, the young Louis XIV embarked on a massive expansion of his father’s old hunting lodge, to glorify his rule and secure his crown against two troublesome quarters – Parisians, and ambitious nobles who might build private power bases in the provinces. French kings had long been in the habit of roaming between various country châteaux and residences in the capital that were uncomfortably exposed to unruly crowds. In 1651, one mob had even barged into the 12-year-old king’s bedchamber. From 1682, Louis moved permanently to Versailles, and required most of his court to live where he could keep an eye on them, in his ever-growing palace. On entering the state apartments, once

the immediate impact of the coloured marble and gilt has worn off, a running theme emerges – a sunburst with a face at the centre, repeated in the design. In Louis XIV’s propaganda, he was the Sun King, and solar metaphors were given free rein. Versailles’ original building plan followed a kind of yin and yang, with the king’s apartments and the Salon of War in one wing, and the queen’s rooms and the Salon of Peace in the other. But ultimately Louis moved his bedchamber to the very centre of the palace, facing the rising sun. Every morning at eight, he would be woken in his canopied bed, watched over by a gilded figure representing France herself. Over the next two hours, up to a hundred courtiers would crowd into his room to join in the ritual of the ‘lever’ (‘rising’), where handing a shirt or a glove to the king as he dressed was a social and political honour calculated, like all Versailles etiquette, down to the last degree. Yet despite the formality, security could be surprisingly relaxed. Almost anyone was allowed into the palace provided they

met a few minimum standards of attire, and gentlemen could rent the required dress-sword at the entrance if they had none of their own. ‘There are nations where the majesty of kings consists, in large part, in never letting themselves be seen,’ Louis XIV once said. ‘But that is not the genius of our French nation.’ The curious throng from all over the world who process through the Hall of Mirrors six days a week are unwittingly re-enacting a drama scripted by the Sun King. In its display and ritual, Versailles was a suit made to fit its creator. But Louis XV and Louis XVI who followed him were more private, as was the wife of the last, Marie Antoinette of Austria. Even a Habsburg princess like her found the etiquette oppressive, and she escaped when she could to her own miniature palace – the Petit Trianon, at the other end of the gardens. Although she never said ‘Let them eat cake’, the mock hamlet she had built in the grounds was a source of much ridicule at the time. Versailles’ reign ended on 6 October 1789, when an angry crowd overwhelmed the palace guard, forcing the royal family to return to Paris, sending them to the guillotine in 1793. The first and last piece of pomp in Versailles is the equestrian statue of Louis XIV at the entrance. Here the king sits, with his back turned on the château he willed into being and which his successors could never fully make their own, and his arm pointed back to Paris. TOP TIP O Book an e-ticket online and come Wednesday to Friday to avoid the biggest crowds (main palace Dhs78, all buildings Dhs90;


Classic Paris Just a stroll along the banks of the Seine is a reminder of the special hold the French capital has on all our imaginations, and even its most visited sights have kept their magic ESSENTIALS



Getting there You can fly daily from Dubai to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on Emirates (from Dhs4,055; emirates. com) and from Abu Dhabi on Etihad (Dhs4.625; Getting around Métro stations are dotted everywhere around Paris. A carnet of 10 tickets costs Dhs66, but it’s often worth buying a Paris Visite card, which allows unlimited public transport use within a set time period, and also gives a range of discounts (three-day card Dhs120;

Fascinating Musée Carnavalet


Further reading Lonely Planet’s Paris (Dhs84) is a thorough guide to the French capital. For more information, see










-10 J F M A M J J A S O N D 0 Temp max/min Rainfall

Mid-range BARGAIN!

Top comfort at Hôtel Verneuil


Many city-run museums in Paris are free (for a list, see One of the best is the Musée Carnavalet, which sings a poetic ode to Parisian history through exhibits including an Art Nouveau shop interior (

The botanic gardens at Le Jardin des Plantes have a history dating back to 1626. Stroll through sections ranging from Alpine rockeries and rose gardens to tropical hothouses (some areas free, greenhouses Dhs30;

Pick up where the Louvre leaves off at the Musée d’Orsay, which covers art from around 1848 to the early 20th century, including Manet’s epoch-making painting Déjeuner sur l’herbe, which turns 150 this year (admission Dhs48;


Brilliant value and footsteps from the bars, cafés and clubs of Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, Cosmos Hôtel has retro style on the budget-hotel scene, recently given a makeover (from Dhs420; free Wi-fi;

Au Sourire de Montmartre is a charming B&B with five rooms individually decorated with either French antiques or Moroccan riad-style motifs (from Dhs630; free Wi-fi and 30 mins international calls;

Hôtel Verneuil (pictured above) is a 17th-century townhouse, which mixes dark tones and opulence to create a pied-àterre in fashionable StGermain-des-Prés (from Dhs1,110; free Wi-fi; hotelverneuil-saint-germain com).


Classic bistro dishes such as lentil salad, duck confit and tarte tatin are on the menu at tiny, charming Au Pied de Fouet – the St-Germain-desPrés branch is one of three in town (mains from Dhs36 3 Rue St-Benoît; 00 33 1 42 96 59 10).

Flavours from the Maghreb are matched by Thousand and One Nights décor at 404 in the Marais. Afterwards, repair to the multicoloured Casablanca-meetsAndy Warhol cocktail lounge (mains from Dhs84; 69 Rue des Gravilliers;

Set in the Grand Palais, Minipalais serves creative French and world cuisine (right) and has a splendid colonnade (mains from Dhs96; Ave Winston Churchill;



Le Jardin des Plantes in flower


Climate 40

The sun sets over the Seine, viewed from the Pont Alexandre III

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Moving at the pace of centuries, the Aletsch Glacier extends for 14 miles from its source under the Jungfraujoch, making it the longest glacier in the Alps

T h e P e r f e c t Tr i p


Rocks and ice took the first steps in creating this mountainous land, home to four official languages, a multitude of Alpine valleys, enchanting towns and the two best kinds of food to melt in a pot WORDS RORY GOULDING O PHOTOGRAPHS PETE SEAWARD

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Your trip mapped out This 390-mile road trip begins at Lake Lucerne, the historic birthplace of Switzerland, before taking in the awe-inspiring Lauterbrunnen Valley, the cheese and chocolate region of La Gruyère and the grandeur of the Aletsch Glacier LAUTERBRUNNEN VALLEY Best for Alpine scenery

LAKE LUCERNE Best for history

LA GRUYÈRE Best for cheese and chocolate Perhaps Switzerland’s most dramatic valley, where 72 waterfalls cascade down sheer cliff faces, overlooked by an ogre, a monk and a maiden.

The home of freedom fighter William Tell, the Swiss Army knife and the spot where the region’s disparate people came together as one nation.

A paradise for grazing cows, whose bountiful milk produces the region’s world-famous Gruyère cheese and Swiss chocolate.

Trek across a World Heritage site and wonder at the biggest Alpine glacier – a monstrous, ever-changing fist of ice punching through the peaks.


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Best for history

Miles into your trip: 0 Fly to Zürich from the UAE in 7 hours, followed by a one-hour drive to Lucerne 0









It all began with an apple. Some 700 years ago, the story goes, a sadistic bailiff called Gessler decided to teach the people living around the many arms of mountain-flanked Lake Lucerne a lesson in obedience. In the market square of Altdorf, at the lake’s southern end, he placed a hat atop a pole to symbolise the power of the region’s Habsburg rulers, and ordered all the local people to bow before it as they passed. One man refused however and, as a punishment, Gessler forced him to shoulder a crossbow and shoot an apple off the head of his own son. As the statue that stands in Altdorf today proclaims, that man was William Tell, and this was the act that inspired a people to fight for freedom. The only problem with the story – and don’t mention this too loudly around Lake Lucerne – is that it’s almost certainly a myth. ‘It’s a difficult topic for Swiss people who want to remember him as a hero,’ says Eva Fischlin, who teaches classes at the Forum of Swiss History, ten miles north of Altdorf in the town of Schwyz, capital of the canton of the same name. ‘The Tell legend was presented until recently as historical fact, but the truth is that he’s mentioned for the first time in the late 15th century and never

before that. It’s widely acknowledged that his tale is a copy of a Scandinavian legend.’ The Forum’s home is a solid 18thcentury former granary, but its location has extra significance. Schwyz was one of the three founder members of an alliance, made in around 1291, that grew to become today’s 26-canton Swiss Confederation. Schwyz gave its name to the rest of the country, in a roundabout way, and even the famed Swiss Army knife is made here, in the Victorinox factory just downhill from the town centre. Schwyz’s place in the national mythology is irreproachable, even if William Tell’s isn’t. At the northern end of Lake Lucerne is Lucerne itself, which became member number four of the confederation in 1332. The fine townhouses that line both sides of the Reuss river are mostly of a later date, but Lucerne still has a witness to those times in the shape of the Kapellbrücke – the covered wooden bridge that departs with convention by taking a leisurely diagonal route across the river. For an overview, in the truest sense, of early Switzerland, it’s worth doubling back from Lucerne. Above the village of Stoos, a chairlift climbs up to the Fronalpstock, where a viewing platform looks over Lake Lucerne, nearly a mile below. By the shore is a small patch of lighter green surrounded by dark forest. This is the Rütli, where the founders of the confederation supposedly swore their oath after Tell ambushed and killed Gessler. It is fitting that the spot where Switzerland commemorates its birth isn’t a battlefield or a colonnaded hall, but a simple meadow, beside a mountain lake.

FURTHER INFORMATION (admission Dhs42; closed Mon) WHERE TO EAT O At 1,922m, the Gipfelrestaurant Fronalpstock is the spot to admire the lake at leisure. With a seated terrace, it offers Swiss Alpine dishes, including cheesy macaroni with apple sauce (mains from Dhs66; ABOVE Lake Lucerne and the Rütli meadow

(centre) from the Fronalpstock


Art Deco Hotel Montana Built in 1910, this palatial hotel in Lucerne stands on a hill overlooking the lake and has its own miniature funicular to convey guests to the waterside. Much of the décor is inspired by the Art Deco era and bathrooms contain huge free-standing bathtubs with lake views and rubber ducks (from Dhs1,200;

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East




Best for Alpine scenery Miles into your trip: 49 A 1¼-hour drive From Lucerne on the A2 and A8 to Interlaken, turning off to Lauterbrunnen 0









When travelling in the Alps, it’s easy to become accustomed to magnificent scenery, but Lauterbrunnen startles all who see it. On either side of the broad valley, cliffs rise 300 metres until they reach forested slopes. The village of Wengen sits in a cleared space on the eastern ledge, looking out across the valley to the chalets of Mürren, on its own shelf to the west. Waterfalls, 72 of them, leap from the cliffs on either side, and behind Wengen rise the triple peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau – the ogre, the monk and the maiden. A visitor with an old illustrated copy of The Lord of the Rings might feel a flash of recognition. JRR Tolkien came here in 1911 and took inspiration from what he saw to create the valley of Rivendell. At that time, the last tunnels were being dug inside the Eiger and Mönch to emerge at the 3,454m Jungfraujoch – then, as now, the highest railway station in Europe. Since the late 19th century, the people of the valley have obliged visitors with ever more inventive ways to experience the landscape.


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

ABOVE Samuel Brunner operates the

cable car from Wengen to Männlichen


Samuel Brunner is one local with a head for heights. In his job working the cable car from Wengen to the mountaintop of Männlichen, he experiences the 947-metre height difference many times every day. ‘Some people can’t deal with it and quit after a month,’ he admits. ‘So far I’m okay.’ From the cabin he has a vantage point over Wengen and the valley beneath. ‘It’s possible to see lynx every now and then. chamois and eagles, too. I can even see my house – I keep tabs on it.’ From Wengen, a steep but broad path zigzags down through the forest to the valley floor. The Staubbach Falls, pride of Lauterbrunnen’s cascades, teases the onlooker with glimpses through the trees until the woods open up to reveal the falls to their full height. Even in a place where feats of Swiss engineering abound, some of the best views are only reached on foot.

Hotel Oberland On the main street of Lauterbrunnen village, this is a Swiss hotel straight from central casting, with its green shutters, geraniumbedecked balconies and the aroma of a mean cheese fondue wafting from the terrace. Alongside the 24 rooms in the main building, there are apartments in two nearby annexes (from Dhs578;

FURTHER INFORMATION WHERE TO EAT O Wengen’s Hotel Schönegg has a beautiful dining

room and a terrace outside in summer, and serves dishes such as saddle of Simmental lamb with hay blossom jus (mains from Dhs218;


Best for cheese and chocolate Miles into your trip: 120 gruyères is a two-hour scenic drive via Spiez and Boltigen, then over the Jaun Pass 0









The language border between Switzerland’s German-speaking centre and its Francophone west is dubbed the Röstigraben (‘rösti ditch’) after the beloved Swiss-German potato dish. Just west of this divide lies the region of La Gruyère, which specialises in two foodstuffs that unite the country. One has been produced as long as humans have farmed the Alpine meadows. The other is a tropical import that only became a Swiss speciality after the Industrial Revolution. Both are best enjoyed in a moderation seldom easy to maintain, and both owe their success to the most smugly contented cows you are ever likely to see. Chocolate is the more recent of the twin Swiss culinary stereotypes. In the early 19th century, Switzerland became one of the first countries to give this Aztec drink a solid form, and the Cailler chocolate brand is the country’s oldest. Since 1898, it has been based outside the village of Broc, close to the 56 farms that supply its milk. The factory tour ends in a tasting room, where visitors eye the full Cailler range,

wondering if etiquette permits them to take more than one piece from each tray. The average Swiss eats a world-record 12 kilos of chocolate a year. In the cheese stakes, Switzerland loses out to Greece, but at 21 kilos a head it is not for want of trying. Gruyère cheese and the softer, younger Vacherin are the region’s specialities. In a fromagerie d’alpage – an old dairy on the mountain slopes of Moléson, full of inscrutable farm implements and the smell of woodsmoke – Marc Savary swings a huge cauldron over a soot-blackened hearth. ‘I get up at 4.30 and I go to bed with the sun,’ he says. ‘But it’s not work for me, it’s a pleasure.’ Marc has an admission. He doesn’t make Gruyère, technically speaking. The strict production rules require cows to graze by the place where their milk is turned into cheese, and in this case the ski slopes outside get in the way. ‘It’s the same process as Gruyère and in my opinion it could be even better,’ Marc says. ‘Our small farms keep the landscape beautiful. Farmers maintain the meadows and forests on the slopes, and that helps to keep winter snow in place. If we weren’t here, there would be a risk of avalanches.’ At the region’s heart is the boundlessly charming hilltop town of Gruyères and its 13th-century castle. At one end of a square that sags in the middle like an old mattress stands a chalet fronted with wooden shingles. Leave all reticence at the door, and sit down to a fondue made, fifty-fifty, with Gruyère and Vacherin, mixed with white wine and finished with a dash of Kirsch.

