Page 1

MILEAGE MAKEOVER: 24 CLEVER WAYS TO STACK UP AND USE POINTS & MILES

INSIDE

EUROPE SPECIAL

FEBRUARY 2016 /

150

GET YOUR TICKET TO

LOVE 14 IDEAS/14WAYS/14 ITINERARIES TO MAKE ROMANTIC TRAVEL EASY

SWANKY DEBUT HOTEL VAGABOND SINGAPORE

HAUTE SUITES WITH FIREPLACES

THE ULTIMATE DESIGN LOVER’S

MIAMI

BOOK NOW!

KENYA ZIMBABWE SPAIN

SUPER LUXE EASTER GETAWAYS

$ 4.50 / SLR 450 / NPR 35 / MVR 60 PKR 30O / BTN 200 / TAKA 350


2

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6


T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

3


4

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6


T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

5


On the Cover

A view of Lake Ontario from the Drake Devonshire Inn. Photograph by John Cullen.

features

78

The Cycling City Called Seville In foreign lands, there is always that one thing that connects us back to home. In Seville, the predominant cycle culture was that bond for me. By Amrita Das.

84

The Lake That Ripples In Kenya’s section of Africa’s Great Rift Valley, is a beautiful freshwater lake fringed by thick papyrus, with the world’s highest population of hippos. Here, giraffes wander among acacias, buffalos wallow in the waters, and Colobus monkeys flit over tree tops, finds Kalpana Sunder.

90

Testing The Waters For centuries, the search for the Northwest Passage captivated explorers—and led many to their deaths. Today, warming seas have made it possible to traverse the fabled route on the Canadian Arctic’s first passenger. Photographs by Stefan Ruiz.

with luxurious new lodges, some of the continent’s best guides, and— despite the poachers and hunters—a glorious profusion of big game. By Graham Boynton. Photographs by Olaf Otto Becker. 100

6

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

78

84

90

F R O M L E F T : O L A F OT TO B EC K E R ; J E R E M Y WO O D H O U S E / G E T T Y I M AG ES ; K A L PA N A S U N D E R ; ST E FA N R U I Z

Creatures 100 Heavenly After decades of political instability, Zimbabwe is poised for a comeback,


In Every Issue Editor’s Note 10 Contributors 14 Wish You Were Here 108

departments Here & Now News, Trends, Discoveries John Abraham’s love for mean machines; Lijiang Rahul is Chaudhary’s new discovery; Caroline Scheufele shares her travel style; Chanel’s travel-themed spring collection; and more.

Beyond 33 The Beach What is it about Miami that makes it THE destination for

Hollywood movies, and pulls the young American crowd to its super cool vibe? Now that summers are ‘round the corner, Richa Vadhera finds out that the Miami beaches are only a fragment of the big picture.

40 Perspective A land-locked nation surrounded by hostile neightbours like Turkey and Azerbaijan, Armenia has always found spiritual refugees in monastries and churches. By Kalpana Sunder

44 Charming Stays Here is a list of our favourite hotels with fireplaces from around the world. By Rathina Sankari

46 On Location This Valentine’s Day, recreate magical moments from recent movies. After all, every now and then, you are allowed to celebrate your love with Bollywood-style clichés.

48 Getaways We’ve collected the luxurious best so you can book ahead for the big Easter weekend coming up on March 25. By Shibani Bawa

50 First Person Wellness guru Mala Barua travels to Turkey to experience the

Here is our list of 14 romantic ways to experience the Continent, and 14 super special ideas to pamper and enjoy with your partner. By Shibani Bawa

Upgrade 69 The Mileage Makeover

If you’re not making the most of your points, we give you top strategies and smart solutions for the most common challenges. By Grant Martin

73 Be No Stranger To This

We tell you why the lack of company should not be a hindrance to your travel plans by easing you into the concept ‘travel mates’. By Anwesha Sanyal

roots of Rumi and discovers incredible vignettes of Sufism during the annual festival of the ‘Wedding Night’, when the death of the Sufi saint is celebrated for his union with the divine. 33

8

108

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

53

48

F R O M L E F T: C A S TA N E D A LU I S /A G F/ U I G / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; K A R A N TA K U L I A ; D AV E A N D L E S J A C O B S / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; C O U R T E S Y O F TA J H O T E L S R E S O R T S A N D P L A C E S

17

The Guide 53 Come Away With Me


T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

9


editor’s note | F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

and read-to-me-Rumi” sort of melting patsy. I love village cottages in England that can make me feel like a character from a Jane Austen novel and one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Fives all at once. Romance evokes images of holding hands under the table and listening to Blues in a bar in Vienna, or planning impromptu trysts to a Tuscan vineyard. All these years, I’ve been telling friends that I can’t stand mush—and it’s true that I really can’t take the big teddy bear, Archie’s/Hallmark card clichéd soppy crap. But give me travel to poetic lands, take me to old bookshops, on drives across country sides that have stories to tell, hotels with character and places with engaging experiences, and my heart would go aflutter. Typically, at T+L, the February Romance Special can be a little tough on all of us. None of us are truly the soppy sort and it’s hard work to come up with real romantic ideas. We love a dusting of sparkle, a swathe of Neruda-like charm, the dark chocolate depth of atmosphere, the poetic curves of a landscape—these are elements of what romantic travel means to us. We believe that much like the world, love becomes more real and more understandable when stories get personal. Ultimately, of course, the point of what we do is to inspire you to travel, to create your own stories, and to come away with a more nuanced and complex understanding of a place, its people and yourselves. We know planning such journeys can be challenging. Hence this issue, we’ve burst our cover story into dozens of ideas, ways and itineraries that work like suggestions from old friends, to get you thinking of what would appeal to you and your partner most. Mala Barua, one of India’s finest wellness gurus, takes us on a very personal journey that follows through to where Rumi once lived in Turkey. Kalpana Sunder traverses a little-known part of Eurasia – a small country, rich with history, called Armenia. Amrita Das discovers, among other surprises, a beautiful promenade in Seville that runs along the Canal de Alfonso XIII that is definitely worth taking a stroll on at sunset. For those who love the wild, there are marvelous stories from Zimbabwe and Kenya that feature luxurious new lodges, the best guides on the continent and where to sight the most spectacular big game. Finally, our own teammate Anwesha Sanyal went undercover to try out a variety of groups, websites, travel agencies and apps that promise great travel buddies and services for single travellers, as well as how to bust the stigma often attached to solo travel. She’s broadly happy to declare, “When no one you know is free in this busy world, find the strangers who are.” With much love from the T+L team for this Valentine’s day.

ruchira@emmindia.com @TLRuchira on Twitter @pinterest/ruchirabose

10 8

L L + ELI SE U I SRUER /E F/ EFBERBURAURAYR2Y0 21 06 1 6 T RTARVAEVLE +

E D I T O R ’ S P H O T O G R A P H : A S H I S H C H AW L A ; M A K E U P B Y V I P I N A R O R A

I HAVE A SECRET. I CAN BE QUITE THE ROMANTIC FOOL—THE “PLAY-ME-SOME-SAXOPHONE


Let's Celebrate New Year 2016 in Amazing Thailand "Amazing Thailand, Amazing Golf Paradise" Vani Kapoor No. 1 Indian Lady Professional Golfer 2014 & 2015

Contact us: Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi Office: Tel: 91-11-46741111 | Email: tatdel@tat.or.th www.facebook.com/TAT.newdelhi Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mumbai Office: Tel: 91-22-22042727 | Email: tatmumbai@tat.or.th Contact us: Contact us: Twitter: www.twitter.com/ThaiAmazesYou Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi Office: Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi Office: Website: www.tourismthailand.org Tel: 91-11-46741111 | Email: tatdel@tat.or.th | www.facebook.com/TA Tel: 91-11-46741111 | Email: tatdel@tat.or.th | www.facebook.com/TAT.newdelhi Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mumbai Office: Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mumbai Office: Tel: 91-22-22042727 | Email: tatmumbai@tat.or.th | www.facebook.com/TAT.mumbai Tel: 91-22-22042727 T R A V E| LEmail: + L E I Statmumbai@tat.or.th U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6 | www.facebook.co Facebook: www.facebook.com/TourismAuthorityofThailandIndia | Twitter: www.twitter.com/ThaiAmazesYou Facebook: www.facebook.com/TourismAuthorityofThailandIndia | Tw Website: www.tourismthailand.org Website: www.tourismthailand.org

11


INDIA & SOUTH ASIA

EDITOR

Ruchira Bose Aroma Sah Anant Anwesha Sanyal CONTRIBUTING EDITOR-MUMBAI Shilpi Madan FEATURES WRITER Apeksha Bhateja ASSOCIATE EDITOR

DIGITAL FEATURES EDITOR

SENIOR EDITORIAL EXECUTIVE

Ragini Singh Ghanshyam Singh SENIOR DESIGNER Ajay Kumar SENIOR CREATIVE DIRECTOR ART DIRECTOR

Sudhalika Verma

PRODUCTION SENIOR MANAGER

Manoj Chawla

DEPUTY MANAGER

Ritesh Roy PREPRESS EXECUTIVE

Dinesh Masih

ADVERTISING BUSINESS HEAD

Sushmita Gupta MUMBAI Shaoni De NORTH Amarjit Bhatia

VICE PRESIDENT / INTERNATIONAL AD SALES Sanjiv Bisaria BENGALURU Indu Bhardwaj

ACTIVATION SALES

BUSINESS HEAD (WEST) SENIOR MANAGER ASSISTANT MANAGER (EVENTS) MARKETING DESIGNER

Pratik Misra Raghavendra Raj Sunil Bhatt Prakash Singh

CIRCULATION & VISIBILITY

Ashish Sawhney

ashish@emmindia.com

CORPORATE OPERATIONS PUBLISHING DIRECTOR CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER MANAGER (HR) ASSISTANT MANAGER (ADMIN) SENIOR SYSTEM SPECIALIST (IT) EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO MD REPRO

Simon Clays Puneet Nanda Sonya Caroline Shah Sushila Choudhary Arun Salhotra Parul Jaswal Medienpartner International India/ Burda Druck India Private Limited.

EXPOSURE MEDIA MARKETING PVT. LTD. DIRECTOR

Parineeta Sethi

EMM is a company of The Burda Group HUBERT BURDA MEDIA INDIA PVT. LTD. BURDA ASIA COO AND INDIA MD

Massimo Monti

HUBERT BURDA MEDIA, ASIA CEO

Friedrich Scanzoni

BURDA INTERNATIONAL GMBH CEO

Fabrizio D’Angelo

INTERNATIONAL SALES & ADVERTISING FRANCE/LUXEMBOURG Marion Badolle-Feick Tel: +33 1 72 71 25 24, marion.badolle-feick@burda.com

UK/IRELAND Jeannine Soeldner Tel: +44 20 34 40 58 32, jeannine.soeldner@burda.com

GERMANY

Vanessa von Minckwitz Tel: +49 89 92 50 35 32, vanessa.vonminckwitz@burda.com Michael Neuwirth Tel: +49 89 92 50 36 29, michael.neuwirth@burda.com

ITALY

Mariolina Siclari Tel: +39 02 91 32 34 66, mariolina.siclari@burda.com

USA/CANADA/MEXICO Salvatore Zammuto Tel: +1 212 884 48 24, salvatore.zammuto@burda.com

AUSTRIA/SWITZERLAND Goran Vukota, Tel: +41 44 81 02 146, goran.vukota@burda.com

TRAVEL + LEISURE (USA)

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF / PUBLISHING DIRECTOR VICE PRESIDENT / PUBLISHER

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT

Nathan Lump Steven DeLuca Jay Meyer

TIME INC. INTERNATIONAL LICENSING & DEVELOPMENT

(syndication @timeinc.com) Jim Jacovides EXECUTIVE EDITOR / INTERNATIONAL Mark Orwoll Jennifer Savage SENIOR DIRECTOR, AD SALES & MARKETING Joelle Quinn

VICE PRESIDENT

SENIOR DIRECTOR, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

TIME INC.

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Joseph Ripp

CHIEF CONTENT OFFICER

Norman Pearlstine

TRAVEL+LEISURE INDIA & SOUTH ASIA VOL. 9, ISSUE 114

Copyright © 2014 Exposure Media Marketing Pvt. Ltd., 323 Udyog Vihar, Phase IV, Gurgaon – 122016, Haryana. All rights reserved throughout the world. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited. Published by Xavier Collaco from Exposure Media Marketing Pvt. Ltd., 323 Udyog Vihar, Phase IV, Gurgaon – 122016, Haryana. Printed at Thomson Press India Limited, 18/35 Delhi-Mathura Raod, Faridabad, Haryana. Editor: Ruchira Bose. Travel+Leisure does not take responsibility for returning unsolicited publication material. All disputes are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of competent courts and forums in Delhi/New Delhi only. Opinions expressed in the articles are of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or publishers. While the editors do their utmost to verify information published they do not accept responsibility for its absolute accuracy. Unsolicited material is sent at the owner’s risk and the publisher accepts no liability for loss or damage. Materials in this publication may not be reproduced, whether in part or in whole, without the consent of Exposure Media Marketing Pvt. Ltd. This edition is published by permission of TIME INC. AFFLUENT MEDIA GROUP 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 USA. Tel. +1 212 522 1212 Online: www.timeinc.com Reproduction in whole or in part without consent of the copyright owner is prohibited. © Exposure Media Marketing Pvt. Ltd. in respect of the published edition. Copyright queries to travelandleisure@emmindia.com ADVERTISING For your advertising enquiries please contact : adenquiries@emmindia.com SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe call Gurgaon: 0124-4759616-17, 09899414369, Fax: 0124-4759550; Mumbai: 022-42467777, Fax: 022-26053710; Bangalore: 080-22219578, Fax: 080-22243428; Chennai: Call or Fax: 044-28141816; Kolkata: 033-40042815, Fax: 033-22805323; E-mail: circulation@emmindia.com; Web: www.emmindia.com.

