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ON THE COVER La Coupée isthmus connects Big Sark to Little Sark

SALALAH

FOLLOW THE TRAIL OF FRANKINCENSE

BRITISH MINI GUIDES 4Suffolk 4Bath 4Lake District 4Norfolk 4Edinburgh 4Brighton

UK SPECIAL! 4London 4Channel Islands 4Wales

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EDITORIAL

EDITOR Georgina Wilson-Powell georgina.powell@cpimediagroup.com/ +97150 574 2884 CONTRIBUTORS Helen Cathcart, Horatio Clare, Michael Heffernan, Nicola Monteath, Pete Seaward, Orla Thomas, Alex von Tunzelmann, ART DIRECTOR Sérge Bones

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The UK issue There’s so much to the UK that we didn’t know where to start this month. We settled for 20 rather cool experiences you can find in London, that you’d be hard pushed to discover anywhere else (page 30). Even as a previous Londoner, I was impressed by the off the wall fun that can be found if you know where to look (and you do now). But the UK is much more than London. Hire a car and start exploring. The wild Welsh coast attracts artists, authors and travellers with its big sky views and raw landscapes. You’ll be enthralled by its untamed beauty (page 40) or for seaside charm mixed with plenty of myths and legends the Channel Islands (page 48) make for a really different beach holiday. Check out our Mini Guides section (page 73) for inspiration on another six UK destinations, from country walks to hedonist nights out. If you can go only get away for Eid Al Fitr, and are sick of the same old hotel offers, fear not, we’ve got some great last minute, long weekend options that you won’t find anywhere else (page 64). And if you really want to get away from it all, follow our adventures on the trail of frankincense in Salalah, Oman (page 56). Now that’s a real escape. Ramadan Kareem everyone!

FROM TOP Glide over the Thames (page 34); tuck into spider crabs in the Channel Islands (page 48); uncover ancient frankincense trails in Salalah (page 58); get blown away on the Welsh coast (page 40)

MANAGEMENT

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

Editor Peter Grunert Art director Hayley Ward Publishing director Alfie Lewis Publisher Simon Carrington Lonely Planet Traveller 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.

Georgina Wilson-Powell, Editor

Were you at our Taste of Travel launch at Eastern Mangroves Resort & Spa by Anantara? Everyone took away a goodie bag and plenty of travel ideas, you can see more pics on our Facebook page!

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Our promise to you

The Lonely Planet story

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

In 1972, two years after meeting on a bench in London’s Regent’s Park, newlyweds Tony and Maureen Wheeler went on an unforgettable honeymoon. With only a shabby car and a few dollars to their name, they travelled overland across Europe and Asia to Australia. At the end, broke but inspired, they sat at their kitchen table to write their first travel guide, Across Asia on the Cheap. Within a week of its publication in 1973 they’d sold 1,500 copies, and Lonely Planet was born. The Wheelers began publishing books on Southeast Asia, India and beyond. Over the years, coverage extended to most countries, and on lonelyplanet.com. BBC Worldwide became the sole shareholder in 2011, and Lonely Planet now makes books, ebooks, apps, TV shows and, of course, this magazine. Turn to page 18 for Tony Wheeler’s column, The Road Less Travelled.

all prices correct at time of going to press. prices for hotel rooms are for double, en suite rooms with breakfast in low season, unless otherwise stated. Flight prices are for the cheapest return fares, including one piece of hold baggage, unless otherwise stated. is owned by bbc worldwide and produced on its behalf by immediate media company london limited, vineyard house, 44 brook green, hammersmith, london w6 7bt. issn 2050-635X. printed by polestar group. bbc worldwide’s profits are returned to the bbc for the benefit of the licence-fee payer. immediate media company is working to ensure that all of its paper is sourced from well-managed forests. this magazine can be recycled for use in newspapers and packaging. please remove any gifts, samples or wrapping and dispose of the magazine at your local collection point.

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books out this month

June sees the release of updated guides and titles Africa Phrasebook (Dhs36), Bolivia (Dhs114), Borneo (Dhs102), Botswana & Namibia (Dhs102), Central Australia – Adelaide to Darwin (Dhs96), Discover Peru (Dhs96), Discover Turkey (Dhs96), Ethiopia, Djibouti & Somaliland (Dhs102), Montenegro (Dhs90), Pocket Bangkok (Dhs48) and Zambia, Mozambique & Malawi (Dhs108).

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Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East July /august 2013

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Contents July/August 2013

POSTCARDS

Your travel photos and the stories behind them 8

From Ethiopian plains to Omani beaches

OUR PLANET

This month’s travel news, views and events 15 Climb inside a volcano and reasons why Afghanistan shouldn’t be crossed off the list

8 EASY TRIPS

Short breaks to book now 24 GSTAAD, SWITZERLAND Summer means a whole range of sports on offer on the slopes 24 CALVIA, MAJORCA New hiking trails make it easy to explore this Spanish isle 25 GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN Gorge on the city’s best cinnamon buns in a ‘fika’ 26 MONTE CARLO, MONACO Check out big concerts from Elton John, Elvis Costello and more 27 KHAO LAK, THAILAND Realise childhood dreams and ‘own’ an elephant for a day 28 SARAJEVO, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA Movie madness as the 19th annual film festival rolls into town 29 CAPPADOCIA, TURKEY Discover underground churches and ‘fairy chimneys’ at this ancient site 29 TRAVEMUNDE, GERMANY Set sail on a week long yoga cruise on a clipper ship

ON THE COVER

Delve into London with creative days and nights out p30

FEATURES

In depth experiences to add to your wish list 30 ON THE COVER LONDON 20 cool ways to discover the UK’s capital, from cinema installations to secret walks 40 WALES Discover the land of Dylan Thomas with three amazing coastal walks round the Welsh coastline 48 CHANNEL ISLANDS Boats and magic, beaches and pixies, a visit to the Channel Islands is like stepping back in time 56 SALALAH Southern Oman used to be the ancient world’s go to place for frankincense. We find out why. 64 EID BREAKS 10 unique ways to spend the festive break abroad from diving in Malta to the Hogwarts Express 6

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The Channel Islands make for a wonderfully unusual beach holiday p48 Trek Nepal this Eid p64

ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER Books, apps and websites that will feed your passion for travel 71 Play restaurant roulette with a new app or book a self-guided cycling holiday

MINI GUIDES

Themed guides to pull out and take with you

Frankincense is Salalah’s famous export. Uncover its history p56

75 SUFFOLK One of the most rural counties in the UK is home to amazing food and drink 77 BATH The Georgian town has been used as backdrop for many films 79 BRIGHTON The UK’s most alternative city offers a exciting nights out 81 NORFOLK Big beaches and beautiful broads and plenty of seafood, Norfolk has it all 83 LAKE DISTRICT Get active in one of the most picturesque areas of the UK 85 EDINBURGH Auld Reekie, as its known, has plenty of places to stop for a wee dram STAYCATIO SPECIAL! N

COMPETITIONS

87 WIN A MINI-BREAK AT Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Ananatara 88 WIN A STAY AT the Fujairah Rotana!

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Postcards

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

DUBAI, UAE

Ships of the desert I had just arrived in Dubai and was just getting used to the warmth and scents of the Middle East. I’m working at a beautiful desert resort, it’s my first job after graduating. On our orientation week, we had a camel ride to a gorgeous desert spot to watch the Arabian sun set. It was my dream welcome and as I shot the camel I’d been riding on, I couldn’t help but smile. Lara Keijzer works for Al Maha resort in Dubai and is a new resident after emigrating from Holland.

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RIFT VALLEY, ETHIOPIA

Lone ranger I was journeying down the Rift Valley into southern Ethiopia when I saw this guy come over the hill, like an Ethiopian Marlboro man. This country is so different from expectations, diverse and beautiful. I loved the light and the complex landscapes of the area so much I’ve started a tour company here! Alistair Crighton lives between Addis Ababa and Dubai but loves Georgia, for the landscapes.

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

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

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EAST COAST, OMAN

Home sweet home I love going to the beach in Oman and collecting sea shells and often take my camera equipment. I found this mollusc washed up above the waterline, it’s very rare to ďŹ nd live ones on the beach. I waited really patiently, kneeling in the sand in my trousers for him to pop out. I just thought it has incredible eyes and it looked a little like ET! Emily Ray is a French teacher who lives in Fujariah and loves visiting the Omani coast.

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Our Planet

This month’s travel news, views and discoveries

INTERVIEW: OLIVER SMITH. PHOTOGRAPH: TOM ROBINSON

A L OCAL’S VIEW

Anthony Coulls, Senior Curator, National Railway Museum, York This July, we’re marking the 75th anniversary of becoming the fastest steam engine in the world. In 1938, set a record running at 126.4mph. That’s never been beaten; nothing’s even come close to taking her crown. To celebrate, all six surviving engines in Mallard’s class are coming to York – something I never thought I’d see. But it’s not just about speed. It’s about the look of it – is unlike any locomotive before or since. It’s said the designer took inspiration from Bugatti – they were streamlining cars at the time, so why not railway engines? Everyone who comes to York, whether they’re hardcore railway nutters or grandmas, they all want to touch it. It’s not just a lump of iron and steel. It’s more like a holy stone. OSee nrm.org.uk for more on

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OUR PLANET AUTHORITIES IN PARIS are piloting a scheme to use sheep as lawnmowers in public parks. Four black sheep are currently grazing in a small green space in a city suburb. If all goes to plan, they’ll move to major Parisian parks soon.

ANYTHING TO DECLARE?

William Dalrymple WILLIAM DALRYMPLE is a travel writer and historian. His new book, The Return of a King, (Dhs150; Bloomsbury) recounts the first British invasion of Afghanistan in 1839

Why I enjoy travel in Afghanistan I’d never actually crossed into Afghanistan until I started researching my new book, The Return of a King. When I was at college, I got very excited reading about ‘The Great Game’ [the struggle for control of Central Asia between Britain and Russia in the 19th century]. It seemed like an extraordinarily romantic and exciting time. I began to realise, as the latest Western adventure in Afghanistan turned sour, we were repeating the story of Britain’s first war in Afghanistan in 1839: an easy conquest followed by increasing resistance – and finally pulling out with everything unsolved. I was aware that the First Afghan War was a story that was becoming increasingly topical. I set off on a series of journeys to Afghanistan to gather these materials for research, and found far more than I thought I would. One of the greatest pleasures of writing this book was making these journeys and, while they were quite edgy, they were magnificent. There was a short window in 2005, 2006 and 2007 when it was quite easy to travel there. I realised it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Anyone who’s ever seen pictures of Afghanistan will know how amazing it is – mountains, high-altitude deserts and turquoise

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lakes; remains everywhere from its Buddhist and Timurid past. Travel in Afghanistan is unpredictable and, if you’re an amateur and a newcomer like me, it’s very odd. Some of it is safe and easy, and lovely, while some of it is very dangerous and difficult. You have to take advice. I think it’s still possible to visit Mazar, Herat and Kabul in a fair degree of safety – but two miles out of Kabul, you get out of your car and you’ll be shot at. You only have to go one hop away on the plane and you’re in Kandahar, where my car got hit by a sniper bullet in the back window as I was leaving the airport. One of the high points of the whole project was spending four or five days in the town of Herat. It’s a fabulous, gorgeous place. If there are any adventurous travellers reading this: it’s like the Taj Mahal at Agra or Angkor Wat [in Cambodia], but in Afghanistan and with no-one else visiting it. There are mausoleums, mosques, libraries, madrasas and towers. There’s one quite decent hotel, too. There’s also a gorgeous shrine in Herat called the Gazar Gah, and in the evening all the young people go and have picnics nearby. They

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OUR PLANET THE WORLD’S LARGEST Catsup Bottle Festival will take place this month in Collinsville, Illinois and includes a hot-dog-eating contest. It’s held in the shadow of the world’s biggest bottle of catsup (or ketchup), which stands 52 metres high.

CROATIA IS SET to join the EU this July, making it the 28th member state. The country is home to what’s officially the smallest town in the world, Hum, which has a population of around 20 people.

IN MY CASE

The origins of the Friday Mosque in Herat stretch back more than 800 years and its intricate tiled designs were introduced by the Timurids in the 15th century

Half my life I’ve felt I’ve been too late – I got to southern Turkey after it had been wrecked with holiday villas. Generations before mine were coming back from there describing how they’d camped among Greek ruins and been the only ones there. I missed that – but in Herat I felt this is that same moment when there’s no-one else there. It was magnificent. The thing our generation of travel writers wrestled with is that there was no more of the world to discover. There are odd pockets of jungle in the Amazon, but basically the world’s already been mapped. So travel writing from about the ’70s onwards has had a different function. You don’t go to a travel writer for empirical information about a place. You go to them to coax an insight into a nation or into people’s souls in the same way you would with a novelist. Like the novel, there are so many different forms of travel writing that it can be hard to generalise. The great thing with travel writing is that it may go in and out of fashion, but it’s such a diverse form it never quite dies.

MICHAELA STRACHAN is a TV presenter and author.

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

brew up pots of tea on samovars, they play music out of their cars – it feels like being anywhere else in the world.

Michaela Strachan

I’ve always enjoyed buying things when abroad, to remind me of that trip, and particularly filming trips. One souvenir from Ranthambore National Park in India is especially memorable for me. We were doing a tiger special for The Really Wild Show and went there to see what they were doing in terms of tiger conservation. It was absolutely beautiful – there were lots of old ruins, water holes and lakes, and we saw tigers in the wild. We also filmed an amazing charity that didn’t just look after the tigers, but also the community around them – from setting up eye clinics for removing cataracts, to showing people how to use cow dung for fuel. One project was getting people with a talent for art to create tiger paintings or sculptures, which they would sell in Delhi, giving the artists half the money and putting the other half back into tiger conservation. I bought one of the paintings: it shows the

face of a tiger on a very dark background, and it’s absolutely stunning. I liked how you could really see the tiger’s eyes – they were so striking. It hangs in a beautiful frame in my lounge and has come from Bristol to Cape Town, where I live now. I’ve bought a lot of pictures that may not be technically the best in the world, but they’ll always represent a memory. This painting will always remind me of that amazing time in Ranthanbore.

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R E Y K JAV I K , I C E L A N D

EXPLORE A DORMANT VOLCANO T H E R O A D L E S S T R AV E L L E D , WITH TONY WHEELER

ZIMBABWE

Re-enact the Journey to the Centre of the Earth by getting the chance to climb inside an empty volcano crater. Thihnukagigur is an extinct volcano in Iceland and the country opens it for a few months every summer. While it’s not suitable for children, there’s no need for climbing experience. It’s a 50 minute moderate hike to the crater rim, then descend 120m into the belly of the beast in an open lift – the crater is big enough to comfortably fit the Stature of Liberty inside it. Daily until 10 September (from Dhs1,109;insidethevolcano.com).

WHY NOW? Robert Mugabe may still be there, but the country is on the rebound as visitor numbers creep up. Go now and you won’t be crowding the wildlife as in game reserves in much of Africa.

WHAT CAN I SEE? Wildlife and Victoria Falls are the big attractions, but so too are the impressive archaeological sites. Head to Great Zimbabwe, a ruined 11th-century city (above).

HOW SAFE IS IT? Zimbabwe is a surprisingly safe country. Just don’t get caught up in any political disturbances.

WHERE’S TRULY OFF THE BEATEN TRACK? Head to Bulawayo, where trainspotters will love the quirky railway museum. Visit nearby Matobo National Park, too, for the grave of the famous entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes, commanding fantastic views over rolling hills.

WHAT SHOULD I EAT? Mealie meal (similar to cornmeal) is a familiar staple, and the British colonial influence persists – you’ll probably encounter porridge at breakfast and afternoon tea.

WHAT SHOULD I BRING HOME? There’s a surprising variety of arts and crafts – and keep your eyes peeled for an old 100-trillion dollar banknote.

ANY RECOMMENDED READING AND VIEWING? Read The Last Resort, Douglas Rogers’ alternately horrific and hilarious account of his parents’ efforts to run a backpacker lodge as Zimbabwe falls apart and guests disappear. TONY WHEELER, Lonely Planet’s co-founder, never stops exploring unusual places.

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OUR PLANET FREE WORLD

TOKYO Lonely Planet’s Rebecca Milner shares her pick of free things to do in the Japanese capital this month... TANABATA FESTIVAL In July Japan celebrates Tanabata – the day the stars Vega and Altair meet across the Milky Way (symbolising two star-crossed lovers, a princess and a cowherd, from an old folk tale). Colourful streamers are strung along Tokyo’s streets – including Harajuku’s Takeshita-dori and Shibuya’s Senta-gai – while young couples can be seen walking around clad in yukata (summer kimono) in honour of the lovers’ meeting.

UENO PARK At the centre of Tokyo’s oldest park is a pond named Shinobazu-ike – come summer its waters are all but hidden by a thick, glorious spread of lotuses. Amble along the park’s causeway to Benten-do – a modern reconstruction of a 17th-century temple dedicated to the goddess Benzaiten for a better view of the giant leaves, blossoms and the birds who make their home amongst them.

Colourful Tanabata festivals are held across Japan in early July

MORNING GLORY FESTIVAL A long-standing Tokyo tradition is Iriya Asagao Matsuri – the morning glory festival. Since the days of the shoguns, these flowers have been a symbol of summer’s arrival and in July, the historic neighbourhood of Iriya hosts a morning glory market. More than 100 flower vendors line the entrance to the Iriya Kishimojin temple – naturally, the best time to witness the spectacle is first thing in the morning,

WALKING THE MEGURO RIVER The shady, tree-lined Meguro River (actually a canal) runs through the fashionable neighbourhood of Naka-Meguro – a peaceful place that feels miles away from the skyscrapers and oppressive crowds of central Tokyo. Start a summertime stroll along the canal at Naka-Meguro railway station – passing galleries, alfresco cafés and boutiques – and ending just over a mile away at Ikejiri-Ohashi railway station.

SUMIDA RIVER FIREWORKS On the last Saturday evening of July, 20,000 fireworks erupt over the Sumida River. It’s a tradition that dates back hundreds of years and sees thousands of Tokyoites converging on riverbanks, bridges and rooftops. Asakusa is one of the best places to watch it, but you’ll have to arrive early to get a good spot (sumidagawa-hanabi.com). REBECCA MILNER is the co-author of Lonely Planet’s Japan guide. She has lived in Tokyo for over a decade.

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From here to there... Go crazy! From air guitar playing in Finland to walking New York’s Brooklyn Bridge and surfing Jamaica

AND ELSEWHERE IN THE WORLD...

FLORIDA, USA

TOTAL WRECK

Normal art galleries are so last year. The USS Mohawk is the latest art space, playing host to photographer Andreas Franke’s Sinking World. The only difference is the USS Mohawk is a sunken World War II cutter, sent to Davy Jones’ locker last year to help create a new reef. It sits off Sanibel Island in the Gulf of Mexico and divers can see Franke’s images of models inspired by the sailors of the period, superimposed onto pictures of the cutter, held onto the wreck via magnets (from Dhs540; deansdivecenter.com; ussmohawkreef.com).

Divers hang the underwater art using magnets

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Take to the Ta water. wat Sweden’s larges largest canoe event happens on 10 August, the Dalsland Canoe Marathon. 55km will take you through sparkling lakes surrounded by forests and it’s followed by a crayfish party! explorewestsweden. com. Street spirit. For the first three Saturdays in New York, from Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park and Park Avenue, the streets will all be pedestrianised. Expect all forms of movement from dancing to biking as locals take back the green spaces in this iconic city. Activities include a zip wire, local market and plenty of music. nyc. gov. Hang ten in Jamaica. Makka’s Pro Surf Championship will see international and domestic surfers compete in the Caribbean’s largest surf event from 18-20 July. jamsurfas.webs.com. Made in Miami. Every Friday between July and September, Downtown Miami will bring together arts organisations and local galleries for art walks, exclusive openings and fairs. downtownMiami.com. Headbanger’s ball. Head to Oulo, Finland for the 18th Air Guitar World Championships. Yup, two days of metal and rock fans pretending to play the guitar. Spectator sports don’t get much better than this! airguitarworldchampionships.com. Washington DC as a VIP. Get up to 25% discount on museums including the International Spy Museum and Segway tours and restaurants like The Grill from Ipanema and Phillips Flagship Seafood Restaurant. Print out the voucher or download it to your phone. washington.org/dcvip. Track black rhinos. These rare creatures still make an appearance at Liwonde National Park in Malawi, and Mvuu Camp, the only accommodation in the park offers you time to track and study these majestic creatures in a car and on foot. wilderness.mw. Flamenco fiesta. If you fell in love with the idea of flamenco in last month’s issue, head to one of the biggest events in Murcia, Spain. 1-10 August sees Cante de Las Minas which brings together world-famous singers, dancers and musicians. fundacioncantedelasminas.org.