FURTHER INFORMATION (demonstration Dhs18) (tour Dhs42) WHERE TO EAT O The Chalet de Gruyères serves cheese fondue,

Raclette and cold cuts in a rustic wooden interior (; fondue from Dhs120). ABOVE Moléson mountain towers

above the cobbled streets of Gruyères


Hostellerie des Chevaliers Just a few hundred yards outside the town walls of Gruyères, the Hostellerie des Chevaliers has rooms decorated in summery colours, which look out over Gruyères Castle or the mountains beyond. The breakfast buffet includes Gruyère cheese, naturally (from Dhs660;

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East




Best for ice

Miles into your trip: 223 The 2¼-hour drive to Mörel, below Riederalp, goes via Montreux and Sion on the A12 and A9 0









The biggest glacier in the Alps isn’t visible from the road that follows the headwaters of the Rhône up through the canton of Valais. Nor can it be seen from the three nearest villages – Riederalp, Bettmeralp and Fiescheralp – whose dark wooden chalets bask on sunny slopes high above the valley, reached only by cable car. The payoff comes after one last lift ride up to the top of the mountain ridge. On the far side is a valley engulfed with ice, which disappears from view between the crags. It’s a sight that induces awe. Any walker who stands for a moment, silhouetted against the mountain skyline above the glacier, automatically looks heroic. Seen from the 2,333m heights of Moosfluh, over Bettmeralp, the ice snakes like the number 3. Darker lines of rocky debris – the medial moraines – track the length of the glacier, dividing the ice into lanes and giving the Aletsch the look of an unfinished motorway for ice giants. Most visitors take in the giddy view and then turn back without ever setting foot on the glacier. For that you’re strongly advised to team up with a local guide. Martin Nellen prefers to start the walk down to the ice edge in the early morning. The path leads past a dry-stone wall, marking the boundary of a nature reservation. Two chamois, startled at this quiet time of day, bound across the trail, over the wall and into their state-protected sanctuary. Martin demonstrates how to tie crampons under our walking boots – the metal spikes will give purchase on the ice. And to prepare for any slips, the inexperienced


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

are joined to him by a length of rope. The edge of the glacier slopes up to the height of a two-storey house. Anybody else would be lost on its surface, which is as disordered as a sea frozen mid-storm and slightly different with each new dawn. ‘Ten days ago it was impossible to walk just here, but now it’s a highway,’ Martin points out. Aside from the crunch of crampons on ice, the only sound is meltwater running over the glacier surface in a perfect zigzag stream. Crossing a medial moraine, we reach a pothole in the ice with a stream plunging into it. A stone thrown in gives a booming echo. At another stream, we stop to have ‘glacier milk’ – a cupful of meltwater clouded with a dash of absinthe. ‘Remember that we are moving slowly even when we’re standing still,’ says Martin. ‘The glacier travels about 30cm a day on average. Only in higher regions does snowfall turn to ice. Take a metre of powder snow, then melt and freeze, melt and freeze, and after eight to 10 years you have a centimetre of ice. When you see the ice at the end of the glacier, you are looking at snow that fell up to 800 years ago.’ Glaciers in most parts of the world are shrinking and the Aletsch is no exception. In our lifetimes, it is likely to shrink to the size it was in the Roman era. But even in its present majesty, it is only a fraction of the length it reached at the height of the last ice age, around 20,000 years ago, when the whole of the Rhône Valley as far as Lake Geneva was one long glacier. In the early 21st century, it’s a privilege to meet the greatest descendant of the icefields that made Switzerland what it is today. FURTHER INFORMATION (glacier walks with Martin Nellen or other guides cost from Dhs2,100 for a small group) WHERE TO EAT O A favourite in Riederalp, Derby offers a wide-

ranging menu with classics such as beef Stroganoff (mains from Dhs114;


Walliser Spycher In the largely car-free village of Riederalp (accessed by cable car, with a transfer to the hotel by golf buggy), the Walliser Spycher occupies a prime spot on a sunny ledge. Old knick-knacks dot the corridors and rooms have balconies with views of the Rhône Valley and the Matterhorn in the distance (from Dhs750;



Lpbms^keZg] Rocks and ice took the first steps in creating this mountainous land, home to four official languages, a multitude of Alpine valleys, enchanting towns and the two best kinds of food to melt in a pot WORDS RORY GOULDING O PHOTOGRAPHS PETE SEAWARD

Moving at the pace of centuries, the Aletsch Glacier extends for 14 miles from its source under the Jungfraujoch, making it the longest glacier in the Alps


April 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller

Lonely Planet Traveller April 2013


Further reading Lonely Planet’s Switzerland (Dhs96) is a comprehensive guide. You can find out more on Swiss regions at If you’re planning to do some hiking, is an excellent resource.


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Zürich’s St Peterskirche has Europe’s largest church clock face


Swiss flies direct from Dubai to Zürich (from Dhs2,098; Etihad also flies direct from Abu Dhabi (from Dhs3,445; Getting around Rental cars allow the most flexibility (from around Dhs240 per day; europcar. ch), but even small villages are linked up to an efficient train and bus network (sbb. ch). See for travel passes.


There’s no better jumping off point to visit Switzerland’s awe-inspiring Alpine vistas and lakes than the nation’s largest city Zürich, an alluring combination of history and culture

Bikes and foosball at Les Halles

Understated Hotel Plattenhof

City and lake views from Clouds





In warmer months, residents flock to the lakeshore. There are many free places to take a dip, while at official spots (‘Badis’), charging around Dhs24, you’ll find piers, saunas and snacks.

The castle-like Schweizerisches Landesmuseum tells the story of Switzerland through exhibits, including recreated interiors from different eras (Dhs42;; admission

The impressive Kunsthaus holds an art collection stretching from the Middle Ages to 20th-century Giacometti bronze stick-figures (; admission Dhs66, free Wed; closed Mon).


Hotel rates are high in Zürich, which makes the Astor Hotel good value for its sizeable rooms near the Old Town (from Dhs600, without breakfast;

The youthful Hotel Plattenhof is located in a quiet residential area, and has low Japanese-style beds and mood lighting in some rooms (from Dhs1,080;

Lady’s First (right) is a boutique hotel that welcomes both sexes, but the spa and rooftop terrace are for women only (from Dhs1,200;


Les Halles, in Züri-West, has an eclectic interior. Its menu is short, with a daily pasta special and favourites including moules frites and steak (mains from Dhs78;

Europe’s oldest vegetarian restaurant, Hiltl was founded in 1898 but looks smartly modern, and keeps its menu inventive (dinner mains from Dhs102, buffet Dhs240;

At Restaurant Kreis 6, dishes have a Mediterranean flavour when it’s warm out, and go towards Swiss comfort food in winter (mains from Dhs120;


Climb to the roof of a car park to discover tropical Zürich in the form of City Beach – two pools, a strip of imported sand and bars (glass of wine from Dhs30

Since 1864, H Schwarzenbach (below) has sold the finest ‘coffee and colonial wares’, there’s a teashop and café (coffee from Dhs18;

Clouds looks out from the 35th floor of Switzerland’s tallest building. The venue combines a restaurant, lounge and bistro-bar (glass of wine from Dhs39;


June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East




Madrid Delve into the heart of the Spanish capital by visiting the places the locals go – from their favourite chocolaterías, cafés and tapas bars to the shop where they buy their flamenco shoes


Dancers Jesús Fernández and Belén López perform on the stage at Corral de la Morería, one of Madrid’s most famous tablaos

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East




ADRID IS A CITY THAT seems to run on a soundtrack of Spanish guitar. You hear it everywhere: humming from café radios and car stereos, drifting from windows, seeping under the doorways of bars. Buskers hammer out flamenco tunes on the street corners, while bands drift from bar to bar, serenading drinkers with songs of lust, love, loss and longing. ‘For Spanish people, there’s something about the sound of the guitar,’ explains Amalia Ramírez, whose family has been making fine classical guitars since 1882. ‘It has an expressive tone, full of emotion, and conveys a passion few other instruments can. It’s the sound of the Spanish soul.’ Founded by and named after Amalia’s great-great-great-grandfather, José Ramírez has been the luthier of choice for many of the 20th-century’s top guitarists – including George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Andrés Segovia, perhaps the greatest of classical guitarists, and a close friend of Amalia’s father, José Ramírez IV. While each generation has honed the Ramírez design, the basics of their guitars have remained essentially unchanged for a century. Amalia leads the way into her family’s workshop, tucked away on a shady

backstreet in Madrid’s businessy Tetuán district. Inside, craftsmen lean over workbenches, and bits of half-completed guitars line the walls: trusses, braces, headstocks and soundboards, along with finished instruments awaiting a final polish before being shipped out to their owners. ‘There are no shortcuts to making a great guitar,’ Amalia says as she picks one up from a workbench and drags her fingers across the strings, producing the rich, full tone for which her family’s guitars are famous. ‘We still do everything by hand. And while each instrument has the same basic design, many things affect its tone: the type of wood, the finish, the hand of the craftsman who makes it. Our guitars are all one-offs, and each has its own character. That’s the difference between something handmade and something mass-produced – and that’s why they cost more.’ Just as in her great-great-greatgrandfather’s day, guitar-making by hand is a long and laborious process. Each guitar takes around four months to complete, and only 50 or 60 are produced every year. As such, they command eye-watering prices – from Dhs12,000 for basic models up to Dhs102,000 or more for custom designs. Guitar-making is but one of many old crafts which endure in Madrid. On Calle de One of a pair of patent flamenco shoes awaiting final approval from Don Flamenco before they are sold in the shop

la Cruz, Capas Seseña is the only place in Spain that still makes the heavy woollen cloak known as the capa española, a garment traditionally reserved for formal occasions, such as bullfights or nights at the theatre. Each cape consists of a five-metre circle of Salamancan wool, cut and sewn by hand. The feel of the shop is deliberately old-fashioned: framed photographs of clients line the boutique downstairs, beside hundreds of capes suspended from brass clothing rails, while seamstresses work in the upstairs studio, surrounded by swathes of cloth and dressmakers’ mannequins. Traditionally, capes were for men only and came in just three colours (blue, black and brown), but these days the shop also produces designs for its female clientele, in brighter colours and lighter fabrics. Starting at around £170, a Capas Seseña cape has always been an exclusive product: Michael Jackson owned one, Hillary Clinton has one in her wardrobe, and Pablo Picasso liked his so much he was buried in it. For flamenco aficionados, the name of Don Flamenco commands a similar cachet. For decades, this streetside cobbler on Calle León is where the city’s dancers have come to buy their zapatos de flamenco, or flamenco shoes. Each pair is still finished by hand by Don Flamenco himself. Dressed in an old apron and spectacles, and surrounded by old tools, he buffs the leather, polishes the shoes to a sheen, and finally taps hobnails into the heels and toes – the crucial design feature which allows the dancers to produce the distinctive flamenco tap. Back at José Ramírez, Amalia explains the continuing appeal of Madrid’s craft tradition. ‘I think we often forget the value of handmade things,’ she says, raising her voice to be heard above the drone of sanders and saws. ‘When something’s been made by a craftsman with love and skill, there’s a beauty to it that you can almost touch.’ O O O

‘Each pair of flamenco shoes is finished by hand by Don Flamenco himself ’ 50

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013




T’S SATURDAY MORNING AT the Amor de Dios flamenco school and the day’s classes are underway. The corridors echo to the sound of clacking heels, backed by the strum of a flamenco guitar and the drone of traffic. On the walls, faded posters and photos cover every inch of empty space, and in a few places hide patches of peeling paint and plaster. Perched on the first floor above the busy Mercado de Antón Martín, this city-centre school isn’t glamorous, but for locals it’s the home of flamenco in Madrid. It’s here that amateurs and the stars of tomorrow alike come to train, refining their technique under the guidance of professional dancers who spend their nights performing in the city’s tablaos (flamenco venues). ‘Flamenco is an important art form and must be taken seriously,’ says Joaquín San Juan, the school’s director. ‘But many Spanish people think they understand flamenco when they really don’t, or dismiss it as something for tourists. You need to devote time to understand flamenco properly, and many Spanish people never

bother. That’s what we’re trying to do here: to help everyone discover the real flamenco.’ As he talks, a pair of his students practise their latest routine, accompanied by the school’s star guitarist, Joni Jiménez. Bathed in dusty sunlight filtering through the classroom’s windows, their performance is part-courtship, part-confrontation: a flurry of twirling bodies, stamping heels, clapping hands and jangling strings. ‘Flamenco is essentially a dialogue between dancer, musician and singer,’ Joaquín explains. ‘Each contributes to the mood and character of the performance. It’s a spontaneous expression of emotion that happens right in front of you, and is different every time it’s performed. That’s what makes it exciting.’ Flamenco as a genre of music, song and dance originated in Andalucía, but it’s in the tablaos of Madrid where it developed as a theatrical spectacle. These purposebuilt venues were established to bring flamenco to the attention of a cosmopolitan city audience – and while it’s true that some are touristy, the top tablaos attract many of the most prestigious names in the world of flamenco.