12 10

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE // FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166


T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

13


contributors | F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

1 1

Amrita Das WRITER

A Cyclist’s Paradise Called Seville page 78 — Hers is a story that inspires people to travel. Amrita Das quit her desk job in 2014 when she realised it was causing hindrance to her wanderings. Now a freelance travel writer for numerous Indian and international publications, and blogger at Travelling Ides of March, Das is one of the top 35 travel bloggers in the country. She propagates female solo travel and believes that travel opens us to change. She likes to visit offbeat destinations and experiments with beer or wine on her trails. Having been born in Shillong, she has a natural weakness for the mountains. This issue, she pours out the secrets of cycling in Seville.

2 2

John Abraham From The Thunderbird’s Diaries page 20 — John Abraham is no new name in the Indian film industry. What is equally famous is his passion for superbikes and love for speed. While his personal garage is known to have quite a collection of thunderbirds, not many know where he’s been zipping them around in the world. Currently working on Force 2, Rocky Handsome, and a few other international projects, Abraham is zealous about his muscle building regimen, and self-confessedly, he doesn’t go anywhere in the world where there is no gym. This issue, he takes us through his favourite sojourns on his most beloved rides.

3 3

Rahul Chaudhary CONTRIBUTOR

10 Reasons To Go To LiJiang page 22 — Born in Nepal, with schooling from the Doon School in Dehradun, Rahul Chaudhary belongs to one of the most prestigious business families in the country that manages over 69 hotels in 11 countries. Professionally, he is Executive Director of CG Corp. Global, and on the personal front, he is quite the sportsman, with keen interest in soccer, and turns to music as a hobby. Chaudhary’s love for travel is self-explanatory in his dream to visit Antarctica. This issue, he takes out time from his busy schedule to convince us to visit Li Jiang in China’s Yunnan district.

14

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 5

F R O M T O P : C O U R T E S Y O F A M R I TA D A S ; H I N D U S TA N T I M E S / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; C O U R T E S Y O F R A H U L C H A U D H A R Y

CONTRIBUTOR


“WE WENT FOR AN ADVENTURE, AND CAME BACK WITH A LIFETIME OF STORIES.” “Adventure junkies – you’ll find your little piece of heaven in South Africa! We tried shark cage diving and our guide was a mine of information – so much so that we dubbed him Mike the ‘Shark Man’ Taylor. We bungee jumped from the world’s highest bridge bungee, then hiked in the Drakensberg Mountains with our guide, Lebo, who gave us a run for our money up the last peak.” ADD A LITTLE ADVENTURE TO YOUR VACATION. #MeetSouthAfrica

Visit www.southafrica.net

Inspiring new ways T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

15


BURNING QUESTION

Last month we asked you about your pet peeves when travelling. Here are the results.

t+l digital

33%

SECRET BEACHES IN INDIA FOR PEACE SEEKERS Quiet beaches in India, safe from prying eyes of onlookers, or monkeys. travelandleisureindia.in/ secret-beaches-in-indiafor-peace-seekers

13.01

WORLD’S GREATEST CHINATOWNS Red lanterns or curly pagodas roofs… a Chinatown is in the top 5 attractions of any great city of the world. travelandleisureindia. in/worlds-greatestchinatowns

17.01

DOWNLOAD US

FOLLOW US

T+L Tablet Editions

TWITTER.COM/ TNLINDIA FACEBOOK.COM/ TNLINDIA PINTEREST.COM/ TRAVLEISUREIN INSTAGRAM/ TRAVELANDLEISUREINDIA

Available on iPad, Anroid, and Windows Tablets.

A WINTER LOVER’S TOUR OF AUSTRIA Unbelievable vertical drops, mountain villages, Baroque city architecture; Austria looks magical with snow all over. travelandleisureindia. in/a-winter-lovers-tour-ofaustria

22.01

SPECIAL SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

EMMINDIA.COM MILEAGE MAKEOVER: 24 CLEVER WAYS TO STACK UP AND USE POINTS & MILES

INSIDE

EUROPE SPECIAL

FEBRUARY 2016 /

150

GET YOUR TICKET TO

LOVE 14 IDEAS/14 WAYS/14 ITINERARIES TO MAKE ROMANTIC TRAVEL EASY

SWANKY DEBUT HOTEL VAGABOND SINGAPORE

HAUTE SUITES WITH FIREPLACES

THE ULTIMATE DESIGN LOVER’S

MIAMI

BOOK NOW!

KENYA ZIMBABWE SPAIN

SUPER LUXE EASTER GETAWAYS

$ 4.50 / SLR 450 / NPR 35 / MVR 60 PKR 30O / BTN 200 / TAKA 350

16 14

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

said ‘people running, shoving, pushing to exit the plane’.

41%

said ‘chatty co-passengers’.

26%

said ‘selfie sticks’.

F R O M L E F T: L E I S A T Y L E R / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; D R E A M S T I M E ( 2 )

TR AVELANDLEISUREINDIA.IN


NEWS + TRENDS + DISCOVERIES C O U R T E S Y O F H O T E L VA G A B O N D , S I N G A P O R E

Vagabond in the City

On a balmy evening last month, the Vagabond officially announced its presence in Singapore. The experience-driven, luxury boutique art hotel is the hottest topic in the city right now, thanks to Indian hotelier Satinder Garcha. BY ANWESHA SANYAL

Vagabond’s interiors have a distinct stamp of Jacques Garcia’s iconic style

T R AV E L   +   L E I S U R E   /   F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

  17


CLOCKWISE: Craft cocktails at the bar;

It’s been a while since I stayed at a hotel like the Vagabond. Articulating my emotion into an appropriate phrase, owner Satinder Garcha quipped, “I didn’t want it to look like an art gallery.” This perhaps, was an insight from an hotelier who had travelled to the best art hotels of the world for inspiration, but returned with corrective measures of how ‘not’ to make a hotel. I, for one, was overwhelmed with what I was looking at when I walked in: a warm background textured with contemporary art pieces—a refined collection of numerous paintings and photographs all synchronised on the dark red walls of the lobby level. I instinctively reached for my camera to take a few photos while I was being checked in. Turns out, Garcha is a photographer too, and most of the work comes from his personal collection. Inclined to nudge at his passion in artistic ways, he aims to more than contribute personally to the art scene in the city. The first hotel in Singapore with an Artist in Residence programme, where well-known artists are invited to stay at the hotel for a few months in return for their art contribution to the hotel—I was met with renowned photographer Julia Calfee who took multiple photo frames in the hotel with her ‘Inside the Chelsea Hotel’ collection, and screened ‘A Glacier’s Requiem’, her short film at the Vagabond Salon. The salon is also the place for socialising over a cocktail with the artist during the Artist Cocktail Hour, and perhaps watch an independent film—one of the many

18 16

TT RR A A VV EE LL + + LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66

creative engagemements at the hotel. The ambition is simple and quite effective, “A hotel that is experiential, and offers guests more than just accommodation.” I walked into my room (elegantly designed with no element, including the shower cap, missing patterns) to find three postcards neatly bound by ribbon—a welcome gift—also photographs by Garcha. Who invites a guest like that? A vintage table clock, a rotary dial telephone among other things, adorn corners of the room: establishing tangible old-world hospitality before the modern service kicks in. Downstairs, 5th Quarter compliments the hotel with its gastronomy. Ex Chef

Andrew Nocente cures meat right where he can see it—in the kitchen; and combines the flavours of his Italian roots and Australian homeland for a fine dining experience that harmonises with Garcha’s philosophy. Therefore, the tables are booked out for lunch and dinner with a greater number of people at the restaurant than the guests residing in the 42 rooms. The most obvious question is why Garcha has no such a hotel in India. He points out possibly correctly how modern India will need more time to inculcate the taste of an experiential hotel that does not fall into the category of the accustomed. It’s definitely a learning I take back, and a wish to come here again.

C O U R T E S Y O F H O T E L VA G A B O N D , S I N G A P O R E (4)

rooms with traditional slatted French doors that open on to the courtyard; Chef Nocente in the kitchen; plated sirloin, guancole and beans.


T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

19


TRAVEL DIARY

From the Thunderbird’s Diaries

I AM CRAZY about motorcycles.

I own quite a few babies, and the latest additions to my brood are the Mojo 300cc, Yamaha MT 09, and of course, my prized Ninja ZX 1400 RR—the only one of its kind in India. I love the rugged and towering mountains.

FROM TOP:

Motorbikes on the Stelvio Pass in Italy; Lincoln Road running east-west between 16th and 17th Street in Miami Beach; Wargoth, a beautiful place on the way to Wakhan Corridor near the Afghanistan border; Kunzum La, India’s highest motorable mountain passes.

Euro Trip My most memorable trip was in 2008 when I thundered through 3,000 miles in Europe, from Italy to Austria. It was a spontaneous decision as I had just wrapped up the shoot of a film in Venice and wanted to get away on my own. I rode through the scenic Dolmiti range on a BMW 1200. What made this special was that I was all by myself and the experience spelt sheer Zen for me. It was a challenging ride because of the slippery snow. On the way, I was joined by a bunch of trained European riders. They didn’t know me, and I didn’t know them, and that is what added to the spectacular experience. What a ride!

Lahaul-Spiti Valley Kunzum La is one of India’s highest motorable mountain passes. It is a dirt track— hardly a road that links Kulu and Lahaul valleys to Spiti. It makes for a brilliant ride. I was shooting for the film Paap in 2006 in nearby Kaza, and still remember the moment I reached the crescent-shaped Chandra Tal Lake—in the still of the night at around 10:30pm it looked amazing. Moonlight filled the entire lake that mirrored the silent mountains around it. It was simply surreal—like sitting in a stadium of nature. The simplicity and beauty of the moment actually brought tears to my eyes. Jalalabad Route I love the scenic beauty of Afghanistan. I have never seen a cobalt blue sky in any other part of the world. I stayed on for a month after we wrapped up the shoot of Kabul Express. It was a fabulous experience riding around Shomali and the Jalalabad route. Miami Amongst other locations, I find Miami rocks a confluence of cultures. In the three months that I was there while shooting for Dostana I hung around a lot at Lincoln Street. Miami has fabulous beaches and the perfect weather all year round. The city carries the unmistakable warm influence of Latin America.

F R O M TO P : T I M G R A H A M / G E T T Y I M AG ES ; B U E N A V I STA I M AG ES / G E T T Y I M AG ES ; Z A H I D A L I K H A N / G E T T Y I M AG ES ; S H U T T E R STO C K

Filmstar JOHN ABRAHAM’S mad love for mean machines leads him on a throttle quest wherever he goes.


T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

21


TRAVEL DIARY

10 Reasons To Go To Lijiang

Lijiang is China’s Venice, with a stunning glassy lake, an old town with pretty bridges to visit, quaint old Chinese houses, and endless fileds of sunflowers. RAHUL CHAUDHARY, executive director, CG Hotels and Resorts, tells us why this is a destination waiting to be discovered.

Connect with water and the Old Town Lijiang’s Old Town district was built where the Jade River divides into three streams. These form the canals and waterways, which flow along the Old Town streets and create a tranquil ambiance. Gastronomy from the Naxi community Traditional Naxi cooking combines

influences from the states on the old Tea Horse route and delivers fabulous flavours. Featuring exciting dishes such as Baba, a sweet or savoury flat white bread, Naxi-style fried white cheese, and fried yak meat, the experience of Naxi cuisine is enhanced in a traditional village setting such as in the Baoshan stone village. Special cheese and French-influenced wines Lijiang’s cheese industry is a cottage enterprise and visitors can experience local varieties made out of yak milk. Also make it a point to taste authentic traditional drinks like Mulaoye Wine and local beer, both influenced by early French travellers. Hike to an old Naxi Village Hiking is by far the most rewarding way to take in the scenic beauty of the valley. Make your way up the hills to see temples, lakes, villages, and lookout points. Lijiang allows you to discover the real life of ancestral villages by foot. In search of the Canal Path Put away the map—uncover your own adventure as you take a canal path and stumble upon Lijiang’s villages, reservoirs, old bridges and a host of other treasures, nicely tucked away in obscurity. Go Golfing Lijiang has one of the most picturesque golf courses in the region—the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Course, 8,457 yards Par 72 course designed by Robin Nelson and Neil Haworth. It is a unique experience to enjoy a game of world-class golf here while witnessing breathtaking beauty and unspoilt panoramic views. Hunt for History Explore the remains of the Old Palace called ‘Mu’ where the Mu Clan of the Naxi people ruled for over 400 years. Handmade leather and silver jewellery The town has a rich history of leather and silver jewellery production. Join a local craftsman and watch as he masterfully creates works of art. These souvenirs are also available for purchase.

CLOCLWISE: At Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Course; a traditional Naxi hot pot; a young woman in the Yunnan Province dressed in a traditional attire; the picturesque rooftops of Lijiang valley.

22 20

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE // FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166

Jade Dragon snow mountain A landmark of Lijiang, the snow-covered mountain peak is a stunning sight to behold. The exquisite mountain range can even be viewed by a cable car that takes you above lush meadows, expansive valleys and divine, unending landscapes to die for.