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EASY TRIPS

Take to the skies over Turkey, hit the trails in Majorca or tuck into the best sticky buns in Sweden this month

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8 EASY TRIPS

Calvia, Majorca Walk the line

Lamas make good guides in Gstaad

Gstaad, Switzerland Be a sport

WHY GO NOW? The Spanish island of Majorca is known for many things, partying in Magaluf amongst them. But the south west coast, known as Calvia, offers plenty of summer activities for the more health conscious. A new hiking scheme has been unveiled, with a variety of routes for different abilities, that takes you through small towns, forests, a magnificient estate called Galatxo, hidden bays, pretty

coasts and farmland where you can stumble upon bronze age archaeological sites and 14th century pirate history. Take in olive and almond trees, wild goats and eagles and enjoy the great outdoors on this unique and diverse island.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 Buy the hiking guide at any tourist office (Dhs10; visitcalvia.com). 4 Fly to Palma in Majorca on

Lufthansa (from Dhs3,741; lufthansa.com). 4 Stay in Portal Nous if you want to avoid the teenage hedonism of Magaluf. Hotel Benindat is a cute four star property on the coast with cottages in the garden (from Dhs1,259; Wi-fi Dhs30 per day; hotels.com). 4 For home cooked island cuisine and a beautiful terrace to spend the evening on, try Restaurante Port ‘Alt (restauranteportalt.com). Stretch your legs on one of the island’s hiking trails

WHY GO N OW? Mountains, trees, lush green fields and a touch of international glamour, Gstaad gets sporty over the high summer months. This cool mountain village is the perfect antidote to the dusty, humid Middle Eastern sun. It plays host to a Glacier Run of the Alps on the 10 August which spans 26 kilometres through testing but beautiful Alpine scenery. Polo lovers ought not to miss the Hublot Polo Gold Cup (15-18 August), and before all of that the ‘Wimbledon of the Alps’, the ATP World Tour Credit Agricole Tennis Open, rolls into town on 22 July. If you’d rather participate than spectate, the summer here allows for plenty of options. How about summer tobogganing, swimming in a pristine lakes or hit over 150km of biking trails? Or trekking with a lama or good ol’ fashioned horse?

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WORDS - NICOLA MONTEAH

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 Gstadd is in south west Switzerland, on the French border. It is two hours from Geneva and just over two hours from Zurich. 4Fly to Zurich direct on Swiss from Dubai (from Dhs3,225; swiss.com). 4For more information on all the activities mentioned, go to the comprehensive tourism website (gstaad.ch). 4The award-winning Alpina Gstaad is the coolest place to stay in town, it’s a five star bolthole, crafted by local artisans (from Dhs4,492; free Wi-fi; thealpinagstaad.ch).

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Gothenburg, Sweden Sweet treats WHY GO NOW? As much as Sweden’s summer scenery is a real delight, tastier treats lie in Gothenburg (Göteborg), famous for its popular ‘fika’ ritual – pastries, coffee and a good gossip. Organic cafes in the city are blooming and serve a variety of traditional cakes and biscuits, like the delicious smelling cinnamon buns. Da Matteo has three branches across the city and specialises in roasting its own coffee while Café Husaren serves

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the biggest afore mentioned buns (so is the automatic winner in our book!). But it’s not just the city that is fuelled by ‘fika’. Gunnebo House and Gardens, just outside the city has a charming outdoor café and Sundsby Säteri in Hjälteby is housed in a cute red cottage and serves amazing home-baked goodies.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 Fly to Gothenburg on KLM (from Dhs3,115; klm.com).

4 10% of the city is green space, so you’ve no excuse not to walk off all the ‘fika’. The city is easily explored on foot. 4 IQ Suites are centrally located hotel apartments designed round ergonomics, environment, economy, esthetics and electronics. In practice, this means high tech, low environmental-impact and low cost accommodation with futuristic en-suite Jacuzzi spas. Tres chic! (fromDhs1,110; free Wi-fi; iqsuites.com).

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Monte Carlo is one of the most densely populated cities on Earth

Monte Carlo, Monaco Summer stars WHY GO NOW? Monaco might be the second smallest country in the world but it sure knows how to pack a punch in the musical arena with its two month long, annual summer concert series, the Monte Carlo Sporting Summer Festival. There are some seriously cool cats headlining including Rihanna, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Bryan Ferry, Elvis Costello – we could go on. Eager to

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keep up the city’s glam stakes, the concerts require ‘proper dress’ so think cocktail dresses and sharp suits rather than trainers and baggy jeans. Monaco has long been the summer destination of the rich and famous and who knows who you could be rubbing shoulders as you gallivant round the glitzy Monte Carlo quartier? Before the gigs, take in the pretty views and expensive yachts, well you can dream!

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 For dates and ticket details on the concerts head to the official website (montecarlosbm.com/ news/monte-carlo-sportingsummer-festival-2013/). 4 Book a Monte Carlo experience for three nights which includes a daily breakfast and credit back to spend in the resort during your

stay (Dhs1,995 for three nights; montecarlosbm.com/luxuryhotel-reservations/monte-carloexperience-3-nights-3-2/). 4 Fly to Monaco via Nice (from Dhs2,578; klm.com). Nice is only 14 kilometres away from Monaco. 4 Get an eco-taxi from the airport to Monaco (Dhs350 each way; aeroport-nice-navette.com).

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Khao Lak, Thailand Elephants on parade WHY GO NOW? Elephants are one of those animals that everyone wants to get close to. Now you can, in a day-long ‘elephant owner for a day’ package from boutique five star resort The Sarojin, which perches on the edge of the lush jungle of Khao Sak National Park. Guests learn how to clean, feed and look after Thailand’s favourite lumberers and work with the permanent staff to learn how to do this is in a responsible way. Local majouts

(rangers) from the Sairung elephant camp will teach you how to interact with a free-roaming elephant, how to speak to them with Thai greetings, basic riding skills and how to identify a healthy and happy pachyderm. Want to get even closer? Go swimming with them and help scrub them clean – elephants just love a bath.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 The stunning The Sarojin sits on an 11km stretch of beach, backs

onto lush jungle and offers a pool with shaded pavilions. It also has an award-winning spa for total, post-elephant relaxation (from Dhs 748 per night; free Wi-fi; thesarojin.com). 4 The elephant package is a unique way to get to grips with ancient Thai culture (from Dhs660 per person). 4 The hotel is one hour north of Phuket. Fly to Phuket direct from Dubai on Emirates (from Dhs3,535; emirates.com).

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina Lights, camera, action WHY GO NOW? The Sarajevo Film Festival has carved out a niche for itself over the last 19 years, founded after the four-year siege, to help recreate a platform for culture in the war-torn city. Each year the festival sees over 100,000 visitors, as young filmmakers and directors from all the world descend on its medieval streets. Over the last few years, the festival has also attracted Hollywood A list stars such as Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie. The entire week is filled with films by day and parties by night; over 200 films from 57 countries screened last year. Highlights this year include a screening and Q&A of Promised Land by Gus Van Sant and a tribute programme to Romanian director Cristi Puiu.

Elephants just love a bath. You can cool off to in your own pool

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 The film festival takes place from 16-24 August. 4 Screening tickets go on sale on 1 July (from Dhs12 for one screening; Dhs789 for a Golden Card which gets you into all screenings, events and exclusive access; sff.ba). 4 Turkish Airlines fly from Dubai via Istanbul (from Dhs2,461; turkishairlines.com). 4 Hotel Central Sarajevo is next to the city centre cathedral, home to a three storey fitness centre and 25 metre pool and has top notch service (from Dhs610 inc breakfast; free Wi-fi; hotelcentral.ba).

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Cappadocia, Turkey Up, up and away WHY GO NOW? Cappadocia could be somewhere a sci-fi programme’s crew teleports to, the rock formations look like nothing on earth. It’s not just above ground it’s unique, there are over 3,000 underground churches carved out of rock and thousands of cave dwellings here, some of which are still inhabited. Cappadocia was on the Silk Road and evidence of different civilisations dating back to the 4th century can be seen carved into the rocks in the Ihlara Valley.

Originally part of the Persian Empire, it has since been Roman, Armenian and Ottoman amongst other things and to avoid confrontation many inhabitants lived underground. But it’s the ‘fairy chimney’ rock structures that will stand out as you take to the skies in a hot air balloon – the only way to take in the weird majesty and bizarre shapes of this fascinating area.

MAKE IT HAPPEN 4 Turkey Hot Air Balloons flies

daily and offers one hour flights for small groups (Dhs750; turkeyhotairballoons.com). 4 Fly to Istanbul on Etihad from Abu Dhabi (from Dhs2,775; etihad.ae) and take a domestic flight to Kayseri (from Dhs338; bulucak.com). 4 Book into your own underground cave at Hezen Cave Hotel which feels like a modern hobbit home with 14 sumptuous suites with round door holes! (from Dhs603; free Wi-fi; hezenhotel.com). Float over the ‘fairy chimney’s in Cappadocia and explore ancient underground churches

Get shipshape with a yoga cruise

Travemunde, Germany Hands on deck WHY GO NOW? What could be more calming than a week of yoga? How about yoga on a tall ship cruise? The Star Clipper ship, Star Flyer, will host yoga expert Christel Vollmer on a few different routes in July and August. Every day you can practice your downward dog, under elegant billowing sails in the fresh sea breeze, whilst sailing round the Danish coastline. As well as twice daily yoga sessions, Vollmer will give lectures on how yoga can help slimming, back care and other topics. Rather than an enormous floating city, this tall ship cruise is all teak decks and first class service. It sleeps 170 passengers and its small size means it can visit off the beaten track ports on its journey round the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas. With a relaxed atmosphere and interesting clientele you can take part in as many classes as you like and there’s plenty of scope to get off and explore as it slowly makes it way round the coasts.

HOW DO I MAKE IT HAPPEN? 4 The German coast cruise sails on 18 August for six nights, calling into ports in Denmark and Sweden (from Dhs7,680; starclippers.com). 4Fly to Hamburg on Turkish Airlines via Istanbul (from Dhs2,543; turkishairlines.com). 4The ship has two bars and a restaurant on board, all based on an informal elegance.

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20 things to do in London 1

fun

‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,’ said the great English writer Samuel Johnson in 1777 – and the city still has the power to inspire and excite. We explore the unique experiences on offer in our capital WORDS ORLA THOMAS O PHOTOGRAPHS HELEN CATHCART

FOLLOW A TRAIL OF TEXT MESSAGES TO EXPLORE LONDON AT TWILIGHT

The sun is beginning to sink in the sky, bathing the South Bank in a golden glow. People strolling, cycling or skating along the riverbank cast long shadows across the paving stones outside the Hayward Gallery’s Concrete bar. This Brutalist architectural space is the starting point for the Bright Lights Evening Trail – a walking tour that unfolds via a series of clues sent by text message. Part urban ramble, part bar crawl, the route takes in South Bank views and a hidden basement drinking den, and is designed to showcase the beauty of the city as it fades to night. Its final stop is at a cosy central boozer, which you’ll be reluctant to leave before last orders. O Dhs96 per team; inthehiddencity.com

The Royal Festival Hall and the London Eye are just two architectural highlights along the South Bank

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GET UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH A GIRAFFE AT LONDON ZOO

Ellish and her longnecked friends give lunchtime visitors an enthusiastic welcome

Fourteen-foot tall Ellish strides across her paddock as elegantly as a model on a catwalk. Pausing briefly to bat thick eyelashes worthy of a Disney heroine, she sticks out her extraordinarily long tongue to retrieve the carrot from my outstretched hand. ‘Giraffes use their tongue like an extra limb,’ explains keeper Gerald Asher, who is hosting today’s Meet the Giraffes encounter at London Zoo. ‘For example, to reach a tall branch and strip it of leaves.’ The tongue’s black colour evolved to prevent sunburn in the giraffe’s natural habitats in Africa. Here, Ellish and her two companions, Molly and Margaret, are fed mostly a mix of clover hay, pellet food and linseed-oil cake, but can usually be lured to the elevated viewing platform with a treat. ‘Like a lot of animals, giraffes are quite food-orientated,’ says Gerald, ‘but they’re sociable creatures, too.’ OTickets from Dhs150; daily; book in advance;

zsl.org

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ENTER A CINEMATIC FANTASY WORLD

Rarely does a good night out begin with a court summons, but then Secret Cinema is no ordinary night out. Soon after turning up at a location given in a cryptic email, tonight’s ticket-holders are incarcerated. In a convincing mock-up of a 1940s jail – actually a former Hackney school – a stern prison officer issues grey uniforms, and inmates begin to explore the building’s dimly lit corridors. Each room offers something different, from work programmes – candle-making, cross-stitch – to an appointment with a bespectacled psychoanalyst. Beers in brown paper-bags and fat, mustard-slathered hotdogs can be bought illicitly from corruptible guards or infirmary nurses. As a feeling of comfortable institutionalisation begins to set in, someone attempts escape and prisoners are corralled into the gym. Here The Shawshank Redemption flickers on to the screen – a film most of the audience will have seen before, but never felt so much a part of. OTickets Dhs261 programme changes regularly;

secretcinema.org

‘The palace has a very warm atmosphere,’ says housekeeper Wendy Guest as she unlocks the door to the capital’s most historic accommodation. ‘Its past seems to ooze out from the brickwork.’ The favourite home of Henry VIII, Hampton Court Palace now houses two Landmark Trust rental properties. Fish Court, an apartment tucked beside Tudor kitchens, once accommodated the royal piemakers. The other, The Georgian House, is grander, with a private walled garden. Guests at either get a privileged glimpse of the palace at its most peaceful, with after-hours access to the magnificent gardens and most of the courtyards. Strolling in the rose garden at dawn, where one Landmark guest proposed to his now-wife, the mind inevitably wanders to the king’s own ill-fated romances. OFrom Dhs4,284 for a four-night stay at Fish

Court, which sleeps up to six; landmarktrust.org.uk Sleep like a king (well, an Officer of the Pastry) at Hampton Court Palace

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Make like the ship’s captain on your own private (and steadfastly stationary) sailboat on the Thames

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SLEEP IN A BOAT PERCHED ON TOP OF THE SOUTHBANK CENTRE

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BOARD THE TUBE IN SEARCH OF A SECRET SUPPERCLUB

It’s as if the small vessel were left in its seemingly precarious position, teetering on the rooftop of Queen Elizabeth Hall, by a freak tsunami sweeping down the River Thames. But in fact it’s there by design – a one-bedroom installation, complete with kitchenette and library, available to rent for the night. This beautifully crafted timber vessel, A Room for London, has panoramic views stretching from Big Ben to St Paul’s Cathedral from its upper and lower decks, and all the amenities one might expect from a good hotel room. Inside are more surprises – a cabinet of old maps, and a logbook in which guests are invited to share their experiences of this eccentric refuge high above the hubbub. A night here really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience – despite the cost, demand for tickets is so high that they’re sold only by ballot. ODhs1,800 for an overnight stay; subscribe to the

As instructed by a 6pm text message, tonight’s journey into the culinary unknown begins with a ride to an obscure train station in London’s suburbs. A handful of conspicuously excitable passengers, clad in dress-code monochrome, are here for an evening at Gingerline – a supperclub named after the Tube map’s orange-coloured London Overground, around the eastern reaches of which its ever-changing venues cluster. Tonight a nondescript residential building is the front for an alternate universe – previous themes have drawn inspiration from Vegas casinos and a mad puppeteer’s workshop. At a Gingerline event, circulating waitresses are as likely to offer you an arm-wrestling match as a drink, and the theatricality extends to the food. Dishes are served around communal tables, and past highlights include a ‘roulette wheel’ of seasonal appetisers, and a flaming stand of brandied figs.

ballot at living-architecture.co.uk

O Tickets Dhs300; gingerline.co.uk

A ROOM FOR LONDON PHOTOGRAPH: GEMMA DOYLE

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STAY AT HAMPTON COURT PALACE

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FUN LONDON

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SKETCH A MODEL IN MACABRE COSTUME

A model in a black top hat, electric-blue French knickers and sequined bolero jacket strikes a pose with her magic wand, as the class reaches for sticks of charcoal and soft pencils. Three minutes later, an owl’s twit-twoo signifies a final 30 seconds to finish work on the sketches. The impressive standard at Art Macabre Drawing Salons, lifedrawing sessions for which models dress partly in ghoulish costumes, betrays the high numbers of art students in attendance – but the atmosphere is far from school-like. There’s a magic-inspired soundtrack featuring songs by everyone from Florence and the Machine to Frank Sinatra, and host Nikki Shaill sets each pose with tongue-incheek theatricality. ‘I’m not going to go round peering over people’s shoulders and making comments,’ says Nikki. ‘It’s about having a go and having fun.’ OTickets Dhs60; deathdrawing.wordpress.com

A ROOM FOR LONDON PHOTOGRAPH: GEMMA DOYLE

Art Macabre Drawing Salons holds classes at Cass Art in Islington and at various one-off venues around the city

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CROSS THE RIVER THAMES IN A CABLE CAR

Ninety metres up, the UK’s first urban cable car cuts across a clear London sky. The Emirates Air Line from Royal Docks to the Greenwich Peninsula soars over an easterly stretch of the Thames, its gunmetal surface zig-zagged with the foamy trails of motorboats. Through the glass windscreen of the slow-moving capsule, the curved dome of the O2 and the towering skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and the City can be seen. Visible along the riverbanks is evidence of docklands industrial life – cranes, container units and even a tiny lighthouse – long-since disappeared from the city centre. The journey lasts just ten minutes, uniting not only London’s North and South, but also its past and its present. OFrom Dhs19.20; emiratesairline.co.uk

A Ruckers harpsichord in Handel’s former recital room

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LISTEN TO A CLASSICAL CONCERT IN HANDEL’S FORMER HOME Brook Street in Mayfair, now lined with upmarket shops, was once home to the German-born composer George Frideric Handel. From 1723 until his death in 1759 he lived at number 25, a building now restored to its period glory and open as the Handel House Museum. Visitors can stand in the quarters where he composed his masterpiece oratorio

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The Messiah, and the musical life of the house is kept alive with weekly concerts in Handel’s former recital room. ‘I love performing here because of the intimacy of the venue,’ says harpsichordist Nathaniel Mander. ‘And it’s a magical thing to play where Handel took his inspiration. Like no other composer, he had the most natural ability for melody.’ As he returns to his practice for that evening’s event, the small room fills with the instrument’s ancient song. OTickets Dhs54; handelhouse.org

PHOTOCREDIT PHOTOGRAPH: THE HANDEL HOUSE TRUST LTD

Download the Emirates Air Line app to get an audio guide during your river crossing

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PHOTOCREDIT PHOTOGRAPH: THE HANDEL HOUSE TRUST LTD

FUN LONDON

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EAT A MICHELINSTARRED MEAL IN A GREENHOUSE A garden centre might not seem a likely place for a proper lunch, but you know you’re in for a good meal when Heston Blumenthal sits down at the next table. A Michelin-starred restaurant housed in an earthfloored Richmond plant nursery, Petersham Nurseries Café is a far cry from Heston’s famed molecular gastronomy – the food focuses on superfresh ingredients, simply but beautifully prepared. Diners arrive clutching baskets brimming with dahlias, bags of bulbs and gardening forks, and dishes – like baby vegetables with tzatziki or wild sea bass with pancetta, black cabbage and roasted garlic aioli – take inspiration from their surroundings. This is a place where good things grow. OMains from Dhs120; petershamnurseries.com

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GO BACKSTAGE AT THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE

Behind the velvet and gold-leafed glamour of the Royal Opera House’s horseshoeshaped auditorium is a warren of much less remarkable-looking spaces, each one integral to making the magic happen on stage. Though every Backstage Tour is different, today’s takes in a room filled with four tonnes of lighting equipment, and a hangar-like area containing props – a cluster of clouds, giant multicoloured horses, an oversized bottle of red wine – strangely divorced of context. Upstairs by the Ashton Studio, tour-goers find the Royal Ballet mid-class. Dancers wave and blow kisses through the glass to entertain principal Mara Galeazzi’s infant daughter, visiting with her nanny, while Carlos Acosta spins and pirouettes about the room. OTickets Dhs72; roh.org.uk