On a side street near the Royal Palace, Corral de la Morería is one of the oldest and best-known tablaos. Inside, it resembles a rustic Spanish bodega, with whitewashed walls, rough beams and cast-iron fixtures. It concentrates mainly on classical flamenco, while more modern venues such as Las Carboneras offer a more experimental take on the art form, with innovative performers blurring the lines between traditional flamenco and contemporary dance. ‘It’s important that flamenco doesn’t stand still,’ says Joaquín. ‘Of course it’s vital to learn the foundations, but it needs to keep moving or it will die. There are many talented young performers emerging at the moment and there’s no telling where they’ll take flamenco in the future. ’ He disappears into the school’s office as the next batch of students files into the classrooms, and the rhythmic drum of heels on floorboards begins to beat again. O O O

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East



Dipping churros into thick hot chocolate is a classic teatime treat in Madrid. RIGHT Freshly made churros at Chocolatería San Ginés




HERE’S A SAYING IN Spanish,’ says Sergio Trapote Mateo, owner of Madrid’s most famous chocolate café, the Chocolatería San Ginés. ‘One must think clearly, but one’s chocolate must always be thick.’ He slides a china cup along the café’s counter, and fills it to the brim with a thick stream of hot chocolate, rich and dark as burnished mahogany. Straight after comes a plate piled with churros, a string-shaped doughnut, still crisp and golden from the café’s deep-fat fryer. ‘Ah, chocolate and churros,’ Sergio laughs. ‘A marriage made in heaven! That’s the true taste of Madrid.’ Since 1894, this historic café on the narrow alleyway of Pasadizo San Ginés is where the city has come for its daily chocolate fix. Open all hours day and night, its décor remains much the same as when the shop opened. Gleaming brass and marble tiles conjure the air of a fin-de-siècle café, and beside the counter, a glass door peeps into the kitchen, where the chefs make the thin churros and fatter porras by hand – a skill that takes years to master. Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

‘We make everything ourselves using just the key ingredients – flour, salt and water, nothing else. Many bakeries sweeten their churros, but we don’t do that here, as it spoils the flavour. It’s the same with our chocolate: we use only the best cacao beans, and just the right blend of water, milk and chocolate. It’s a secret recipe. People have been trying for years to find out how we do it, but of course we never tell,’ says Sergio. From almendrados (almond biscuits) to fluffy magdalenas (sponge cakes), this is a city that needs no excuse to indulge in something sweet and sticky – especially if it comes from Casa Mira, Madrid’s oldest and most prestigious confitería (sweet shop). Founded in 1855, the shop makes its confectionery using the same recipes developed by its founder, Luis Mira. It’s halfway between a sweet shop and a museum, with wooden walls, glass cabinets and a vintage till. The shop is especially known for its turrón (nougat), which is traditionally eaten at Easter and Christmas; it comes in several flavours, laced with fruits, hazelnuts, chocolate or marzipan, or made the old way with rosemary,

honey and Marcona almonds. ‘It’s true, in Madrid we enjoy the good things in life,’ laughs Sergio, ‘Even if they’re not always good for us! But then again, what’s life without a little pleasure, eh?’ He winks and heads off through the chocolatería’s marble-tiled saloon, carrying a silver tray laden with cups of fresh chocolate and piles of churros, as the sound of clinking cups and conversation drifts into the café from the street outside. O O

‘He fills a cup to the brim with hot chocolate, rich and dark as burnished mahogany’



OBODY GOES TO BED IN Madrid until they have killed the night,’ wrote Ernest Hemingway in his classic bullfighting novel, Death in the Afternoon. ‘Appointments with a friend are habitually made for after midnight at the café.’ Eight decades on, Hemingway’s words still ring true. Madrid’s cafés remain the centre of its social life – and in a city where there are allegedly seven drinking establishments for every 100 residents, that’s hardly surprising. Rafael Torrico has been a waiter in Madrid for most of his life. ‘We’re lucky we still have places like this,’ he says, as he bustles between the scuffed wooden tables at the Cervecería Alemana, a classic café founded in 1904. ‘Many other Spanish cities have lost their old cafés, or have modernised them. But you can still feel the history here. That’s the reason I like it.’ With its frosted glass windows and mahogany panelling, the café is a genuine relic of turn-of-the-century Madrid. Waiters in bowties and white jackets glide between tables, serving plates of tapas and pitchers of wine, while whiskered locals prop up the bar, supping wheat beer from ceramic flagons. Fittingly, the Cervecería Alemana was one of Hemingway’s favourite haunts; he thought the café served ‘the best beer in Spain’, and could often be seen sitting at the same window table, watching the life of the city go by in plaza Santa Ana outside. On nearby Calle de las Huertas, Casa Alberto has an even older literary connection. A plaque on the wall bears the name of Cervantes, who was said to have written the second part of Don Quixote here, when the building housed an inn. It’s been a taberna since 1827, famous for its vermouth, a fortified wine flavoured with herbs, seeds, flowers and spices. The vermouth is piped from antique taps and served on a century-old zinc bar. Unsurprisingly, the café was a frequent haunt for the city’s artists, as well as the bullfighting fraternity. Matadors and banderilleros regularly popped into the Casa Alberto for a shot of courage before their bout, and a collage of bullfighting memorabilia covers the walls. Close to the city centre is another of Madrid’s landmarks, the Café Comercial. The café opened in 1887 and has many of its original fixtures, including mirrored walls and chandeliers, some of which predate the civil war. Between 1936 and 1975, when Spain was governed by a fascistic dictatorship under General Franco, the café

Rafael Torrico, a long-standing waiter at Cervecería Alemana

was a meeting place for anti-government activists, although these days its clientele reflects the area’s residential character. Office workers rub shoulders with artists and out-of-work actors over breakfast, while silver-haired gentlemen play chess, gossip and sip anisette in the evening sunshine. Back at the Cervecería Alemana, Rafael is pouring another beer. ‘Every café in Madrid has a story to tell,’ he smiles. ‘If you want to see the city through a local’s eyes, I can’t think of anywhere better to go.’ O

‘Matadors and banderilleros regularly popped into the Casa Alberto for a shot of courage’

O O Café Comercial, Glorieta de Bilbao, 7

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East




IDDAY ON THE BUSY boulevard of Paseo del Prado, and the lunch queue stretches around the block at Estado Puro, the city’s most talked-about tapas restaurant. Waiters hurry to and from the kitchen, while diners sip cocktails and browse the newsprint menus – but it’s the antics of head chef Alfonso Castellano that capture the most attention. Wielding a steel soda siphon, he puts the final touches to one of his signature dishes – a deconstructed version of tortilla española, or Spanish omelette, served in a cocktail glass. First comes a bed of caramelised onion, next a swirl of egg-yolk foam, and finally a fluffy potato emulsion, applied with a flourish that elicits applause from the watching diners. ‘There you have it: my 21st-century tortilla española!’ he announces with a


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

smile, before disappearing back into the kitchen, as another batch of diners joins the lunch queue outside and car horns blare along the boulevard. Alfonso is one of a new generation of chefs who are pushing the boundaries of traditional tapas in Madrid. ‘Essentially, tapas are bar snacks,’ says Alfonso. ‘The word tapa means to cover something up, and in the old days people would put plates on top of their drinks to stop the flies getting in. Madrid has one of the best tapas scenes in Spain, but traditionally it’s a rustic style of cooking, quite heavy, quite oily. So when we started the restaurant, we wanted to create our own version of tapas, revisiting the classic dishes, and reinventing them in surprising and imaginative ways.’ Matching a taste for madcap presentation with retro murals and a minimalist interior, Estado Puro is the brainchild of chef Paco

Roncero, who developed his style of molecular gastronomy while working for Ferran Adrià (of El Bulli fame). From crispy croquetas de jamón (ham croquettes) to mini burgers with a powerful mustard kick, Estado Puro’s take on 21st-century tapas is modern, creative and full of humour. Not all Madrid’s chefs are as forwardlooking as Roncero. Hidden on the backstreets are neighbourhood tapas bars where patatas bravas (potatoes in a tomato sauce) are still served the old-fashioned way. One such bar is La Trucha (The Trout), a taverna that brings the countryside into downtown Madrid. It’s a local’s hangout; the same faces swing by for lunch every day and the barmen know everyone by name. Legs of ham dangle from the ceiling beside copper pots and butcher’s knives, and the day’s dishes are scrawled in chalk at the serving hatch. For Alfonso, it’s the blend of tradition and innovation that makes the city’s tapas scene interesting. ‘Tapas is as much a way of eating as a style of cooking,’ he says. ‘It’s part of our culture, sharing food, spending time with friends.’ Calle de la Cava Baja, in the district of La Latina, is where Madrileños head when they’re after a street snack. Every one of the wall-to-wall bars here has a tapas speciality: grilled crab claws at Casa de Abuelo, pintxos (Basque-style tapas) at Taberna Txakoli, crispy bacalao (salt cod) at Casa Revuelta. As twilight falls, scores of diners jostle for space at the streetside tables. The food is simple, served on wooden platters accompanied by dishes of olive oil, tomato sauce and alioli mayonnaise, and the night air sizzles with scents – grilled meat, seafood, charcoal smoke and frying spices. Even in modern Madrid, it’s a sign that, sometimes, the old ways are still best. O O La Trucha, Calle de Manuel Fernández

y González, 3

Views over the Calle Alcalá from the central Post Office


Locals’ Madrid Madrid sets the tempo with a wealth of unforgettable experiences – from world-class art galleries to local markets, and more bars for cocktails and tapas than there are hours in a year ESSENTIALS


Getting there Emirates flies to Madrid from Dubai (from Dhs3.365; Or Etihad flies from Abu Dhabi (from Dhs5,165; Most airlines fly into Madrid– Barajas Airport – a 20-minute taxi ride from central Madrid (around Dhs120). Getting around Madrid’s metro is a quick and easy way to get around the city. A 10-journey Metrobús ticket (also valid on buses) costs around Dhs60. Taxis are reasonable but cost more at night, on Sundays and for airport pick-ups.

Paco González of Casa González




People-watch or browse for bargains at Madrid’s famous flea market, El Rastro, a chaotic jumble of outdoor stalls which is held every Sunday in the lively neighbourhood of Lavapiés.

Allow at least half a day to visit the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid’s leading gallery and home to works by Goya, El Greco, Velázquez and Titian (admission Dhs72;

Clear the head with a dip at the Hammam Al Ándalus Madrid, a historic bathhouse thst retains much of its Moorish architecture (packages from Dhs150; madrid.


Hostal Persal is one of the city’s best bets for affordable accommodation, with functional rooms, free Wi-fi and a great location, south of Puerta del Sol (from Dhs270;

Part of a small chain of designer hotels, the Hotel Alicia is a lesson in style, from zingy colour schemes to the ornate staircase (from Dhs600; free Wi-fi; alicia.

Overlooking Plaza Santa Ana, ME (right) has modern rooms and an impressive rooftop terrace (from Dhs960; free Wi-fi; es.


The Mercado San Miguel is one of Madrid’s oldest markets and is a great place to grab some tapas (snacks from Dhs30; mercado

Initiate yourself into the world of tapas at La Casa del Abuelo, a traditional-style taberna.The house speciality is prawns and langoustines (tapas as a meal around Dhs120;

Founded in 1725, Sobrino de Botín is claimed to be the world’s oldest restaurant and was a favourite haunt of Hemingway. It’s known for its suckling pig (meals from Dhs210;


Try local vintage wines by the glass at Casa González, a popular wine bar and deli which also serves generous platters of meats and cheeses (drinks from Dhs24; Calle de León, 12).

Run by the family of the Spanish actor Javier Bardem, La Bardemcilla serves good cocktails in a laid-back lounge-bar setting (drinks from Dhs36;

Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner and Sophia Loren have all downed a mojito (left)at Museo Chicote (cocktails from Dhs60;


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The veteran Sobrino de Botín


Further reading Lonely Planet’s Madrid City Guide (Dhs78) has in-depth information. Pocket Madrid (Dhs48) is a handy overview.


Entering the Museo del Prado


June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East




Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013


The coastline and mountains of Sardinia have created two unique food cultures in this island region of Italy. Matthew Fort follows a fisherman and a shepherd on a culinary journey to trace their roots WORDS MATTHEW FORT O PHOTOGRAPHS ANDERS SCHØNNEMANN

Sardinia’s food culture is shaped by its sea and mountains – both meet here at Cala Goloritzè on the island’s east coast



HE PLANE DROPS THROUGH THE CLOUDS ABOVE Olbia on the northeast coast of Sardinia, and tilts on its wing. Below, to the left, is the Mediterranean, a gigantic tablecloth of intense blue. Dotted across it, boats are fishing where men have fished for centuries, bringing their catch into the small harbours and ports that pepper the coastline, scalloped into a succession of bays and coves. Immediately below, the sharp lines of the Supramonte mountains run like sharks’ fins as far as the eye can see through central-eastern Sardinia. Somewhere among them pastori – shepherds – keep an eye on their herds of sheep or goats, maintaining the solitary and demanding lives of their forebears. The history of Sardinia, Italy’s second largest island, has been one of conquest and occupation. The mysterious Nuraghic people came around 1800 BC, followed by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, Romans, Germanic Vandals, Byzantines, Pisans, Genoese and Spanish, before the island was incorporated into a unified Italy in 1861. While its size and strategic position in the Mediterranean may have attracted hosts of conquerors, the nature of its interior and the independent spirit of its inhabitants ensured that Sardinia was never a placid, compliant colony. Both its food and its dialect are evidence of a strong sense of individuality that lives on to this day. The work and produce of the fishermen and shepherds still give Sardinia an extraordinary culinary culture, one strictly divided into food from the sea and food from the land. On the coast you eat fish; inland you eat meat. There is very little crossover. Fish stews beside the sea, roasted meats in the mountains – the qualities of the dishes are rooted in region, terrain and tradition, and the Sardinians are proud of those distinctions. To explore Sardinia’s physical landscape is to explore its culinary landscape at one and the same time. And who could resist such a temptation? Certainly not me. Tuh-tuh-tuh-tuh. 5am. The engine of the Sparviero, a purposeful tub of a fishing boat, shudders into life. The port of Villasimius is cloaked in darkness. Some 20 miles east of the capital Cagliari, at the southern end of the island, Villasimius was once another of those small fishing villages that speckle the coast of Sardinia, but its position and sheltered anchorage lured the yachts of the rich and the cars of the holidaymakers, and now it’s a flourishing centre of tourism. Lights from some of the moored boats send silver ribbons flickering over the gleaming black water. Even above the sound of the engine I can hear the insistent high-pitched zither of crickets.