F R O M T O P : C O U R T E S Y O F R A H U L C H A U D H A R Y; C O U R T E S Y O F J A D E D R A G O N S N O W M O U N TA I N G O L F C O U R S E ; B L A K E K E N T/ D E S I G N P I C S / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; D A N I TA D E L I M O N T/ G E T T Y I M A G E S ; T U U L A N D B R U N O M O R A N D I / G E T T Y I M A G E S

The old Tea Horse Trail Possibly the oldest trading route, the Tea Horse Road connects the Yunnan province with Tibet and the rest of the world. Lijiang was once a hub for tea trading and one can experience over 30 varieties of tea here. The UNESCO World Heritage Site also has numerous hiking trails that go via the city of Shangri-La, another landmark.


T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

23


MY FABULOUS WORLD

Caroline Scheufele

She is the co-president and art director of Chopard. On a recent visit to India, in an exclusive to T+L, she shared her travel style.

Great Getaway The last holiday I took was for Christmas in 2014; I stayed a few days in my chalet in Gstaad in the Swiss Alps. My parents and my brother own chalets there as well so it is our traditional winter holiday destination. Homecoming Home is near Geneva in Switzerland. I recently redecorated my house and I simply love to spend time with friends there. Other places I usually don’t miss out on visiting are the spa at La Réserve Hotel (lareserve.ch), and the amazing Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville de Crissier (restaurantcrissier.com) that the very talented chef, Benoît Viollier, now runs with great success. Beauty Kit I don’t leave for a business trip or a personal holiday without my Chopard by Mizensir candle. This fragrance was especially created for me by Alberto Morillas’s team. It smells like tuberose, one of my favourite flowers. And of course, I always have on hand my La Prairie creams—they are great for sensitive skin.

Comfort food There is nothing better than Italian in food for me. I love to prepare pasta for my friends when I am home. And, whenever I am in Paris, I love to eat at Le Stresa restaurant (lestresa. com; 33-1/472- 5162) where even a simple course of pasta is a savoury explosion. You can often see me there.

4 5

Shopping Fix Colette in Paris (colette.fr) and 10 Corso Como in Milan (10corsocomo.com) always offer a great selection of unique products. Designs from

24 22

2

Alaïa or Dolce & Gabbana also suit my style a lot— they are elegant and feminine. I feel beautiful in them. But, when it comes to the Red Carpet, the best choice is Elie Saab.

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

3

1

C LO C K W I S E F R O M TO P : C O U RT ESY O F CA R O L I N E S C H EU F E L E ; C O U RT ESY O F R ESTAU R A N T C R I SS I E R ( 2 ) ; S H U T T E R STO C K ( 2 ) ; C O U RT ESY O F LO R E N ZO V I L LO R ES I

Uniform I am most comfortable travelling in my Tod’s ballerinas. I always have my Chopard Caroline bag with me as well as my Smythson passport holder, and I never forget my two favourite fragrances—Fracas by Robert Piguet and Teint de Neige by Lorenzo Villoresi.


PROMOTION

If you are planning a trip to Odisha, don’t miss these sacred Buddhist monuments in the state.

Under the reign of Indian emperor Ashoka, Buddhism ourished in the state of Odisha. There are a number of ancient rock edicts, Buddhist monasteries, and stupas in the state that attract tourists every year. Some of these have been recently excavated, while many others are awaiting further excavation and study.

The Diamond Triangle

Udaigiri is the largest Buddhist Complex in Odisha, located on the foothills with an imposing

hill in the backdrop. Recent excavations have revealed that the name of the monastery here was Madhavapura Mahavihara. The remains at Udaigiri consist of a brick stupa, two monasteries, and a stone well with inscriptions. In the Jajpur district, Ratnagiri is a Buddhist gem. If you are fond of art and architecture, see its large monasteries, a big stupa, as well as shrines and sculptures. See the ruins of a huge brick monastery, remains of the chaitya hall, stupas, and sculptures at Lalitgiri. The excavation here has uncovered caskets containing sacred relics, further enhancing its sacredness for Buddhist pilgrims. Also visit the ancient caves on the twin hills of Udaigiri and Khandagiri.

Dhauli

Situated eight kilometres from Bhubaneswar, Dhauli is known for its rock edicts dating back to

260 BC, a legacy of emperor Ashoka. Dhauli is also the place where he nally decided to drop the weapons and abandon war for the rest of his life. The serenity of this place motivated the Nippon-Buddha Sangha to establish a Shanti Stupa (peace pagoda) in the 19th century. Here, you will also nd a Buddhist monastery.

Padmapur

This village in Rayagada district of Odisha has inscriptions that indicate that the nearby Jagamada Hill was once home to a monastery of Dharmakirti, a famous Buddhist logicianphilosopher. Other Buddhist sites to visit include the ruins of an old Buddhist temple and monastery in Balasore district; Banpur, where bronze statues of Buddhist pantheon were excavated; Ashokan rock edicts of Jaugada.

for more information visit www.orissatourism.gov.in


Flying High Chanel presented its travel-themed spring collection in a fantasy air terminal built inside Paris’s Grand Palais. It was a spectacular backdrop for the brand’s nod to the glamour of travel: double-C-emblazoned suitcases; Boeing-shaped brooches; and tweed handbags with retro, airline-inspired badges. For stylish frequent fliers, it’s a look to book now. — JANE HERMAN BISHOP CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Chanel brooches, from US$500; tweed bag, US$4,500; bracelets, from US$1,200.

26 24

RA A VV EE LL + + LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66 TT R

C H A N E L : V I CTO R P R A D O, ST Y L I ST : A L EX B R A N N I A N AT B E R N ST E I N & A N D R I U L L I

MUST-HAVE


T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

27


DOODLES

PEOPLE

Between The Lines

3 GREAT ARTISTS TO FOLLOW

WE HEAR THAT TR AVELLERS HAVE REPL ACED THEIR JOURNALS AND PENS WITH COLOURING BOOKS AND COLOUR PENCILS. IT’S TRUE WHAT THEY SAY—THESE COLOURING BOOKS FOR ADULTS MAKE A GREAT TR AVEL COMPANION. BY APEKSHA BHATEJA

FANTASTIC CITIES

A Colouring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined by Steve McDonald; ` 1,002; amazon.in

There are hundreds of artists who are creating beautiful colouring books, but we have narrowed down our search to these three. Johanna Basford

This Scottish illustrator has become a worldwide phenomenon with her colouring books for adults. One of the top selling authors, her works include Lost Ocean, Secret Garden, and Enchanted Forest. She painstakingly draws every design, and the intricacies are delightful. johannabasford.com

Jenean Morrison

DREAM CITIES COLOURING FOR MINDFULNESS by Rosie Goodwin and Alice Chadwick; ` 521; amazon.in

SHERLOCK: THE MIND PALACE by Mike Collins; ` 335; amazon.in

If you’re the one who likes patterns, then you will definitely like Jenean Morrison’s Flower Designs, Pattern and Design, and Mandala Design. A painter and textile designer based in Memphis, Morrison has a huge fan following (if her Instagram account is any indication). jeneanmorrison.net

Millie Marotta

THE MAGICAL CITY

by Lizzie Mary Cullen; ` 225; amazon.in

INSPIRED COLOURING TRAVEL by Parragon; ` 1,144; amazon.in

OF COURSE, THERE’S AN APP

The Welsh illustrator Millie Marotta admits that she has a mild obsession with flora and fauna, and all her books feel like they have been sketched in a wonderland. Animal Kingdom is her most loved colouring book— replete with detailed sketches of animals. milliemarotta.co.uk

It’s a given: When there’s a trend, there’s a smartphone app. If you happen to finish your colouring book on a long-haul flight without any more in stock, turn to apps like Colorfy (available on iOS and android)—the modern day alternative to paper and pens. It may not compare to the physical activity of colouring between the lines, but desperate times, desperate measures. Recolor is another app that works as a stress-buster.

28 26

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6


Technology is a big part of our daily lives now and it is essential to have free WiFi not only at airports but across cities in open areas in order to enable accessibility. Introducing airport apps will help in better navigation especially when you’re not familiar with the airport layout, having an app that will help gauge the downtime you have before getting to the terminal and simultaneously organise movement of foot traffic at checkout and security lines would be a blessing for travellers. I also believe that offering tailored services to frequent fliers linked to their tastes and preferences will enhance the experience. IVANA PEROVIC SHAH | CEO, AP GROUP FREQUENT TRAVELLERS

The Game Changers

From supersonic jets to a library on board aircrafts and virtual reality by tour operators, frequent travellers share suggestions on travel innovations and changes they’d like to see implemented this year. KANIKA TEKRIWAL

CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, JetSetGo.in

T H O R B J O R N 6 6 / G E T T Y I M AG ES

Comfort comes before everything else. So, innovations that I would really love to see in 2016 would include Jacuzzis on aircrafts, check-in facility at airport lounges, and luggage collection and delivery by airlines from my doorstep! But, if supersonic jets come into action, it will make travel so much faster and easier.

YEISHAN GOEL CEO, THRS

to automatic watches that use wrist movement to charge. In the coming years, I am also looking forward to a genius piece of technology that would allow for real time speech-to-speech translation for globe trotters constantly travelling to diverse regions. But then, queuing up after a long flight is my biggest pet peeve—secure biometric passports will allow travellers to breeze through and out of airports and avoid immigration delays and hassles.

TITHI TIWARI CO-FOUNDER, SmartVizX

A constant bane while travelling is a dying phone. It would be interesting to have an automatically-charging smartphone, something similar

Most luxury travellers go by word of mouth or simply play blind when it comes to picking a place to stay in an international

location. I wish there were a way to partly experience the property before booking it. With growing technology and advent of Virtual Reality I think it’s quite possible now. Tour providers must embrace this new immersive technology to benefit the traveller. Virtual Reality can help start a new trend in the luxury travel segment by encouraging people to try newer destinations and help travellers make the right investment.

ARUN D’ SILVA

INDIA DIRECTOR, Frederique Constant

Travel needs to become entertaining and informative and a good way that airlines can do this is to use their flight tracking screen to feature some nice videos and information about the locations they are flying over. Currently they only show the route and the geographic coordinates.

KUNAL KAPUR CHEF

VIMAL SUMBLY MANAGING DIRECTOR,

Triumph Motorcycles, India

What matters most as a business traveller are speed and efficiency. All airlines should make the process of check-ins and boarding passes smoother for customers. Also, they should consider providing Wifi to all passengers in order to make their travel more productive. Additional indulgences that I can think of are a good cup of coffee and a well-stocked library onboard.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could create personalised information about each guest even before they reach the airline or hotel. It will create a storm if guest meals can be planned beforehand, along with little surprises for them, all based on their specific likes and dislikes. Loyalties will shoot up, and the luxury traveller will get that little input that warms his heart, without going overboard on costs. —AROMA SAH ANANT

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEIISSUURREE // FF EE BB RR UUAA RRYY 22 00 11 66

29 27


Q&A

The Master of Spices Deena Naidoo never imagined he’d don the chef’s hat one day. Today, the winner of the first season of Masterchef South Africa has a flourishing restaurant called Aarya and a signature butter chicken pizza on its menu. We got talking to the man about his Indian roots. PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANIL CHAWLA

FROM LEFT: Inside Aarya; the restaurant offers a variety of dishes from steaks to curries; Chef Deena Naidoo; Fry’s curry served with chapatis and chutneys.

HE IS WHAT YOU’D CALL a regular South African of Indian origin. Born and brought up in Durban, Naidoo trained to be an electronic engineer and cooked most of his life out of natural choice. At 49, he reminisces his childhood being in a typical Indian household, fasting on days of temple visits, along with experiencing all that SA had to offer.

From an engineer to a Masterchef, how has the journey been so far? Although I’ve been cooking since I was six, I never thought I’d become a chef... I wasn’t even looking in that direction. I’m not someone who enjoys taking the centre stage or being under the spotlight, but I entered Masterchef South Africa to measure my passion for the culinary arts. It was an opportunity that came to me, and I thought, maybe, I’d be one of the top 50 contestants. On the show, I tried my hand at different cuisines, whipping up dishes from Indian curries—which are my forte—to Italian pastas, Chinese, and Japanese. In 2012, I embarked on a partnership with Tsogo Sun to open my restaurant, Aarya, in Johannesburg, which is named after my 13-year-old daughter. It has been

00 30

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE // FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166

a phenomenal journey meeting new people. They relate to me because I’m the common man from the streets who became a Masterchef, and I cherish every moment of it. What are you most proud of at Aarya? South Africans love their food—we are a meat-loving nation and we like to eat wholesome meals. My menu represents the South African home with the same proportions and ingredients. There is something for everyone here, from steaks to seafood and curries. Where do you get your spices from? Spice Emporium in South Africa. We blend our spices ourselves. It’s not as aromatic and jazzy as in India; it’s milder. The base of the curry is braised onion and tomato— that’s the South African way of cooking. Apart from that, I have collaborated with Fry’s, one of South Africa’s largest soy producing companies, to make a Durban vegetarian curry. Your favourite cuisine? I love my curries. My two absolute favourites are lamb curry and butter bean curry cooked in South African fashion. I also

enjoy Thai food because it’s simple and transparent—what you see is what you get. Your choice of top dining places in Jo’burg? If you leave Aarya out, I would go to Beira Alta in Montecasino for some Portuguese food. They serve some really nice chicken and prawn dishes. Any more restaurants in the offing? I want to open a restaurant in Durban to celebrate South African Indian food which the city has already, especially in restaurants like Oriental, and in dishes like bunny chow. I want people to experience the legacy of South African Indians at my restaurant one day.


Subscribe

SAVE

50 % TODA Y

!