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Learn direct from the source – fishmongering at Billingsgate

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COOK THE CATCH OF THE DAY AT BILLINGSGATE MARKET The floor is slick with melt-water, the air redolent of the fruits of the sea. Fishmongers in white coats drink tea from Styrofoam cups and shout good-natured banter as customers of every nationality examine fish piled high on chipped ice. ‘The freshest fish is firm, with bright eyes and red gills,’ says CJ Jackson, principal of the Billingsgate Seafood School, as she navigates the stalls with a small class in tow. For sale are oysters bigger than guinea pigs, a rainbow of exotic fish and great trays full of squirming eels. In a teaching kitchen upstairs, after a breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, students learn the basics – gutting, skinning, scaling, filleting and pin-boning the market’s best mackerel, sea bass and plaice. The work is gory but satisfying – all the more so when the class breaks for a bowl of fish stew and a glass of wine at lunch. OWeekday Catch of the Day course Dhs1,158; 6.15am-2.15pm; seafoodtraining.org

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ATTEND A MAD HATTER’S TEA PARTY

A tumble down a rabbit hole isn’t the only way to secure a place at a Mad Hatter’s tea party as described in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – a visit to the Sanderson hotel will get you there too. In a courtyard garden filled with flowering trees and trickling fountains, a menu hidden inside a vintage book promises fine dining and theatricality in abundance. Plates decorated with carousel animals and ticking clocks arrive piled high with culinary whimsy – a carrot meringue served on a bed of pea shoots, cucumber sandwiches rolled up like fairy carpets. There’s a jelly course, an edible chocolate teacup and a fruity ‘Drink Me’ potion. ‘Lots of children, and all Alices, read the book and wish they could be a part of that world,’ says theatre and costume designer Alice Walkling, here for a birthday treat. ‘This is like having the grown-up version of that fantasy realised.’ OTickets Dhs210; sandersonlondon.com

TAKE A WALK OVER THE O2

London venue the 02 is best known for the exciting things – concerts by the likes of Prince and the Rolling Stones, or international tennis tournaments – that happen inside it. But visitors to the city landmark formerly known as the Millenium Dome can now walk over the top of it. Climbers are connected to a taut cable for their ascent to a central viewing platform, and the blue walkway over the giant tent is springy underfoot. More than 50 metres up, there’s an opportunity to unhook and roam about the roof. Wind whips visitors’ hair into startling shapes as the skyline’s familiar sights – the Shard, the ArcelorMittal Orbit observation tower and the buildings of the Olympic Park – slowly reveal themselves. OTickets from Dhs132; theo2.co.uk

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TOUR A TINY GIN DISTILLERY

Hidden down a leafy residential street in Hammersmith is the first London distillery licensed in nearly 200 years. ‘Sipsmith wanted to return London dry gin to its spiritual home,’ says sales manager James Grundy, as he guides a tour of the garagesized micro-distillery. ‘In the 18th century, gin was a poor man’s drink,’ says James. ‘But we make a quality product, using traditional methods.’ He explains how Prudence, Sipsmith’s copper still, is used to create premium gins and vodkas, before producing several bottles for a tasting session. A sip of the London dry slips down without a hint of burn, leaving the faint taste of the botanicals – juniper, coriander, lemon and orange – just glimpsed through Prudence’s port-hole window.

Bu Lua afl van lun go

ODhs72; every Wednesday evening; sipsmith.com

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FUN LONDON

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FIND A WORLD OF FOOD ALONG A SINGLE STREET

Setting out the tables for lunch in a corner of Petersham Nurseries – a garden centre that conceals a Michelin-starred restaurant

Tucked behind the refurbished King’s Cross station is some of London’s best street food. In a row of vans and stalls serving up flavours from around the world, vendors are dwarfed by the great green and red cranes dancing over the adjacent construction site, and the cathedral-like spires of nearby St Pancras. In front of each snakes a line of people seeking lunch – perhaps a Korean-inspired cheeseburger from Kimchi Cult, or cinnamon-sprinkled French toast with bacon from Original Fry-Up Material. Mexican street food sellers Luardos have the biggest queue, and one slow-cooked pork burrito later, it’s clear why. Tender meat encased with black beans, Monterey Jack cheese, spicy salsa, sour cream and lettuce inside a hot flour tortilla – this isn’t kebab-van fare, it’s proper, flavoursome food for only a fiver. OKERB food market is open Monday–Friday,

11am–2.30pm; kerbfood.com/kings-cross

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FUN LONDON Music wins prizes at Drink, Shop & Do in King’s Cross

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SAIL THROUGH CENTRAL LONDON ON A THAMES BARGE Hydrogen’s red ochre sail flutters as she bobs along the River Thames. When she reaches Tower Bridge its bascules lift, allowing the ship to pass. Perfectly adapted to the estuary’s shallow waters, in the 19th century these flat-bottomed sail barges were commonplace cargo vessels on the river – now, only a few survive. Topsail Charters has lovingly converted its fleet of five into comfortable pleasure cruisers for daytrips. After setting sail from London Bridge’s City Pier, passengers on their River Thames Cruise are kept well-refreshed – with coffee, a hot lunch and afternoon tea. Making its way past St Katharine Docks, Canary Wharf and the Thames Barrier, Hydrogen returns to dock just as twilight begins to descend on the river’s ever-evolving banks. OTickets Dhs360; top-sail.co.uk

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SPEND A SILENT NIGHT IN A GEORGIAN TIME-WARP

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OMusical Bingo (Dhs42; musical-bingo.com) takes

This spring, for the second year running, Jubilee Gardens will be transformed into a Coney Island-style carnival. The centrepiece of the Priceless London Wonderground festival is the spectacular Spiegeltent – a big top-style venue lined with mirrors, where circus and cabaret acts take to the stage nightly. The atmosphere is decadent and vaguely hedonistic – audience members crowd around shady booth tables clutching bottles of wine, as the performers emerge and disappear from the spotlight. This year’s programme has yet to be announced, but in 2012 avant-garde Australian circus performers Cantina were the headline act. Surrounding the tent is all the fun of the fair – from bars and food stalls to rides and freakish sideshows.

Like an answering call to the strains of Eddie Cochran’s C’mon Everybody filling the room, an excitable shriek sounds from a back table. The first of the night’s winners rushes forward to claim her prize: moustache-shaped cookie cutters, though it hardly matters. ‘This night is about good, clean fun,’ says Jess Indeedy, the glamorous American in sequins and towering heels who hosts the event with her husband, DJ Helix. Under the fragmented light of a disco ball, players with eyes down and ears up drink Bingotini cocktails, ready to play a series of rounds where instead of numbers they cross off songs, themed by genre – like film music – or decade. ‘It’s all about the music, but we keep it accessible,’ says Jess. ‘I don’t want anyone to feel like they aren’t knowledgeable or cool enough to take part.’ place at various London venues, including Drink, Shop & Do (drinkshopdo.com).

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ROLL UP, ROLL UP FOR A CIRCUS ON THE SOUTH BANK

O 6 May–29 September; tickets from Dhs60;

pricelesslondonwonderground.co.uk

OEvening visit Dhs84; dennissevershouse.co.uk

Artefacts in the Smoking Room at 18 Folgate Street

ORLA THOMAS thoroughly enjoyed being a tourist in her home city.

PHOTOGRAPH: ROELOF BAKKER/RBAKKER.COM

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PLAY BINGO WITH A DIFFERENCE

The door to 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, is a portal to Georgian London. Stepping inside, it’s the smell of the place that begins your journey back in time – an intoxicating mix of cinnamon and citrus, wood smoke and candlewax. Each authentically period, candlelit room is a piece in a mysterious historical puzzle – in the kitchen there are hot coals in the grate and a seeded loaf abandoned mid-slice, upstairs a bedroom’s four-poster bed has been left in disarray. These vignettes – the creation of artist Dennis Severs, who died in 1999 – give the impression that a family have just left the building. In this way, every visitor is a new chapter in the story.

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London As well as being chock-full of fun things to do, our capital offers numerous opportunities for idle browsing and elegant loafing – on both sides of the Thames ESSENTIALS

Getting around Underground and Overground trains, plus buses, are the best way to explore (one-day travelcard Dhs53, or buy an Oyster Card for cheaper single journeys; tfl.gov.uk). Download a tube map app to keep track of real time travel information (tubemapapp.co.uk). Further reading Lonely Planet’s London (Dhs90) offers comprehensive coverage, while Pocket London (Dhs48) covers the highlights. Stephen Smith’s Underground London (Dhs66; Abacus) explores beneath the city’s streets. Climate 40

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The rooftop at Boundary, home to two centenarian olive trees

WAYS TO DO IT

Getting there Fly from Dubai to London Stansted on Pegasus Airlines (from Dhs1,839; flypgs.com). Fly from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow on Etihad (from Dhs4,115; etihad.ae).

WORDS: ORLA THOMAS. PHOTOGRAPHS: SIMON BROWN, STEFAN LORETT

PHOTOGRAPH: ROELOF BAKKER/RBAKKER.COM

MAKE IT HAPPEN

The urn table at LMNT

Visit Cave for posh chocolate

Cafe Royal in Picadilly

Budget

Mid-range

Sleep

Enjoy a taste of Latin America in Camberwell. Church Street Hotel has amazing breakfasts and a 24-hour honour bar (from Dhs540; free Wi-fi; churchstreethotel.com).

Boutique Malmaison has decadent décor and an excellent just-off-West End location in Clerkenwell (from Dhs630; free Wi-fi; malmaison. com).

Restored Cafe Royal on Picadilly combines historical luxury with modern technology. It has special summer offers on suites (Dhs3,060 for a suite; free Wi-fi; hotelcaferoyal.com).

Eat

Loveably bonkers, LMNT in Hackney features ancientworld-inspired interiors and a pan-European menu. Book the table inside a giant classical urn (mains from Dhs54; lmnt.co.uk).

The menu at The Riding House Café, a brasserie near Oxford Circus, ranges from breakfast eggs to chateaubriand (mains from Dhs63; ridinghousecafe.co.uk).

Magdalen, a stone’s throw from Borough Market, serves the best British cooking (left) in its elegant dining room (mains from Dhs81; magdalenrestaurant.co.uk).

Drink

Belgravia pub The Nag’s Head is a proper, old-London boozer, with walls covered in intriguing ephemera (half pint of ale from Dhs12; 53 Kinnerton Street, SW1).

Set in a Vauxhall architectural salvage shop, Brunswick House Café (below) offers drinks among the antiques (aperitif from Dhs18; brunswick housecafe.com).

Reopening this Spring, Boundary’s rooftop garden has an open fireplace and great views over East London (cocktails from Dhs57; theboundary.co.uk).

Shop

With its oak galleries and arched windows, Daunt Books in Marylebone is a cathedral devoted to reading (travel books from Dhs48; dauntbooks.co.uk).

Purveyor of artisan chocolate, flowers and fine wines, Cave in Bermondsey also hosts tastings (from Dhs150 per person; wine from Dhs57; cavelondon.com).

Minutes from manic Leicester Square, Cecil Court is a peaceful strip of one-off shops – our favourite is The Witch Ball, for classic travel and aviation prints (from Dhs300; cecilcourt.co.uk).

BARGAIN!

Luxury BARGAIN!

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THE WILD WEST The first long-distance trail to trace the shoreline of an entire country, the Wales Coast Path offers an immersion into some of the Principality’s most charismatic scenery and legends. Dip your toe into the 870-mile route with one of three short walks, from the remote Llyn Peninsula to dramatic Pembrokeshire WORDS HORATIO CLARE O PHOTOGRAPHS PETE SEAWARD

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The view from Marloes Sand, Pembrokeshire, stretches south towards St Anne’s Head lighthouse, guardian of Milford Haven waterway

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FROM LEFT A Wales Coast

Path marker near Marloes; Gus Bell with his wife Beth, daughter Seren and Yoda the cat; the ‘Teletubby House’ at Druidstone

WALK 1: The West A ramble along the dramatic Marloes Peninsula, a section of Heritage Coast in southwest Pembrokeshire just across St Bride's Bay from the diminutive city of St Davids. Head east from the Deer Park near the village of Martin’s Haven to the mile-long curve of Marloes Sands, looking out for tidal islands, birds with mythical associations and wallowing wildlife. DISTANCE: 4 MILES (there and back) Where the land runs out is a wild place, where the cliffs are the prows of ships, enduring the battering tides. Pembrokeshire’s southwesterly winds bring waves of freshened skies over the Celtic Sea. On a clear day, the whole western tip of Wales is visible; the Coast Path skirts the yawn of St Bride’s Bay in a long curve that runs between fields and the coves, cliffs and beaches, all the way from St David’s Head in the north to Skomer Island in the south. Walking any stretch of the path reveals curiosities, from abandoned airfields to hermit’s chapels, but few sights are more peculiar than an oval eye of glass that gazes out of the clifftop at Druidstone, overlooking the middle of St Bride’s Bay. Known locally as the Teletubby House, it is home to former MP Bob Marshall-Andrews and his wife Gillian. The roof is turf and wild flowers; the whole structure landscaped into the ground. ‘It’s a very beautiful coastline to walk,’ Bob says. ‘To a certain extent repetitive – you round one headland and there’s another. It gives it a quality that’s quite unique in walking: after a while you stop being starstruck and enter into what it is. I love it – the islands offshore give it a frontier feeling.’ In the waves below are surfers; a benign cavalry of pony-trekkers from the village of Nolton Haven crosses the sand. It is a truly heavenly place to live. A hundred yards away is the MarshallAndrews’ local, the Druidstone Hotel. Part home, part refuge, its windows filled with sea-light, its walls crammed with pictures and its beds old and kind, the

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hotel has a bohemian enchantment. Beth Wilshaw and her husband Gus Bell are nominally in charge, but you could equally say that of their little girl Seren or cat Yoda. ‘People come down to dinner in a wetsuit or a tux; no-one minds,’ Beth says. ‘When someone rings and asks if there’s a pool I say yes, but it’s very big, and salty.’ The southern edge of that great pool is the Marloes Peninsula, where Wales runs out. The last of the land is the Deer Park, where the radiance of the light, the warm surges of the wind, the dark outlines of Skomer Island and Midland Isle and the streaming silver of Jack Sound – the tide-race between the peninsula and the islands – combine in pure invigoration. I feel I could launch myself into the air. Turning left from the wuthering cliffs of the Deer Park begins one of the most beautiful walks in all Wales: the couple of miles along the coast path to Marloes Sands. Choughs fall headlong into the wind – they are supreme fliers, handsome with their black plumage and scarlet beaks and legs. Old beliefs held that they stole lit candles and burned hayricks; their Latin name, Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax, means fire crow. Another legend says that King Arthur did not die but turned into a chough, so harming one is very unlucky. The birds on this walk seem blessed and blessing. The smells along the path are sweet reeks of bracken, heather and turf. The sea rushes white pounders at the cliff: other sounds are the ‘ciao!’ of choughs, the wind

and wicketing crickets. A cormorant flaps across the water, fat on mackerel, along with great black-backed gulls, which sailors believed were souls of executed pirates. A ship appears, three-masted, with the mainsail up. A raven goes over. Some myths hold ravens to be messengers of sorcerers and gods: they are said to hear everything and report it to their masters. Greet one with a ‘pruk!’ and he may answer, as this one does. In the death zone between the rock shoals and the breakers, two grey seals float and turn, fishing, peering, wallowing like fat ladies in a spa pool. The ground is springy and cushioned, starred with pink thrift. In a field of flowers on the clifftop above Marloes Sands a young woman gives the sun a yoga salute. Saluting the sun has been practised here for millennia. A tidal island at the end of the beach, Gateholm, has the remains of Iron Age and later settlements on its flat top: archaeologists found an amber bead there which they believe was associated with sun worship. On the way back to the Deer Park a kestrel appears, hovering and still in the wimpling wind. Tail and wings adjust to the floods of air so that the head is perfectly still. ‘My heart in hiding stirred for a bird,’ wrote Gerard Manley Hopkins, and seeing the choughs, and the kestrel, brings the same stirring. Like Gateholm, Skomer and the Deer Park were settled in pre-antiquity. Our ancestors were here and felt as we do now, walking the coast at sunset; people will, for millennia to come. There is the most gentle eternity in the spirit of this place.

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W A L E S C O A S TWPAT A L EH S People have come to worship the sun on the islands and beaches of Marloes Sands for thousands of years

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The ‘brown as owls’ 13th-century Laugharne Castle, as seen from the path of the signposted Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk

WALK 2: The Estuaries A circular route from the sleepy market town of Laugharne, on South Wales’s Taf estuary, through the Constable-esque scenery of southern Carmarthenshire. Head west to Pendine Sands, around 10 miles from the characterful resort town of Tenby, before retracing your steps through bucolic, windswept countryside. DISTANCE: 6 MILES (there and back)

ABOVE Writer and traveller Jay Griffiths; the boathouse where poet Dylan Thomas found inspiration

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Laugharne is a country all of its own. Here is a land of woods and fields falling to estuarine worlds that submerge with every high tide and gleam with every low. The path out of town is signposted with extracts from Dylan Thomas’s Poem on his Birthday. The mustard-seed sun, as he called it, is bright today; the clouds are boiling towers. The path runs under ash trees like universes, constellations of leaves high against the blue. Rocks drip like Hades. To go south along the shore is to walk with the ghosts of cockle-pickers and fishermen; the latter still make this lovely, unusual trek. There is cow-tramped mud underfoot and a rune of marshes to the left. On the other side of the dyke are rough pastures and an army firing range, which has saved the land from the pillages of modern agriculture. Man’s additions to the landscape are harmonious and kind: small white horses, the farms of Carmarthenshire, round bales – it is like moving through a Constable painting. The dyke is your guide and thoroughfare, all the way to Pendine Sands. Swallows hunt along it, flinging into the wind. On the sands themselves the shells of razor clams pop underfoot as the sea opens before you, a road to all the world. The writer Jay Griffiths travelled to the Arctic, the Amazon and West Papua, among many other places, in the service of

her book Wild, which explores the connection between human societies and the wilderness. She might have chosen to settle anywhere on Earth but all her journeys begin and end on the wide beaches of Wales. ‘A long, open shoreline is good for long, open conversations,’ she says. ‘The horizons of sight and the horizons of the mind reflect each other, and the one influences the other. And there is a long breath in the fetch of a wave which makes me breathe easy.’ Breaths come deep and contented on this walk, flavoured with the tang of the marshes; breaths hush as you study their creeks and runnels, infinitely complex, home to nymphs and goblins arguing over green-glass beads, and my breath catches as a hundred curlew flock together, a wild net of birds. It is a sight left over from an older Britain, when great flocks were common. Laugharne rests in the sun like a gypsy with his back to a rock. You can see why sea captains liked to retire there: close enough to tides to measure the seasons by their comings and goings; far enough away from the waves not to be reminded of their terrors. On the way back into town, passing a farm, a peacock strolls across the track. A Welsh walk holds more unpredictability than the weather.