THIS PAGE An early morning trip on the Sparviero yields a rich catch. OPPOSITE Silverio Sandolo holds aloft a pair of dentex – a fish found mainly in the Mediterranean


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013


Cagliari’s best fish stalls are found at the Mercato di San Benedetto and the smaller Mercato di Santa Chiara


Silverio Sandolo backs the Sparviero out into clear water and sends the boat nosing past the sleeping mega-cruisers, trim yachts and other fishing boats not making the dawn run. As it moves beyond the protective arm of the harbour wall, the cool breeze of very early morning picks up. Silverio turns east along the coast, which looms, a barely discernible shadow, pricked here and there by individual points of light. Silverio is one of 10 or so fishermen still working out of Villasimius, selling their catch either in the fish market at Cagliari, or to restaurants in the town and others along the coast. Between them they keep alive a tradition that goes back centuries, a tradition celebrated on the plate in the form of stuffed mussels, marinated anchovies, octopus salad, deep-fried sea anemones, prawns with cannellini beans, and linguine with spiny lobster. Dishes that shine with the life and light of the brilliance of the raw materials. The first faint glimmers of dawn appear at about 6am – a luminous strip along the line where the sea meets the sky. The Sparviero makes steady progress, heading for the Isola Serpentara, a favourite fishing ground of Silverio’s. The lights of another fishing boat flicker in the darkness away to the right. Silverio keeps up a constant bantering chatter with Antonio Loi, the mate. The colour of the sea changes as the light advances up the sky. The sharpness of stars dims. The sky turns pink, peach and apricot, shading into pale Prussian grey. Silverio heaves to in the lee of the Isola Serpentara, a small, rocky outcrop rising abruptly from the sea, as the sun breaks over the horizon – half a blood orange rising silently up the sky. Silverio left a necklace of 150 pots for octopus here yesterday. He pulls up a pot, opens the door and brusquely yanks one out, throwing it into a tub sloshing with water. It’s 8am now, and the sun is full, gilding the sea. The air is warm, rich with the smells of iodine, diesel, seaweed and salt. We move back to where Silverio has left a line with hooks baited with sardines. The line stretches through the clear, aquamarine water. Far down something flutters whitely, like a handkerchief. It’s a skate, unhooked with matter-of-fact speed and tossed into another tub. It’s joined by a small conger eel, and another moray. And then, drawn up from the depths, is a dentex – a magnificent, glittering, chain-mailed monster, closely related to sea bream, with a tail like a propeller, and the face of a disappointed alderman. Silverio and Antonio grin with pleasure. They seem faintly surprised by their good luck. And even more surprised when its twin is hauled aboard shortly afterwards.

ABOVE FROM LEFT Cagliari dates back more than 2,700 years; linguine with spiny lobster; fish was traditionally eaten only in a few places along Sardinia’s coast


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SARDINIA Later, I’ll find samples of the day’s catch, including dentex, at the market in Cagliari. The marble slabs fronting each stall shimmer with glittery, glimmery, spangled fish – sardines, sea bass, cod, grey mullet, red mullet, scarlet and gold as a brocaded waistcoat. There’s a tray full of languorously squirming eels, as thin as bootlaces, and mounds of cardinal-red prawns. An octopus gloopily clambers over the bodies of some of its kind. These are the materials used to form dishes such as the warm salad of prawn tails, fish stew or pasta with sea urchin roe served in the restaurants of Villasimius. For now though, Silverio secures his boat at the marina and prepares to take in his haul. His movements are quick and purposeful, born of many years’ experience – and he could go on for many years to come. There are five marine reserves around Sardinia that act as hatcheries and nurseries for breeding fish, which then move out of the protected areas into those parts where the fishermen are licensed to work. This network of reserves means that the fisheries around Sardinia remain sustainable, feeding locals and providing a livelihood for the fishermen. ‘My father was a fisherman,’ Silverio says, ‘and his father, too. We’re a family of fishermen. Whether my son will be one as well – who knows? It’s better to study.’ He shrugs and looks out to the flat blue line of the horizon for a moment. ‘But the sea, the sea. It’s always in your blood.’


F THE SEA IS ONE DEFINING ASPECT OF SARDINIA, mountains are the other. Travel from Villasimius in the south to Dorgali in the northeast and you’ll pass through a forbidding landscape of razor-backed mountains clad with pines, holm oak and cork trees, between which grow the macchie, the fragrant scrub and shrubs so distinctive of the Mediterranean. The area of mountains known as the Supramonte rises between Dorgali and Mamoiada to the west, with Orgosolo at its heart. These peaks were once the kingdom of shepherds, charcoal burners, kidnappers and bandits. Now only the shepherds remain. Antonio Fronteddu is a 70-year-old retired shepherd and he has spent decades roving among these peaks. He still moves with an effortless steadiness over the testing terrain, not a bead of sweat on his bald pate or smooth brow, both tanned a rich chestnut. Goats file through the scrub, an irregular column, with goatee beards, horns like the handles of mountain bikes and mad, golden, dreamy eyes, led by a ram with scimitar horns. The herd ambles round the edge of the slope at a deliberate pace and


ABOVE FROM LEFT Goats in the macchie; lunch al fresco; rustic architecture. TOP Lino Fronteddu sets to work chopping up porceddu (suckling pig)

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


SARDINIA fades into the myrtle, cistus, holm oak and pine. Gradually the musical tinkle of their bells disappears into the great silence of the mountains. Until quite recently, there were 30 or 40 pastori and their herds on these particular peaks. Today, there are just three or four, and although there are more to be found practising the old ways on the surrounding mountains that run to the horizon, theirs is a way of life that is slowly disappearing. Antonio’s son Lino carries on the family tradition, with about three hundred goats and thirty or so pigs. The pigs are smallish, curious mottled animals, which range freely over the mountain, feeding on the acorns from the cork and holm oaks that flourish here. Lino comes up each morning at 6am, checks on his goats, feeding and milking them, before returning home at about 8pm or 9pm. Shepherds must do this every day because, as Antonio says with a wry grin, ‘the goats don’t take holidays’. But if the pattern for managing the goats hasn’t changed, other parts of the shepherds’ life have. ‘These days,’ Antonio says, ‘the pastori come up in their four-wheel drives.’ The ground becomes increasingly treacherous as we climb – loose shale banked around crests of rock worn to flesh-slashing sharpness by wind and rain, but presently we come down into a shaded enclosure. Places for lunch are laid at a long trestle table in the cool shade of a large holm oak. We’ve been walking for nearly five hours. ‘Five hours!’ says Lino. ‘You should have done it in one.’ Lino is as thin as a whippet, all sinew and lean muscle, and dark with the sun. Dry humour lurks behind his taciturn manner and austere features. He busies himself at the barbecue pit. The embers of a fire glow in the middle. Lunch is porceddu (suckling pig), the offspring of one of the families we’ve seen during the day, split down the middle and cooked in a metal frame leant against the stones and turned from time to time.



Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

But before that comes moddizzosu – potato bread not unlike pitta bread, but lighter and fluffier. It sits very happily with slices of dark, purple, dense salami; cured belly – pink reefs of meat in wide seas of white fat; and guanciale, cured pig’s cheek. They’ve been thick cut, and the fat has a dense, silky delicacy. There are homegrown tomatoes of penetrating freshness and good wine from a jug, the kind of everyday food and drink enjoyed by Sardinians of the mountains. ‘Cooking is the culture of the people,’ says Antonio. Now it’s time for the porceddu. Lino unclips the metal frame and flips it into a huge wooden trough lined with paper. He takes a massive cleaver and hacks the tiny carcass into small chunks with casual force, and tosses them into a wooden bowl. The meat is sweet and delicate, and the abundant fat carries hints of the herbs and roots foraged on the hillsides around. I suck the meat from the bones, wipe the grease from my chin and go back for another mouthful. We eat casu marzu, the pungent cheese famous for visibly containing tiny maggots. It’s squidgy and spreadable. There don’t seem to be any maggots today, but the cheese is deliciously meaty. The life of a shepherd is hard and solitary, and the financial rewards are slim. ‘No holidays, little money,’ as Lino sums up his life choice. But he wouldn’t change it. ‘I have freedom,’ he says simply. ‘I’m very independent, like the goats.’ As with Silverio and his fishing boat, I wonder whether his children will want to share the same life. It would be sad to think that one day the pastori might fade like the carillon of their goats’ bells upon the bright air of the Supramonte mountains. But some traditions will not die out. Not up here on the high pastures. Not yet. MATTHEW FORT is a food writer. His previous contributions to Lonely Planet Traveller include The Perfect Trip to Tuscany and a tour of some of Britain’s best food producers.

The mountains of the Supramonte were seldom under the real control of Sardinia’s various foreign rulers


Sardinia Take a leisurely journey along Sardinia’s rugged coast and up into the mountains to discover two sides to its culture and island cuisine Getting there Fly to Rome or Milan on Etihad from Abu Dhabi (Dhs4,265 to Milan; etihad. ae). Fly Easyjet from Milan to Cagliari in Sardinia (from Dhs750; Or take the ferry from Rome (Dhs100 for two people with an external cabin; Getting around The best way to travel is by car (from Dhs270 a day; hertz. Train links between towns are slow but reliable, and augmented during the summer by the scenic Il Trenino Verde, or ‘Little Green Train’ (from Dhs108; Further reading Discover more with Lonely Planet’s Sardinia (Dhs84) and at the Sardinian tourism website ( Climate 40












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9 STEPS TO YOUR SARDINIAN ADVENTURE Cagliari’s popular covered market, Mercato di San Benedetto has an entire floor devoted to fish and is also a great place to pick up cheese and meat. There’s great peoplewatching too, with locals bartering for produce and traders preparing seafood for sale (Mon-Sat).


For a true taste of the sea, take a fishing excursion (right) from Villasimius with the Sampey Mare Blu Co-operative. Fisherman Simone is full of stories, and you can sample the freshly caught fish (full-day trip Dhs360;; 00 39 340 053 8233).


There are views of the Mediterranean from the wonderful terraces, rooftop pool and Jacuzzi at Hotel Domu Simius in Villasimius. Rooms are modern and smart, and some have balconies. It’s about a 20-minute walk to the town’s main beach (from Dhs510; free Wi-fi;


Perched on a hilltop near Dorgali, Hotel Ristorante Sant’Elene is a peaceful bolthole in a beautiful setting. Eight rooms enjoy sweeping views over the valley, while the restaurant specialises in traditional Dorgalese cuisine (from Dhs390; free Wi-fi;

Hop in a hire car (see Getting around) and wind your way up the east coast to the wilds of the Supramonte mountain region (right), a region of craggy limestone peaks and valleys lined with oak forests. The SP7 south from Fonni, the island’s highest town, is a particular highlight of the drive.



Take in the clear air and austere beauty of the Supramonte on a mountain excursion in the company of a pastore such as Antonio (left). A lunch of suckling pig is enjoyed in the open-air, and there’s a chance to help with cheese-making (lunch with pastori Dhs120;


Feast on Sardinian coastal delicacies such as marinated dogfish and spaghetti with sea urchin at Ristorante Le Anforé on the outskirts of Villasimius. You can eat alfresco on the veranda overlooking the gardens or in the large dining room (mains from Dhs60;


Cala Gonone is a friendly seaside resort on the east coast, backed by limestone mountains. As such, it’s a good base to explore both land and sea. Hotel Costa Dorada has 28 colourful rooms and can help book excursions such as boat trips (from Dhs780;


For a change of pace, try the Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) in northeast Sardinia, the holiday location of choice for the rich and famous. More low-key accommodation can be found inland on a farmstay such as the simple Agriturismo Lu Branu (from Dhs360;


June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East





DUBAI STAYCATIONS Can’t afford to leave town? There’s some amazing options from the newest hotels on the block. From skyscrapers to resorts, here are five ways to home stay in style WORDS BEN ROSSI, STEFFAN SNOW, CHRISTOPHER SUTTENFIELD, GEORGINA WILSON-POWELL


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

Quote ‘Lonely Planet Traveller’ when booking for a


FAIRMONT THE PALM THE BEACH ONE Fairmont’s third location in the UAE sits slap bang on the middle of the Palm – on the trunk about halfway to Atlantis. And its location means it has one of the best views in town – that of looking back towards Dubai Marina. Several pools including separate kids’ and adults’ ones all come with this stunning vista and while tourists take photos, you can marvel, that this is your home (or home away from home). Fairmont The Palm is a real escape, the location feels like you’re in a different city and there’s no need to

leave the hotel if you don’t want to. Frevo, a Brazilian inspired restaurant serves up a wonderful, relaxing brunch on Friday afternoons complete with live music. Retire to the cigar and whiskey lounge next door to round it off and sleep in late the next morning, thanks to the super soft luxury beds. If you prefer seafood, the Seagrill on 25 has a Levantine menu and superb sunset views, you can even grab a spot of shisha here. Fairmont Gold, the hotel’s executive club rooms and suites get breakfast served on the 9th

floor, overlooking the beach and the marina; there’s no better view first thing in the morning. There’s also a dedicated kids club for any little ones and if you use it, make sure you slink off to the Willow spa while the kids are busy. GETTING STARTED Fairmont The Palm is on the trunk of the Palm. š8eeaj^h[[d_]^jiX[\eh[)&I[fj[cX[hWdZ][jW fourth night free (from Dhs1,199 including breakfast; free W-fi-;

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


H I G H 5 : D U B A I S TAY C AT I O N S

JUMEIRAH CREEKSIDE HOTEL THE ACTIVITIES ONE It’s perhaps a little bizarre to venture so close toward Dubai International Airport, only to check-in at a nearby hotel. But the memories of winding visa queues will fade when you trundle into the chasmal lobby of this Garhoud gem. The Crimson Gallery greets you at reception, with a host of other spaces for work, rest and play dotted around the nine-floor complex. If you craned your neck on the way in, then you’ll have already noticed the eighth floor pool, peeking out of the Cu-ba rooftop bar and over the corner of the lobby. You’ll have also seen some unexpectedly avant-garde artworks, of which there are 482 pieces across the whole hotel – all by Middle East artists and all belonging to the Creekside’s owners. Not every piece may be to your taste, but it’s refreshing to see a hotel not play it safe. But it’s not all about art and scratching your head. Not only are the tennis courts of the Aviation Club Tennis Centre on hand, a sports club is annexed to the hotel. Beyond a typical fitness centre, the ‘entertainment centre’ is a spot to work out, unwind and re-energise. A variety of racket sports and equipment are provided. Just don’t forget to book. And you will have worked up a hunger. Head for Nomad. Adjacent to the main, outdoor pool, the sprawling restaurant is described as a hub of exciting new cuisine. It is just that. A Friday brunch gives you the option to nibble your way around Asia and beyond (and only set you back a pretty affordable Dhs195 for soft drinks). Overall, it’s easy to forget where you are within this climate-controlled, artsy warren. It’s not as gaudy as many of Dubai’s other offerings and you won’t have to worry about tripping over any faux-majlis cushions as you stroll to your suite. GETTING STARTED The Summer Flavour campaign gives you complimentary breakfast, complimentary lunch or Z_dd[hWYheii*&@kc[_hW^h[ijWkhWdji"ed[ZWo½i X[WY^WYY[iiWj@kc[_hW^8[WY^>ej[bWdZed[ZWo½i WYY[iijeM_bZMWZ_J9iWffbo\hec:^i,+&1 free Wi-fi; š<_dZ@kc[_hW^9h[[ai_Z[d[njjej^[?h_i^L_bbW][WdZ Aviation Club.