Unmissable Half Price Offer! Get 12 ISSUES for the Price of 6!

ACT NOW SAVE MONEY TICK

PHONE

DELHI/NCR 9899414369, 0124-4759500/616 MUMBAI 022-42467777 BENGALURU 080-22219578 KOLKATA 033-40042815

COURIER

ONLINE

circulation@emmindia.com subscriptionsupport@emmindia.com

EXPOSURE MEDIA MARKETING PVT. LTD. 323 UDYOG VIHAR, PHASE IV, GURGAON-122016 HARYANA

CHENNAI 044-28141816

TERMS

NO. OF ISSUES

COVER PRICE

DISCOUNT

YOU PAY

YOU SAVE

1 Year

12

` 1800

50%

` 900

` 900

I would like to subscribe to Travel+ Leisure India & South Asia Name

Age

Sex

Address City

State

Pin

Mobile

Landline

Email

Enclosed DD/Cheque No

Dated

Drawn On

For `

In favour of Exposure Media Marketing Pvt. Ltd. For outstation cheques please add ` 10/For bulk/corporate orders, please mail : ashish@emmindia.com TERMS & CONDITIONS This offer is valid only in India. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for the subscription to begin. All disputes subject to competent courts in the jurisdiction of Delhi or Haryana only. Exposure Media Marketing (P) Ltd. reserves the right to cancel, extend or discontinue the offer or any part thereof without giving any reason or prior notice. Exposure Media Marketing (P) Ltd. is not responsible for any postal delay. Conditions apply.


T+L DEALS

AUSTRIA

Inside A Snow Globe

It’s that time of the year again when powdery snow turns everything pristine white. Feel like you’re in the movie Frozen when you stay at these hotels this month.

THURNHER’S ALPENHOF, ZÜRS AM ARLBERG The alpine chalet hotel in Lech is perfect for a winter adventure. Stay in a mountain-view room with a fireplace; dine at the restaurant that whips up delicious Austrian specialities; and indulge at their newlydesigned spa. Much to the delight of ski lovers, the hotel also offers complimentary services of a ski instructor, and direct access to the slopes of Zürs. US$4,787 upwards for five nights. Stay in a Junior Suite. Inclusive of Thurnher’s Gourmet Package— welcome cocktail, breakfast buffet, daily afternoon snack and gourmet dinner; a voucher for the best rice pudding in Arlberg in Thurnher’s Milchbar. 50-minute relaxation and stretching; 25-minute sports massage. Save 15% lhw.com

CHINA SHANGRI-LA HOTEL, CHANGCHUN Far from the usual spots in Europe, Shangri-La Hotel, Changchun is offering a Ski Experience Package, which will take you to a winter wonderland in China’s Auto City. US$280 upwards for two nights; till February 28. Stay in a Deluxe Room; late check-out until 6 pm. Inclusive of daily breakfast buffet. Return transfer to the ski ground. Other highlights: Enjoy skiing at Moon Lake ground, which is also a part of this package. Save 25% shangri-la.com

Snow-clad peaks in Austria.

EXCLUSIVE Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, St. Moritz Celebrate 120 years of Badrutt’s Palace Hotel. CHF 1,20,000 (US$1,19,682) for two people. Three nights’ stay in the Suite Beau-Rivage; Krug Collection welcome set-up. A culinary experience through hotel’s restaurants; a private dinner in the suite; a fondue dinner. Afternoon in a spa suite. Private jet round-trip transfer from Zurich or Milan; transfers to lift. Other highlights: A shopping voucher worth CHF 12,000; ski pass; 120-minute helicopter ride with lunch; a 1.2 carat cocktail ring. badruttspalace.com

32 28

COST T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

BED

SONNENALP HOTEL Escape to this European-style Sonnenalp Hotel in Colorado. Set in the small town of Vail, it’s only minutes away from ski lifts. With five restaurants, a library with fireplace, an 18-hole golf course, a spa and pool, there is a lot to do here if you’re not much of a skier. Additionally, they have a special programme to keep kids entertained. US$530 upwards per night for two people; minimum stay of seven nights; till April 10. Applicable on all rooms and suites; complimentary access to internet. Daily breakfast for two in Ludwig’s restaurant. One time US$50 resort credit. Complimentary vehicle service within Vail Village and house Volvo car usage. Save 17% lhw.com

FOOD

SPA

TRANSFER

COURTESY OF LEADING HOTELS OF THE WORLD

USA


armenia | turkey | + more

THE BEACH

The New Miami: Walk, Spot, Eat What is it about Miami that makes it THE destination for Hollywood movies, and pulls the young American crowd to its super cool vibe? Now that summers are ‘round the corner, RICHA VADHERA finds out that the Miami beaches are only a fragment of the big picture.

S Y LVA I N S O N N E T/ G E T T Y I M A G E S

Miami Beach, Vintage car parked in front of hotel

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

33


THE BEACH

never going back. I’d later learnt why. The city opens up arms to cultures, languages, food, music, fashion, and people, yet manages to never let anyone or anything get in the way of its essence, or crowd its space. Thinking back, I realise that every facet of the city seems to reinforce this, without anyone having to point it out. I’d always seen Miami through a Hollywood lens—a sunny, vibrant party central, with salsa and tequila, and beach-bodied beauties in cutoffs, roller-blading down the boardwalk. Then there was the constant mention of awards on travel portals—for its great beaches, as a holiday destination, or a place to live in—everything was up there. A man-made island that was once a Coconut Grove Plantation, the city has rather sweet origins. A certain Julia Tuttle, popularly known as the ‘Mother of Miami’, sent the co-founder of Standard Oil, Henry Flagler, perfect Miami Orange blossoms. She ended up convincing him to extend his railroad from central Florida to Miami, build a luxury hotel, and essentially lay out a whole new town. The city was incorporated in the late 1800s, and interestingly, is the only major city in the US to be planned by a woman. Why thank you Ma’am!

TOURS

Culinary Tour

The city is unofficially referred to as the sixth borough of New York, yet it struck me while walking around—not too many people spoke English. The city is home to 150+ ethnicities, with over 63 per cent of the population being Hispanic. The result? Elaborate menus with

34 30

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE // FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166

FUN FACTS Sunscreen was invented by a Miami Beach physician In the 1940s, Benjamin Green developed a lotion for WWII soldiers, in his own kitchen. After the war, he improved his formula, and Coppertone manufactured it. Make eye contact when you toast Turns out the popular saying—If you don’t look someone in the eye when you toast, you’ll have bad sex for seven years—has Latin influence. Photo Op Gianni Versace’s house, at the stairs of which he was shot, is the 3rd most photographed house in the US. Straight to the Point The gentleman who owns Viagra (some say he invented it), has lined the front of his palatial mansion with erect palm tress, which he especially imported.

CLOCKWISE: Art murals at Wynwood, a neighbourhood in

Miami, which has a strong art culture presence and murals can be seen everywhere; Fisher Island; art deco lifeguard stand on the beach.

Cuban, Haitian, Peruvian, Colombian, Indian, Thai, Japanese, and Argentinean influences. I signed up for the South Beach Food Tour, with an intimate group that enjoyed some massive tasting portions.We covered a range of restaurants; from Gloria Estefan’s Larios on the Beach, to smaller joints in different corners. The Empanadas deserve special mention—crisp on the outside, stuffed with beef and smoked potato—what’s not to love? And Yucca fries! Apparently a South American staple, these often come with different dipping sauces. Another winner was the Nutella gelato at Gelato Milani, served on cute little stools shaped like gelato cones. miamiculinarytours.com

CLOCK WISE FROM TOP: DREAMSTIME; KE VIN SYMS; MATEJ KR AJCOVIC/GE T T YIMAGES

I’D READ OF MANY PEOPLE visiting Miami and


FROM TOP: EK ASH/GET T YIMAGES; SEAN DR AKES/CON/GET T YIMAGES; FR A ZER HARRISON/GET T YIMAGES

Cruising

Port Miami is touted to be the Cruise capital of the world, being the departure destination of choice for cruises to the Bahamas, Caribbean and Mexico. Happy to bask in the sun, on the waters, I boarded the Bayside Blaster Cruise, which cruises along the Biscayne Bay. In 90 minutes, we got a view of the downtown skyline, Port of Miami, Miami Beach, and Millionaire’s Row. The mansions here get successively bigger, as does the list of celebrities who own them. We even got a glimpse of Fisher Island, where the likes of Tom Cruise, Oprah Winfrey and Sofia Loren have lived. There, under the toasty sun, accompanied by the occasional light splash, the entertaining bilingual guide also fueled my penchant for celebrity gossip. islandqueencruises.com

FROM ABOVE: An outdoor seating area in the art deco district of Miami; mixed media a sculptures titled ‘Mango Tourist’ by Jamaican artist Narrrii Ward at Perez Art Museum; a general view of atmosphere e at the Art Miami after-party at the Bakehouse Art Complex.

Art Deco Tour

A city’s architecture always tells a story, and the Miami Design Preservation League, a nonprofit group that works for the preservation of over 800 historic buildings, tells many in its 90-minute tour. Low-rise buildings, now boutique hotels, come with both historical and pop culture references. The tour was right up my alley—walking past pastel-colored buildings with portholes, reflecting Miami for the beach destination that it is, all with room for the glorious sun to shine through. I spotted The Cardozo from There’s Something About Mary, and even the Carlyle hotel, where the 90’s hit The Birdcage was shot. I asked for more stories on Hollywood sets, and was even pointed out locations from Miami Vice. We were also acquainted with two other

TTRRAAVVEEL L ++ L LEEI SI SUURREE / / F FEEBBRRUUAARRYY2 2001 16 6

35 31


THE BEACH

CELEBRITY HANGOUTS

distinct styles of architecture, one of which, the Mediterranean Revival, is reflected in the former Versace Mansion, now operated as a luxury boutique hotel and restaurant. mdpl.org

Street Art Tour

I can’t claim to know much about art. Then I found the world’s greatest outdoor art museum, and another walking tour. And I decided to widen my horizons. Wynwood Arts District is home to over a 100 galleries.The Wynwood Walls house contemporary urban murals, created by artists from around the world, including artwork inscribed on 176 feet of rolling storefront steel doors, known as the Wynwood Doors.Some of the best artworks from these walls now only exist in photographs. Our guide, a local artist, got into the graffiti movement, and the unspoken rules between artists.Turns out a certain Goldman family bought over the warehouses in the area, painted them white, and commissioned artists to use them as their canvas.

36 32

TT RR AAVV EE LL ++ LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66

Prime 112 Bill Clinton and Khloe Kardashian have been spotted in this high energy spot, located in the Browns Hotel. LIV nightclub At Fontainebleau, known for celebrity birthday parties, and the likes of Steve Aoki and Calvin Harris have spun here. Kim Kardashian, Drake, Paris Hilton, Rosie Huntington Whiteley, Christina Aguilera. Cheeseburger Baby This casual eatery has drawn the likes of Beyonce and Jay-Z, as well as Lil’ Jon and Diddy.

CLOCKWISE: At the Maximo Gomez Park; Cuban Guys

Sandwiches at Wynwood Walls; world of Domaines Barons de Rothschild on display at Wine Spectator Wine Seminar Series

I even spotted a fashion shoot in progress; very exciting! wynwoodmuraltours.com

Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) Located in downtown Miami, the PAMM is a contemporary arts museum, and offers expansive views of Biscayne Bay. The museum is sustainably designed, open and sunlit, with massive windows, equipped to protect the art. There were a few school tours in progress, but everyone seemed focused on personal exploration. The highlight of my visit was a wall dedicated to a rather dark concept piece, incidentally all in text, aptly titled Inflammatory Essays. I wandered out into the sprawling outdoor plaza, apparently used for outdoor performances. A couple of hours well spent in the sun lit indoors. pamm.org

Little Havana

There are no two ways about it—Little Havana had my heart in a New York minute,

C L O C K W I S E F R O M T O P : C A S TA N E DA L U I S /AG F/ U I G/ G E T T Y I M AG E S ; S E R G I A L E X A N D E R / G E T T Y I M AG E S ; C A R L O S B A R R I O S / G E T T Y I M AG E S

Casa Tua’s A safe haven from the paparazzi, the spot is popular with Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson and Owen Wilson.


F R O M T O P : V E R O N I C A G A R B U T T/ G E T T Y I M AG E S ; G U S TAV O C A B A L L E R O/ G E T T Y I M AG E S ; S E R G I A L E X A N D E R / G E T T Y I M AG E S (2)

if I may take the liberty of saying so. A Cuban neighbourhood and also known as the Latin quarter, between the comfort food, the Domino Park, and the artisanal hand rolled cigars sold here, I was extremely taken in by the culture. I took a walk down CalleOcho, or Eight Street, known as the unofficial capital of the Cuban community. Cuban coffee’s been rated by Forbes Traveler as one of the country’s best ‘street food’, so I got my hands on some at a ventanitas, or Cuban coffee window. Out of sheer curiosity after having watched Chef, I dug into a Cuban Sandwich as well. With generous fillings and deliciously heavy, the Cubans consider it a midnight snack. Oh well, I guess it makes sense if you’re dancing it all off into the wee hours of the morning. I could almost see the insides of the studios and clubs, pulsating with the sounds of salsa and Zumba. A spot called Ball and Chain caught my attention, a not-to-be-missed latenight joint I later heard. The fact that it was a former mob-owned gambling den and jazz venue only added to its appeal. I sat in Maximo Gomez Domino Park for a bit, watching groups of unfazed gentlemen under the canopy, animatedly enjoying a game of Dominos. The park is free during sunlit hours, and located at the corner of CalleOcho and 15th Avenue, it is straight out of a Hollywood set.