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W A L E S C O A S T PAT H

WALK 3: The Llyn Peninsula Extending like a finger from Snowdonia National Park in Northwest Wales, the Ll n Peninsula is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty renowned for its wild and remote landscapes. Beginning just under the fingernail at the former fishing village of Aberdaron, the route extends clockwise through coastal heathland to the heights of Mynydd Mawr for spectacular views across the Irish Sea. DISTANCE: 7 MILES The tip of the Llˆyn Peninsula is a kind of promised land. It was the last home of the poet RS Thomas, who was the rector of St Hywyn’s church in Aberdaron, the last town before the sea. Thomas’s poetry records a life spent searching for an encounter with divinity. During one of his walks on the peninsula, while watching small birds in a thicket, he felt a oneness, a kind of transcendence, which he described as ‘a repetition in time of the eternal I AM’. Since the 6th century pilgrims have come to Llˆyn, where the world ends in bright sea-light, to seek and pray to that eternity. The walk west along the cliffs from Aberdaron is a favourite of the writer Niall Griffiths and his partner Deborah Jones. ‘You can easily fall off the end of the continent,’ Niall says. ‘One step and you’re somewhere entirely else.’ Watching one’s steps as well as being open to transcendence is the way to follow the path from Aberdaron beach to the end of the world. The coast path runs westwards, first climbing along the Cwrt headland, then descending to Porth Meudwy, for centuries a base for fishing boats. After climbing back to the clifftop

the path passes Porth y Pistyll, where the Llˆyn’s mineral wealth of jasper, quartz and granite was once loaded onto boats. The descents and climbs make good exercise, with a stunning reward at the end. As I round the headland of Pen y Cil there is the sudden prospect of Bardsey Island, like the head of an elephant surfacing from the deep. ‘Bardsey is a land that belongs to birds and seals,’ says Niall, who has stayed there. ‘No wonder the devout wanted to be buried on it. You feel like one half of you is already in another realm.’ Bardsey is known as ‘the island of 20,000 saints’: they were supposed to have been buried there in pre-medieval times. The gravestone of a 5th-century Christian priest, Senacus, was found on the headland, marking his burial ‘with many followers’, which may be the source of the belief. Whether or not saints lie under its turf, the island’s spiritual reputation was such that three pilgrimages there were held to be the equivalent of one to Rome. It is easy to understand why pagans, poets and pilgrims from the dawn of Christianity to our own times have been drawn to this

land’s end. Around heathered stumps, like the silhouettes of hunchbacked watchmen, flocks of choughs tumble and strut. The birds’ colony makes Pen y Cil a Site of Special Scientific Interest. I walk among them quietly and they seem unbothered, as they probe the heather for ants. Climbing up the steep green flanks of the headland to the lookout point on Mynydd Mawr, I turn back to the sea to watch the sun go down. As unexpected and miraculous as a revelation, pale blue hills appear, far over the water. The map says they are the mountains of County Wicklow in Ireland, but they seem just as likely to be the contours of Cantre’r Gwaelod, the sunken kingdom of Welsh legend, a kind of Celtic Atlantis. Anthropolgists suspect that the repeated claims, over the ages, of a fertile land just beneath the waves, may be the echoes of an ancient folk memory of sea-level rise at the end of the last ice age. Myths, stories and suppositions wash over reality in the most beguiling way here. Deborah Jones makes me promise not to dig for gold if I climb the Rhiw, one of two hills near Aberdaron. ‘The giant who buried it will send a lightning bolt at you,’

From the Llyn Peninsula the walker’s gaze is drawn across the Celtic Sea towards the sleeping giants of Snowdonia

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MAKE IT HAPPEN

Wales Coast Path Walkers can enjoy the curvaceous coastline of Wales along a single integrated route – follow the waymarked trail to ruined castles and craggy shorelines swept by rolling surf ESSENTIALS

WAYS TO DO IT

Getting around There are reliable rail and bus links across Wales (traveline-cymru.org.uk), but to avoid onward taxi transfers or additional walks to starting points, a car is preferable (rental from Dhs150 per day; avis.co.uk). Further reading Lonely Planet’s Wales (Dhs84) gives a comprehensive guide to the entire country.

Rural retreat at Glebe House

WALK 1

WALK 2

WALK 3

The Estuaries

The Llyn Peninsula

See

St Davids has an elegant cathedral, the adjacent Bishop’s Palace and a red-roofed lifeboat station which opens its doors during the summer months. Take a boat to Skomer Island to see puffins (from Dhs66; pembrokeshire-islands.co.uk).

The one-time home of Dylan Thomas is a great place to buy a book; try antiquarian hangout Corran Books, opposite Browns. The Boat House where the Thomas family lived makes for a literary excursion (Dhs24; dylanthomasboathouse.com).

A visit to St Hywyn’s Church and a reading of some of the poet and one-time local vicar RS Thomas’s verses will set you up for a memorable day (st-hywyn.org.uk).

Sleep

Glebe House B&B is a restored medieval rectory along St Bride’s Bay. Four guestrooms and a handful of self-catering cottages are available while riding lessons and beach rides are also offered (from Dhs570; free Wi-fi; noltonstables.com).

Browns Hotel, that dairy of drink beloved of Thomas during his six years in Laugharne, lives up to its celebrated billing with 14 individually themed rooms in a recently renovated Grade II-listed building (from Dhs480; free Wi-fi; browns-hotel.co.uk).

The child-friendly Gwesty Ty Newydd dominates Aberdaron’s seafront and is the town’s social focal point. 11 guest rooms, terrace and restaurant all overlook the sandy beach (from Dhs600; free Wi-fi; gwesty-tynewydd.co.uk).

Eat

For arguably the best views, food and service along this stretch of coast, book a table at the Druidstone Hotel. The menu changes twice a day but keep an eye out for the salmon, mullet and cucumber fish pie (mains from Dhs54; druidstone.co.uk).

Characterful pub-with-rooms The New Three Mariners Inn is renowned for its pizzas with local ingredients (pizzas from Dhs30; newthreemar inersinn.co.uk).

Y Gegin Fawr in Aberdaron was once a communal kitchen serving pilgrims en route to Bardsey Island. Today it offers scones and locally caught crab and lobster in a pleasant riverside setting (cream scones Dhs14; 00 44 1758 760359).

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Aberdaron’s sand beach

The West

Climate

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Browns has a literary history

Month 2012 Lonely Planet Traveller

COMPILED BY HORATIO CLARE AND DUNCAN CRAIG. PHOTOGRAPHS: ROBERT HARDING/ALAMY, PETE SEAWARD

Getting there The main train operators are Arriva Trains Wales (arrivatrainswales.co.uk) and First Great Western (firstgreatwestern. co.uk). Typical fares to Carmarthen start Dhs270 from London Paddington. Fly to London from Abu Dhabi (from Dhs4,245;etihad.ae).

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WALK 3

WALK 2 WALK 1

CARDIFF Capital of Wales No trip to Wales is complete without a stop off in the capital, Cardiff. With a bustling and very lively nightlife scene. For interactive maps and lists of events and things happening you can download a Visit Cardiff app from visitcardiff.com.

WALES COAST PATH

The UAE Pavilion, Abu Dhabi January 26-29, 2014 www.meltshow.com

Organised by SerenEMC part of CADS P&E

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La Corbière lighthouse in Jersey’s southwest. RIGHT A postbox and telephone box in Alderney Spider crabs landed in Jersey. LEFT A young, inquisitive Jersey cow

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ISLANDS OF Delve into o the bucolic life of the Channel Islands to discover a long and fascinating history riddled with ghost stories, legends and unusual traditions WORDS ALEX VON TUNZELMANN OPHOTOGRAPHS MICHAEL HEFFERNAN

The golden sands of Beauport, on Jersey’s south coast, are sheltered from the wind by verdant cliffs on three sides

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JERSEY: Ancient pagans, surviving traditions

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ALKING ALONG THE CLIFFTOPS of Jersey’s northwest coast in the early evening sun, there is no sound except that of the wind and the waves. Swallowtails and dragonflies skim over banks of purple heather. Towering ahead is a colossal obelisk of red granite, which appears to rise directly out of the ocean. On the hillside leading down to the cliff face, a swathe of green grass forms a natural amphitheatre. A sheer drop below, the cobalt waters of the English Channel foam white as they meet the rocks. Le Pinâcle, as it is known, is a magical place and today’s visitors are not the first to notice. At the foot of the red rock, there are remains dating back thousands of years: a Romano-Celtic temple, Bronze Age walls and structures built as long ago as the Neolithic period. The granite is seamed with dolerite, chipped away by prehistoric Channel Islanders to make axeheads and arrowtips. Later, during the witch craze of the 16th and 17th centuries, it was said that covens met here to commune with devils. These days, many people think of the Channel Islands as the location for ’80s BBC series Bergerac, or a place for wealthy people to put their money (the islands’ status allows them to control their own tax rates). Beyond that, though, is a remarkable history that stretches back to the days when mammoths and woolly rhinoceroses roamed these cliffs. When the sun sets at Le Pinâcle, the last of its rays making the rock glow red, it’s easy to see how this place would have inspired ancient pioneers. It is not only the beauty of the islands that has appealed to their admirers, but their distinct weirdness. The writer Victor Hugo, who lived on Jersey and Guernsey for many years, was an enthusiastic chronicler of their peculiarities. ‘The rural and maritime populations are easily moved with notions of the active agency of the powers of evil,’ he wrote in Toilers of the Sea (1866). ‘Among the Channel Isles, and on the neighbouring coast of France, the ideas of the people on this subject are deeply rooted.’ Even now, the islands are rich in folklore, superstitions and traditions. These range from the benign – when you hear the first cuckoo of spring, you must put a stone on your head and run away as fast as you can – to hair-raising stories about witches, ghouls and demons, and mysterious fireballs seen rolling around megalithic sites. Though it is the largest and most populous of the islands, Jersey still has plenty of open space. Walking the beautiful

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Le Pinâcle is a prominent landmark and multi-period archaeological site on Jersey’s coast – among the finds excavated here are hammers, a copper arrow head, bronze spear head and a Roman coin. BELOW RIGHT Kayakers in Beauport Bay. BELOW LEFT Robin Baudains collects cockles on the beach at St Aubin

coast paths, with waves lapping on golden beaches, the powers of evil that Victor Hugo mentioned seem a long way away. Unless, that is, the unwary hiker stumbles upon Stinky Bay – so called on account of the large quantities of foul-smelling vraic (seaweed) that wash up there every day. Fortunately, the rest of the bays smell only of fresh air and sea-salt. When the tide is out at the town of St Aubin, locals roam

the shore for delicacies the ocean has left behind, as they have done for centuries. The prize finds are cockles and sand eels. ‘I used to do this with my father,’ says Robin Baudains, a retired builder, as he scrapes back the wet sand with a garden trowel. ‘We follow the tide out. See this little dark patch, here? That’s a good one!’ Another cockle clinks into his bucket, destined for tonight’s pot.

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CHANNEL ISLANDS

SARK: Headless horsemen and phantom hounds

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NE OF THE CHANNEL ISLANDS’ loveliest sights is La Coupée, a high land bridge linking Big Sark and Little Sark. On the outcrop above the bridge, a low wind ruffles the grasses and fronds of ferns. This is a sensational place for a picnic, except for those afflicted with vertigo. Gulls swoop off the sides of the winding path, down the sheer drop to the white sand and turquoise sea hundreds of feet below. A horse and cart clop across the bridge, though the driver has some difficulty persuading the horse to walk on. There are no cars on Sark. If no horse is available, you’ll have to travel on a bike or on foot. ‘It’s rather like a little Enid Blyton lifestyle,’ says Elizabeth Perrée, owner of La Sablonnerie, the small hotel and restaurant on Little Sark, and one of only 600 Sarkese, the island’s residents. Sark is the most unspoilt of the Channel Islands, and utterly enchanting, with dramatic cliffs, secluded beaches, and a magical, otherworldly feel. It is like a fairy kingdom

somehow separated from modern times. ‘When we were growing up, there were all these stories about witches flying down unguarded chimneys and so on,’ Elizabeth continues. ‘That’s why some of the chimneys here still have caps on. They took it very seriously in Guernsey. But one’s parents were quite sensible, you know.’ In the cosy front room of La Sablonnerie, Elizabeth is happy to share some of her homemade sloe gin as well as a few ghost stories. It is all too easy to stay until long after the sun has gone down. Most of Sark has no street lighting and crossing back over La Coupée to Big Sark in the pitch dark is a real challenge. Railings were installed on either side of La Coupée in 1900. Before then, people often crawled along this slender bridge on their hands and knees, gripping tightly in high winds and trying not to tumble hundreds of feet down to the rocks and sea below. ‘Do watch out for the headless horseman,’

Elizabeth says as she waves goodbye. A ghostly rider is supposed to pursue late-night travellers across La Coupée. The headless horseman is not the only demon to haunt this perilous bridge. According to 19th-century Sarkese legend, travellers who are seriously out of luck may see the Tchico. This is a phantom hound the size of a calf, with eyes that burn red in the night. If the Tchico chases you, it is an omen of certain death. Halfway across the bridge, there is a distant clip-clop. It’s just possible to make out the shape of a horse. The summer night temperature seems to drop several degrees. Is this the headless horseman, come to claim another victim? There is no way off the path: no choice but to face the ghoul head on. As the horse closes in, its outline becomes clear: thank goodness, it is attached to a cart, and the driver is fully human and has a head. ‘Evening,’ she says cheerfully. ‘I’m just on my way back from town. Isn’t it a lovely night?’ The lighthouse at Point Robert in the northwest of Sark was built in 1913. LEFT Cyclists must dismount to cross La Coupée – the narrow isthmus that connects Big Sark to Little Sark

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GUERNSEY: Witches, a friendly ghost and an angry pixie

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OTHING IS COMMONER THAN sorcerers in Guernsey,’ Victor Hugo observed. Though that would now be something of an exaggeration, the island does have a magical history. During the witch hunt that swept Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, 103 people were found guilty of witchcraft on Guernsey alone. There is a plaque commemorating a witch-burning in Guernsey’s capital, St Peter Port. The town is arranged higgledypiggledy up a steep hill, with narrow flights of steps between streets, and it is rumoured that some of the flights are haunted by those witches who met their end in the flames. Guernsey’s alleged witches were accused of communing with the island’s pixies and were thought to congregate at prehistoric burial sites. The most notorious pixie was Le Barboue, or Old Bluebeard, said to wheel a barrow of parsnips angrily around the parishes of St Pierre du Bois and Torteval. To appease the pixies, Guernsey folk would leave a bowl of porridge out at night. Mostly, this seems to have worked. Reports of pixie attacks have decreased since the 1600s. For all their magical and mystical needs, Channel Islanders had two illicit books: Le Grand Albert and Le Petit Albert. These had their origins in the 13th century, though they were republished in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Priaulx Library in St Peter Port keeps a few tattered Alberts among its collection. It is considered terribly bad luck even to touch these volumes, but some of the less superstitious librarians can be persuaded to retrieve them. Le Grand Albert is an encyclopedia of medieval and early modern medicine, including homemade remedies involving herbs, precious stones and animals. It is Le Petit Albert that causes the real trouble. This is a how-to manual of witchcraft and wizardry, filled with talismans, horoscopes and recipes for love potions. Anyone brave enough to delve into its spells may learn how to use magic to manufacture fake gold, calm a wild horse or ripen a melon. In 17th-century Guernsey, Le Petit Albert was much feared. Throwing it away was said to be impossible. One reformed wizard tried drowning his copy in the sea but by the time he arrived home it was back in its usual place on his bookshelf. Then he tried to burn it. Again, it returned. Finally, he gave it a formal burial, with full religious rites. After that, it remained six feet under. Well into the 20th century, the Channel Islands retained medieval structures of

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society and government. In recent years, this has changed – though some traditions remain. There is, for instance, a seigneur (or lord) on Jersey whose duty it has been to present visiting British monarchs with two dead mallards. ‘What does it mean to be a seigneur now?’ says Peter de Sausmarez, the seigneur of Guernsey’s charming Sausmarez Manor. ‘Practically nothing, actually.’ Sausmarez history goes back to the Middle Ages. ‘We moved here about 1205 or 1220 or something like that,’ he says, waving a hand at hundreds of years’ worth of family portraits on the dining-room wall. Now, his hobby is conducting ghost tours. Sausmarez Manor is thought to be full of ghosts, notably the Nanny of the 28 Children. ‘One of my ancestors had 28 children,’ Peter explains. He first encountered this nanny when he left his two small sons alone in the house one evening. He returned to find the boys perfectly calm. ‘A lady came to read us a story and tuck us into bed,’ they said. The lady’s identity was a mystery, until one relative said that the ghostly Nanny of the 28 still turned up to comfort frightened children. ‘My wife said, “My God, if we could get hold of her, we could have free babysitting forever!”’ says Peter. Now Peter’s children are grown up, the Nanny has returned. She was recently heard singing to his infant grandson over a baby monitor. ‘My brain says it’s not possible,’ says Peter, ‘but one’s got so much evidence that things like this happen all the time.’ Indeed, strange things do seem to happen in these curious islands. Just outside St Martin’s Parish Church is a mysterious 4,000-year-old stone statue of a woman known as La Gran’mère du Chimquière, or the Grandmother of the Cemetery. Even now, locals leave flowers and coins for her. Was she a pagan goddess? An ancient queen? Or – according to one local story – Julius Caesar’s granny? (Caesar’s grannies were, of course, younger than the statue; but the Gran-mère was recarved in the time of Caesar, 2,000 years ago, to give her a Roman makeover.) Historians and archaeologists aren’t sure. Today, La Gran-mère has been offered a white cyclamen, three daisies and £1.87. As the Alderney fisherman so wisely said, why put another risk on something? The angry parsnip pixie might be lurking nearby. I place 50p on top of La Gran-mère’s head, and it must have been a trick of the light – she almost seemed to wink.

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CHANNEL ISLANDS

The front of Sausmarez Manor displays Queen Anne Colonial architecture. LEFT Peter de Sausmarez is a hereditary seigneur

Many legends surround La Gran’mère du Chimquière, Guernsey’s 4,000 -year-old statue. LEFT A well-used edition of Le Petit Albert

‘As the Alderney fisherman so wisely said, why put another risk on something? The angry parsnip pixie might be lurking nearby ’

St Peter Port harbour, looking out to Castle Cornet, which historically guarded the port July/August 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East 53

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The sweeping sandy beach of Saye Bay with Château à L’Etoc seen in the background – the castle was used as a fort by the Germans in WWII. BELOW Fisherman Raymond Goudion outside his hut and workshop

ALDERNEY: Legends of the sea, and a festival of fire

D

URING WWII, THE CHANNEL Islands were the only British soil occupied by Nazi forces. Their malevolent influence is still most visible in Alderney, where disused bunkers and tanktraps line every beach. Removing these would be dangerous and expensive: the thick walls can only be blown up with great force. Stuck with the bunkers, creative islanders have transformed them into party

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venues and summer cottages. They contrast strangely with some of the island’s more attractive architecture, but have become part of the fabric of the place – acting as striking punctuation amid Alderney’s mostly treeless, wide and windswept landscapes. Unlike Jersey and Guernsey, where the inhabitants had to live under Nazi occupation, Alderney was evacuated before the Germans invaded. After the war, the population returned. ‘I was the first boy brought back in 1945,’ says Raymond Goudion, born in exile in Plymouth. ‘My father made me a pram out of German ammunition crates.’ Since he was 11, Ray has been a fisherman. His wooden hut is a landmark of the harbour, with an impressive pair of lobster claws crossed over its door. Even today, mariners take superstitions seriously. When Victor Hugo noted that, ‘The Norman fishermen, who frequent the Channel, have many precautions to take at sea,’ he could have been writing about Ray. ‘The one we all stick to is that we won’t mention the four-leggers,’ Ray mutters. ‘You know, the underground racehorse.’ He means rabbits – a word it is best to avoid saying out loud near the harbour. Channel Islands fishermen consider rabbits to be the worst omen, for reasons unknown. Last year, a marine survey team from the mainland sailed out with some Alderney fishermen. ‘Listen to me rabbiting on,’ said a mainlander, innocently. Outraged, the fishermen turned the boat around and returned to port. ‘Why put another risk on something?’ Ray growls. ‘I did once, and something went wrong.’ He won’t say what. After the island was repopulated in 1945, a celebration was declared to bring the

community back together. Alderney Week remains the biggest and most anarchic party of the year. Its landmark event is the Man-Powered Flight, for which contestants build rudimentary wings and propellers and hurl themselves off the harbour wall, flapping wildly. There are also sandcastle competitions, all-night parties in disused bunkers, and pig races. (The winner this year was Squealer; Chunky came second, and the ominously named Sausage a poor third.) The culmination of the week is a torchlit procession to a bonfire by the sea. Only 2,400 people live on the island all year round, but many more have gathered tonight. Torches are lit in the town square. Dressed in a gown and a diamanté tiara, the woman chosen to be Miss Alderney leads the way down the high street, followed by a raucous stream of people all brandishing foot-long tapers of unguarded flame. ‘I’d love to see the health and safety assessment,’ remarks one spectator to his companion. ‘It does look scary, actually,’ his friend replies, as a five-year-old boy waves his flame alarmingly near some bunting. ‘Beautiful, though. Like a river of fire.’ The procession moves to the bonfire ground, where revellers form a ring around a stack of wood. In turn, each hurls his or her flaming torch onto the pile. A wall of fire crackles into the night sky. The scene is so much like the finale of ’70s horror film The Wicker Man that it could be unnerving. The worst these islanders are likely to do to visitors tonight, though, is encourage them to drink too much. Judging by the number of people who can be seen staggering blearily out of disused bunkers the next morning, quite a lot of them did just that.