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013


RITZ-CARLTON DUBAI THE ROMANTIC ONE While the Ritz Carlton Dubai might not be a new face amongst the slew of JBR hotels that have popped up, its massive extension really does place it back at the top of list for those looking for a resort style break within the city. Where the rest of The Walk is noisy and laden with suped-up traffic, enter the Ritz-Carlton and you’re immediately amongst landscaped gardens, lounging on a cabana by a pool or down on a large stretch of private beach, a million miles away from Dubai’s hustle bustle. The joy of being here is it really does feel like being on holiday in your home city. Sit and while away the afternoon at La Baie, which combines an elegant pool bar and informal restaurant with a sunken cocktail lounge area for after dark drinks. The renovation has added 148 rooms and suites, all with sea-facing balcony rooms to the hotel, most of which are far enough away from the rest of Dubai Marina to hear and see nothing but the sounds of the sea and the lush gardens below. The corner suites are fantastically large and have sumptuous bathroom and shower rooms as well as large living spaces, perfect if you plan to do very little but lounge around for the weekend. There’s even a couple of sun-loungers on your balcony. And if you do get tempted, the extension’s other new restaurant Blue Jade, brings a taste of Asia to the beach with a calm and open plan feel that really echoes the peace and quiet found amongst the Ritz-Carlton gardens. The new unisex spa is perfect to unwind even further, and it comes with separate plunge pools and steam rooms for men and women, but it has its own outside pool and relaxation room that overlooks it, where you and your partner can meet up and enjoy the weekend indulgence, hidden away even further from any kids down on the main beach. GETTING STARTED <_dZj^[H_jp9Whbjed:kXW_edJ^[MWba"@8H$ š8eeaj^[:_iYel[hM_j^OekfWYaW][kdj_b)' :[Y[cX[h(&')WdZh[Y[_l[WZW_bo7c[h_YWd Xh[Wa\Wij"W:^i),,'&&h[iehjYh[Z_jf[hd_]^j" and access for two to the Dubai Aquarium at Dubai CWbb\hec:^i("*&&f[hd_]^j1M_#Å:^i+&f[h^ekh1

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


JW MARRIOTT MARQUIS THE FOODIE ONE The flagship JW Marriott Marquis tastefully combines Arabic warmth with international standards of hospitality. The twin towers rise above Sheikh Zayed Road, their unique jagged design visually referencing Khaleeji culture. “The unusual form of the towers was inspired by the date palm”, explains lead architect Ashok Korgaonkar. The hotel was originally designed with business travellers in mind, guests hoping to bask by landscaped pools set among lush tropical gardens will be disappointed. However, what the hotel lacks in recreation facilities, it compensates for with a host of dining options. There are nine bars and restaurants throughout the hotel ranging from opulent Indian dining at Rang Mahal, the creation of celebrated Michelin star chef Atul Kochhar, to downtempo European bistro fare at Kork. Tong Thai serves traditional Thai food underneath a sky of red lanterns that seemingly float towards the ceiling, reminiscent of lunar festivals. Izakaya, Dubai’s only ‘social sushi’ concept restaurant, is the Japanese answer to tapas. After being greeted with an emphatic irasshaimase (welcome) you will be shown to your table and presented with a comprehensive selection of authentic Japanese flavours. While restaurant mascots are cringeworthy, Izakaya’s ‘Wasabi Girl’, inspired by Harajuku cosplay, energetically serves freshly ground wasabi paste to diners. It adds to the dining experience, rather than being overbearing. The standout dish is the robatayaki lamb delicately tenderised in a marinade of mirin and sesame paste, then slowly charcoal-grilled. Prime 68, towering above Dubai on the 68th floor, is a boutique steakhouse with an intimate art-deco twist. Prime cuts from all over the world make their way to the plates of welldressed diners romancing in hushed tones. While the menu is somewhat limited, the emphasis is squarely on quality, not quantity. JW Marriott Marquis is perfect for those looking to embark on a degustatory journey without travelling far. GETTING STARTED @MCWhh_ejjCWhgk_iYWdX[\ekdZ_d:emdjemd Ybei[je:kXW_CWbbWdZIeka7b8W^Wh\hec:^i/+& a night; in-room Wi-fi Dhs25 per hour, free Wi-fi in fkXb_YWh[Wi1cWhh_ejj$Yec%^ej[bi%jhWl[b%ZnX`m#`m# marriott-marquis-hotel-dubai/).


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

D U B A I S TAY C AT I O N S : H I G H 5

OCEAN VIEW HOTEL THE WALK, JBR THE SURPRISE ONE You may think the last place you want to be on your vacation is the JBR Walk in Dubai, but that’s where you’re wrong. Yes, it is home to quite possibly the worst traffic (with the flashiest cars) in the emirate, especially at the weekend. But nobody can deny that once you’re finally there and don’t need to move, it’s a terrific spot. Dubai may be one of the least walkable metropolitan cities in the world, which is why once you actually hit JBR Walk — with its seaside stretch of charming cafes, restaurants and ice cream parlours — you suddenly feel a million miles from the office. With the newly opened Ocean View Hotel, you can enjoy JBR Walk without the chaos that normally comes with it. Ocean View sits in a prime location at one end, and there’s no prizes for guessing the kind of view you have when you’re there. Despite the lush pool, pleasing rooms and playful family vibe, the real value of Ocean View actually comes in the time you get to spend away from it. The clever folk at JA Resorts & Hotels have realised the poisonedchalice potential of Ocean View’s location — yes, it’s a fantastic area, but after a while you do want a break from the other tourists. So it puts on regular free shuttles to its sister hotel, the five star Jebel Ali Beach Hotel. So once you’ve reached the end of your JBR tether, you’re only 25 minutes from the pure bliss of the sister resort’s private beach, watersports centre and golf course (and mini golf course)! It’s for this reason that Ocean View is the only hotel in Dubai that gives you The Walk experience and five star resort style pampering, all for the price of an affordable four star hotel — not to mention the special offers that come with a new launch. If that won’t get you to Ocean View, its to-die-for traditional Brazilian churrascaria in Fogo Vivo, will be more than enough to provide the extra nudge. GETTING STARTED 8[\eh[)'7k]kij(&')ijWo_dWI[WL_[mheec WdZ][jW\h[[kf]hWZ[je^Wb\XeWhZ\hec:^i,-&1 free Wi-fi; šEY[WdL_[m>ej[b_iWjj^[iekj^[hd[dZe\J^[ Walk, opposite the Sheraton hotel.



Can’t get away? Check out the latest apps and books to keep you exploring PICTURE OF THE MONTH THE ICONIC PHOTOGRAPHS Steve McCurry (Dhs239, Phaidon Press)

Three monks climb up the crumbling steps of the Mingun Paya in the Burmese province of Mandalay. Earthquake damage has left the vast stupa with a dramatic fissure down its façade.


Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013



COOL CAMPING BRITAIN Edited by Jonathan Knight (Dhs102; Punk Publishing Ltd)

LETTERS FROM EVEREST Edited by Dr Huw Lewis-Jones (Dhs72; Silverbear)

A bible for devotees of soggy groundsheets and missing pegs, Cool Camping has published its first all-Britain guide, having previously pitched its editions at England, Wales and Scotland. The book runs through 150 of the best camping spots up and down the land – from a blustery bay near Cape Wrath to a balmy Scillies beach and a spot by Hadrian’s Wall once occupied by Roman legions. There are sites with yurts, teepees and bell tents, while footnotes list nearby pubs and attractions. BEST FOR Canvassing opinion on where to set up camp.

During the historic Everest climb of 1953, George Lowe forged a painstaking route to within 30m of the summit for his compatriot Sir Edmund Hillary. His reward was a ringside seat at one of the most symbolic moments of the 20th century. Here, family friend and historian Dr Huw Lewis-Jones has brought together his unpublished letters from the expedition, interspersed with hand-drawn maps and diagrams. Lowe’s final bulletin is signed off: ‘Smiles and pleasant hours to all.’ Indeed. BEST FOR Fresh insight into this most scrutinised of feats.




Part memoir, part scrapbook of travel miscellanea, these are one man’s reflections on a lifetime of journeys, with a personal tally of 122 countries and counting. His essays flick between experiences such as falling in love with Paris, having a near-miss with a lion in Tanzania and circumventing the ash from the 2010 eruption of Iceland’s volcano. Easy reading, but there’s a tendency towards a seen-it-all tone. BEST FOR: Diverse destinations and nuggets of first-hand advice on travel. LAUREN CORDELL



Gate Guru

If you find airports a hassle, this comprehensive app will make your journey as smooth as anything. The main menu features an airport guide, airline info, travel help and forums. It will tell you the best place to eat and drink in every terminal, gate changes, where to find ATMs and currency exchanges and you can check out a list of stores before you set off if you’re after some tax-free shopping. Free for Apple and Android

Similar to TripIt Gate Guru breaks down your travel itinerary for you but it will also alert you to gate changes, flight delays and average security queue wait times for your airport when you arrive. An airport ‘card’ will detail local weather, terminal amenities, maps and restaurant reviews. It also has an inbuilt rental car option, useful if you're doing a Planes, Trains and Automobiles style dash. Free for Apple and Android

June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East



(from Dhs2,195; Touch screen notebooks still haven’t taken off as much as tablets, but there’s hidden depth in some, like the new Sony VAIO® Fit E. This is perfect for watching movies on the go, as Sony have amped up the sound with clear highs and a deep bass for a home entertainment

style quality wherever you are. And it’s not just on movies this wins through. One-Touch Listening allows you to connect other speakers and home audio devices to create your own stereo sound or if that’s not suitable, then tap to set off the Bluetooth headphones.


(Dhs399; If you’re always being caught short at home and abroad without chargers, or perhaps your phone just eats battery life, then this is worth a look. A portable battery that’s capable of charging iPads, Kindles, phones and so on, twice. Or it will add 120 hours more playtime to iPods or other MP3 players. Just plug in at the wall or in a USB port to charge up and shove it in your bag. Just as handy for long work days as it is for holidays, we love this idea.







Why not plan a meaningful summer abroad and volunteer from one week to a few months and gain a memorable experience? Surf through the site to find various destinations in Asia, America and Africa, such as Tanzania, Malawi and Cameroon. Whether you’re interested in teaching or looking after children in orphanages, preserving marine life, conservationand building projects, or sports volunteering, there is something for everyone. With real life stories from other volunteers and plenty of video content you can get a real feel for what you’re signing up for and who you’d be working with from the site.

Ever dreamed of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, or heading to the Everest base camp in Nepal? Now you can for a good cause too! The Adventure Company offers a variety of holiday packages that appeal to families, couples and individuals travelling alone, however their more interesting packages are the charity treks. You can even set up your own online sponsorship page and ask people to make a donation through the website, to raise money for the charity trip. Want to get away quickly? Check their last minute page for trips heading off in the next eight weeks to places like Nepal, Morocco and Peru.

Discover a new destination, make new friends and do your bit for charity, this is what PoD Volunteer is all about! The non-profit organisation has over 10 years of experience in volunteer placements around the world covering construction, teaching, child-care and conservation. Choose one and find out more about the project, and how volunteer work can change your view on life through real life feedback. PoD Volunteer even offers charity work for families, so everyone can get involved. Read up on previous trips, where your money goes to and who it helps.

Just because you’re after a bit of luxury doesn’t mean you can’t do your bit. There’s no excuse! Hands Up Holidays help you get stuck in whether it’s a long weekend, you’re on your own and want to meet people, or even if you’re on your honeymoon! Trips can go ahead with a minimum of two people but can also be tailor-made to suit your skills and interests, from working with kids to helping with marketing and range over short trips to much longer commitments. They offer a range of five star eco-luxury hotels if you want to bookend your trip with a treat. Be prepared to be inspired.

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013


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

Boats in Hamburg harbour at dusk

Korčula claims to be the birthplace of Marco Polo

Seville’s 26m-high Metropol Parasol







Home to Moorish monuments, fine art, flamenco, endless festivals and the world’s largest Gothic cathedral, Seville is a city of passion where matadors and cantadors still make their mark.

Croatia’s coast is speckled with a multitude of islands, each with its own special appeal. Sit with locals in quaint harbourside restaurants, explore uninhabited national parks or join an all-night beach party. ls l tials ntia enti d ds esse

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The test track on the roof of Lingotto Fiere – Turin’s former Fiat factory

Taste the Pacific at Swan Oyster Depot


Hamburg’s maritime spirit has dominated its past but is also helping to shape its future, as new waterside developments and mouldbreaking design hotels see it steal the limelight from Berlin and Munich.

A surfer at Rhossili Bay on the Gower Peninsula







You’ll need to build up an appetite to visit San Francisco: it has more restaurants per capita than any other US city, covering every possible option from taco food trucks to organic, sustainable high-end restaurants.

From its elegant tree-lined boulevards, stately Art Nouveau cafés and grand piazzas, to the 2006 Winter Olympicsfuelled building boom, Turin’s architecture provides plenty of variety for you to peruse.