EAT Pubbelly Gastropub A tavern-like restaurant setting at 1418, 20th Street has chef-driven cuisine.

SHOPPING

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar Classic Southern cooking on Lenox Avenue, with farm fresh ingredients; try the Weekend Brunch.

High end, high street, and locally and culturally influenced—shopping in Miami covers the entire spectrum. Shopping plazas also boast art and culinary concepts, and street performers.

HuaHua’s Taqueria Traditional Mexican Cuisine for a late-night indulgence on Lincoln Road.

Lincoln Road

Down the road from the Ritz Carlton South Beach, where I had the pleasure of staying, is the pedestrian friendly Lincoln Road. I went down there to drop by my favourite high street brands, but ended up hanging out there much longer. Besides popular high street fashion brands, there are boutiques that stock creations by local designers. Also lining the road were cafes, bars, and some upmarket restaurants. I was super pleased to saunter through The Dog Bar, checking out eco-friendly accessories for my dog back home. I came back later that evening to Sushi Samba, and a street magician, with an acquired sense of humour and some really fun tricks up his sleeve, joined us for a bit. The street was lit and alive, with people out in shorts and flip flops for a casual meal, to ladies in cocktail

CVI.CHE 105 Traditional Peruvian cuisine especially for the seafood. 105 NE 3rd Ave

FROM TOP: Gap

store South Beach area; the atmosphere at Sushi Samba on South Beach; at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar; Chef Kevin Little prepares food at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar.

Zuma Shania Twain and Janet Jackson are known to drop by often for the Japanese cuisine. Biscayne Boulevard Way Panther Coffee Where each cup roasted on site, in small batches. panthercoffee.com

A VV EE LL + + LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66 TT RR A

37 33


THE BEACH

DRESS CODE Packing for Miami can sound confusing, given the mixed vibes.

Miami Design District

The Miami Design District is not only about luxury brands such as Cartier, Celine, Christian Louboutin, Hermes, Marc Jacobs, or Fendi. About 4.5kms from Downtown Miami, this area is flushed with the boutiques, with dedicated areas of art, design, and the performing arts. Art galleries, artist lofts, restaurants, installations, design showrooms apart, there are up and coming residences as well. The district thus manages to have an upmarket, yet accessible and relaxed vibe, and is open to everyone. miamidesigndistrict.net

STAY

The Ritz Carlton

The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach offers everything I’d expected - an oceanfront infinity pool where I’d enjoy breakfast, room with a gorgeous view of the rising and setting sun against the ocean, and spa services for after walking tours, or pretty much any other time. Post my two art centric explorations in Miami, I came to know

38 34

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

Beachwear is standard, and Miami seems to love color, so knock yourself out! The city takes its nightlife pretty seriously, so bring on the LBD’s and backless numbers, and if you’re comfortable walking in them, the strappy high heels. The city doesn’t in any way enforce a standard of fashion, apart from the restaurants and bars that specify a dress code. So dress comfortable and happy. It’s hard to be anything but in this city!

CLOCKWISE: The Ritz Carlton Hotel lobby area in Miami;

a well-furnished suite; the Terrace Cafe inside the Oceania Cruises’ new ship, Marina.

that the hotel itself is one of the few “art” hotels in the area, with a collection of work from Latin American and European artists. The collection, valued at about $10 million, is on permanent loan from Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts. There’s even an art tour booklet for guests to use, to spend time with and understand the art. More up my alley though was the The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour’s Couture Concierge service, exclusively for guests of the hotel. I had the luxury of meeting with the in-house fashion expert - Elysze Held. A south Florida personality, she’s been a fashion expert on Fox and CBS, and even consults on New York Fashion Week. Ms. Held’s style matches her sparkling personality. She meets with hotels guests for personalized wardrobe consultations, and even has them accompany her, if they wish to, on shopping expeditions. Guess the Ritz Carlton does really think of everything.

C L O C K W I S E F R O M T O P : J E F F G R E E N B E R G/ G E T T Y I M AG E S ; C O U R T E S Y O F T H E R I T Z- C A R LT O N , S O U T H B E A C H ; A L D I A Z / M I A M I H E R A L D/ M C T/ G E T T Y I M AG E S

dresses on the arms of dapper gentlemen, presumably heading out to a night on the town. lincolnroadmall.com

Spots like Lincoln Road will have people sporting anything from shorts and t-shirt, to sun dresses, to even jeans and tank tops. Spots like the design district do tend to attract a more distinguished lot, given the brands it houses. However, I spotted high-waist shorts and pants, light and airy blouses, open sandals, and sun dresses, while men were in khaki shorts and nice polo or linen shirts.


T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

39


PERSPECTIVE

Gerghard Monastery carved into a rock face.

Angelic Armenia

It is as if the country is the stage set for the Old Testament. A land-locked nation surrounded by hostile neightbours like Turkey and Azerbaijan, Armenia has always found spiritual refugees in monastries and churches. BY KALPANA SUNDER I CRANE MY HEAD TO look at a riot of figures on the vaulted ceilings of buildings, and am particularly struck by the image of the six-winged seraphs. I am standing on path-breaking historical ground. It was here that the first Christian nation was formed. Where King Tiridates III converted to Christianity and declared Armenia the world’s first Christian state. “The cathedral at Etchmiadzin is the Armenian Vatican; the first church to be built in Armenia and arguably the oldest in the world,” says

40 36

TT RR AAVV EE LL ++ LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UUAA RRYY 22 00 11 66

my guide Tatevik. Etchmiadzin is to the Armenian Apostolics, what The Vatican is to the Catholics. It is believed that St. Gregory the illuminator first envisioned and built the Mother Church of Armenia here between the third and fourth century. I walk through two tall gates which have the figures of the two apostles who brought Christianity to this country—somber-looking bearded priests in black robes glide around its grounds, while the interiors show colorful paintings from the era. This


cathedral owes its existence to Armenian ingenuity. According to legend, the Shah of Persia from the 17th century wanted to dispel Armenian hopes of returning to their homeland by moving their religious centre to Iran and ordered his invading armies to destroy the church. It is then that some Armenian craftsmen hastily carved the Shah’s face on its bell tower and told the Persian soldiers of its miraculous appearance. The cathedral survived and the rest is history. According to the Armenian historian’s account of the vision of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, it was at that site that Christ descended from heaven with a host of angels to strike the ground with a golden hammer and to produce visions of a circular base of gold and a tall column of fire with a cross of light. Inside the hallowed church, people bustle about, lighting slender candles, greeting friends or bending to kiss the huge velvet-cushioned Bible. Tatevik points out Echmiadzin’s giant vessel of holy oil (myrrh). Legend states that the Apostle Thaddeus brought some oil consecrated by Christ to Armenia in the first century and hid it in a monastery which three centuries later, St. Gregory the Illuminator found. Since that time, holy myrrh has been remixed and consecrated at Echmiadzin and distributed to Armenian churches all over the world. Prepared in a massive silver caldron, the mixture of herbs, flower extracts, spices, wine and pure olive oil was derived from an original batch mixed at the Armenian Church’s founding 1,707 years ago. It is stirred with the tip of the lance that

was used on Jesus Christ. Tatevik explains that all members of the Armenian Church share a bond because they are baptized with oil derived in part from Echmiadzin’s original myrrh. The church’s real gems are tucked in the Treasury behind a gate in the rear. I look entranced at gorgeous church attires embroidered with gold and pearls, printed curtains, embroidered coverlets, crosses, all kinds of ritual vessels of silver gold, ivory, adorned with filigree work and jewels The crowning glory of the whole complex is the Holy Lance (Surp Geghard), the weapon said

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: The road through

Caucasus mountains to the Gerghard Monastery; carved water faucet in Khor Virap; Khor Virap, where Gregory the illuminator was imprisoned, is surrounded by vineyards.

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE / / FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166

41 37


PERSPECTIVE

LEFT: The lobby at Double Tree by Hilton near the Republic Square in Yerevan; inside Khor Virap Monastery.

Greek architecture. The temple is as spectacular as its setting: perched over the Garni Gorge with craggy rock faces. Fronting the temple women in traditional dresses sell bottles of preserves like walnuts and strings of walnuts dipped in grape juice and dried that look like garlands. “The Temple was built in honour of the pagan sun god Mitra, in the pre- Christian days,” says Tatevik and treats us to some strains of a spiritual song inside the temple to demonstrate its superior acoustics. As her voice fills the AND EVEN ancient space with a rich sound that remains my most special A POLITICAL CAPITAL, ARMENIAN PEOPLE HAVE, moment of the trip. LOOKED From Garni we drive to TO ETCHMIADZIN AS THE HOME Gerghard Monastery gouged out of rock faces with chapels —W. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS, Welsh journalist and politician and rock cut caves that date back to the 4rth Century and today a UNESCO site. The complex of medieval We wander through the gardens, with a Genocide buildings is surrounded by towering cliffs at the Monument and many fine khatchkars assembled entrance to the Azat Valley. The principal structure from around the country. These cross stones that is the church of the Virgin, a cruciform building are found all over Armenia are usually found as from the second quarter of the 13th century. This grave stones but were also raise in churches or to monastery is supposed to have housed the lance commemorate a special event. They are covered that is today housed at the museum at Echmiadzin. with intricate floral and geometrical ornaments, The complex has two rock-cut churches, a tombpictures of birds and animals and various scenes chapel and small cells. Deep within the dark featuring figures of men and saints. monastery, locals piously burn candles and pray. Driving through vast expanse of empty roads Centuries of prayer have lined the interiors with through the Caucasus Mountains we reach the soot. The walls are wet and streaked with the water majestic Garni Temple built in the 1st Century of an ancient stream. Lurking high above my head BC, with Ionic pillars that are reminiscent of to have been used by a Roman soldier to pierce the side of Christ while he was still nailed to the cross. It’s a spearhead set into an ornate gold-and-silver casing. I look at splinters of wood preserved in the museum that are believed to be from Noah’s Ark, which landed on Mount Ararat. It was brought to Echmiadzin from Geghard Monastery. The treasury also has relics of the apostles Peter and Andrew, some in hand or arm-shaped reliquaries.

“Deprived of a political head

for at least five hundred years, of their people,”

42 38

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP:

I see carved columns, ancient reliefs of lions and eagles seizing goats by their talon. I make sure that I drink the healing water of the spring that comes out of the rock under the north wall of the church. Perhaps the most spectacular of settings is the monastery of Khor Virap, south of the capital city of Yerevan, and near the Turkish border, set on a hillock against the iconic Mount Ararat where Noah’s Ark is supposed to have landed. Ironically today Mount Ararat is in Turkish territory. Khor Virap was where King Trdat III imprisoned St Gregory the Illuminator, the apostle of the Christian faith, for 12 years in a dark and deep well with poisonous insects ( Khor Virap means deep well). The story goes that when the kind was cursed with madness Gregory was recalled from the dungeon and when he cured him, the king converted to Christianity and St Gregory became the first Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and set about building churches on top of pagan temples and teaching the faith.. Today tourists can climb down the claustrophobic narrow steps leading to the 7metres deep well, where St Gregory survived on bread and water thrown in by a kind Christian woman. Today Khor Virap is an important pilgrimage site for Armenians and people often visit for a baptism or after a wedding to perform a sacrifice. Outside the temple I see a vendor who sells white doves that can be released with a wish that they fly over Mount Ararat. “So near, yet so far,” says Kristina Sargysan, a local friend. I look wistfully at the mountain too.

The ceiling of the cathedral in Echmiadzin; pomegranates, a religious symbol of Armenia; releasing doves at Khor Virap.

FACT FILE FOR YEREVAN How to get there Fly to Yerevan by Air Arabia from Delhi, Mumbai or Chennai via Sharjah. Sharjah airport offers a paid lounge facility by this low cost carrier to make layovers comfortable. airarabia.com From Yerevan drive down to the monasteries.

closed market. Take day trips to the Gerghard and Garni temples, visit Lake Sevan and the ski resort of Tsakhkadzor.

Where to stay Double Tree by Hilton with a great location near the Republic Square and comfortable doubles is a good place to stay in Yerevan.

Eat Local staples like lavash flat bread, dolma – grape leaves stuffed with meat and vegetables, salads, various local cheeses, Khorovats or grilled meats, Matzoon- dense yoghurt. Drink strong Armenian coffee, local brandy, Armenian wine, and local Kilikia beer.

What to do Visit the Republic Square, the Cascades, the Vernissage Flea Market, the Matenadaran Library, the National Art Gallery, the Armenian Genocide Museum and the

Buy Dried fruits, preserves, jams and juices, local brandy and wine, traditional dolls, Khachgars or crosses, paintings, hand embroidered linen and silver jewellery.

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

43 39


C H A R M I N G S TAY S

A villa at Uma by COMO in Paro. BELOW: The bar lounge at Fogo Island Inn, Canada.

By The Fireplace Ballyfin, County Laois | Ireland Talk about neoclassical country house in an English estate set in the heart of Ireland with gardens, lakes, a parish church, aviary and that is Ballyfin, a perfect setting for English romance. Each room is tastefully designed with enormous detail as they are furnished with beautiful fabrics and antiques. You would wonder how time passes by in the estate as you find your hands full with activities like boating, horse riding, fishing, archery, picnic, archery and falconry. Starts at €770 per night; ballyfin.com

44 40

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE // FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166

Château de Bagnols | France The scent of the timeless French countryside lingers days after you have experienced a stay in this chateau built in the 13th century which has numerous credits, one being the visit of Charles VIII in 1490. Surrounded by vineyards this resort is the perfect destination for a romantic escape. Starts at €329 per night; chateaudebagnols.com Uma by COMO, Paro | Bhutan Como Villa ensures ample privacy as you get to enjoy the panoramic views

of Paro valley within the confines of an alfresco hot stone tub and an open courtyard with fire pit to cosy up in the cold Himalayan weather. You needn’t leave your private domain as you indulge in some spa treatments. Starts at US$1,250 per night; comohotels.com Argos in Cappadocia | Turkey Talk of romance and the dreamy fairy chimneys of Cappadocia are sure to come in your thoughts. The award winning Argos in Cappadocia was once a monastery in Uchisar, Turkey.