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MAKE IT HAPPEN

Channel Islands With unspoilt sandy beaches, bracing cliff walks and a rich and intriguing history, the Channel Islands are an enchanting destination not far from England ESSENTIALS

ISLANDS TO EXPLORE

Getting there Flybe flies from various UK airports to Guernsey and Jersey (from Dhs360; flybe.com). A return trip to the Channel Islands from Poole or Portsmouth by ferry costs from Dhs330 (condorferries.co.uk). Fly to London on Emirates (Dhs4,455; emirates.com). Getting around Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney are connected by regular flights and ferries (aurigny.com; directferries.co.uk). Sark is reached by ferry from Guernsey (Dgs162 return; sark.info). Further reading Lonely Planet’s Great Britain (Dhs108) covers the Channel Islands. See visitguernsey.com and jersey.com, and read Toilers of the Sea, a magical novel by Victor Hugo set on Guernsey (Dhs72; Modern Library).

PHOTOGRAPHS: MICHAEL HEFFERNAN

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Jersey’s St Brelade’s Bay Hotel

Views from The Beach House

La Seigneurie and its gardens

Sleep

Eat

See

Jersey

Recently renovated St Brelade’s Bay Hotel has private gardens and sea views. It’s well placed for exploring by car, by bike or on foot (from Dhs840; free Wi-fi; stbreladesbayhotel.com).

Overlooking the beach at Ouaisne, The Beach House serves excellent seafood. Be sure to head to the terrace for an aperitif with a view (mains from Dhs57; theboathousegroup.com).

La Hougue Bie is a Neolithic passage grave, constructed 6,000 years ago. The site includes a museum showcasing some interesting archaeological finds (entry Dhs45; jerseyheritage.org).

Sark

Notre Desir is a family home and guesthouse in the east of Big Sark, with two well-appointed rooms, a great breakfast and a warm welcome (Dhs480; sercq. com/Notre_Desir.html).

Try charming La Sablonnerie (left) for dishes such as roast scallops and spring lamb (mains from Dhs75; sablonneriesark.com).

The gardens at La Seigneurie are a delight and include a maze, a dovecot, and a bronze cannon given to the island by Queen Elizabeth I (entry Dhs24; laseigneuriegardens.com).

Alderney

Farm Court is a lovely collection of farm buildings set around a cobbled courtyard in St Anne. Rooms are filled with the owner’s art (from Dhs510; farmcourt-alderney.co.uk).

Georgian House prides itself on high-quality, local produce (right). The real treat here is Alderney crab (mains from Dhs60; georgianalderney.com).

Guernsey

Once the residence of the Governor, The Old Government House has been a hotel since 1858. It is home to two good restaurants (from Dhs990; free Wi-fi; theoghhotel.com).

Le Petit Bistro, tucked away in the old town of St Peter Port, serves good French food in its cosy dining room, which is hung with vintage Gallic posters (mains from Dhs60; petitbistro.co.uk).

Artist Andy Goldsworthy has installed 11 boulders (the Alderney Stones) on the coast, linked by a 16mile walk with fine views (free; alderneystones.com). Built by monks over the course of the 20th century, the tiny Little Chapel in St Andrew is beautifully decorated in a mosaic of seashells, pebbles and broken china (free; thelittlechapel.org).

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SALALAH

The Dhofar region in Southern Oman was once the world’s biggest exporter of ‘white gold’. Now a sleepy but wild land, it is renowned for the khareef, or monsoon season, which transforms the mountains and wadis into verdant green carpets

ON THE TRAIL OF FRANKINCENSE WORDS GEORGINA WILSON-POWELL

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The summer khareef season brings lush greenery to the otherwise dry Salalah landscape

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SALALAH

Frankincense or Boswellia sacra trees are not pretty. The twisted trunks look like witches’ ďŹ ngers trying to escape an underground prison

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LEFT: An old frankincense tree grows

out of the harsh landscape

THIS PIC: Frankincese is sold by weight

and colour in the local souk

BELOW: The view down the Dhofar coast

FROM A ROCKY OUTCROP, I CAN SEE for kilometres down the coast. The wide, shallow sandy shore is under constant barrage from heavy white-topped rollers which claw at the land. For all their ferocity they go no nearer to the small box-like, flat-roofed town that sits two storeys tall amongst the thin coconut palm trees, as they bend like pipe cleaners towards the big sky. Welcome to the Dhofar region of Oman, once the biggest exporter of frankincense in the world. Little here has changed for hundreds of years. On the flat sand set back from the sea, the curved building rocks of old houses have been piled carefully into small squat walls and newer houses have been built in between. This is a land of modesty, tolerance and simple lives; people live off the land, the sea and the mountains, all of which have had an impact on the history of this region. Salalah in Dhofar is the southern part of Oman, made remote as it sits between the Dhofar mountains, the Yemeni border, the Arabian Sea and the Rub Al Khail (Empty Quarter) desert. Even today with Oman’s population sitting at three million, the population of Dhofar is only 250,000 and if you don’t fly, it’s a torturous ten hour drive through the desert, to the country’s capital, Muscat, in the north. However 4,000 years ago, Dhofar – called

Magan (Arameric for ‘the East’) was known for producing the best ‘white gold’. Frankincense has been an integral part of religious rituals since that time; it was also used as a medicine to combat arthritis and digestion problems, and blackened and ground down, it created the heavy kohl eyeliner, made famous by the Egyptians. Huge port towns would collect it and ship it off as far as China, East Africa, India and the Gulf. The Queen of Sheba loved it so much, she was responsible for one of these towns, Khor Rori, which homed wealthy townhouses as well as her palace. Today Khor Rori is an archeological park, undergoing excavation. I climb over remains of what looks like a tight knit town, the golden coloured foundation

rocks like basic Lego, high up on a rocky expanse. Its location, next to the sea with a natural harbour gets better as it also sits on a lagoon (Khor means lagoon in Arabic), which even today in its depleted state still attracts plenty of camels and birds to swim in, and drink from the relatively green banks. 4,000 years ago this would have been a bustling port busy with Omani ships transporting their local frankincense to the rest of the world. While signs and explanations are still a little lacking amongst the ruins, you can see gateway stones carved with ancient inscriptions. For a better insight into Khor Rori, I first check out Al Baleed Archaeological Park in Salalah itself. A fairly modern museum, it gives an interesting insight into Oman’s trading and sea-faring history. The Omanis have been building boats and trading since before Khor Rori’s time and long beyond it. There’s evidence on show of them engaging in sea battles with what was Mesopotamia and arriving in China. While Khor Rori’s history is being uncovered, another frankincense-centred city is still the subject of much discussion. 20th century explorers such as TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) and Wilfred Thesiger were told stories about a lost ‘Atlantis of the sands’, meant to be Ubar – an important trading post that crops up in both the Qu’ran July/August 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East

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There are no borders on these lands – they are open for people to camp – or animals to roam and the Bible. Local Bedouins insisted this was the Omani city of Shisr, lost beneath the Empty Quarter desert. Modern technology has almost definitely confirmed this and famous contemporary explorer Ranulph Fiennes has even written a book on the subject, ‘Atlantis of the Sands - The Search for the Lost City of Ubar.’ Even though there is nothing to see now, the existence of this famed city in Dhofar reinforces its ancient importance. The frankincense trade now belongs to the tribes that live around Salalah. This area has three distinct people, the Jebelli from the mountains, the Badawi from the deserts and the Hadhari from the settled plains. My tour guide and driver, Mohammed, is from the mountains but he moved down to Salalah to raise his eight children. As we bounce and brake around the mountainscape, pulling up to take pictures of stunningly wild coastlines and steep mountain trails, his knowledge of the local area is unsurpassable. While little development has gone into Oman over the last 1,000 years, the people too, have remained very focused on simple lives – living off the land isn’t a quaint concept here, it’s still just the status quo. Having taken the ‘zigzag’ roads up to Jabal Al Qamar in the Dhofar mountains, up from Khor Rori, we come to Al-Fazayah beach, a

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rocky coastal strip. Winding our way down to a wind-swept beach, boulders as big as houses sit on the sand as though a giant threw a game of dice off the top of the mountain. This is an ancient land, unchanged by modernity where the landscape still dominates and makes visitors feel insignificant by comparison. Mohammed clambers down between the rocks to show me how to harvest frankincense. Frankincense or Boswellia sacra trees are not pretty. The twisted trunks look like witches’ fingers trying to escape an underground prison, all gnarled and sharp. Even a two hundred year old tree looks more like a scraggy bush. But they are one of the hardiest trees, perfect for the harsh terrain in Dhofar. The trees can grow out of anything,

including just rock. To make the ‘white gold’, the papery bark is stripped back and the trunk is slashed shallowly with a knife. The milky sap leaks out and hardens. A couple of weeks later it can be chipped off and harvested and this can go on pretty much indefinitely. The quality of the frankincense depends on the local climate, soil conditions and so on but Salalah and the Dhofar region is home to some of the finest qualities in the world. I ask Mohammed who the trees belong to. “Before the trees would belong to the tribe of the area and they would be responsible for harvesting. But now, frankincense is not really an industry, anyone can come along and take what he wants from the tree.” This unusual disregard for possessions and boundaries characterises Salalah. Animals, camels especially (which seem more populous than people), are left to wander as they desire. There are no borders on these lands – they are open for people to camp – or animals to roam. Several times in my journeys with Mohammed, we came round a sharp bend on a wide road only to find a family of camels sat down in the middle of it, or a herd just wandering across. But camels aren’t the only wildlife round here. The mountains and roads are home to donkeys, cows and goats as well as wild cats, hyenas and apparently, wolves.

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SALALAH

LEFT ABOVE: Camels graze at

leisure

LEFT BELOW: Ruins at Khor Rori

THIS PAGE LEFT: Wallah’s bedroom at Taqah Castle THIS PAGE RIGHT: Taqah Castle was built in the 19th century

As much as camels will always be beasts of burden, they’re also walking dinner to a lot of Omanis, Mohammed explains. “Salalah people love camel meat, when it is hung and cooked on a rope. They’ll often only just eat meat, three times a day, followed with a little black tea. One of our favourite things to do is take an entire camel and cook it in a cave, we cook it slowly and eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, perhaps with a little bread.” He laughs a little, “we did this a lot more before we learnt about cholesterol.” While the heady hey days of frankincense are long gone, there are other historical remains across the landscape. About 40 minutes out of Salalah I find Taqah Castle, a 19th century administration centre, which would have been lived in by the local wallah (governor). Now restored to its former glory, visitors can explore the small castle and see the brightly coloured bedrooms and the majlis where the wallah would have received visitors and settled disputes, with its traditional Omani khanjours (daggers) hanging on the walls. The town now relies firmly on fishing for its survival and the harbour is lined with traditional Omani dhows as well as smaller skiff style boats. In the heavy midday sun, local kids are busy flinging themselves into the cool waters from the harbour walls.

WHERE TO STAY

Hilton Salaah The Hilton Salalah is one of the only five star hotels in town, set a little way beyond the centre. It has landscaped gardens and three restaurants, two bars and a café. In the winter months there are beach parties, watersports and a beach bar. In the summer cool off in the large pool (from Dhs560; free Wi-fi in the café; hilton.com).

However the smell of frankincense still lingers in some parts of Salalah. Trygve Harris is the owner of Enfleurage distillery, which turns frankincense into essential oil and now ice cream. In her villa she has perfected the art of creating locally flavoured ice cream using frankincense and

jasmine, and is in the process of setting up a beachside café in Muscat and supplying local hotels with her unusual products. “Frankincense has many healing properties and is good for you and icecream is so accessible over the essential oils! I took a stall last summer in the souk and it was a huge success,” she explains. Nowadays though, rather than frankincense, Dhofar and Salalah’s main attraction nowadays is the khareef, the monsoon season that takes place during July and August. The tropical climate is thanks to an annual deluge of rain that sees the grey mountains and red barren wadis, bloom into verdant green carpets, more akin to an Asian jungle than a Middle Eastern summer. GCC tourists pour into the region to take advantage of a cooler climate during the roasting summer months and Omani hospitality goes into overdrive as people take off and camp and picnic pretty much as they please. Mohammed is kept busy during these months and his eyes glaze over as he explains his favourite picnic spots in Wadi Durbat which becomes a lush tropical park complete with boats to hire on the river. Many people return to the area year after year, and some of the appeal of this must be the unchanging nature of Dhofar. The landscape speaks for itself, this is a land that will never be tame. July/August 2013 Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East

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MAKE IT HAPPEN

SALALAH, OMAN Only 100 kilometres from the Yemini border, Salalah is a wild frontier, set between the mountains, the sea and the desert. It is an adventurer’s paradise ESSENTIALS

TOP 9 RESTAURANTS, PUBS AND CAFES IN SALALAH

Getting there Fly to Salalah from Dubai on Qatar Airways, a new route which launched last month. They fly four times a week, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday. (from Dhs3,450; qatarairways.com).

1

Al-Fareed Tourist Restaurant is a firm favourite with the locals. The eatery on July Street offers everything from shawarmas to shish taouk. The restaurant also serves Chinese and Indian cuisine, fresh seafood and tandoor. (Dhs35 per person for the Thursday buffet; 23 July Street; +968292382).

Getting around While the regional road system is decent for the Middle East, signs outside the city are in Arabic only. The best way to get around is with a guide. Book a one or two day tour with Silk Road Tours and you won’t regret it (Dhs1,000 per day; silk-road-oman.com).

At Sheba’s Steak House you can choose from a selection of premium cuts, flavourful sauces and wine pairings, it’s located at Hilton Salalah Resort. Indulge in succulent ribeye while soaking in the stunning views of the Indian Ocean (+96823211234; hilton. com).

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Located at the Crowne Plaza, Al Khareef pub is decorated in rich wood and stained glass. It boasts spectacular views of the Arabian Sea, making it perfect for sundowners or an intimate evening out. (Al Khandaq Street; +96823235333; ihg. com).

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3

Cascade Indian Kitchen serves aromatic and mouthwatering curries and freshly baked Indian bread, in a quaint restaurant. Those looking for good food, affordable rates and exemplary service, should visit this restaurant for a hearty feast. (23rd July Street near Bank Dhofar).

4

Further reading Download the Oman chapter from the Oman, UAE and Arabian Peninsula guidebook for Dhs18 at lonelyplanet.com.

Looking for authentic Thai in the city? Siam Kitchen, located near the intersection of Sultan Qaboos and Al Muntazah streets, is your go-to place for specialties including papaya salad, stir-frys with jasmine rice and the Thai green and red curries. (+96893314736; siamkitchen.org).

2

There’s no better way to cool down this summer, than with drinks by the pool at The Wharf pool bar! Quench your thirst at the Salalah Marriott Resort, or enjoy a light lunch of wraps or sandwiches, refreshing cocktails, fresh juices and icecream (+96823268245; marriott.com).

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Whether you’re looking for roast beef, chicken curry hot pot, sizzling pork chops or chicken hollandaise or lamb kebabs, there’s something to suit every taste bud at The Oasis Club. And, it even has a kid’s play area and bowling alley! (Port Road, +96823219248).

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Food at Lebanese House restaurant is made up of fresh, seasonal produce, and that is exactly what you get at this Lebanese outlet which offers a selection of grills, fresh seafood, hot dishes and mezze, in a cosy atmosphere. (Al Salaam Street, Al Wadi, +96823212100).

6

Need your dailycaffeine fix? Mayfair café in Hilton Salalah Resort overlooks the hotel garden and Indian Ocean, and serves an assortment of decadent cakes, sweet treats and coffee and tea. It offers complimentary Wi-fi. (+9683211234; hilton. com).

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SWISS FAMILY 1PLAY ROBINSON IN THE MALDIVES This chain of atolls and modern tropical paradise is home to a number of beaches and resorts that offer the best in luxury and hospitality. Beach House Iruveli is a truly Maldivian retreat in the north of Male, which boasts 83 thatched villas and suites that come with private plunge pools. Take the family to one of two private islands nearby and let kids run amuck like new castaways, on their own island. But of course, you’ve been marooned in style complete with a chef to conjure up a special barbeque. This

summer, book a family vacation and kids get to stay, eat and play for free with access to a ‘Turtle Club’ back on the main island which has a climbing wall, games room, cookery classes and its own pool. GETTING STARTED

Fly to Male with Etihad Airways (from Dhs2,100; etihad.com). Stay at the Beach Suite with an outdoor deck and private beach cabana for four nights or more. Two kids get complimentary stay and meals (Dhs4,250 per room per night; 00960 3325 977; beachhousecollection.com/iruveli).

WORDS NICOLA MONTEATH & GEORGINA WILSON-POWELL

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THE 400 ACRE FARM HAS 12 WALKS THAT YOU CAN TAKE ON, COMPLETE WITH MAPS AND THERE’S PLENTY OF SPACE FOR YOGA PRACTICE TIL YOU DROP 2 SHOP IN LONDON Talk to any fashionista worth her Louboutins and she’ll tell you London is where it’s at for shopping. Any woman will tell you though, retail therapy is hard work. The Corinthia London has a special package for GGC residents this Eid. ‘Suite life’ includes a night at the five star, plush hotel, a sumptuous breakfast, a truly English afternoon tea in the lobby lounge and the use of a Jaguar XJ to drop you to your favourite stores around Bond and Regent Street. Now that’s shopping in style. Guests also receive access to the fitness suites and thermal floor at the ESPA Life at Corinthia spa to help revive tired feet and get you ready to hit the town in the evening. London’s at its best in the summer months, so be ready to take advantage of its al-fresco spots now the rain’s stopped. GETTING STARTED

British Airways flies to London (from Dhs3,485; britishairways.com). The Suite life package is available for three or more nights in a Whitehall, Trafalgar, or River Suite and The Actor’s or The Explorer’s

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Penthouse (from Dhs10,380 for three nights; corinthia.com/London).

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veranda for surveying your terrain! Need more relaxation? The resort has a Ayurvedic spa. GETTING STARTED

DISCOVER A SLOWER PACE ON A KERELAN HOMESTAY

It might not seem like the optimum time to visit south west India but for a real antidote to the dry dusty UAE summer, the lush Indian greenery, and the smell of fresh rain (and cooler weather) could be just what the doctor ordered. There’s no better place to enjoy this than at The Tranquil resort, which offers a luxurious homestay experience, on a coffee and spice plantation. The 400 acre farm has 12 walks that you can take on, complete with maps and there’s plenty of space for yoga practice. Guests enjoy dinner at a communal dining area and tuck into traditional Kerala cuisine, Indian specialties, and cups of garden fresh tea. Rooms, suites, treehouses and villas are available at the resort. Play out childhood dreams of living in a treehouse in one of three built in a Gulmohar tree, 35 feet off the ground, overlooking a beautiful valley. You don’t even have to rough it up there, it even features a power shower and a

Fly to Calicut on Emirates (from Dhs2,600; emirates.com). The Tranquil resort (from Dhs661; Kuppamudi coffee estate; 0091 4936 220244; tranquilresort.com).

TREKKING 4 GO IN NEPAL If you feel like you’ve put on the proverbial UAE stone, and would like some sort of activity on your next summer trip, why not walk through the Annapurna? The rocky terrain, lush forest and wildflower fields with the snowy Himalayan peaks in the distance, will take your mind off the hard work. Along the way, stop and meet the humble locals that inhabit the rural villages, and stay with them to enjoy friendly hospitality on a homestay. The tour begins in Pokhara, the gateway to the Annapurna Range and Nepal’s second largest city, and continues for five days, through the mountain meadows, terraced fields

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H I G H E5I :DCBARSETALKE S

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP Kerela offers

a lush and green Eid option; famous Carnaby Street has fab London shopping; Nepal will be a breath of fresh air this August

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and Gurung village, before ending on day five back at Pokhara where you can relax at a cafes, shop for souvenirs and visit the temples before heading home refreshed. GETTING STARTED

Fly to Nepal with Qatar Airways (from Dhs2,395; qatarairways.com). The hiking tour is operated by Intrepid Travel (from Dhs2,146 on twin sharing basis; intrepidtravel.com).