Wales’s varied terrain lends itself to a whole host of activities, from the relaxing to the rather more vigorous. And whether you get on your bike, horse or surfboard you are guaranteed a beautiful backdrop. i lls tials d essentia

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Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March 2013

Arucas; from £90). Ponte 32, Garachico; from £190). (; (; Esteban de seven Canary Islands an nds iiss at and wooden balconies one street back from the seafront is blue-grey official tourism site ite te fo for orr aalllll from this time, with canopy beds Jacuzzis and Bauhaus furniture, its beak T The he 1572. Rooms take inspiration rooms featuring rich colours, Tenerife, even com and lapalmaisland. sllan nd. Suceso is a country estate from Roque has individually designed Canaria and include grancanariasunshine. ias asu unsh uns shin ne. Las Palmas, Hacienda del Buen Tenerife manor house, Hotel San highlands of Gran with articles in English gliish h West of Gran Canaria’s capital A converted 18th-century Found in the £12.99). Good locall bblogs logs Blue chaffinch WHERE TO STAY Breña Baja; from £110). La Palma (; in ng.cco o.u .ukk; blooms up to three metres tall. botanical gardens (; including Tenerife and nd d produces spear-like pink-red plant-filled courtyard, pool and (from £30; Walking Guides, with h ttitles ittle tles A Tenerife plant which decorated rooms, plus a companies are represented here series from Discoveryy jewels, or Teide bugloss) coast, and offers elegantly island, and the major rental more on hiking, try the Walk! hee W allk! Tajinaste rojo (tower of best option for getting around an the ocean on La Palma’s east the islands in detail. For orr medicine. £50; Car hire is the de la Isla de La Palma overlooks Islands (£12.99) covers rs aallll The pastel-coloured Parador ‘dragon’s blood’ once used in of ferries (return fares around Lonely Planet’s Canary y produce a red sap, the are also connected by a network FURTHER READING (not technically trees) The islands was once a sugarcane plantation These alien-looking plants Canaria–Tenerife from £95; The Hacienda del Buen Suceso dragon tree) flights on Binter Canarias (Gran companies that comply. y. Drago (Canary Islands islands are served by inter-island Lonely Planet guide listss on the island of El Hierro. have direct UK flights. All the (the legal limit is 60m). The up to 45cm long, found only El Hierro and La Gomera don’t too close to the creatures es A critically endangered reptile, com). Of the seven islands, only operators take their clients nts El Hierro giant lizard (Tenerife from £140; ryanair. you intend to go with. Some me Ryanair and Thomson Airways more curious species: credentials of the company ny airlines including easyJet, Jet2, fauna. Here are a few of the check the environmental flights to the Canary Islands, on to a host of endemic flora and If you go whale-watching, Almost all UK airports offer The Canary Islands are home TOP TIP


Canary Islands essentials


The know-how


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June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll never want to leave For our fabulous offers please call +971 (0) 2 690 8888 or email at *Rates are subject to 10% service charge and 6% tourism fee. Above mention rates are applicable for one night bookings between the 16th April until the 15th September 2013. Offer valid for all the GCC nationals and residents.

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Shopping CLOTHES

Boats in Hamburg harbour at dusk


DESIGN IN HAMBURG Hamburg’s maritime spirit has dominated its past but is also helping to shape its future, as new waterside developments and mouldbreaking design hotels see it steal the limelight from Berlin and Munich.

Eating and drinking BULLEREI Bullerei is the restaurant of German TV-cook Tim Mälzer. Located in the stables of an old slaughterhouse in the district of Schanzenviertel, it’s an industrial space with exposed concrete and brick that embraces the building’s history with a display window of hanging beef. Expect meaty dishes such as burgers and steak (steaks from Dhs123; Lagerstrasse 34b;

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25HOURS This hotel and restaurant is in the middle of the new HafenCity harbour district, Europe’s largest inner-city urban development. Live music and DJs on weekends accompany dishes such as smoked eel with scrambled eggs. The restaurant, like the rooms, is a design nod to the city’s seafaring tradition – you can sit on a pile of carpets in the bar or read mariners’ tales told in the log book (mains from Dhs50; Überseeallee 5;

For years, the northwestern district of Karolinenviertel has been home to a countercultural scene, and today it’s a creative centre for young fashion designers. Labels to look out for include Nymphenfieber (Marktstrasse 10; nymphenfieber. de), and Garment, which sells cute short-sleeved shirts from Dhs664 (Marktstrasse 25;


Stilwerk offers 11,000 square metres of design shopping


In downtown Hamburg, you’ll find Gärtner, which as well as providing interiors for offices and homes, acts as a showcase for German design companies, including Cor and Thonet, and international furniture brands such as Vitra and USM. Expect to find classics such as the 1930s Kaiser Idell lamp (Dhs2,024) sitting alongside the new Vitra Corniches – small, boat-shaped shelves (Grosse Bleichen 23; closed Sun;

This converted malthouse by the Elbe riverfront is home to the first of the four branches of Stilwerk: a self-billed hotspot for international design. Hamburg’s branch, spread over 10 floors, has a collection of more than 30 interior design stores (including, which sells bright outdoor puppy-shaped stools for Dhs223), cafés and restaurants, and design and cultural exhibitions (Grosse Elbstrasse 68;

Arts and architecture

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Sourcing of menu ingredients is taken seriously at 25hours

MARSBAR A lovely bar and restaurant in the rather chic district of Eppendorf, the Marsbar is located in a red-brick old tram depot. Sit at the bar facing the open kitchen, along the red leather bench that lines the gallery dining room, or outside on the terraces, and choose from the daily changing menu. The signature dish here is the Caesar salad with chicken marinated in teriyaki sauce (mains from Dhs42; Strassenbahnring 2; closed Sun;

Located in the former Phoenix Tyre Factory, this is a private collection of 2,000 pieces of modern German and American art, mainly from the last 30 years and from the counterculture movement. Visits are by guided tour only, which must be booked in advance on the website (tours Dhs73; Wilstorfer Strasse 71;

MUSEUM FÜR KUNST UND GEWERBE The vast collection of sculpture, furniture, fashion, jewellery, posters, musical instruments and household objects in this fun museum runs the gamut from Italian to Islamic, and Japanese to Viennese, including an Art Nouveau salon from the 1900 Paris World Fair. There’s also a design department for kids (Dhs47; Steintorplatz; closed Mon;

Browse a very ecletic mix at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe

CHILEHAUS The brown-brick Chilehaus is shaped like an ocean liner, with remarkable curved walls meeting in the form of a ship’s bow and staggered balconies that look like decks. Designed by architect Fritz Höger, the 1924 building is a leading example of German Expressionist architecture. The ground floor courtyard is given to shops and restaurants, allowing visitors a closer nose around (Fischertwiete 2;


June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


MINI GUIDE Design in Hamburg Shopping

TRANSPORT R Fly to Hamburg direct on Lufthansa from Dubai (from Dhs3,000; The S1 S-Bahn (suburban train) connects the airport with the city centre in 24 minutes (Dhs14). Hamburg’s transport network is divided into zones: the Nahbereich (central area) covers the part of the city between St Pauli and the Hauptbahnhof, while the Grossbereich (Greater Hamburg area) encompasses outlying communities too. S-Bahn and U-Bahn (underground) tickets must be bought from machines at stations; bus tickets are available from the driver (

WHERE T TO S STAY T TAY Arcotel Rubin in St Georg is done out in gleaming marble and the smallish rooms are dominated by giant red-leather ‘sunset’ bedheads. There’s also a Viennese coffee house for pastries and a gym to work it off (from Dhs530; Steindamm 63;


Come spring, Join Hamburgers in lounging, dancing and generally hanging out at these manmade beaches:

Central Park

The Empire Riverside Hotel rose from an old brewery site in the rejuvenated Hafenkrone (harbour crown) precinct in 2008. Try the views from the hotel’s swish 20up Skybar (from Dhs809; Bernhard-Nocht-Strasse 97; Walls and furniture at East emulate organic forms – giving a warm, enveloping feel. It also has a wellness centre and sunken restaurant (from Dhs865; Simon-von-Utrecht-Strasse 31;

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

Where to stay

The know-how CITY BEACHES

Rooms at the Empire Riverside R Hotel have city or harbour views


This sandy summer garden in the middle of the hip Schanzenviertel district comes complete with snacks, music and sculpture exhibitions (

TOP TIP For a cost-effective way to see this maritime city’s enormous port, take a public-transport harbour ferry. Try the 62 from Landungsbrücken to Firkenwerder, then change for the 64 to Teufelsbrück (Dhs14;



Tuesday is tango night at this stretch of sand overlooking the busy docks, where beer, cocktails and sausages hit the spot (

Lonely Planet’s Germany (Dhs95) has a chapter on Hamburg, which is also available to download at (Dhs16). For upcoming events and restaurant and bar listings, see (in German but you can translate it at Hamburger Johannes Brahms was an influential composer of the Romantic period – his most notable works include A German Requiem.

Strandperle The mother of Hamburg’s beach bars is little more than a kiosk, but people-watching is top class, as patrons linger over their papers with a bite and a coffee or local FritzKola (strand perlehamburg. de).


Hamburg essentials

Sights & Activities

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Californian COI

Taste the Pacific at Swan Oyster Depot


EATING IN SAN FRANCISCO You’ll need to build up an appetite to visit San Francisco: it has more restaurants per capita than any other US city, covering every possible option from taco food trucks to organic, sustainable high-end restaurants.


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BENU SF has refined fusion cuisine over 150 years but no-one rocks it quite like double-Michelinstarred chef Corey Lee, who remixes local fine-dining staples and Pacific Rim flavours with finesse. The Dhs720 tasting menu includes a faux-shark’s fin soup – Dungeness crab, Jinhua ham and black truffle custard – while the à la carte menu is only available Tuesday to Thursday (mains from Dhs95; dinner Tue–Sat; 22 Hawthorne St;


Creative Californian dishes have earned Coi two Michelin stars


Chef and owner Melissa Perello earned a Michelin star for fine dining, then ditched downtown to start this market-inspired neighbourhood bistro in The Castro. Daily menus showcase bright, seasonal flavours, such as cloud-like sheep’s milk ricotta gnocchi with crunchy breadcrumbs and broccolini. Wine is served by the ounce, direct from Wine Country (mains from Dhs67; inner Tue–Sun; 3870 17th St;

Drift into this beach-shack-style bistro for organic comfort food: lunch could mean a Dhs24 grilled artisan cheese sandwich combo with homemade soup or mixed green salad, while dinner can bring slow-cooked pork shoulder slouching into green-garlic risotto. Arrive early – no bookings taken – and sip wine outside until seats open up indoors (lunch dishes from Dhs23; Tue-Sat, Sun brunch 10am–3pm; 4001 Judah St;

Take out

Fusion Mourad Lahlou’s inspiration is Moroccan, his produce organic Californian and his flavours worthy of their Michelin star. Aziza serves up Sonoma duck confit that melts into caramelised onion in flaky pastry, and sour cherries rousing slow-cooked local lamb shank from its barley bed (mains from Dhs73; dinner Wed–Mon; 5800 Geary Blvd;

Daniel Patterson’s wild tasting menu, featuring foraged morels, wildflowers and Pacific seafood, is like licking the Californian coastline. Coi has just one 11-course set menu, which includes dishes such as black and green noodles made from clams and Pacific seaweed (set menu Dhs614 per person; dinner Tue–Sat; 373 Broadway;

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Benu is a dining highlight in SoMa (South of Market Street)

NAMU GAJI Korean-inspired soul food is the basis of Namu Gaji in The Mission, which offers menus guided by the weekly harvest from its own farm. For lunch there are American and Asian streetcart-style dishes such as kimchee fried rice with hot dog, and barbecued beef sandwiches; while dinner brings shiitake mushroom dumplings, and steak and egg served in a sizzling stone pot (lunch dishes from Dhs23; lunch Wed–Sun, dinner Tue–Sun; 499 Dolores St;

This century-old fish store in Nob Hill has a counter for just 18 stools. There’s always a long queue but if you order to go, you can jump to the front, browse nearby shops, then pick up a superior picnic of crab salad and oysters (dishes from Dhs36; cash only, no reservations; 8am–5.30pm Mon–Sat; 1517 Polk St; 00 1 415 673 2757).


Arrive before 2pm for the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market


Some 30 food trucks gather at SF’s largest mobile-gourmet hootenanny in the Marina (other locations attract fewer trucks – see the website). Dig into Chairman Bao’s clamshell buns stuffed with duck and mango, roast duck taco from Kung Fu Tacos or dessert from the Crème Brûlée Cart (pork bun Dhs15; cash only; 5pm–10pm Fri, Mar–Nov; Fort Mason parking lot;

No-one’s in a hurry to leave at the Ferry Building, the transport hub turned gourmet emporium, with everything from bread and cheese shops, to Vietnamese take out and Italian gelato. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and (largest of all) Saturdays the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market sets out its stalls in front of the 1890s-era building (cheese salad from Dhs17; open daily; The Embarcadero;


June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


MINI GUIDE Eating in San Francisco Eating

TRANSPORT R Fly to San Francisco with Emirates Airlines (from Dhs7,095; The airport is 14 miles south of downtown SF, and is connected to the city by BART train (30 minutes; Dhs31 one way; A taxi to Downtown costs around Dhs168. The city is famed for its cable cars, which are run by MUNI, also responsible for SF’s network of bus and streetcar lines. Single cable car tickets cost Dhs22 – you can buy these from the conductor or from the ticket booths by the lines (

WHERE T TO S STAY T TAY An unassuming brick-faced inn, The Edwardian has an ideal middle-of-the-city location, with a tram stop right outside. Rooms are simply but smartly decorated, and mostly on the small side (from Dhs475; 1668 Market St; The upper-end Argonaut Hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf was


The know-how EAT A ON THE CHEAP

š The best cheap eats are

Pay extra for a bay view at the sea-inspired Argonaut Hotel

built as a cannery in 1907. Rooms sport a somewhat over-the-top nautical theme, with porthole-shaped mirrors and deep-blue carpets (from Dhs1,229; 495 Jefferson St; Behind Hotel Vitale’s dull exterior are up-to-the-minute luxuries. Rooms are decorated in muted shades, have spa-style limestone bathrooms and the best have expansive views of San Francisco Bay (8 Mission St; from Dhs1,355;

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

found at farmers’ markets, food trucks and mom-and-pop eateries around Golden Gate Park, the Mission and the gritty Tenderloin District. š Upscale restaurants offer affordable bar menus and midweek deals: look out for them at san-francisco. š San Fran has around 150 food trucks, which use Twitter to let people know where they’ll be. Check for updates at š By night, a number of pop-up restaurants take over galleries, storefronts and cafés. Look for announcements on websites such as, and š Remember to allow for an extra 25–30 per cent on your bill for tip and tax.

TOP TIP Precita Eyes restores the Mission’s famous historic murals and offers muralist-led tours.The Mission Trail Mural Walk takes 1½ hours and includes 24th Street as well as the early works on Balmy Alley (Dhs56; Saturdays 11am;

FURTHER FURT R HER READING Lonely Planet’s San Francisco (Dhs84) is a comprehensive guide to the city while Pocket San Francisco is better suited for short trips (Dhs45). For news, local entertainment and events guides see and, while for bar and restaurant tips, see 7x7. com. San Francisco’s landmarks have made it into numerous films, including Escape from Alcatraz and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 thriller Vertigo.