COURTESY OF COMO HOTELS; COURTESY OF FOGO ISL AND INN

Sitting cosily with your partner before a fireplace at a charming hotel, sipping a glass of wine and drinking in the snow clad views, is one amazing romantic dream. Here is a list of our favourite hotels with fireplaces from around the world. BY RATHINA SANKARI


C L O C K W I S E : C O U R T E S Y O F I N K AT E R R A ; C O U R T E S Y O F C H ÂT E A U D E B A G N O L S ; C O U R T E S Y O F G H M H O T E L S ; C O U R T E S Y O F & B E Y O N D

You are lost in a wonderland as you explore the underground tunnels that are accessible from most rooms and enjoy the views of Güvercinlik Vallet and Erciyes Mountain. The property boasts of their own wine and suites with private cave pools. Relax in a private garden and terrace and lose yourself to the century old historical stories of the property. Starts at €560 per night; argosincappadocia.com Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe | USA Set amidst the serene surroundings of Tahoe National Forest this ski resort has loads of winter activities for its guests. Skiing, snow-boarding, snowshoeing and snowmobiling are few to list. If you are in the lookout for a spa vacation this is the place you got to be. It sure would awaken your senses, pamper you to the fullest and rejuvenate your body and soul. Starts at US$699 per night; ritzcarlton.com The Chedi Andermatt | Switzerland A state-of-the-art holiday resort in the picturesque Swiss mountains with traditional values and a generous splash of luxury that is The Chedi Andermatt. The Furka suite with majestic views of Saint-Gotthard Massif Mountains to the legendary 2,429 metre high Furka Mountain Pass is modelled as a Swiss chalet. A personal spa with steam bath, sauna and Jacuzzi this retreat is picture perfect to enjoy with your loved one. Starts at €1,279 per night. ghmhotels.com Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel | Peru Whether you are on the lookout for the lost city of the Incas or interested to explore the cloud forest of Machu Pichu, the Inkaterra resort would be your perfect base. After your long outing you can curl up with your partner beside the crackling fireplace as you hear the Vilcanota River rush by. Starts at US$518; inkaterra.com Fogo Island Inn | Canada Look out of the window of you plush room and you could see icebergs

CLOCKWISE:

A cosy guestroom at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel; this suite at Château de Bagnols in France is perfect for a romantic getaway; The Chedi Andermatt in Switzerland is a state-of-the-art resort; stay close to nature at &Beyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge in Botswana.

floating in the vast Atlantic Ocean. One gaze at the façade of the resort that looks like sleek white boxes and you realise this will be an interesting stay. Hear the echo of time as you sit on the jagged rocks around the resort with your partner. Starts at €623 per night; fogoislandinn.ca &Beyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge | Botswana The organic suites at Safari Lodge offer complete privacy amidst a canopy of wild palms and fig trees. With a private plunge pool and an outdoor shower it offers an aura of intimacy. You can wake up to the call of birds, chatter of baboons and watch the African Elephants splash water. Starts at €948; andbeyond.com Ri Kynjai-Serenity By The Lake, Shillong | India Close to the picturesque Umiam Lake this resort inspired and derived by the

Khasi thatch huts is an amalgamation of eco-centric culture, harmony and luxury. Set in the backdrop of the Khasi Hills the cottages are supported by tall stilts and built into a cliff. Wake up to the mesmerizing views of the rising sun with your partner and a cup of hot coffee. This resort is the perfect base if you are interested to trek to the peaks Lumsohpetbheng and Lumdiengiei. Starts at `12,000 per night; rikynjai.com.

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI S I SUURREE / / FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY2 2001 166

45 41


O N L O C AT I O N

As Seen In Movies

This Valentine’s Day, recreate magical moments from recent movies and romance Bollywood-style. After all, every now and then you are allowed to celebrate your love with clichés. BY APEKSHA BHATEJA

1

2

1. PK | Belgium

PK was the first movie ever to be shot in Bruges. Anushka Sharma and Sushant Singh Rajput fall in love in this fairy tale city. The quaint medieval city of Bruges is touristy— no doubt about that. But you can’t miss the romantic air in its cobbled lanes, Gothic architecture, and idyllic canals. Glide through the city on bicycles and see the Markt, the Burg square, Minnewater Park, and museums. A boat tour of the city is exceptionally romantic.

2. DILWALE | Iceland

If you’re doing romance, do it in Shahrukh-Kajol style. This abandoned plane where the pair is getting googly-eyed exists on the dramatic black sand beach at Sólheimasandur. It was in 1973 that this US Navy plane crashed here after running out of fuel but there were no casualties. The remains are still here, beguiling tourists as well as filmmakers. Go on drives to Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, Vestrahorn mountain, Jökulsárlón, and Diamond Beach—all of these are very popular.

46 42

TT RR AAVV EE LL ++ LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166

SHUT TERSTOCK (5)

In the song Gerua, Shahrukh Khan and Kajol are romancing on the south coast of Iceland.


3. DIL DHADAKNE DO | Turkey

On their first date, Anushka and Ranveer meet at Taksim Square and go cycling on the Galata Bridge in Istanbul. Much of the movie is shot on a cruiseliner but imagine our happy surprise of getting glimpses of Turkey. In the movie, ladies went to a hammam by themselves but you can go with your partner and indulge in a traditional Turkish bath. Don’t miss Hagia Sophia, Taksim Square, Grand Bazaar, and Topkapı Palace. Also in Turkey, you enjoy the dreamy, surreal landscape of Cappadocia from the sky in a hot air balloon.

4. TAMASHA | Corsica

3

The song Matargasthi was shot in Bastia, and you can see the pair gallivanting around the city. The Mediterranean island of Corsica has beautiful beaches and quiet coastal towns. Bastia will only be a day’s worth on your itinerary—see the historic quarters, visit the Governor’s Palace and dine at A Casarella Bastia or LN Mattei. However to explore the distinctive character of the island, visit historic towns such as Sartène and Ajaccio; drive to a dramatic beach like Palombaggia; stay in a boutique resort like Miramar Boutique Hotel in Propriano; and sample veau aux olives (veal with olives) and agneau corse (Corsican lamb).

5. SHAANDAAR | Yorkshire

The facade of Carlton Towers has been showed in the movie countless times. Inside, it really is a magical place for weddings. Shaandaar may not have done justice to the destination but there is much to do in the world of Bronte’s Shirley. Imagine staying in a historic castle; discovering moors and meadows of the county; taking walks around the rivers and canals. This Valentine’s Day, book a couple’s cooking course at Carlton Towers and spend the night at this regal Victorian Gothic-style country home. carltontowers.co.uk

4

5

TT RR AAVV EE LL ++ LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66

47 43


NOW! BOOK LUXE SUPER ER EAST YS A GETAW

G E TAWAY S

For Eager Easter Bunnies

There’s always a rush for the really nice and easy-to-reach getaways. We’ve collected the luxurious best so you can book ahead for the big Easter weekend coming up on March 25. BY SHIBANI BAWA

QUAINT COORG A winding path down

a coffee or spice plantation spread over undulating hills, with fresh air hanging perpetually overhead to keep you company—if this is a picture you draw of a quick getaway from the city, then Kodagu or Coorg is an option. Head out of Bengaluru early morning for a 5-hour drive to reach the estates, and feel the calm take over. Pay a visit to the local Kodava community that has a distinct ethnic identity and a fascinating culture that’s been safeguarded for centuries. Stay at Orange County, Coorg (orangecounty. in), set in a lush 300-acre plantation of coffee and spice. Here one may live the way the erstwhile planters did, in the Lily Pool Villas or Private Pool villas that are inspired by ethnic Kodava

48 44

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

architecture. Vivanta by Taj Madikeri (vivantabytaj.com) is also a verdant haven where 63 cottages, suites, villas, and rooms are set in 180 acres of a living rainforest. WONDROUS WAYANAD If you’re willing

to drive 260 kms from Bengaluru, the small town of Wayanad in northeastern Kerala offers lofty ridges and a rugged terrain interspersed with dense forests, tangled jungles, and deep valleys of the Western Ghats. The Kabini river flows through this area, and its beauty is further enhanced by the amazing waterfalls, tea plantations, and reserve forest. A family picnic is in order, and if you’re the outdoorsy type, Wayanad Silverwoods (wayanadsilverwoods. com) offers guided bird watching,

trekking, tribal village visits, fishing, and boating tours to guests.

Chennai

MAGNIFICENT MAHABALIPURAM In

under an hour from Chennai, you reach the famous archaeological wonders of Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram, the World Heritage Site that is home to the windswept Shore Temple—a sight to behold on the water’s edge, you can book bicycling tours to the neighbouring villages and experience activities like rice and masala grinding as well as kolam or rangoli drawings. The

Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay Mamallapuram (radissonblu.com) spans

44 tropical acres against the scenic Bay of Bengal. Choose from a variety of room types, including chalets, villas

C O U R T E S Y O F TA J H O T E L S R E S O R T S A N D P L A C E S

Bengaluru


and suites, with patios or balconies overlooking the grounds, sea or pools. PICTURESQUE PUDUCHERRY The

combination of a faded colonial bohemian chic with a touch of French culture gives Puducherry a very unique vibe, unlike any other city in India. The French Quarter is a quaint neighbourhood laced with cobbled streets and white and mustard colonial buildings. The presence of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram further lends an inimitable serenity to this place. The charming Anantha Heritage (ananthaheritage.com) is a 7-room heritage home in an 18th century Franco Tamil Villa.

Ex Delhi

F R O M T O P : T O O T E N / S TA R W O O D ; C O U R T E S Y O F T H E M A C H A N ; J O H N E L K I I / G E T T Y I M A G E S

LOFTY LANDOUR Just a few kilometres

from Mussoorie, Landour is located at an altitude of 6,600 to 7800 feet and offers striking views of the Garhwal Himalaya. You can view upto 200 km of the snow clad Himalayas on a clear day. This is the perfect hill station to go for long walks, eat momos and noodles at quaint teashops, or view the magnificent sunset at Lal Tibba. Check into the Rokeby Manor (rokebymanor. com) for its colonial charm and an exclusive opportunity to dine and converse with the famous author Ruskin Bond. ROYAL RAJASTHAN Located around 160 km south of Delhi, Alwar has been popular because of its proximity to the famous Sariska Tiger Reserve. It is also home to the newest Neemrana palace hotel. The 19th century Tijara Fort-Palace (neemranahotels.com) features seven terraced gardens that command a magnificent view above the tall ramparts that have been restored painstakingly. The 21 suites and rooms have been named after India’s leading lady painters, and done up in ethnic luxury.

Ex Mumbai

MAGICAL MAHABALESHWAR Located

265 kilometers from Mumbai, the picturesque town of Mahabaleshwar is famous for its strawberry farms.

CLOCKWISE: Le Méridien

Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa, The Machan in Lonavala, and the quaint French Quarter of Puducherry are perfect to spend a long weekend. OPPOSITE: Enjoy the natural beauty at Vivanta by Taj Madikeri.

Its unique mix of old world charm and stunning natural beauty has secured its reputation as a popular hill station of the Sahyadri hills in western Maharashtra. Set high on a cliff Bella Vista Resort (bellavistaresort. com) has an enviable location and offers an incredible view over the green tree covers of the Wilson point, Lingmala valley and across to the hills extending to Panchgani. Le Méridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa

(starwoodhotels.com) is surrounded by evergreen forests and features a lagoon-style leisure pool. The spectacular rooftop infinity pool, lends stunning views of the forested valleys.

VERDANT LONAVALA Star gazing, trekking, birding and historical sites, Lonavala offers it all within an easy driving distance from Mumbai. For a luxurious experience, stay at the all-villa Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa (hilton.com). Set within the natural beauty of a private estate, it offers complete seclusion and serenity. For nature lovers, an eco-resort, The Machan (themachan.com), makes an exciting getaway with its treehouses rising 30-40 feet above the forest. Each machan offers spectacular views of the lush surroundings.

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

49 45


FIRST PERSON

In Rumi’s Footsteps “The heart is greater than the heaven and the circling spheres So why constrict it with thoughts and whispering doubts” —Shams-e-Tabriz

Whirling dervishes perform during a ‘Seb-i Arus’ (The Night of Union) ceremony at Konya.

50 46

RA A VV EE LL + + LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66 TT R

Lesser known than the great Anatolian Sufi poet, Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi, is his teacher, lover, spiritual guide and friend, Shamse-Tabriz, a wandering Sufi mystic/ dervish. It is Shams who lit the heart and soul of the mere religious scholar, Rumi, and introduced him to the

intoxication of Divine Love. It is with Shams that Rumi first began to pray and whirl (to the rhythmic beats of the goldsmiths in the village), giving birth to the Mevlevi Order of the Whirling Dervishes. In fact, it is said that Shams drove Rumi to divine madness through his disappearance. And it is for Shams that Rumi poured forth his poetry like an everlasting river. I arrived in Istanbul, the grand city of layers and layers of historical and religious influences from Christianity to Islam, pagan rituals and practices

A N A D O L U A G E N C Y/ G E T T Y I M A G E S

Wellness guru MALA BARUA travels to Turkey to experience the roots of Rumi and discovers incredible vignettes of Sufism during the annual festival of the ‘Wedding Night’, when the death of the Sufi saint is celebrated for his union with the divine.