DIVING 5DISCOVER IN MALTA

REAL THAI LIFE 6 FIND IN CHIANG MAI

Malta, just 80 kilometres south of Italian Sicily, covers only 316 square kilometres, making it the world’s smallest and most densely populated country. Sandy beaches, blue lagoons and inland seas all go towards to making Malta the ideal getaway for a beach holiday with plenty to do. Water babies and divers can try a wide range of sea activities offered by Bezz Diving, an eco-friendly diving centre which avoids diving in tuna-farms to prevent destruction of the sea. Across the six dives you could check out sunken wrecks, underwater caves and tunnels as well as the Blue Hole – one of Europe’s top dive spots. Warm and calm waters and easy access to these sites mean that Malta is perfect for beginner or inexperienced divers looking to increase their confidence.

Chiang Mai might not be the first destination of choice in Thailand, but if you’ve done the tourist triangle of Bangkok, Phuket and Koh Samui then head north. Chiang Mai is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand, 700 kilometres north of Bangkok. Temples dot every mountain and hill, elephants roam the jungles and the people couldn’t be friendlier. And then there’s the food - simple, local and absolutely delicious. Book into the Rainforest Boutique Hotel located 300 metres away from Chiangmai Railway Station to discover a charming retreat built in the local Lana style. The hotel offers tours that include elephant training (see our Easy Trip on page 27 for other Thai based elephant options), boat cruises and temple visits.

GETTING STARTED

GETTING STARTED

Fly from Dubai to Malta with Emirates (from Dhs3,140; emirates.com). Stay at the Riviera Resort and Spa (from Dhs1,080 per night; free Wi-fi; riviera.com.mt). Try the Scuba diving package with Bezz Diving (from Dhs1,000; malta-diving.com).

Fly to Chiang Mai with Emirates (from Dhs2,100; emirates.com). Stay in the Rainforest Deluxe Room in Chiang Mai Rainforest Boutique Hotel and book a traditional spa treatment (from Dhs180 per night; free Wi-fi; chiangmairainforest.com). CLOCKWISE FROM TOP Tuck into

tasty delights in Chiang Mai; all aboard the Hogwarts Express in Scotland; Malta is renowned for its diving potential

WITH LIONS 7 WALK IN MAURITIUS Not many people know that there’s plenty of African wildlife on the island of Mauritius. Safari Adventures operates tours where you can feel and see lions, cheetahs and tigers in their natural habitat. The 45 minute to one hour walks are conducted by experts who specialise in lion handling and training. You can choose to walk with the lions, cubs, cheetahs, or tigers, either during the early morning or late afternoon. Each adventure begins with a short chat on the cats and their habitat and the safety measures to be taken, before you discover the big cats for yourself. GETTING STARTED

Fly to Mauritius from Dubai with Air Mauritius (from Dhs5,100; airmauritius.com). The walk with the lions is organised by Safari Adventures (Dhs358; walks are not available on Sundays; safari-adventures-mauritius.com).

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EID BREAKS

UNLEASH YOUR INNER WIZARD ON THE JACOBITE STEAM TRAIN WHICH WAS USED IN ALL SEVEN OF THE HARRY POTTER MOVIES A WATERFALL ABSEIL 8BOOK IN KUALA LUMPUR

IN A 13TH CENTURY 9STAY ITALIAN CAVE

LIKE HARRY POTTER 10MAKE AND HEAD TO HOGWARTS

While Kuala Lumpur city is not without its charms, the Malaysian jungle is where the real adventures are.Waterfalls are aplenty in Kuala Lumpur, and if you’re not simply heading to one to take a tropical bath, we suggest booking yourself in for waterfall abseiling. A two and a half hour trek through the wild tropical jungle, brings you to a hidden and beautiful 45-metre waterfall, and once you get to the top, all you have to do is abseil down it! All technical gear is provided and safety is key to the trek leaders but this is real Indiana Jones moment and a once in a lifetime experience.

A trip to southern Italy seems to be the norm for summer getaways. Steer away from the usual suspects of Puglia, Naples and Sicily, and head to Matera, a city in Basilicata. This amazing town built in the 13th century is a UNESCO World Heritage Site made up of ancient cave dwellings and churches. Stay in a vast grotto that is six metres high. The hotel has restored from the decaying ancient caves and is not only gorgeous but also a refreshing alternative to conventional stays. If you want to live like The Flintstones, this is the place. You get a large iron-key, stone sinks, and large bathtubs. Breakfast is served in a former church, which gives dining a unique twist.

All aboard the Hogwarts Express! Unleash your inner wizard on the Jacobite Steam Train which was used in all seven of the Harry Potter movies. It climbs through the stunning Scottish mountains and lochs of Glen Coe and Glen Nevis and over the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct. The six night/seven day tour also takes in the stunning Alnwick Castle, better known as Harry’s famous school, Hogwarts. Say hello to another legend, while you’re up there, Nessie the Loch Ness monster and also stop off and discover the beautiful castle city of Edinburgh – which has plenty of its own magic.

GETTING STARTED

Fly to Kuala Lumpur with Qatar Airways (from Dhs4,205; qatarairways.com). The water abseiling activity is organised by Open Sky Unlimited (from Dhs518; openskyunlimited.com).

GETTING STARTED GETTING STARTED

Fly to Naples from Dubai on Emirates (from Dhs4,525; emirates.com). Stay at the Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita (from Dhs1,450; free Wi-fi; sextantio.it/grotte-civita).

The tour with Emirates Holidays is self-drive and includes economy return airfare, car rental, accommodation with breakfast and the return steam train journey (Dhs5,095 per adult; Dhs4,345 per child; emiratesholidays.com).

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You’ll never want to leave For our fabulous offers please call +971 (0) 2 690 8888 or email at reservations@emiratespalace.ae emiratespalace.ae *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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Armchair

Traveller

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

BOOK REVIEWS

CONSOLATIONS OF THE FOREST: ALONE IN A CABIN IN THE MIDDLE TAIGA Sylvain Tesson (Dhs102; Allen Lane)

TINY ISLANDS: 60 REMARKABLE LITTLE WORLDS AROUND BRITAIN Dixe Wills (Dhs90; AA Publishing)

The British Isles weren’t named for nothing; there are 6,289 pockets of land scattered around Britain’s seas and within its lakes, lochs and rivers. In Tiny Islands, a follow-up to the best-selling Tiny Campsites, travel writer Dixe Wills profiles 60 of these – none larger than half a square mile. His choices, which range from the Isles of Scilly off the Cornish coast to the Orkneys north of Scotland, are all open to the public and illustrative of Britain’s

CITY-PICK ST PETERSBURG Edited by Heather Reyes, Marina Samsonova & James Rann (Dhs60; Oxygen Books)

rich and fantastically odd history. Piel Island off Cumbria has its own king, who sits on a throne in the solitary pub; Scotland’s Bass Rock is an ancient volcano; and Essex’s Northey Island was the site of a Viking raid that precipitated decades of conflict and arguably led to the Norman Conquest and all that followed. Wills’s lively, if not always fluent, prose brings such places to life, aided by photos, hand-drawn maps and practical information on transport and accommodation. BEST FOR Inspiration for islandhopping when visiting the UK.

Eighteen bottles of ketchup – it’s a telling shopping list. French writer Sylvain Tesson is en route to the shores of Lake Baikal in southern Siberia, and six long months of self-imposed solitude. Taking up residence in a small log cabin six days’ walk from the nearest village, he’s fleeing the commotion and herd mentality of Paris, and also his own restlessness. Accompanied by Nietzsche and Conrad, the writer sets about fashioning a meagre routine that blends day-to-day survival with heightened observation of his environment. The result is a book with a surprisingly optimistic tone which inspires us to rediscover the joys of contemplation. BEST FOR Vicarious insights into the catharsis of loneliness.

The latest in a series of minianthologies including Amsterdam, London and Paris, City Pick St Petersburg is a collection of travel writing about Russia’s second city. The book opens reflecting on the construction of the city as the vision of Tsar Peter the Great in the 17th century. We hear the admiring voices of composer Sergei Prokofiev on walking its boulevards under snow and travel writer Duncan Fallowell on watching warships on the River Neva. Chapters are arranged thematically – covering everything from ballet to the city’s ‘White Nights’ – painting a portrait worthy of a city that has inspired writers like few others. BEST FOR A literary overview of St Petersburg across the centuries.

SOPHIE MCGRATH

AINHOA BARCELONA

OLIVER SMITH

APP REVIEWS

Goselectpass Who needs paper? This app for the US gets you up to 50% off attractions, museums, zoos and cruises – just download it, book the tickets you want and show the phone code on entry. See what attractions it includes in each city, along with directions and maps, it even has no-queueing options. Available free on Apple.

Urbanspoon Take a chance on where to eat in Canada, the USA, Australia, the UK and Ireland. Shake your phone to activate the app, the wheels spin like a jackpot machine and it will suggest a restaurant nearby. View the restaurant’s reviews, check availability and book! It will also suggest the best timeslot, dishes to try and will help to get you there on time with a handy map. Available free on Apple, Blackberry, Kindle and Windows

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A RCM T R EAV ARM HC AH I RATI RR AV L LEELRL E R GADGET REVIEWS CANON IXUS 140

(Dhs755; canon.com) Canon’s latest compact camera is oh so sophisticated. With a 8x zoom and Wi-fi capabilities so you can share all your snaps seamlessly, this little number is something you want to pack everytime you go away. It also takes HD movies with one easy button press and has the latest Face Detection Technology to make sure you get everyone’s best side every time. Simple to use, small and hardy – this is a pocket essential.

XPERIA TABLET Z

(from Dhs1,999; sony.com) There are more tablets out there than the iPad. This 10 inch version runs Android and weighs less than half a kilo. Sony has created a durable but lightweight device that has a 8MP HD backward and a 2 MP HD forward camera and four speaker ‘halls’ at the corners offering clear sound, no matter how you hold it. Tap it against your Android phone or laptop to transfer content and key for this market, it’s dust and water resistant with a durable glass front display. Perfect for taking out and about.

ONLINE REVIEWS

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TRIPTROTTING.COM

FIRSTLUGGAGE.COM

THECULTURETRIP.COM

MACSADVENTURE.COM

Local knowledge is always invaluable. Triptrotting is a global portal for travellers, where they can connect with people who share similar interests, meet up for social activities, learn more about a particular culture from others, source accommodation when travelling, and get suggestions on local haunts. On the website, you can create your own itinerary, sign up for weekend trips, and walking tours (some are free) which are recommended according to the users preferences. The Triptrotting website even includes destination videos on the Triptrotting TV channel. There’s some great insights on here.

Fearful of losing your suitcases and all your holiday mementos or expensive suits or perhaps you don’t like waiting and just despise the dreadful queues at the baggage drop-off in the airport? Enter First Luggage, a nifty website, which offers a collection and delivery service for your luggage, sans the airline hassle and stress. Delivered via FedEx and fully insured, the website is also a great choice for those who wish to ship large bits of sporting equipment such as kayaks and windsurfing boards and even golf clubs. It’s much easier than carting them along to and from the airport.

Get under the skin of your holiday destination. The Culture Trips offers an indepth look at the culture and arts of cities with recommendations for museums, galleries, hotels, tours, restaurants, venues to visit, and events at your preferred destination are available as well. A brief profile on each destination, along with the climatic conditions, and apps, provide everything you need to know before travelling. If you’re interested in a good read or want to get a feel for the place, why not read a book written about the destination, or watch a film instead? Lists of both are here.

Take in the scenic views around you, and keep fit when travelling this summer, with a walking and cycling-tour guided holiday. Whether you prefer a walk in the Lake District or a Champagne cycling trip in France, this website offers everything, from the latest news, reviews and videos to help you make a decision on a self-guided tour and galleries to entice you to book a tour right away. Those looking for inspiration can view the Inspire Me section to read further on the various escapades offered. Choose according to your destination, type of tour, and the grade (easy, moderate, strenuous).

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JULY/AUGUST 2013

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

Steam rises off the naturally hot water at the Sacred Spring in the Roman Baths

The pier and beach at Southwold at sunrise

Brighton seafront lights up at dusk

MINI GUIDE

MINI GUIDE

MINI GUIDE

SEASIDE SUFFOLK

GEORGIAN BATH

NIGHTLIFE IN BRIGHTON

Sophisticated and stately, Bath’s streets are lined with the finest Georgian architecture. What better time to visit and feel part of high society than the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

The debauchery of Prince George, mods and rockers in bank holiday fisticuffs, raves on the beach, badly behaved hens and stags, and the UK’s leading gay scene – Brighton is the place for a hedonistic weekend. lls tials tials ntia enti en ds esse d

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The Dugald Stewart Monument overlooks Edinburgh’s city centre

The view to Buttermere from the top of Haystacks

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Littered with quaint seaside resorts that have doggedly refused to sell their souls to tourism, the Suffolk coast offers everything from traditional fish and chips by the pier to natural wonders in abundance.

MINI GUIDE

MINI GUIDE

MINI GUIDE

COASTAL NORFOLK

LAKE DISTRICT WALKS

PUBS IN EDINBURGH

Big skies, windswept marshes and sandy beaches that go on for ever attract wildlife and watersport lovers alike, while plentiful pubs and seafood joints are the biggest draws in Norfolk’s coastal towns.

This magnificent, much-loved national park is one of the best places in Britain for a stroll: small wonder that many a wandering poet and writer has fallen for its blustery, formidable charms over the years.

The city known as the Athens of the North and, more colloquially, Auld Reekie has more howffs – or drinking dens – per inhabitant than almost anywhere else in the UK, making it a fantastic destination for a wee dram. i lls tials d essentia

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Lonely Planet Traveller Middle East March 2013

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TRANSPORT

ONLY IN THE CANARIES

Canary Islands essentials

The know-how

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MIDDLE EAST

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Fold 2

Nature RSPB MINSMERE

The pier and beach at Southwold at sunrise

MINI GUIDE

SEASIDE SUFFOLK

SUFFOLK COAST NATIONAL NAT A IONAL NATURE NAT A URE RESERVE

Littered with quaint seaside resorts that have doggedly refused to sell their souls to tourism, the Suffolk coast offers everything from traditional fish and chips by the pier to natural wonders in abundance.

ADNAMS

Tear out page here then fold along dotted lines

BUTLEY ORFORD OYSTERAGE OYSTERAGE O The Pinney family have been cultivating oysters at the Butley Orford Oysterage for more than 50 years. They have a fish shop by Orford Quay, selling fish from their smokehouse at nearby Butley Creek. For a hearty seafood meal – say half a dozen oysters to start (Dhs43), followed by fish pie (Dhs70) – the family restaurant on the market square serves simple but delicious dishes (see website for opening times; pinneysoforford.co.uk).

Comprising Walberswick, Hen Reedbed and Dingle Marshes reserves, this is a natural wonderland of reedbeds, hay meadows, grazing marshes and a variety of woodlands. Home to hundreds of bird species, otters, natterjack toads, water voles, five species of deer and rare butterflies, it can all be accessed via a web of public footpaths (naturalengland.org.uk).

RSPB Minsmere is recognised for its high diversity of bird species

ORFORD NESS Orford Ness is the largest vegetated shingle spit in Europe. Once used as a secret military testing ground, it’s now home to a nature reserve and many rare wading birds, animals and plants. There are information boards and military bunkers along a three-mile path. Ferries run from Orford Quay: the last ferry departs at 2pm (admission erry crossing Dhs40; Sat only Apr–Jun and Oct, 10am–2pm Tue–Sat Jul–Oct; nationaltrust.org.uk).

Coastal towns and villages

Eat and drink Adnams has been brewing in Southwold since 1872 and is known for its cask ales, which you can try in 70 pubs around East Anglia. In Southwold, Adnams offers one-hour brewery tours followed by a 30-minute tutored beer tasting. Its Cellar & Kitchen Store stocks beer, wines and kitchenware (Dhs67; tour dates on website; brewery at Adnams Plc; adnams.co.uk).

The coastline north of Aldeburgh is popular with birdwatchers, with RSPB Minsmere flickering with airborne activity year-round. There’s a mix of woodland, wetland and coastal scenery, and species to look out for include the avocet, bearded tit, bittern, marsh harrier and nightingale (walks Dhs42; 9am–4pm Nov–Jan, until 5pm, visitor centre rest of the year; rspb.org.uk).

SOUTHWOLD

A lunch of fresh oysters at the Butley Orford Oysterage

REGATTA REGATT A TA Good old English seaside food is given star treatment at this contemporary restaurant in Aldeburgh. The celebrated ownerchef trained at Le Gavroche and runs regular events, such as Hand Dived Scallop Week and Japanese Gourmet Evening. Dishes such as smoked prawns with garlic mayo (Dhs32) and confit of Gressingham duck with Toulouse sausage cassoulet and chips (Dhs75) are standard menu offerings (171 High Street; regattaaldeburgh.com).

Southwold is the kind of genteel seaside resort where beach huts cost an arm and a leg – some sell for as much as Dhs550,000 – thanks to the lure of the town’s sandy beach and pebble-walled cottages. Take in views from the cannon-dotted clifftop and visit the impressive 19th-century lighthouse; then enjoy fish and chips at the traditional pier or hit the waves with a boat ride.

ALDEBURGH

Southwold is mentioned in the Domesday Book as a fishing port

DUNWICH

One of the region’s most charming coastal spots, the fishing and boat-building town of Aldeburgh has an understated charm. Handsome pastelcoloured houses, independent shops and art galleries, and ramshackle fishing huts line the High Street, while a sweeping shingle beach offers big-sky views. There’s also a lively cultural scene and decent fish and chip shops.

North of Aldeburgh is a trail of serene and little-visited coastal heritage towns that are gradually succumbing to the sea. The village of Dunwich was once the AngloSaxon capital of the Kingdom of the East Angles, but numerous storm surges over the centuries have washed away most of the original settlements. There’s still a large shingle beach, birdwatching at Dunwich Heath and The Ship at Dunwich, a good pub with rooms.

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MINI GUIDE Seaside Suffolk Sights & Activities

TRANSPORT R Fly to Heathrow with British Airways (from Dhs4,050; britishairways.com) or Emirates Airlines (from Dhs4,500; emirates.com). Take the National Express coach from Heathrow to Walton (Suffolk), located 4 hours aways (Dhs95; nationalexpress. com). For local transport information contact suffolkonboard.com or travelineeastanglia.co.uk.

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T Set in lovely gardens, Dunan House is a charming B&B with three guest rooms. The artistic owners have filled the house, which is a 10-minute walk from Aldeburgh beach, with artworks and colourful rugs. Breakfast is from local, wild and homegrown produce (from Dhs420; free Wi-fi; 41 Park Road; dunanhouse. co.uk). Sutherland House is a beautiful 15th-century house in Southwold, with pargetted ceilings, original elm floorboards and a

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The know-how FESTIVAL SEASON Don’t miss this year’s top events in Suffolk:

Latitude Held in Henham Park, this ever-popular festival has a great mix of music, literature, dance, drama and comedy including Kraftwerk headlining (18–21 July; latitudefestival.com). Dunan House is a welcoming retreat close to Aldeburgh beach

medieval window. There’s also an excellent restaurant serving local Suffolk food (from Dhs782; free Wi-fi; 56 High Street; sutherlandhouse.co.uk). A step away from Aldeburgh’s huge shingle beach, The Brudenell Hotel has 44 stylishly decorated rooms, many with calming North sea or river views. On summer’s rare sunny days, take your Suffolk sourced breakfast out on the seafront terrace (from Dhs1,000; free Wi-fi; The Parade; brudenellhotel.co.uk).

Where to stay

Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival Expect tastings, workshops, cookery classes and lots of local organic produce (27 September–13 October; discoversuffolk.org. uk). Suffolk Herring Festival We can only assume this festival celebrates plenty of little fishes! (October; suffolkherringfestival.net).

Lavnham Literary Festival Famous authors will give talks and workshops and you can take part in a crime writing creative literature course (13-15 November; lavenhamliteraryfestival. co.uk).