San Francisco essentials

Where to stay

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Home to Moorish monuments, fine art, flamenco, endless festivals and the world’s largest Gothic cathedral, Seville is a city of passion where matadors and cantadors still make their mark.

‘We’re going to construct a church so large, future generations will think we were mad,’ declared Seville’s canon in 1402 at the start of one of the most grandiose building projects in medieval history. This Gothic masterpiece was completed in 1506, retaining La Giralda, the minaret of the mosque that originally stood here (Dhs39; Avenida de la Constitución;



Residence of generations of kings and caliphs, the Alcázar was originally founded as a fort for the Cordoban governors of Seville in 913. It has been expanded and rebuilt over the following 11 centuries but is an identikit of Mudéjar architecture. It features Pedro I of Castilla’s Mudéjar Palace, built in ‘perishable’ wood, ceramics and plaster, obedient to the Quran’s prohibition against ‘eternal’ structures (Dhs42; Patio de Banderas;

Museums and galleries




Housed in a former convent, the art museum portrays the city’s leading role in Spain’s 17thcentury golden age. The most stunning room is the convent church, hung with paintings by masters of Sevillano baroque, including Murillo’s Inmaculada Concepción Grande (free; Plaza del Museo, 9; museodebellasartesde

The brainchild of Sevillana flamenco dancer Cristina Hoyos, this museum showcases photos, sketches and paintings of contemporary flamenco greats and a collection of dresses and shawls. There are regular classes, workshops and concerts (Dhs50; 9am–6pm Nov–Mar, 9am–7pm Apr–Oct; Calle Manuel Rojas Marcos, 3;

CONJUNTO T MONUMENTAL T DE LA CART CARTUJA R UJA Founded in 1399, this monastery is today the home of the superb Andalucian Contemporary Art Centre, which has a collection of local modern art and frequent temporary exhibitions. The monastery was a favourite lodging place of Columbus, and in 1839 the complex was turned into a porcelain factory, which explains the kilns that stand incongruously by the buildings (Dhs14; Avenida Américo Vespucio, 2;

The impressive Museo de Bellas Artes was founded in 1839

The Alcázar is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe



Seville’s futuristic El Pabellón de la Navegación may have been overshadowed by the Metropol Parasol but this modern museum and exhibition space, which opened in January 2012, is just as thought-provoking. Its permanent collection is split into four parts – shipboard life, mariners, historical views of Seville and navigation (Dhs24; 10am–7.30pm Tue–Sat, 10am–3pm Sun; 2 Camino de los Descrubimientos,

This flamenco tablao (a place that stages professional flamenco shows) in Santa Cruz is the most authentic nightly flamenco show outside the Museo del Baile Flamenco, and offers a wide variety of flamenco styles in a courtyard of shifting shadows. Space is limited to 100 so reserve in advance (Dhs78; 7.30pm and 9pm; Calle Ximénez de Enciso, 28;; ).

Seville’s giant ‘flying waffle’ has injected a dose of modernism into the city’s traditional core, sparking predictable controversy. Designed by German architect Jürgen Mayer H, the Metropol Parasol opened in March 2011 and claims to be the largest wooden building in the world. Roman ruins discovered during the building’s conception have been cleverly incorporated into the foundations at the Museo Antiquarium (Plaza de la Encarnación).

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A dancer performs at the Museo del Baile Flamenco

CASA ANSELMA If you can squeeze in past the foreboding form of Anselma – a celebrated Triana flamenco dancer – at the door, you’ll soon realise that anything can happen in here. Casa Anselma is the antithesis of a tourist flamenco tablao, with cheek-to-jowl crowds, no amplification and spontaneous dancing. There’s no sign, just a doorway embellished with tiles (free; 12am–late Mon–Sat; Calle Pagés del Corro, 49).


June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


MINI GUIDE Culture in Seville Entertainment

TRANSPORT R Fly to Seville from Dubai, via Amsterdam, with KLM (Dhs2,480; and via Heathrow by British Airways (Dhs2,817; Aeropuerto San Pablo is four miles from the city centre: Los Amarillos runs buses from the airport (Dhs19.50), while a taxi costs about Dhs112. Seville is easy to walk around, while the SeVici bike hire scheme has made bike lanes as ubiquitous as pavements (Dhs56 for a week’s subscription, first 30 minutes are free, the next hour is Dhs4, subsequent hours are Dhs9.50;

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T Round the corner from the Basílica de la Macarena, Hotel San Gil adheres to the Moorish concept of keeping the beauty within: while plain on the outside, the inner reception and courtyard are lovely. There’s also a pool and pretty gardens (from Dhs447; Calle Parras, 28;


The know-how TOP EVENTS Seville is a city that knows how to celebrate…

Semana Santa Every day from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, life-sized sculptural representations are carried from Seville’s churches through the streets to the cathedral (

Feria de Abril The Hotel Amadeus is decorated in calming, neutral tones

Situated in the old quarter of Barrio de Santa Cruz, Hotel Amadeus is an elegant hotel run by a musical family – the various instruments dotted around are available for guests to use (from Dhs530; Calle Farnesio, 6; hotelamadeussevilla com). Hotel Casa 1800 puts service on par with its plush new interior. Rooms have wood floors and hand-carved furniture and a free afternoon merienda, or light meal (from Dhs809; Calle Rodrigo Caro, 6;

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

Where to stay

The April Fair is the joyful celebration following the solemnity of Semana Santa. Six nights of partying take place, and in the afternoons those with horses and carriages parade about in their finery.

La Bienal de Flamenco Spain’s biggest flamenco festival is staged in September of even-numbered years (it alternates with Málaga), and brings together the best of classical and experimental dance (

Immaculada: Christmas officially starts on 8 December and includes street processions and dances.

TOP TIP For another type of cultural experience (shopping) head to El Jueves antiques market, on Calle Feria, where you can find everything from hat stands to old household appliances. It’s a great place for people-watching as well as a bargain (7am–2pm Thu).

FURTHER FURTH R ER READING Lonely Planet’s Spain (Dhs95) and Andalucía (Dhs78) both cover Seville. Download chapters from these guides at (Dhs16). Lord Byron used the city as the setting for Don Juan and it’s also where Bizet’s Carmen and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville operas were set. Seville’s diverse architecture has seen the city pop up in diverse films such as Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Lawrence of Arabia and Kingdom of Heaven.


Seville essentials

Sights & Activities

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Korcula claims to be the birthplace of Marco Polo

ISLANDS OF CROATIA Croatia’s coast is speckled with a multitude of islands, each with its own special appeal. Sit with locals in quaint harbourside restaurants, explore uninhabited national parks or join an all-night beach party.


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BRAC The third-largest of the Adriatic islands, Brac sports one of Croatia’s most famous beaches, the alluring Zlatni Rat (Golden orn), near the pretty town of Bol. This is also the windsurfing capital of Croatia, since the sea channel between Brac and neighbouring Hvar provides ideal conditions: gentle in the morning for beginners, lively for adrenaline junkies later on. Big Blue Sport rents boards and runs classes (big-blue-sport. hr). Make time to explore the island’s sleepy stone villages too.


The stark landscapes of Pag look like a broody film setting


Dugi Otok (long island) is 26 miles long and in parts less than a mile across. At the southern end, Telašcica Bay is dotted with islands and is one of the largest, most beautiful natural harbours in the Adriatic. The saltwater Lake Mir (peace), sandy Sakarun Beach and panoramic drive along the rocky coast are also real delights. The tourist office can connect you with some great out-of-the-way accommodation, including a house on its own island (

Pag is dry and rocky, with vast empty landscapes stretching across the horizon. Although not so much of an island now it’s connected to the mainland by a bridge, it still feels independent in terms of culture and produce. Tough sheep graze on herbs and salty grasses, lending their milk a unique flavour and producing the famous paški sir (the olive oil-soaked Pag cheese), which can be found at the daily fruit and veg market in Pag town.

Southern Dalmatia

Central Dalmatia Off the main trail and off-limits to foreigners for about four decades (it served as a base for the Yugoslav army), Vis’s lack of development is its appeal. It also produces some of Croatia’s best wines: vugava (white) and plavac mali (red). Visit Roki’s restaurant in Plisko Polje – owned by a local winemaker – to try it and they’ll pick you up and drop you off at your hotel too (

Comprising 147 mostly uninhabited islands, some of which are designated a national park, the Kornatis have no source of freshwater and so are mostly barren. The white rock formations are stark against the blue Adriatic ( There is no public ferry, so to visit book a tour from the mainland – you can take a daytrip from Zadar for Dhs195 (

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Vis is one of the furthest-lying islands from the Croatian coast

HVAR Hvar gets the most sun of the islands – and the most tourists thanks to the town where, come high summer, there’s no better place to party. Well-dressed people descend from their yachts for après-beach soirées and full-moon beach parties. Hvar is also famed for the lavender fields that dot its interior, which is largely unexplored. Book the Hvar Offroad Tour run by Secret Hvar to discover the island’s hidden beauties (Dhs390;

Legend has it that Odysseus was marooned on Mljet for seven years and it’s easy to see why he’d take his time leaving. The western section is a national park, with cobalt lakes, a monastery and the sleepy port of Pomena. In the east is one of Dalmatia’s top restaurants, Stermasi, which has an awesome view (wild boar with homemade gnocchi Dhs251 for two;


Lokrum is home to a ruined Benedictine monastery


Korcula is rich in vineyards, olive groves and small villages, while its main settlement, Korcula town, is a coastal citadel of marble streets and Renaissance and Gothic architecture. Age-old folk music and dances are still performed on the island, which is a favourite with families. One of the most colourful is the Moreška sword dance – you can see it in the Old Town every Monday and Thursday evening in high summer.

Lokrum, a Unesco-protected reserve, is a forested isle of holm oaks, black ash, pines and olive trees, and is an ideal escape from urban Dubrovnik, a 15-minute boat trip away. It has a fine botanical garden with giant agaves and palms native to Brazil and South Africa. No-one is allowed to stay overnight, so be sure to catch the last boat back (about 6pm, timetable at Dubrovnik Old City Harbour).


June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


MINI GUIDE Islands of Croatia Sights & Activities

TRANSPORT R Three airports serve the Dalmatian Coast – Zadar in the north, Split in the centre and Dubrovnik in the south. Flights from Dubai to Split, Croatia, via Lufthansa (from Dhs3,615; Jadrolinija runs a network of car ferries and catamarans along the coast plus local ferries connecting bigger islands with each other and the mainland. On most lines service is less frequent between October and April. Buy tickets at a Jadrolinija office or stall near the ferry (Split–Korcula Dhs62 on deck, from Dhs157 in cabin;

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T Dubra Apartments is located in Komiža, a small fishing town on the western coast of Vis. Each of the five apartments or studios has a kitchen, and a terrace or balcony with views over the bay (from Dhs167; Mihovila Pavlinovca 11;


The know-how SOUVENIRS Lace The intricate lace from Pag is part of a centuries-old tradition. You can buy pieces directly from the women who make them.


Boškinac has its own deli and basement konoba (wine bar)

Croatian embroidery is distinguished by cheerful geometric patterns, which you’ll see on tablecloths, pillowcases and blouses.

Carvings Boškinac on Pag is a rural hotel surrounded by vines, and has its own winery, pool and superb restaurant. The eight rooms and three suites are huge and elegant, with handmade furniture (from Dhs670; Spread over several town mansions, Lešic Dimitri Palace’s five residences are named after Marco Polo’s journeys (it’s said he was born in Korcula in i 1254). Exposed beams and ancient stone walls are combined with iPods and espresso machines (from Dhs1,670;

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

Brac is known for its lustrous stone, and vases, ashtrays, candlestick holders and other small but heavy items can be found across the island.

Lavender Lavender and other fragrant herbs are made into scented sachets or oils in most central Dalmatian islands, but especially y on Hvar, which is known forr its lavender fields.

TOP TIP To make like a local on the beach, join in with a game of picigin. Players stand in the shallows and whack a ball to keep it from touching the water. Techniques vary, but generally you’ll want to splash a lot (

FURTHER FURTH R ER READING Lonely Planet’s Croatia (Dhs83) is an extensive guide, from which you can buy individual chapters – such as Split & Central Dalmatia – at lonelyplanet. com (Dhs16). Learn about lesser-known attractions at tour-company blog secretdalmatia.wordpress. com. How the War on my Island Started d is a black comedy film set in an army outpost on an unnamed island during Croatia’s declaration of independence.


Croatian islands essentials

Where to stay

The test track on the roof of Lingotto Fiere – Turin’s former Fiat factory

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Morning CAFFÈ MULASSANO Start early with a coffee and pastry at a historic coffeehouse – in Turin’s central Baroque square, you’ll find pint-sized Mulassano. This Art Nouveau café, complete with marble bar, wood panelling and bronze work, is where regulars sink white-hot espresso on-the-go from the bow-tied barista (7.30am– 10.30pm; Piazza Castello 15;


ARCHITECTURE IN TURIN From its elegant tree-lined boulevards, stately Art Nouveau cafés and grand piazzas, to the 2006 Winter Olympicsfuelled building boom, Turin’s architecture provides plenty of variety for you to peruse.


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EATALY EAT ATALY Next to the Lingotto, in a vast converted vermouth factory, is the Slow Food movement’s ‘supermarket’. Designed around a number of courtyards covered with a glazed roof, Eataly houses a staggering array of sustainable food and beverages, including cheese, bread, meat, fish, pasta, chocolate and much more. The best time to visit is 12.30pm– 2.30pm, when each area has its own little restaurant serving lunch (10am–10.30pm daily; via Nizza 230;

P PALAZZO REALE Statues of the mythical twins Castor and Pollux guard the entrance to this eye-drawing palace, and watch over the border between the sacred ‘white magic’ and diabolical ‘black magic’ halves of the city. Built for Carlo Emanuele II around 1646, its lavish rooms house a treasure chest of tapestries, porcelain and canvases (entry Dhs36; 8.30am–7.30pm Tue– Sun; Piazza Castello; piemonte.