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP:

C O U R T E S Y O F M A L A B A R U A ( 3 ) ; T O P R I G H T: C O U R T E S Y O F T U R K I S H T O U R I S M

Traditional Sufi kitchen at the Mevlana Musem; outside the Mevlana Museum in Konya; a Sufi devotee inside the Main Hall; golden prayer beads.

dating back to the Byzantines, and the Ottoman Empire. These were all familiar historical terms we all have grown up with. And in the midst of this fabric, a gentle, persuasive, non-invasive, stream of Islamic philosophy wove its way to connect and sublimate one and all through music and spirituality. In Istanbul, apart from visiting the main Sufi Museum, Galata Mevlevihanesi Müzesi, we were fortunate to be introduced to the Sufi way of life by a scholar Cetin Demirhan, in his humble ‘lodge’ (‘Sufi Sofrase’—a dwelling where studying, cooking, and dancing all had a place of its own). High in spiritual energy, the lodge felt warm, welcoming, and peaceful. Books on

various spiritual traditions filled the many shelves of the lodge. In one corner lay a Turkish flute (ney) and a framed drum (daf), both used in Sufi music. I even saw Turkish translations of books by J Krishmurthy and some of Ayurveda. On special request, Cetin cooked his visitors a ‘Sufi’ meal. He explained that Sufi cooking involved chanting of prayers while the food was stirred in the form of Sufi symbols. On the menu was a traditional tomato vermicelli soup, warm bulgur wheat, cucumber

salad with dill and parsley, stuffed aubergine with a ‘turlu’ of vegetables and chilled stewed pears in red wine and herbs. It was one of the best meals I had in Turkey. We sat in his lodge while he related the inspiring love story of the 13th century mystic sage, Shamse-Tabriz, and the well-respected religious scholar, Mevlana Rumi. He described how sparks flew when they met and how Rumi gave up scholarly pursuits and family life to lock himself with Shams, for six months, absorbing and learning the secrets

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE / / FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166

51 47


FIRST PERSON

A view of the busy city of Istanbul; the welcoming entrance to the Sufi Sofrasi; Tomb of Melana Jelaleddin Rumi; a sacred book of the Sufi.

of the heart. Rumi fell so in love with Shams, that his wife, children, friends, and students were devastated by the relationship. However, when Shams work was done he left a heartbroken Rumi behind to move to Damascus. His wife and son brought Shams back for the sake of Rumi’s sanity. They arranged Shams’ marriage within the family to keep him in Konya, but jealousy took over and Rumi’s son plotted to murder Shams in the middle of one night. With Shams finally merging with the Divine, Rumi’s love and longing was expressed in volumes of poetry culminating in the famous Mesnevi. From the lodge I embarked on a pilgrimage to Konya to celebrate the annual festival of the ‘Wedding Night’ of Rumi, called Seb-i Arus (the death of a Sufi saint is celebrated

52 48

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

as his wedding night in celebration of his union with the Divine). My heart was beating in anticipation. After paying homage to the resting shrines of Rumi and Shams of Tabriz, I continued my evening attending the night of Sema, the dance of the Whirling Dervishes. Followed by introductions from the President and Prime Minister of Turkey, approximately 50 dervishes, came on stage to perform the ‘Dhikr’ (Zikr) or Remembrance of God. Breathtakingly beautiful, the Whirling Dervishes held the audience captive for almost an hour. Their black robes symbolising the darkness of ignorance were discarded to reveal

flouncy white skirts. Their tall caps symbolising the tomb of carnality and their hand posture indicating receiving and giving, they danced with complete dedication. The next morning, as I was driven along the famous Silk Road to Cappadocia, visiting underground cities and Caravan Serais, I was invited to another evening of Whirling at a traditional Caravan Serai called Saruhan. There were six dancers in a small hall and I sat up close feeling the swish of the skirts take my breath away. It was then that I realised, it is true when Rumi said: “Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”

C L O C K W I S E F R O M T O P : D E A /A R C H I V I O J . L A N G E / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; COURTESY OF MAL A BARUA (2); RENE JOHNSTON/GE T T YIMAGES

CLOCKWISE:


Come Away With Me

SA M U E L A R A N DA / G E T T Y I M AG ES

When it comes to celebrating romance, one needn’t look beyond Europe. With its picturesque locales, luxurious hotels and intimate experiences, there’s enough to choose from for an sweet getaway. No matter how many times you have travelled to Europe there’s still more to explore and indulge in. Here is our list of 14 romantic ways to experience the Continent, and 14 super special ideas to pamper and enjoy with your partner. BY SHIBANI BAWA

A couple sharing a romantic moment in Park Guell in Barcelona.

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

53 49


ROMANTIC IN EUROPE

Ways | Climb Lofty Mountains

Stretching across parts of Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Leichtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia and Switzerland, the Alps are one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world. From luxe ski lodges to breathtaking hikes, hair-bending drives and thrilling adventure sports, there are various ways to enjoy these snow-laden mountains. For couples seeking an adrenaline rush, they offer some serious thrills as well. The Aiguille du Midi in the French Alps is the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world, from 1,035 m to 3,842 m offering a 360° view of all the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. The 5 Fingers at Krippenstein in the Austrian Alps has five platforms that jut out from it. While one has a metal picture frame that visitors can stand in for photos, another has a hole in the bottom to better see what’s below.

ITINERARIES

Greece Santorini, Folegandros, and Sifnos ► Stay at the Andronis

(andronisexclusive.com; 30-2286/ 072-041) in the town of Oia in Santorini. Traditional Aegean whitewashed architecture in suites. ► A private cave pool overlooking the island’s crater bay. ► Indulge in freshly-caught seafood for lunch. ► Climb to the pinnacle of the town with a ruined castle and watch the sun set. ► See the old town’s cobbled streets and blue domed churches. ► Take a short drive to the 5,000 year old Minoan site of Akrotiri—walk into the painted houses of the ancient site. ► Explore the many little beaches

and take the hotel’s helicopter to a cove of your choice. ► The black cliffs and white beaches on the eastern end of Folegandros. ► Stay at the boutique Anemi hotel (anemihotels.com; 30-2286/041610). ► Stroll up into the harbour village of Karavastasi and sit with locals in one of the few taverns. ► Sail to the smaller island of Sifnos to stay at Elies Resort (eliesresorts. com). ► Experience traditional Greek Island life and discover Sifnos’ gastronomic excellence with cooking lessons. Black Tomato; from £3,620 pp from the UK; blacktomato.com

IDEAS | TAKE A PRIVATE WALTZ TUITION IN VIENNA

Learning ballroom dance with your partner is not only enjoyable in the moment but equips you to enjoy intimate moments on the dance floor for years to come. Just for that go for the Personal Ballroom Coaching at The Private Dance Academy by waltz in Vienna. Their academies are located in the most stunning palace venues in the city-center and feature boutique sized dance rooms. The tuition will be tailored according to your needs and level of knowledge. waltzvienna.com

54 50

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEIISSUURREE // FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166

F R O M T O P : E C H O / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; S H U T T E R S T O C K ; C O U R T E S Y O F B L A C K T O M AT O

Spend 10 nights on these three islands surrounded by cobalt blue waters and dramatic rocky coastlines. Fly away from the stresses of life to enjoy a truly romantic trip.


ITINERARIES

Sweden

IDEAS | SIP A COCKTAIL WITH STUNNING VIEWS AT THE ACROPOLIS

F R O M T O P : C O U R T E S Y O F 3 6 0 ˚ C O C K TA I L B A R ; S U S I E A D A M S / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; D O M I N G O L E I VA N I C O L A S / G E T T Y I M A G E S

With breathtaking views of ancient Greece, 360˚ Cocktail Bar features an excellent roof garden that looks directly to the Acropolis. The view is even more spectacular at night, when the hill is lighted. 360˚ Cocktail Bar, with its unique industrial decoration and fantastic original cocktails, is one of the most romantic spots for a romantic night out in Athens. three-sixty.gr

Stockholm Gothenburg and surrounding islands From the stylish city centres to the peaceful islands of the surrounding archipelago, there’s a whole lot to see in the space of a week.

► Hands-on lobster hauling. ► Stay at the stylish Lydmar Hotel

(lydmar.com), in the heart of the town.

► Wander around the historic old town of Gamla Stan.

► Head to the bohemian cultural hub

of Sodermalm and browse art galleries and boutiques. ► Dinner and drinks at Brasserie Le Rouge (Brunnsgränd 2-4; 46-8/50524430). The restaurant has a Moulin Rouge-eque feel to it. ► A helicopter tour over the archipelago for a bird’s eye view. A fresh seafood lunch and a rib boat journey on the seas. ► Stay at the Clarion Hotel Post (Drottningtorget 10; 46-31/619-000), a former post office, in Gothenburg. ► Explore art nouveau architecture, walk through the Garden Society of Gothenburg. ► Dine at Sjömagasinet (sjomagasinet. se; 46-31/775-5920) for the best seafood paired with wines handpicked by the restaurant’s sommelier. ► A lobster or shellfish safari with experienced fisherman guides. ► Stay at the ultra-modern floating hotel, Salt and Sill (saltosill.se; 46-304/673-480) in Bohuslän’s outer archipelago, with spectacular views from your private rooftop Jacuzzi. ► Learn to recreate Salt and Sill’s culinary masterpieces in their cooking school. ► An evening cruise along the coast. ► A kayaking tour of the Koster Marine National Park (spot seals here). Black Tomato; from £4,899 per person from UK; blacktomato.com

Ways | Walk in a Park

Although you can walk hand-in-hand in almost all parts of Europe, be it in buzzing cities or quaint towns, along rivers and canals or through cobbled streets, there is something utterly romantic about meandering through a garden. There are gardens aplenty, but some are particularly famous and romantic. Parc Guëll in Barcelona showcases Gaudi’s famous Salamander sculpture, as well as other buildings and structures; no visit to London is complete without a visit to Hyde Park that even offers horseback riding, and boating on the Serpentine; at the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris visitors can picnic or stroll leisurely among beautiful lawns, formal gardens and fruit orchards that feature many artistic statues and fountains.

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI S I SUURREE / / F FEEBBRRUUAARRYY2 2001 16 6

55 51


ROMANTIC IN EUROPE

ITINERARIES

Leave the hustle and bustle of cities behind and rekindle the magic of flying aboard a hot-air balloon where every seat has a view. Discover the stunning fairytale chimneys of Cappadocia in Turkey, admire Italy’s stunning Piedmont region from above, see the sun rise around you on an exciting hot air balloon ride over one of Spain’s gorgeous medieval cities: Toledo or Segovia. If you want to be indulgent, take your pick from the more luxurious ones that include a champagne breakfast. viator.com

EN PROVENCE

Grasse, Aix-en-Provence Make your own signature scent; learn to cook a Provençal feast; and indulge your senses at the original L’Occitane spa.

► Stay at the sprawling Bastide St

Antoine hotel (relaischateaux.com; 33-4/9370-9494) in picturesque Grasse. ► Enjoy a meal using seasonal and local ingredients at Michelin-starred Jacques Chibois restaurant (48 Avenue Henri Dunant; 33-4/9370-9494). ► A private tour of Grasse to discover the art of essential oils and perfumery. ► Drive 75 miles to Moustiers SainteMarie on the same route once used by Napoleon Bonaparte on his return from exile. Stop at mountain town of Castelanne for a brief stroll. ► Follow the signs to ‘Gorges du Verdon’ to pass Verdon River and enter the heart of the deepest canyon in Europe. Catch the perfect picture at ‘Sublime Point’ at Rougon. ► A private visit to the atelier of artisan Franck Schere in Moustiers SainteMarie, a typical Provençal hilltop village famous for its ceramic-ware. ► A picnic prepared by the chef at Bastide de Moustiers and served aboard a 1950’s Chevrolet pick-up truck. ► Manosque for an exclusive private tour of the L’Occitane factory. ► At the L’Occitane spa hotel ‘Le Couvent des Minimes’ (lecouventdesminimes.com) spend the afternoon unwinding. ► Learn about perfumery and create your own signature scent. ► Stopover at Chateau Vignelaure enroute to Aix-en-Provence. ► Molecular cuisine at Pierre Reboul (restaurant-pierre-reboul.com). Black Tomato; from £5,799 pp from the UK; blacktomato.com

F R O M T O P : PA U L B I R I S / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; C O U R T E S Y O F B L A C K T O M AT O

Ways | Fly Away on a Hot Air Balloon

56 52

TT RR AAVV EE LL ++ LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66

PHOTO CREDIT

IDEAS | WATCH THE BOLSHOI BALLET IN MOSCOW

Passionate pirouettes, soulful music and heart-wrenching performances all make a ballet performance an intimate experience to share with your partner. The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow has attracted tourists for more than 200 years. Although steeped in tradition, the performances here are presented with a fresh approach. It normally introduces two to four new ballet or opera productions each season besides specialising in the classics of Russian opera. bolshoi.ru


IDEAS | RAISE A TOAST ATOP

THE EIFFEL TOWER

The Eiffel Tower is famous as the symbol of love. How about celebrating your romance with a glass of Henriot rosé champagne or Alain Ducasse white champagne on the third floor of the most famous Parisian monument! The view is breathtaking and the experience is magical and unforgettable. To add a little bling to your experience, you can enjoy the champagne in a lit-up champagne flute. restaurants-toureiffel.com, price €12 onwards per glass.