TOP TIP Enjoy the salt air with a walk along a section of the 50-mile Suffolk Coast Path, which passes half a mile north of Aldeburgh. The route takes you through some stunning landscapes in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

FURTHER FURT R HER READING Lonely Planet’s England (Dhs95) has a chapter on Cambridge & East Anglia, which covers Suffolk. The chapter is also available to download at lonelyplanet. com (Dhs17). For information on attractions see thesuffolkcoast.co.uk. Composer Benjamin Britten hailed from Aldeburgh and this, his centenary year, sees a range of events celebrating his works, the most famous of which is Peter Grimes (britten100.org).

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ETAIN O’CARROLL. PHOTOGRAPHS: SHUTTERSTOCK, CLYNT GARNHAM/LAMY, MICHAEL JUNO/ALAMY

Suffolk essentials

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Sights ROYAL CRESCENT

Steam rises off the naturally hot water at the Sacred Spring in the Roman R Baths

MINI GUIDE

GEORGIAN BATH Sophisticated and stately, Bath’s streets are lined with the finest Georgian architecture. What better time to visit and feel part of high society than the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Jane Austen’s Bath JANE AUSTEN CENTRE Bath was Austen’s home from 1801–6 and the city features in Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. This centre explores the author’s connections with Bath through costumed guides, pictorial prints and exhibits. There’s also a Regency tearoom (Dhs45; Apr–Oct 9.45am–5.30pm, Jul–Aug until 7pm Thu–Sat, Nov-Mar 11am– 4.30pm Sun-Mon, until 5.30pm Sat; 40 Gay Street; janeausten. co.uk). Tear out page here then fold along dotted lines

ASSEMBLY ROOMS Built in 1771 by John Wood the Younger, the Assembly Rooms were the heart of Bath’s busy social scene. Chamber concerts, card games and balls welcomed many famous visitors, including Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Haydn and Strauss. You can wander around the card room, tearoom and ballroom, all lit by their original 18th-century chandeliers (Dhs11; Mar–Oct 10.30am–6pm, Nov–Feb 10.30am–5pm; Bennett Street; nationaltrust.org.uk).

The crowning glory of Georgian Bath is the Royal Crescent, a semi-circular terrace of 30 houses overlooking Royal Victoria Park. Designed by John Wood the Younger between 1767 and 1774, the Grade-I listed terrace is the most important Georgian street in Britain. Despite the symmetry of Ionic columns and Palladian porticos, inside no two houses are the same.

THE BUILDING OF BATH BAT A H COLLECTION This museum traces the city’s architectural evolution – from provincial community to a world-famous Georgian spa town. Displays detail everything from how to build a sash window, to the most fashionable wallpapers of 18th-century society (Dhs22 admission; open 9 Feb–24 Nov; 2pm–5pm Tue– Fri, weekends 10.30am–5pm; The Vineyards, Paragonbathpreservation-trust.org.uk).

A Palladian bridge in the grounds of 18th-century Prior Park

PRIOR PARK P Capability Brown and the poet Alexander Pope both had a hand in the design of Prior Park, an 18th-century landscaped garden on the city’s southern fringe. Built by Ralph Allen, it was conceived as an architectural showpiece to demonstrate what could be achieved with the Bath limestone (Dhs32 admission; Nov–Mar 10am–5pm weekends only, Feb–Nov 10am– 5.30pm daily; Ralph Allen Dr; nationaltrust.org.uk).

Eating and drinking THE PUMP ROOM

Staff show off period costumes at the Jane Austen Centre

GRAVEL WALK/ GEORGIAN GARDEN Gravel Walk was known as a ‘lover’s lane’ in Jane Austen’s time and was the setting for a love scene between Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot in Persuasion. Along the walk, tucked between Royal Crescent and Queen Square, is the Georgian Garden, restored to resemble a typical townhouse garden of the 18th century, with formal flowerbeds, stone-flagged paths and gravel walkways (free; 9am–dusk).

Regency dandies were fond of taking to the Roman Baths and, although you can’t take a dip now, you can sample a glass of spa water, in the chandelier-clad restaurant. Far nicer is the afternoon tea – fancy sandwiches, scones and a pot of tea or coffee (afternoon tea Dhs103; 9.30am–5pm year round, dinner 6pm–9pm Jul–Aug only; Abbey Church Yard; romanbaths.co.uk).

CASANI’S

Gallic charm meets classic Georgian simplicity at Casani’s

STAR T INN

These elegant Georgian dining rooms are set on a pedestrian lane off George Street. There’s more of the chandeliers and white linen tablecloths, but it’s more bistro than stuffy. The food is Provençal, with dishes such as fish soup, chicken liver parfait and beef stew, plus there are reasonably priced set menus (two-course lunch Dhs90; 12–2pm, 6pm–10pm Tue-Sat; 4 Saville Row; casanis.co.uk).

Set in a row of Georgian houses but tracing its roots back to the 16th century, the Star Inn has retained many of its 19thcentury bar fittings. Beer is served in traditional jugs and you can even ask for a complimentary pinch of snuff in the smaller bar (12pm–2.30pm, 5.30pm– 11pm Mon–Fr, 12pm–11pm Sat, 12pm–10.30pm Sun; 23 The Vineyards off the Paragon; star-inn-bath.co.uk).

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MINI GUIDE Georgian Bath Drinking

Bath essentials

In a Grade-I listed townhouse in the centre of town, the Halcyon is style on a budget. The 21 rooms are off-white with splashes of colour, bathrooms have walk-in showers, Philippe Starck fittings and The White Company toiletries. There are great cocktails to be had in the bar, Circo, and breakfasts are organic (from Dhs385; free Wi-fi; 2/3 South Parade; thehalcyon.com). Located in a terrace of townhouses, no two rooms at

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Where to stay

BATH BAT A H FOR LOVERS Hotspots for wooing...

In a pool Sample Bath’s curative waters at the Thermae Bath Spa. Head to the open-air rooftop pool for top views of the cityscape (two-hour spa session Dhs145; thermaebathspa.com).

On the river Sit and write where Jane Austen wrote at No 4 Sydney S Place

The Queensberry Hotel are the same: some have modern fabrics, muted colours and throws, others large seating areas and feature fireplaces (from Dhs625; free Wi-fi in public lounge; Russell St; thequeensberry.co.uk). No 4 Sydney Place, a nicely modernised 18th-century Grade-II listed Georgian apartment, was once the home of Jane Austen herself (twonight minimum stay from Dhs887 per night; free Wi-fi; 4 Sydney Place; bathboutiquestays.co.uk).

Hire out a skiff (row boat), flat-bottomed boat or canoe on the River Avon from Pulteney Bridge. The bridge was built in 1773 and lined with shops. Row away and dream of your Mr Darcy (Dhs39 for first hour, Dhs22 thereafter; bathboating.co.uk).

Up in the sky Head to Royal Victoria Park and up into a hot-air balloon for awesome views of the honey-coloured city. You can book sundowner flights with a drink or hire a balloon for exclusive use - very romantic (from Dhs558; bathballoons.co.uk).

TOP TIP The best guided tour of Bath is completely free: the Mayor’s Guides Tour. Run by volunteers, it takes two hours and covers about two miles (10.30am and 2pm Sun–Fri, Sat 10.30am only, plus 7pm Tue and Thu May– Sept; bathguides.org.uk).

FURTHER FURT R HER READING Lonely Planet’s Devon, Cornwall & Southwest England d (Dhs72) covers Bath’s highlights and you can download the Bristol, Bath & Somerset chapter at lonelyplanet.com (Dhs17). There are loads of ideas for trips at visitbath.co.uk, while Jane Austen fans should visit janeausten. co.uk. Bath has also been the perfect backdrop to many period films such as Vanity Fair, Persuasion, Dracula and The Duchess.

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM OLIVER BERRY. PHOTOGRAPHS: COLIN HAWKINS/ VISITBATH.CO.UK, THE JANE AUSTEN CENTRE, VISITBATH.CO.UK, TONY BROWN, SHUTTERSTOCK

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T

Eating

The know-how

TRANSPORT R The closest International Airport to Bath is located in Bristol. Fly there with KLM (from Dhs3,200; klm.com). Bath is located 30 minutes away and can be reached by direct trains from Bristol (Dhs78; 11 minutes; firstgroup. com). Explore Bath on foot or hire bikes and boats to venture further (full day Dhs56; bath-narrowboats.co.uk).

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Pubs EVENING STAR T

Brighton's cheery seaside hides a multitude of going out options

MINI GUIDE

NIGHTLIFE IN BRIGHTON The debauchery of Prince George, mods and rockers in bank holiday fisticuffs, raves on the beach, badly behaved hens and stags, and some proper quirky shopping – Brighton is the place for a hedonistic weekend.

COALITION

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RIKI TIK Coffee bar by day, popular pre-club venue by night, this North Laine bar has been pumping out cocktails and funky breaks for years. It’s much bigger than it looks from the outside and inside is decorated to look like a paradise with palm trees and sandy beach backdrops. DJs play here most evenings and there are regular Sunday film nights (18a Bond St; 10am– late, daily; drinkinbrighton.co.uk/ riki-tik).

THE DORSET

The Dorset sits at the heart of buzzy Brighton in North Laine

SAINT JAMES

This laid-back institution throws open its doors and windows in fine weather and spills tables out on to the pavement. You’ll be just as welcome for a morning coffee as for an evening pint, and if you decide not to leave between the two, there’s always the decent gastropub menu to tuck into – the moules marinière (Dhs55) is a popular dish. It also hosts gigs and DJ nights (28 North Road; thedorset.co.uk).

A blend of traditional Victorian boozer and hip watering hole, this popular Kemp Town pub has lots of sanded wood, elaborate tiling and an ornate bar. While it stocks a decent pint, the rum is the real draw: at the last count there were 84 to choose from, and there are occasional Rum Club nights with talks and tastings – see Twitter and Facebook for upcoming events (12pm–11pm weekdays, 12pm–1am weekends; 16 Madeira Pl; myrumclub.com).

Clubs

Bars On a summer’s day, there’s nowhere better to sit and watch the world go by than at this popular beach bar, diner and club. It’s a cavernous place with a brick-vaulted interior and a wide terrace spilling on to the promenade. All sorts happens here, from comedy to live music to club nights (10am–late, daily; 171–181 Kings Rd Arches; drinkinbrighton.co.uk/coalition).

This cosy, old-fashioned pub is a beer drinker’s heaven. Dark Star Brewing Co. was born here, a microbrewery with offerings such as Espresso and Dark Star Original (former Champion Beer of Britain), plus seasonal ales, all available alongside organic lagers and real ciders. It’s a short stagger from the station, but not a tourist trap (12pm–late, daily; 55/56 Surrey St; darkstarpubs.co.uk).

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FUNKY FISH CLUB

Brighton Rocks R is at the heart of cosmopolitan Kemptown

BRIGHTON T ROCKS Incongruously located in an alley of garages and used car lots, this cocktail bar welcomes all. The cocktails are crafted with love and there’s a damn fine grazing menu – all set to a soundtrack of old school R&B, blues and soul. The bar plays regular host to theme parties and art launches (6 Rock Pl; closed Mon and Tue; Wed 5pm–11pm, Thu 5pm–12am, Fri 4pm–1am, Sat 12pm–1am, Sun 12pm–11pm; brightonrocksbar. co.uk).

A fun, friendly and unpretentious little club that plays soul, funk, jazz, Motown and old-school breaks, but draws the line at cheesy disco. There’s no big-name DJs, dress code, toilet attendants or overdesigned interiors – instead there’s cheap drinks and a welcoming, party atmosphere (10.30pm–late Fri, 10pm–late Sat; 19–23 Marine Parade; funkyfishclub.co.uk).

CONCORDE 2

The Funky Fish Club has a dressed-down, relaxed ethos

AUDIO

Brighton’s best-loved music venue is an unpretentious den. It has a fine musical heritage: DJ Fatboy Slim pioneered the Big Beat Boutique here and occasionally still graces the decks; The White Stripes played their first UK gig here; and it’s where local acts such as The Maccabees made their name. There’s a huge variety of club nights and live bands (see website for event times; Madeira Dr ; concorde2.co.uk).

Some of the city’s top club nights can be found at this thumping venue which attracts a young, up-for-it crowd. Every night is different, ranging from breakbeat to electro to indie. There’s a seafront terrace and bar, Above Audio, which hosts weekend terrace parties and takes its cocktails seriously (11pm–3am Tue–Thu, 11pm– 4am Fri and Sat; 10 Marine Parade; audiobrighton.com).

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MINI GUIDE Nightlife in Brighton Drinking

TRANSPORT R Fly to London's Gatwick Airport with Emirates (from Dhs4,000; emirates.com) or to London Heathrow on Etihad from Abu Dhabi (from Dhs5,375; etihad.ae) and reach Brighton by train (from Dhs45; firstgreatwestern. co.uk). Most of Brighton can be covered on foot; alternatively, buy a day ticket (Dhs20) for the Brighton & Hove buses (buses. co.uk).

The know-how RECOVERY TIME Buddies A 24-hour ‘restaurant’, should you fancy an Ultimate Buddie Buster (huge fry-up plus steak, Dhs67) at 3am (46–48 Kings Road; Madeira Dr).

The Market Diner

The Country-focused Dollywood room in Hotel Pelirocco

Open until 8am at weekends – challenge yourself with the Dhs46 Gut Buster fry-up (19–21 Circus Street; marketdinerbrighton.co.uk).

Temptation

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T If you can cope with the petite rooms and bathrooms, Motel Schmotel, an 11-room b&b in a Regency townhouse, is an affordable and lovely place to hit the sack. Rooms feature bold splashes of colour coming from the soft furnishings and oversize prints. It’s a family-run joint, centrally located and you can even have breakfast in bed (from Dhs335; two-night minimum stay at weekends; 37 Russell Sq; motelschmotel.co.uk). The Neo, a Grade II-listed

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Georgian townhouse, has nine rooms, each is finished in rich colours and tactile fabrics with bold vintage floral or Japanesestyle wallpaper and smart black-tiled bathrooms (from Dhs558; free Wi-fi;19 Oriental Pl; neohotel.com). Hotel Pelirocco has 19 flamboyantly themed rooms, including Betty’s Boudoir, with leopard-skin throws; Dollywood, decked out in gingham and Soul Supreme, dedicated to Motown (from Dhs608; 10 Regency Sq; hotelpelirocco.co.uk).

Local ingredients and the likes of lemon soufflé pancakes (Dhs35) and eggs Florentine (56 Gardner St; brightontemptation.com).

Bill’s Organic, locally sourced breakfasts that will make you feel virtuous once more. There’s a veggie option (Dhs44), plus burgers (The Depot 100 North Road; bills-website. co.uk).

TOP TIP Brighton’s always up for a festival – from music and parties to food and drink festivals. But the showpiece is the Brighton Festival which happens every May. It’s the biggest arts festival in Britain after Edinburgh (brightonfestival.org).

FURTHER FURT R HER READING Lonely Planet’s England (Dhs94) has a chapter on Canterbury & the Southeast, which includes the city of Brighton. The chapter is also Brighton.The available to download at lonelyplanet.com (Dhs16). Two MP3 audio walking T guides to Brighton can be downloaded at touristtracks.com (Dhs17 each, including map). Graham Greene’s classic Brighton Rockk focuses on the city’s seedy underworld (Dhs45; Vintage Classics).

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM MARC DI DUCA. PHOTOGRAPHS: TIM GARTSIDE/ROBERT HARDING, JAMES INGLE/ALAMY

Brighton essentials

Where to stay

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Wildlife CLEY MARSHES

Fishing boats at rest near Brancaster

MINI GUIDE

COASTAL NORFOLK

BLAKENEY POINT

Big skies, windswept marshes and sandy beaches that go on for ever attract wildlife and watersport lovers alike, while plentiful pubs and seafood joints are the biggest draws in Norfolk’s coastal towns.

WELLS-NEXT-THE-SEA WELLS-NEXTT THE-SEA

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HOLKHAM The pristine three-mile beach at Holkham is regularly voted among England’s best. Despite its popularity, it’s easy to escape the crowds here – the vast expanse of sand gives a sense of isolation, with giant skies stretching overhead. The coastline forms part of a national nature reserve so there’s plenty of wildlife spotting. The only place to park for access to the beach is Lady Anne’s Drive, north of Holkham village (all-day parking Dhs31; holkham.co.uk).

The pretty village of Blakeney was a busy fishing and trading port before its harbour silted up. These days, the village and its neighbour Morston are good places to jump aboard boat trips (1–1½ hours) out to a 500-strong colony of common and grey seals that bask and breed on nearby Blakeney Point. Visit between June and August to see the common seals pup (boat trips Dhs50 from Morston, Dhs28 from Blakeney; Feb–Nov; bishopsboats.com).

A marsh harrier swoops into action at Cley Marshes

HICKLING BROAD Follow a trail from the visitor centre around the largest expanse of open water in the Norfolk Broads to spot rare plants and animals such as the bittern and the swallowtail butterfly – the largest British butterfly. You can also take a boat trip to spot dragonflies, marsh harriers and water birds in the reed beds (reserve Dhs25, boat trips from Dhs45; visitor centre open Easter-Oct, reserve open year round; norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk).

Seaside towns

Beaches Grab your bucket and spade and head to popular Wells-next-theSea. One mile from town by car or on foot is a family-friendly beach lined with colourful beach huts and backed by dunes and pine woodland. This sweep of beach is ideal for kite flying, and if you’re brave enough to put more than a toe in the water, it’s also good for sailing, kayaking and windsurfing (oceanus-sailing.com).

One of England’s premier birdwatching sites, Cley (pronounced Cly) is made up of shingle beach, saline lagoons and marsh, and attracts over 300 species of birds. There’s a visitors’ centre built on high ground with a remote-controlled wildlife camera and a series of hides amid the golden reed beds (entry to reserve Dhs28; norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk).

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CROMER

Few beaches in England can top Holkham in scale and beauty

BRANCASTER Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty, Brancaster beach is backed by sand dunes and a golf course. The tide can be treacherous but the golden sand is ideal for picnics, building sand castles, watching kite surfers and, when the tide goes out, paddling in the lagoons. Brancaster is famous for its mussels, so when hunger strikes, head to The White Horse for the pick of the local produce (lunch mains from Dhs67; whitehorsebrancaster. co.uk).

Once a fashionable Victorian coastal resort, Cromer is now firmly part of the bucket-andspade brigade, with a wonderful sandy beachfront, entertainment on the pier, a glut of fish and chip shops and amusement arcades. Visit the quaint Cromer Museum, set in an old fisherman’s cottage, to see what life here was like in the 19th century (admission Dhs19; museums.norfolk.gov.uk).

SHERINGHAM Originally a fishing village specialising in crabs and whelks, Sheringham’s shellfish bars, seafront fish and chip shops and annual Crab and Lobster festival (17–19 May 2013) ensure it remains true to its roots. For top views, take a clifftop walk over the Blue Flag beach and travel by steam train along the coast from Sheringham to Holt (check website for times; return tickets Dhs59; nnrailway.co.uk).

Steam along a stretch of coast on the North Norfolk Railway

BURNHAM MARKET Fashionable Burnham Market, set back from the coast behind salt marshes, has a broad main street with a church at each end and comes complete with village green, Post Office, butcher, baker and grocer. Wander the Georgian streets and you’ll also find elegant old buildings, flint cottages, delis, independent shops and gastropub-cum-hotel The Hoste Arms (mains from Dhs73; thehoste.com).

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MINI GUIDE Coastal Norfolk Sights & Activities

TRANSPORT R Fly from Dubai to Norwich International Airport with KLM (Dhs3,600; klm.com). You can also fly to Stansted from Dubai with Emirates and Air Berlin (from Dhs4,765;emirates.com). Get a train from Stansted Airport to Norwich (from Dhs1 64 one way; greateranglia.co. uk). Direct trains from Norwich are available to Norfolk’s towns. To check the schedule and destinations, see the website (from Dhs31 return; greateranglia.co.uk).

WHERE TO T STAY STAY T Burnham Market’s Railway House is a former station house (and annexe to The Hoste Arms) converted into a characterful seven-room hotel. The best ‘room’ is the Railway Carriage that sits on the railway tracks - a totally unique stay (from Dhs335; free Wi-fi in public areas and most rooms; thehoste. com). The 18th-century Cley

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The know-how WALKING TRAILS Pack your boots and a picnic and hit the road:

Norfolk Coast Path

The highest room at Cley Windmill is reached by a ladder

Windmill has great views across the salt marshes to Blakeney Point. Bedrooms take up the windmill itself, plus the attached former stables and boathouse (Cley-next-the-Sea; from Dhs721; cleywindmill.co.uk). The Victoria at Holkham has 10 plush rooms decorated in mute tones, with exotic fabrics, eclectic bric-a-brac and a relaxed colonial feel. Some rooms have views over Holkham’s famous salt marshes (from Dhs782; Park Road; holkham.co.uk/victoria).