A Afternoon Two miles south of the city centre is the Lingotto Fiere, Turin’s former Fiat factory, built in 1923 and famed for its rooftop test track. In 1989 it was redesigned as a public space and is now home to two striking hotels and a rooftop gallery boasting works by Renoir, Picasso and Canaletto. Eataly (see below) resides next door (gallery entry Dhs17;Via Nizza 294;

MOLE ANTONELLIANA T The architectural symbol of Turin, this 167m tower, with its distinctive aluminium spire, was intended as a synagogue when construction began in 1863, but was never used as a place of worship. Now it’s home to the excellent Museo Nazionale del Cinema – the city views from the outdoor viewing deck are worth the scary lift ride (Dhs28; lift 10am–8pm Tue–Fri and Sun; Sat 10am–11pm; Via Montebello 20;

The Museo Nazionale del Cinema in the Mole Antonelliana

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Castello del V Valentino is a Unesco World Heritage Site

P PARCO VALENTINO V VALEN TINO Walk off your lunch with a passeggiata (stroll) beside the River Po. Opened in 1856, this French-style park is home to Castello del Valentino, a mock château built in the 17th century, plus Borgo Medievale – a bonkers faux medieval village built for the Italian General Exhibition of 1884. Its centrepiece is the Rocca, a scaled-down castle (free; open 9am–8pm summer, 9am–7pm winter; Borgo Medievale,

Crimson velvet, glittering chandeliers and Baroque mirrors greet you at this grande dame of the Turin dining scene. It opened its doors in 1757 and classic Piedmontese dishes such as vitello tonnato still dominate the menu. You’ll need to book and might want to dress up (set menus from Dhs280; Mon–Sat; Piazza Carignano 2;


The ornate splendour of the historic Caffè San Carlo


An 18th-century façade is all that remains of the original theatre, which was destroyed by fire in 1936. The 1973 replacement features hanging glass icicles in the auditorium and ’60s-style curved boxes. Sold-out can sometimes be watched for free on live TV in the adjoining Teatro Piccolo Regio ( from Dhs145; Piazza Castello 215;

Perhaps the most gilded of the gilded, this glittery café opened its doors in 1842. The collection of rooms, decked out with statues, mirrors, paintings and marble, make this seem more like a royal palace than a café. You’ll get neckache admiring the weighty Murano glass chandelier, but this is a great place for a nightcap or a late ice cream (Piazza san Carlo 156; 8am–1am;


June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


MINI GUIDE Architecture in Turin T Shopping

Turin essentials

Twin hotels NH Lingotto &



Where to stay

SPORTING SPORT R ING GREATS GREAT A S Stadio Olimpico di Torino Built in 1933, this was the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics. There are daily tours and a sports museum on site (Dhs67 for museum and tour; 10am–6pm daily except match days).

Palaolimpico The NH Lingotto hotels feature superb views of the test track

NH Lingotto Tech are located in the former Fiat factory. Rooms have a loft-like feel with original floor-to-ceiling windows, along with cherry-wood panelling and designer furniture (from Dhs558; Via Nizza 262; Hotel Chelsea’s 15 rooms are not going to win any style prizes but this family-run hotel excels at making you feel at home with its top service. The romantic restaurant serves Pugliese cuisine (from Dhs782; Via XX Settembre 79e;

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Next door is this ultra-modern arena that hosted ice hockey during the Winter Olympics and is now an exhibition and live music venue (

Juventus Stadium Inaugurated in 2011, this state-of-the-art venue lies north of the city. The Juventus Museum allows you to see the club’s trophies and memorabilia (museum and tours Dhs84; closed Tue;

TOP TIP Discover the lesser-known sides of the city with a walking tour by Somewhere. Tours include Magic Turin and Underground Turin – a spooky three-hour walk through tunnels, sub-cellars and ancient catacombs (Dhs106;

FURTHER FURTH R ER READING Lonely Planet’s Italy (Dhs105) has a chapter on Turin, Piedmont & the T Riviera, which covers the city. The chapter is also available to download at (Dhs16). The Slow Food movement originated in Piedmont and Turin regularly hosts events T that celebrate and welcome traditional producers from around the world – visit and for details on upcoming dates.


WHERE TO T STAY STAY T The best new player in Turin is Hotel Residence Torino Centro – an upgraded convent behind Porta Susa train station. The huge rooms have mosaic floors and some have private terraces. A buffet breakfast is served in the swish coffee bar/shop downstairs (from Dhs502; Corso Inghilterra 33;

Sights & Activities

The know-how

TRANSPORT R Fly to Turin from Dubai with Air France (from Dhs2,905; airfrance. com), and from Abu Dhabi with AlItalia (from Dhs2,552; alitalia. com), and KLM (Dhs4,157; klm. com). Sadem runs regular buses into the city (Dhs34 single; If you enjoy sightseeing, you’ll save a bundle with a Torino + Piemonte card, which covers admission to most monuments and museums plus all public transport (two days Dhs23;


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A su ssurfer surfe urrfe fer a fer att Rhossili Rh hos ho o si os ssilli Bay Bay ay on o n the tth he Gower he Gowe ower ow we w er Peninsula Peni eni en ninsu nssu ns ulla a


ACTIVITIES IN WA WALES W LES Wales’s varied terrain lends itself to a whole host of activities, from the relaxing to the rather more vigorous. And whether you get on your bike, horse or surfboard you are guaranteed a beautiful backdrop.


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SURFING The Gower Peninsula, with its broad butterscotch beaches and pounding breakers, is home to the Welsh surfing industry. Hotspots include Caswell Bay, Mumbles, Langland Bay and Oxwich Bay but the most impressive beach, and most popular with surfers, is the three-mile sweep of Rhossili Bay. Access is via a path next to the Worm’s Head Hotel. Sam’s Surf Shack hires boards and wetsuits, and provides lessons (half-day board hire Dhs67;

MOUNTAIN T BIKING Wales has six purpose-built mountain-biking centres, among which Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park near Dolgellau is the premier. Covering 3,600 hectares, it’s laced with 70 miles of trails divided into seven graded routes, from the MinorTaur to the Beast of Brenin. Find your way with old-fashioned waterproof trail cards or downloadable geocaches and MP3 audio files ( uk). You can hire bikes from Dh140 (

Coed-y-Brenin’s bike trails include a dual slalom course

LONG-DISTANCE T CYCLING One of Wales’s most popular long-distance rides, the Celtic Trail is part of the National Cycle Network. A 220-mile route snaking from Fishguard along the Pembrokeshire Coast and ending at Chepstow Castle, it provides glorious views. You can tackle parts of the trail, but if you fancy attempting the whole thing, allow yourself four days. End points are linked by train (Celtic Trail; NCN route 4;

Other activities

Watersports Powerful tidal currents create huge waves between the Pembrokeshire Coast and off-shore islands, making this one of the UK’s finest sea-kayaking areas for seasoned enthusiasts. Freshwater Bay and Newgale beach are favourite locations, where you can also explore coves and sea caves in calm weather. TYF, in St Davids, offers various kayaking adventures (half-day Dhs324;

Abergavenny, which declares itself Wales’s capital of cycling, holds an annual festival to prove it (8–14 July 2013). This includes the Iron Mountain Sportif, with 20-, 50and 100-mile courses through the Brecon Beacons, as well as a leisure route for families. The Beacons also have regular cycling trails and 14 graded mountainbiking routes (abergavenny

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Freshwater Bay in Pembrokeshire is a top spot for sea kayaking

WINDSURFING AND SAILING Wales’s excellent National Watersports Centre, Plas Menai, is three miles outside Caernarfon and has year-round water-based courses for all interests and abilities. The sheltered waters of the Menai Straits are ideal for learning dinghy sailing and windsurfing (introductory courses from Dhs782; Once you’ve got the skills, head to Rhosneigr, on Anglesey, which is establishing itself as a centre for windsurfing.

On a summer day Tenby’s beaches are packed with holidaymakers, but during the night and at dawn it’s angler territory, with bass, mullet, flounder, mackerel and plaice on the menu. If you’re not up for working under the cloak of darkness, Tenby Fishing offers sea-angling trips to Caldey Island – ideal for beginners and families (Dhs67; tenbyfishing.;


Nant-y-Betws valley forms part of a route for Snowdon ramblers


At 1,085m, Snowdon is Wales’s highest peak. Six routes of varying length and difficulty criss-cross it – Watkin Path (eight miles; eight hours) is the most challenging, involving an ascent of more than 1,000m on its southerly approach from Nantgwynant. The Snowdon Sherpa bus service connects all paths at the base, allowing you to ascend via one and descend using another (visit,

Wales’s sandy beaches, rolling hills and dense forests are an attractive proposition for horse riders. The 28-sq-mile Gwydyr Forest, planted since the 1920s is home to Gwydir Stables, which arranges rides for all abilities. It has more than 30 horses, and everything from a half-hour ride (Dhs106) to the Pub Ride (Dhs280) – five hours with stops for a pint along the way (


June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East


MINI GUIDE Activities in Wales Sights & Activities

TRANSPORT R Fly to Cardiff, from Dubai, with Emirates (from Dhs5,615;, and from Abu Dhabi with KLM (Dhs3,255; klm. com). London trains also stop at Newport, Swansea, Bangor and Holyhead ( National Express runs services from most major UK cities. The Cambrian Mountains, Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia create a north-south divide – it’s quicker to duck in and out of England to get from the capital to the north.

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T Eco-conscious breakfasts and stacks of local information are served with a smile at Tides Reach Guest House, a smart Victorian waterfront B&B in Mumbles. Our favourite room is the suite-like attic (from Dhs390; 388 Mumbles Rd; Escape B&B, Llandudno’s first boutique B&B, has given its nine rooms a major makeover. Each is


The know-how GOING GREEN Alongside its three national parks, Wales offers explorers these five Areas of Outstanding Beauty:

Anglesey Coast Rocky coves, towering sea stacks and limestone crags for coastal walks.

Ll n Peninsula Ffynnon Town House – indulge yourself after all that activity

Rugged cliffs, tiny coves and deserted beaches offer an end-of-the-Earth escape.

Clwydian Range individually themed – Retro Green, for example, has sumptuous oak flooring, a Conran sofa and a smart G-Plan desk (from Dhs497; 48 Church Walks; escapebandb. At Ffynnon guesthouse in Snowdonia National Park, French antiques and ornate fireplaces are mixed with chandeliers and claw-foot tubs. The lounge comes with books, an honesty bar and a piano (from Dhs809; Love Lane, Dolgellau;

Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East June/July 2013

Rolling green hills and upland moors – a breeding ground for the rare black grouse – are ideal for gentle hill walking.

Gower Peninsula Family-friendly sands contrast with weathered coastal paths for serious hikers.

Wye Valley V A majestic riverside glen, whe where ere walkers and and canoeistss can really y explore.

TOP TIP If you fancy tackling a long-distance cycling or walking route anywhere in Wales, but don’t want to carry your luggage, Drover Holidays can move it for you, provide maps and organise accommodation. It also runs tours (

FURTHER FURTH R ER READING Lonely Planet’s Wales (Dhs78) is a comprehensive guide, and several of its chapters are available to download at lonelyplanet. com (Dhs16.70). If you’re planning an active break, check out adventureswales. or active. Wales has a rich literary history and the bad-boy genius of Welsh literature, Dylan Thomas, was its most notable export – he is best known for his comic play Under Milk Wood.


Wales essentials

Where to stay


Win a two night stay in the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa!

Get out of the city and let us send you on a much needed mini break to Ras Al Khaimah this summer! If you were inspired by last month’s Ras Al Khaimah Rocks feature about all the cool activities you can do in the northern emirate, then we can go one better and send you there! Hilton Ras Al Khaimah sits on the coast in Ras Al Khaimah city, backed by the dramatic Hajar mountains, it’s in a league all of its own. The hotel offers everything from jet-skiing to microlighting or has plenty of pools and beach space for just chilling out and cooling off from the heat. We have a two night stay for two people in a Deluxe room up for grabs. In addition breakfast is included as well as one dinner at Passage to Asia restaurant. For more information on the hotel go to hotels/uae/hilton-ras-al-khaimah-resort-and-spa-RKTRSHI/index.html. To win this cool prize, just go to our website, lonelyplanettraveller. me, give us your contact details and pick the right answer! Or you can scan the QR code below: Which is an activity you can do at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah? a) b) c)

Paragliding Microlighting Skydiving CONDITIONS OF ENTRY ™KVa^Yjci^a&9ZXZbWZg!'%&(# ™I]Zeg^oZ^hcdc"igVch[ZgVWaZVcY ™I]Zeg^oZ^hcdc"igVch[ZgVWaZVcY non-extendable. ™I]Zeg^oZ^hcdikVa^YYjg^c\]da^YVnh ™I]Zeg^oZ^hcdikVa^YYjg^c\]da^YVnh such as Eid and festive season. ™Eg^dggZhZgkVi^dchgZfj^gZY#

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June/July 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East



Win a three night stay in the Maldives!*

One lucky couple will get to wake up to snorkeling and sunbathing in luxury at Beach House Iruveli One lucky couple will get to wake up to snorkeling and sunbathing in luxury at Beach House Iruveli Beach House Iruveli can be found at the top of the Maldives in the Haa Alif atoll, and it’s a true sanctuary, inspired by the local culture and cuisine. Guests are made to feel right at home with culinary lessons and stories from Maldivian elders or you can explore your own private island and get away from it all completely! The Maldives is one of the most romantic places on earth, and you can experience it for yourself for three nights (with breakfast included) in either a Beach Villa or Water Villa. The Water Villas has it’s own private deck and infinity pool, there’s even glass panels in the floor so you can see the marine life from up above. Beach Villas are hidden away on the island with open air bathrooms, plunge pools and sun decks, with private cabanas on your own stretch of beach. For more information on this luxury resort go to beachhousecollection. com. To win this amazing prize, go to or scan the QR code on this page and answer this question: Which atoll is Beach House Iruveli in? a) Haa Alif b) Rashdu c) Jebel Haleef *The prize does not include flights. 88

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CONDITIONS OF ENTRY ™:cigVcihbjhiWZdkZg'&nZVghdaYVcY ™:cigVcihbjhiWZdkZg'&nZVghdaYVcY have a valid passport ™CdiVeea^XVWaZid8E>dg7ZVX]=djhZ ™CdiVeea^XVWaZid8E>dg7ZVX]=djhZ employees ™HiVnkVa^Y[dgi]gZZc^\]ihWZilZZc& ™HiVnkVa^Y[dgi]gZZc^\]ihWZilZZc& August and 15 December 2013

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Lonely Planet Traveller ME - Issue 6, 2013 Jun-Jul  

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

Lonely Planet Traveller ME - Issue 6, 2013 Jun-Jul  

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