Where to stay

The well-signposted Norfolk Coast Path from Hunstanton to Cromer links to the Peddars Way at Holme-next-the-Sea to form a 93-mile long trail that takes in beaches, dunes and salt marshes (nationaltrail. co.uk).

Weavers’ Way This 61-mile trail from Cromer to Great Yarmouth is named after the weaving industry that flourished in the Middle Ages around the town of North Walsham, in the east of the county (countrysideaccess. norfolk.gov.uk).

The Wherryman’s Way A 35-mile walking and cycling route follows follows the River Yare through throug gh the t e th from Broadss ffro rom m Norwich Norwic ch to Great Greeat Yarmouth Yarmo out outh (wherry (wherr ry

TOP TIP Visit in April or May to see migrating marsh harriers, little ringed plovers and sand martins. The Deepdale Outdoor & Wildlife Festival celebrates the region’s walking, cycling, birding and wildlife (20–21 April 2013; deepdalefarm.co.uk).

FURTHER FURTHE R R READING Lonely Planet’s England (Dhs95) contains information on Norfolk. You can download the Cambridge & East Anglia chapter (Dhs17) at lonelyplanet.com. For information on wildlife spotting and events, see norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk. Local inspiration came to Daniel Defoe, who used the coast off Winterton-on-Sea as the location for Robinson Crusoe’s first shipwreck (Dhs39; Penguin Classics).

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ETAIN O’CARROLL. PHOTOGRAPHS: PAMELA FARRELL, ALEX FOWLES, MALI HALLS, HOLKHAM ESTATE, PHOTOPAT/ALAMY

Norfolk coast essentials

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Grandstand views HELVELLYN HELV L ELLYN

The view to Buttermere from the top of

MINI GUIDE

LAKE DISTRICT WALKS This magnificent, much-loved national park is one of the best places in Britain for a stroll: small wonder that many a wandering poet and writer has fallen for its blustery, formidable charms over the years.

SKIDDAW A

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GRIZEDALE FOREST This dense forest between Coniston and Esthwaite Water is criss-crossed by hiking trails and biking routes. Deer can be seen here – somewhat easier to spot are its 60 or so sculptures, such as an untitled, Tolkien-esque ‘man of the forest’ (visitlakelandforests. co.uk; nr Hawkshead; admission free). North of the forest, the Drunken Duck is one of the Lakes’ finest pubs, doing a cracking line in modern bistro grub (nr Barngates; drunkenduck inn.co.uk).

BLACK COMBE This 600-metre fell on Cumbria’s western coastline is often overlooked, but deserves wider recognition. From the top of its isolated peak, the view spans from the Solway Firth bordering Scotland down to Duddon Sands and Morecambe Bay; clear days have been known to reveal the peaks of Snowdonia, 90 miles or so to the southwest. From the village of Whicham to the south, the five-mile walk should take a couple of hours (nr Millom).

Red Tarn, a small lake on the R eastern flanks of Helvellyn

HAYSTACKS HAY A STAC T KS ‘For a man trying to get a persistent worry out of his mind, the top of Haystacks is a wonderful cure,’ wrote fellwalker Alfred Wainwright in his Pictorial Guides to the Lakes. He chose his words well. Although relatively diminutive at 597m high, at its peak you can see Innominate and Blackbeck Tarns, as well as low hills blanketed in greens, crimsons and yellows – as perfect a Lakeside view as they come (nr Gatesgarth Farm, Buttermere Valley).

Quiet spaces

Pub walks ‘Keswick’s Matterhorn’ is one of Cumbria’s highest mountains. The eight-mile round trip, which starts and ends in the town of Keswick, leads to its peak – it can be a tough old slog, but the views of Bassenthwaite Lake and Derwentwater should justify the effort. A pint of Thirst Rescue at the Dog & Gun on your return will certainly make it all worthwhile (2 Lake Rd; 00 44 1768 773463).

The most popular peak in the park after Scafell Pike, Helvellyn’s 950-metre summit is best reached by the eight-mile ridge route along Striding Edge. It’s a challenge, with dizzying drops and a few scrambles on all fours required, but is suitable for reasonably fit individuals. The views here are mind-boggling, especially east to Ullswater (nr Glenridding and Patterdale).

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LOWESWA LOWESWATER WATER

A pint at the Unicorn is the prize after the Fairfield Horseshoe

FAIRFIELD HORSESHOE This 11-mile day-hike across several fells north of the town of Ambleside takes in a bumper crop of Wainwrights, the 214 hills written about in his Pictorial Guides. Fairfield’s peak is one of the most dramatic lookouts of the eastern Lakes, with Helvellyn to the northwest and the brooding Scafells and Langdales to the west (nr Ambleside, Windermere). Back in Ambleside, kick off your boots at the Unicorn, a local haunt with bags of charm (North Rd; 00 44 1539 433216).

This little lake in the supremely pretty, jade-green Vale of Lorton is unspoiled by traffic, crowds or the razzmatazz of other larger Cumbrian lakes, and is a supremely peaceful place to meander around. The vale is scattered with farmhouses, beech copses and rickety old barns, and the lake itself is just a mile in length and easy to circumnavigate (Vale of Lorton).

WINSTER VALLEY Not unlike the nearby Lyth Valley, Winster feels wonderfully remote, despite being only a few miles from Windermere. It’s known for its abundance of Westmorland damsons, a plum-like fruit that ripens in September. On your way, look out for roadside stalls selling damson-based goodies – a bottle of damson gin makes for a more original souvenir than Kendal mint cake (nr Crosthwaite).

Loweswater is one of the Lake District’s quietest corners

ENNERDALE Seasoned Lakelanders often cite this valley, an hour’s walk northeast of Wasdale Head, as the most scenic corner of the park. The blue-green arc of Ennerdale Water is hidden from the view of passers-by dense plantations of conifers. There is less road access than at other lakes in the park, and you can appreciate its dramatic majesty without having to shin up a mountain (nr Ennerdale Bridge).

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MINI GUIDE Lake District walks Sights & Activities

TRANSPORT R Fly from Abu Dhabi or Dubai to Manchester International Airport with Etihad Airways (Dhs2,140; etihad.com). Windermere station has direct train services from Manchester (from Dhs90 return; tpexpress. co.uk). Buses in main towns are regular, but less so in rural areas. Driving may be convenient, however roads are often narrow, windy and hilly – and traffic jams in and between the towns are not uncommon in the summer. Car hire is available in Kendal (from Dhs196 per day; avis.co.uk).

WHERE TO T STAY STA TAY Keswick’s Howe Keld is akin to a boutique B&B, and is certainly a cut above most guesthouses in town. Its 14 revamped rooms now feature goose-down duvets and slate-floored bathrooms (from Dhs503; free Wi-fi; 5–7 The Heads; howekeld.co.uk). Winder Hall is a charming family hotel with some parts

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The know-how LAKELAND TO TOPOGRAPHY T POGRAPHY Crag An outcrop of rock, derived from the Celtic word ‘creic’.

Fell A mountain, as derived from ‘fjall’ in Old Norse.

Force A waterfall, derived from the Old Norse term ‘fors’.

Grange Genghis Khan never had yurts as cosy as those at Wild In Style

dating back to Tudor and Jacobean times. It’s surrounded by delightful grounds, and the restaurant is a winner for proper Sunday roast lunch (Low Lorton; from Dhs755; winderhall.co.uk). Wild In Style can claim some of the best yurts in the region. Their classy 16-foot homesfrom-home come with wooden floors, gas hob kitchens and electric lighting – the smartest ‘tents’ you’ll ever come across (from Dhs1.400; Low Wray National Trust Campsite, nr Ambleside; wildinstyle.co.uk).

TOP TIP Use official national park and tourism sources to plan routes in advance. Pack a proper map and compass, and know how to use them. Let your accommodation know where you’re headed, and your final destination – see ldsamra.org.uk for more.

An old dialect word for ‘farm’.

FURTHER FURTHE R R READING

Mere A lake that’s broad in relation to its depth.

Scree The broken rock and gravel found on steep mountainsides.

Tarn A mountain lake.

Thwaite Old Norse word for ‘clearing’.

Lonely Planet’s The Lake Districtt (Dhs73) covers the national park. You can also download the Lake District & Cumbria chapter (Dhs17) of the Great Britain guide (Dhs100) at lonelyplanet. com. The tourist board and national park websites are good resources – the latter has a dedicated advice page on walking (golakes.co.uk; lake-district.gov.uk). Wainwright’s Pictorial Guides are now available in a boxed set (Dhs560; Frances Lincoln). )

COMPILED BY JASON RILEY, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM OLIVER BERRY. R PHOTOGRAPHS: JOHN MORRISON/ALAMY, JUSTIN FOULKES, MJB PHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY, TRAVEL LIBRARY LIBRARY/SUPERSTOCK, R /SUPERSTOCK, WAY WAYNE A NE HUTCHINSON/ALAMY

Lake District essentials

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Best for whisky THE BOW BAR

The Dugald Stewart Monument overlooks Edinburgh’s city centre

MINI GUIDE

PUBS IN EDINBURGH The city known as the Athens of the North and, more colloquially, Auld Reekie, has more howffs – or drinking dens – per inhabitant than almost anywhere else in the UK, so it’s a fantastic destination for a tipple.

THE WHITE HART R INN

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THE OX OXFORD O FORD BAR The Oxford is a rare thing these days: a real pub for real people, with no theme, no music, no frills and no pretensions. ‘The Ox’ has been immortalised by Ian Rankin, author of the Inspector Rebus novels, who, along with his fictional detective, is a regular drinker here. Sean Connery has also been a patron. The bar stocks a regularly changing selection of cask ales from small Scottish brewers rather than the usual big brands (pints of ale from Dhs19; 8 Young St; oxfordbar.co.uk).

THE MALT L SHOVEL Situated on the curved street that links Edinburgh’s New Town to the Old, The Malt Shovel is a handsome Victorian boozer, all dark wood and subdued tartanry. It offers a fine range of real ales and more than 30 malt whiskies from the Highlands, islands and Lowlands of Scotland. It’s also rightly renowned for its regular music sessions – there is jazz on most Tuesday evenings (whiskies from Dhs18; 11–15 Cockburn St; 00 44 131 225 6843).

Laphroaig and Bowmore are two of 100 whiskies at Bennet’s Bar

BENNET’S BAR Bennet’s, in the south of the city, has managed to hang on to most of its beautiful Victorian fittings, from the stained-glass windows and ornate mirrors to the wooden gantry and brass taps on the bar. Whisky lovers rejoice: there are 100 malts to choose from, including a Glenburgie single malt and a pretty special 30-year-old Highland Park that will set you back Dhs180 for a single measure (whiskies from Dhs15; 8 Leven St; 00 44 131 229 5143).

Best for food

Literary haunts A plaque outside this pub in the city centre proclaims: ‘In the White Hart Inn Robert Burns stayed during his last visit to Edinburgh, 1791.’ Claiming to be the city’s oldest pub in use – it’s been in business since 1516 – it’s also hosted William Wordsworth. Live music sessions here every evening (pints of ale Dhs74; 34 Grassmarket; 00 44 131 226 2806).

This traditional-style pub in the Old Town is unspoilt by the ‘plastic Edinburgh’ trappings of some of the Royal Mile’s more touristy spots. You’ll find 200 single malts here, including independents such as Duncan Taylor. Grab a spot in a snug window seat if you can – it’s often standing room only (whiskies from Dhs17; 80 West Bow; 00 44 131 226 7667).

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KAY’ KAY’S A S BAR

Pavement seating at central Edinburgh’s oldest pub

CUMBERLAND BAR Edinburgh resident Alexander McCall Smith made New Town’s Cumberland Bar a protagonist in his serialised novel 44 Scotland Street. It has a traditional wood, brass and mirrors style of décor, despite being relatively new (it opened in the 1970s). You’ll find cask-conditioned ales and a wide range of malt whiskies on offer here, and there’s a charming little beer garden at the back (pint of ale Dhs19; 1–3 Cumberland St; cumberlandbar. co.uk).

Housed in a former winemerchant’s office, Kay’s Bar is kitted out with red leather benches, a gleaming mahogany bar and a cast-iron fireplace. Lunch is served in its tiny back room and features classics such as mince and tatties, and Scotch pie with beans and chips. Only three of the seven tables are bookable (lunch mains from Dhs23; 39 Jamaica St; kaysbar.co.uk).

JOSEPH PEARCE’S A traditional Victorian pub that’s been given a new lease of life by its Swedish owners, Joseph Pearce’s has become a hub of the local community, with its relaxed atmosphere and Scandinavian events, such as crayfish parties. The menu includes hasselback potatoes with Parmesan and truffle oil mayonnaise, and sea bass on puy lentils with lemon and tarragon (mains from Dhs45; 23 Elm Row; bodabar.com).

Swedish pork meatballs served at Joseph Pearce’s

ROYAL ROY OYAL MILE TAVERN T This elegant and convivial bar works its charms well, with polished wood, brass and mirrors. It serves real ale, good wines and great grub: Highland chicken and the Royal Mile burger – a quarterpounder with cheese and bacon – feature prominently on the menu. From 9.30pm, musicians take over for acoustic music sessions that can last ’til the wee hours (mains from Dhs45; 127 High St; royalmiletavern.com).

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MINI GUIDE Pubs in Edinburgh Drinking

TRANSPORT R

WHERE TO T STAY STA TAY Ardmor House is a stylishly renovated Victorian property with five bedrooms and those little touches that make a place special: an open fire, thick towels, crisp white bed linen and newspapers at breakfast (from Dhs476; 74 Pilrig St; ardmorhouse.com). In Hotel Missoni, the Italian fashion house has established a style icon in the heart of the Old Town. The hotel has Modernist architecture, black-and-white décor with well-judged splashes of colour, impeccably mannered staff and very comfortable

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The know-how FESTIVAL CITY

Fly to Edinburgh, from Dubai, with British Airways (from Dhs2,000; britishairways.com) and from Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways (from Dhs3,835; etihad. ae). The city has a good bus service, they’re cheap and regular - perfect when the weather’s not on your side (from Dhs8; lothianbuses.co.uk).

Here are the top events in Edinburgh’s busy calendar:

Hogmanay This mammoth New Year’s Eve festival includes a torchlit procession, live bands and an enormous street party (edinburghshogmanay.com).

Edinburgh Film Festival Clean lines and bold colours can be found at Hotel Missoni

rooms (Missoni Room from Dhs700; free Wi-fi;1 George IV Bridge; hotelmissoni.com). The splendid Witchery by the Castle is set in a 16thcentury townhouse in the shadow of the iconic Edinburgh Castle. Its eight lavish suites are furnished with antiques, tapestries, open fires and roll-top baths, and are supplied with flowers, chocolates and Champagne - spoil yourselves with this real treat (suites from Dhs1,820; Castlehill; thewitchery.com).

Where to stay

A two-week showcase for new British and European films in June or July (edfilmfest.org.uk).

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival This July festival kicks off with a Mardi Gras-style street parade and an afternoon of free music (edinburghjazzfestival. com).

Edinburgh Fringe The biggest festival of performing arts anywhere in the world. It takes place in August

TOP TIP Find out more about Auld Reekie’s scholarly pubs on an Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour. These two-hour walks – with visits to associated howffs – take place in the company of Messrs Clart and McBrain (tours Dhs53; edinburgh literarypubtour.co.uk).

FURTHER FURTH R ER INFO Lonely Planet’s Edinburgh Encounterr ((Dhs45) Dhs45) is good for short breaks, and Scotland d ((Dhs73) Dhs73) provides ideas for trips further afield. You can also download the Edinburgh chapter (Dhs17) at lonelyplanet.com. To find out what’s on, from clubbing to visual arts, check free listings magazines The Skinnyy (theskinny.co.uk) and The Listt (list.co.uk). Ian Rankin’s The Falls is a gripping crime novel based in the city (Dhs45; Orion).

COMPILED BY JASON RILEY,WITH RILEY, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM NEIL WILSON. PHOTOGRAPHS: GERRYOLEARY.COM, ANDY LEES, ELIZABETH LEYDEN/ALAMY, RONNIE MCMILLAN/ALAMY,WILLIAM MCMILLAN/ALAMY, WILLIAM SHAW

Edinburgh essentials

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COMPETITION

Win a minibreak to Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara!

Pamper you and a friend or partner with a stay in a sumptuous suite and a soothing spa treatment. Majestically set on the waterfront in Abu Dhabi, Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara is a natural haven on the cusp of urban life. Forming part of an integrated hotel, marina and retail destination, its unique location offers guests an exceptional Abu Dhabi experience. Guests can enjoy the freshest and finest Thai cuisine at Pachaylen or relax for a drink at Impressions, complemented by views across the mangroves or rejuvenate their senses at the incomparable Anantara Spa. We are offering one lucky winner a chance to experience Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara for themselves with an overnight stay at the Kasara Mangroves Suite that includes breakfast and a luxurious sixty minute spa treatment for two. For more information visit anatara.com. To be in with a chance of winning this gorgeous prize, go to lonelyplanettraveller.me before 15 August 2013 and answer the question along with your details, or scan the QR code below What is the name of the signature Thai restaurant at Eastern Mangroves? a) Ingredients b) Pachaylen c) Impressions CONDITIONS OF ENTRY ™CdigZYZZbVWaZ[dgXVh]!cdi ™CdigZYZZbVWaZ[dgXVh]!cdi transferable, not changeable to other room type or spa treatments. ™HjW_ZXiidVkV^aVW^a^in!cdiVeea^XVWaZ ™HjW_ZXiidVkV^aVW^a^in!cdiVeea^XVWaZ during public holidays ™6YY^i^dcVaZmeZchZhidWZ]VcYaZY ™6YY^i^dcVaZmeZchZhidWZ]VcYaZY by guest.

™CdideZcidVcn6cVciVgVdg8E>BZY^V ™CdideZcidVcn6cVciVgVdg8E>BZY^V Group employees ™L^ccZgl^aaWZe^X`ZYVigVcYdbdc ™L^ccZgl^aaWZe^X`ZYVigVcYdbdc 15 August and notified by email.

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COMPETITION

Win a two night stay at Rotana Fujariah Resort & Spa!

Escape the city heat this summer and head to Fujariah’s east coast for a weekend getaway! The water’s always perfect over at Al Aqah beach in Fujariah and this summer , two lucky people will get to go for a refreshing dip for free thanks to Rotana Fujairah Resort & Spa. The hotel is the perfect place to relax either on the private beach or by the pool, or if you want to get active, there are tennis and volleyball courts, a gym and watersports all on offer. Wind down with a massage on the beach or check out the Zen Spa and there’s plenty to occupy the kids with the very active kids’ club. With beachside restaurants, pool bars and more, two days here will feel like a proper holiday. Head to rotana.com to find out more. The prize includes a two night stay for two people in an Ocean Front Suite with daily breakfast included, plus a bespoke romantic dinner for two. What more could you want? To win this lovely prize, go to lonelyplanettraveller.me before 15 August 2013 and answer the question, or scan the QR code below Where is the Rotana Fujairah located? a.) Al Aqah beach b.) Yas Island c.) Saadiyat Island CONDITIONS OF ENTRY ™CdideZcidi]dhZjcYZg'&nZVghdaY ™™CdideZcidZbeadnZZhd[GdiVcV CdideZcidZbeadnZZhd[GdiVcV =diZahdg8E>BZY^V<gdje ™™KVa^Y[dglZZ`YVnhVcYlZZ`ZcYhjci^a KVa^Y[dglZZ`YVnhVcYlZZ`ZcYhjci^a end of December 2013 excluding public holidays and subject to availability

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Š photos : Centre de Presse Monaco - G. Luci - G. Mazza - ACM - Ballets de Monte-Carlo - MYS - Sportfot

Life is brighter in Monaco

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nationalities together celebrate

700

events a year In Monaco, not a day goes by without its event, not a day without a memorable gathering. A crossroads for the Mediterranean. Ideal to begin exploring France and Italy. To be discovered. The stuff of dreams. The Principality of Monaco.

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