Ice Tunnel inside Rhone Glacier in Valais.

C L O C K W I S E : S A N D R O B I S A R O / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; R I C H A R D B R YA N T; C O U R T E S Y O F B L A C K T O M AT O ( 2 )

Ways | Go Day Tripping

One of the best parts about holidaying in Europe is the vast choice of easy-to-do day trips. You could be based in a city like Zurich, and yet soak in the spectacular scenery of the Swiss Alps on a day trip to the Rhone glacier, walk through the blue ice tunnel before ascending the Devil’s Bridge; visit the Danube valley from Vienna; or view more than seven million tulips in Keukenhof at a short drive from Amsterdam.

ITINERARIES

Italy

Milan, Lake Como Milan and Lake Como make for one glamorous week-long getaway, combining la dolce vita by the water with of-themoment culture and fashion in the city.

► Stay at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo (grandhoteltremezzo.com; 39344/42491), a landmark from the 1900s, in Lake Como. ► A lake cruise aboard the hotel’s 1961 Venetian motor boat. ► A champagne picnic on Isola Comacina. ► Go by battello to Bellagio, a charming village whose shore is lined with pastel villas. ► Dinner at Al Veluu (alveluu.com;

39-344/40510) offering views over the Balbianello peninsula. ► Explore Lake Como’s twisty scenic roads in a vintage Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider. Special access to Villa Sola, an 18thcentury estate. ► Dine at Locanda La Volpe (locandalavolpe.com; 39344/37124), a family-run Italian restaurant in the hills. ► Take a hydroplane tour. ► Lunch at Crotto dei Platani (crottodeiplatani.it; 39-31/814038), to taste dishes such as cod-and octopus-soup and perch ravioli with lake-fish ragù. ► Visit the 17th-century Villa Carlotta to see its art collection. ► Stay at the Bulgari Hotel (bulgarihotels.com) in Milan.

► Explore the Brera district with a local art historian.

► Discover Milan's emerging Porta Nuova business district, the Solar Tree designed by Ross Lovegrove, and the Bosco Verticale, a vertical garden with an architect. ► Eat at Bàcaro del Sambuco, a favourite haunt of local designers and Milanese movers and shakers. Black Tomato; from US$9,450 per person; contact blacktomato.com

TTRRAAVVEELL   ++  LLEEIISSUURREE  //  FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166

57   53


ITINERARIES

Spain

Madrid and Seville High fashion, art, and food— on this eight-night trip you’ll experience all of it with the country’s connected insiders.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Spring chicken and fries from the bistro-deli Maxie Eisen; a bartender at the Parlour; the dining room at Stanley Diamond.

► Experience true Spanish cuisine in

Madrid with Michelin-starred Chef Ramón Freixa. ► Visit the local market Mercado La Paz with Chef Freixa to select the best local products and Mercado Platea, an avantgarde market to taste gourmet foods like ham and oysters.] ► A private cooking workshop at Freixa’s restaurant, followed by a tasting-menu dinner. ► Spend the day shopping with fashion expert Inez Sainz, a Bilbao-born model and TV hostess who was also Miss Spain in 1997, at the most exclusive boutiques of Madrid’s Golden Mile. ► See the most important museums in Madrid with a private guide. ► Visit the Reina Sofía Museum, which holds one of the biggest contemporary art collections in the world—among its many priceless gems is Picasso’s monumental mural Guernica. ► Stay at the Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville. ► A half-day private historic tour of Seville. ► Exclusive tour of the Royal Fortress (Alcázar) of Seville. ► Visit Andalusia’s Moorish treasure at the Alhambra palace. ► Get a flamenco lesson from professional dancers at Seville’s flamenco museum. ► Take a tour through the city’s traditional shops and markets with a local guide—the neighborhood of Triana, known for its ceramics, the town center for flamenco craft workshops ► Ultimate tapas spots at Casa Roman and neighborhoods like Santa Cruz or Triana, by the Guadalquivir River. Black Tomato; from US$10,435 per person; blacktomato.com

IDEAS | CREATE YOUR OWN PERFUME IN PROVENCE The luxurious Le Couvent des Minimes hotel in Provence is actually a transformed convent. But apart from the charming hotel, it boasts its very own L’Occitane spa. Guests can also spend book a day of learning the in’s and out’s of perfumery. Not only will you get a private tour of the institution participate in your own “Atelier du Parfumeur,” creating your own signature scent for an aromatic memory to take home. couventdesminimes-hotelspa.com

Ways | Ride on A Horse Drawn Carriage The rhythm of horseś hooves echoing through the city's cobblestone streets conjures up images of a bygone era. No matter how clichéd it sounds, leaning back in a luxe carriage while the breeze kisses your cheeks and you cruise like royalty in a veritable open air museum, this is absolutely magical. Ride through London’s Royal Parks, in Salzburg’s Old Town or along the canals of Bruges.

58 54

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

F R OM TOP : C OUR T ESY OF L E C OU V EN T DES MINIME S ; DA R RY L L ENIUK /GE T T Y IM AGE S ; C OUR T E SY OF BL ACK TOM ATO

ROMANTIC IN EUROPE


Ways | See The Northern Lights

Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland offer the unique phenomena of the bright dancing lights of the Aurora Borealis. January to March are probably the three most popular months for Aurora hunting because they bring long dark nights and plenty of snow to play in during the daylight hours while you wait for darkness to fall. This stunning spectacle, coupled with a thick, pristine layer of snow covering the ground is an experience not-to-be-missed.

IDEAS | TAKE A FLAMENCO LESSON IN SEVILLE

If you’ve enjoyed the foot-tapping flamenco performance of graceful senoritas, now is the time to give it a try yourself with your partner. Enjoy a private flamenco lesson at Seville’s flamenco museum where professional dancers are on hand to teach all twists and turns. The famed Spanish passion can be pretty contagious. We wouldn't be surprised if you danced the night away. After the Flamenco class treat yourselves to a traditional flamenco show. museodelbaileflamenco.com

CLOCK WISE: DRE AMSTIME (2); ABERCROMBIE & K ENT (3)

ITINERARIES

Croatia, Austria & Czech Republic Dubrovnik, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and Karlovy Vary Visit the Opera, take private Waltz lessons, go on brewery visits, and vintage tram rides.

► Enjoy a horse drawn carriage

ride at sunset with a bottle of champagne & strawberries in Dubrovnik. ► Romantic Crystal Dinner on the Vienna Giant Wheel. ► A private Viennese Waltz lesson ► Opera reservations. ► Arrive in style at the Opera in a horse-drawn carriage. ► Michelin-starred restaurant dinners.

► Private Picnic lunch in the

Vienna woods. ► Swarovski Crystal Megastore visit ► Luxury Cruise on river Vltava in Prague. ► High-speed train ride from Vienna to Prague. ► Private visit to AugustinerBrau Brewery. ► A show at Staatsoper Opera. ► A complimentary rose petal bath and breakfast in bed at

Augustine Hotel, Prague. ► Special offer on couple massages. ► Reservations at Duplex, the most exclusive club in Prague. ► Vintage Tram Ride. ► Trip to spa town Karlovy Vary for a private romantic spa experience. ► Private airport transfers. Abercrombie & Kent Vacations; price on request; abercrombiekent. co.in

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

59 55


ROMANTIC IN EUROPE

IDEAS | PICK YOUR TRUFFLES

AND EAT THEM TOO

Known as white and black gold, truffles are as sought-after as they are rare to find. They are usually found only in some regions of Italy and France. Since they grow underground, it is necessary to train a dog to hunt them. Florence is one of the most important regions in Italy for truffle production, so it’ll be wise to book yourself a truffle-cooking course with .trufflehunter.net. After hunting from truffles, you’ll learn how to clean fresh truffles before being taken through a step-by-step guide to using these gorgeous things in antipasto, first course, second course and even dessert. Starting price €150 per person.

Some of the most beautiful natural and architectural wonders yield their true beauty when viewed from above. Hiring a private helicopter tour does not only give you an aerial view, but most of them can be custom-made with special access passes to places like the pre-historic Stonehenge monuments or a decadent meal upon touching down after seeing the scattered islands of archipelago in Stockholm. Other spectacular sites ideal for heli rides are the Amalfi Coast or the French Riviera, the castles of Edinburgh or the gorgeous mosques of Turkey.

ITINERARIES

Finland

Helsini, Kittilä Levi and Rovaniemi The forests, fells and lakes of Finland are the perfect setting for your winter honeymoon or a sun-dappled summer romance, with over 200 nights of Northern Lights activity in an year.

60 56

► Overnight in a luxury Glass

Igloo for your unforgettable experience and chance to catch the Northern Lights. ► Dine at Nokka, by Chef Ari Ruoho, one of Finland’s most trending chefs. ► Private cruise from the Port of Ajos in Kemi ► Dog sledding ► Visit a Reindeer Farm ► Visit an exclusive handicraft

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE // FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166

workshop where you can make your own souvenir guided by a local family ► Visit Santa Claus Village with an opportunity to take photos with Santa Claus, stay at Santa Claus Hotel ► A Day trip on an Arctic Ice Breaker ► Porvoo city tour ► Visit the Suomenlinna fortress ► Get up close to Nordic and Arctic

animals at Ranua Wildlife Park

► Private arrival and departure airport transfers

► Private charter flight to Kittilä Levi and Helsinki

► Dinner at Ice Restaurant and stay at Ice Hotel

► A dinner at Savoy, the flagbearer of Finnish gastronomy. Abercrombie & Kent Vacations; price on request; abercrombiekent. co.in

C L O C K W I S E : S H U T T E R S T O C K ; D R E A M S T I M E ; S H U T T E R S T O C K ( 2 ) ; P E T E S A L O U T O S / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; S O F I E D E L A U W/ G E T T Y I M A G E S

Ways | Charter a Helicopter


ITINERARIES

Bulgaria

IDEAS | PRIVATE THERMAL BATH IN BUDAPEST

C LO C K W I S E : C O U RT ESY O F G E L L E RT S PA ; DA N I TA D E L I M O N T / G E T T Y I M AG ES ; S H U T T E R STO C K ; JA PAT I N O / G E T T Y I M AG ES

The hot springs along the Danube River in Budapest have been known since at least 100 AD. These springs have made Turkish-type thermal baths very popular here. Some of them are like large, public swimming pools. But you may book a private bath at the Gellert Spa (gellertspa.com). The private bath has an exclusive entry, and the area is completely separated from the general public bath and pools. Ideal for couples, it also gives access for a few hours to a historical room built in 1918. Price €90 for three hours.

Roman ruins of Conímbriga.

Plodiv, Burgas and Sofia Go to Bulgaria before the secret’s out. This five-night tour of Bulgaria combines fine gourmet experiences, local wineries, long and gorgeous drives across the picturesque countryside and some dramatic remains from the Roman times.

► Walking tour of Plodiv to see the

Roman stadium, theatre and Old Town Reserve. ► Shopping in local neighbourhoods and the city’s glamorous quarters. ► A romantic drive to Burgas renowned for its mud baths and Lye treatments. ► Visit to CastraRubra Winery, private tour of the designer cellar, wine tastings and degustation of local dairy products and snacks. ► In Sofia, a tour of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Presidency Building, St. George Rotunda, Roman city remains, Russian Church, Bulgarian Parliament, Tsar Liberator Monument, St Sofia statue, Palace of Justice and Vitosha Boulevard. Abercrombie & Kent Vacations; price on request; abercrombiekent.co.in The Alexander Nevsky cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Ways | Explore Romantic Ruins The inimitable charm of Europe lies in the coexistence of historical eras with modern pulsating city life. Exploring the ruins with your beau transports one to a bygone era. If you’re looking for lesser-known options to get away from the crowd, Pula in Croatia, Conimbriga in Portugal and Ani in Turkey would fit the bill. And there’s more to the Greek islands than their turquoise waters and spectacular beaches. Explore the romantic ruins of Akrotiri, Santorini where the 5,000-year-old Minoan site is the heart of mythical Greece.

TT RR AAVV EE LL ++ LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166

61 57


ROMANTIC IN EUROPE

ITINERARIES

Lausanne, Bern, Zurich, St Moritz, Milan and Lake Como You may think you know it all when it comes to Switzerland and Italy, but this is the more stylish and classy guide—the one more discerning travellers would like.

► Full day private wine tour

of Lavaux region with its terraced vineyards and Chataue de Chillon ► Stays at stunning heritage and grand properties like the Beau-Rivage Palace, Dolder Grand, Badrutt’s Palace and

Baur au Lac ► Tour of the hill town of Gruyeres, meet local cheese makers and visit one of Switzerland’s most famous chocolate makers. ► Visit gallery districts and churches with stained glass

windows designed by Marc Chagalle and Sigmar Polke. ► Stay in the most glamorous hotel in St Moritz—Badrutt Palace. ► Visit to Lake Como. `6,75,000 per person on twin sharing basis; traveloclick.com

Ways | Cruise on a Barge

Almost every European city offers scenic river and dinner cruises with music, et al. But one of the most romantic ways is to step aboard a comfortable canal barge, a floating country inn where you enjoy gourmet food and wine and relax on deck as the lovely scenery flows by. While you may simply book a cabin on a vessel, consider a private charter, in which you hire the entire vessel for the duration of the river cruise, with sightseeing activities specially tailored to your interests. Barge holidays are particularly famous in France and England.

IDEAS | RENT A FLOATING SAUNA IN SWEDEN

You can glide book a floating sauna in the inner part of Stockholm archipelagoaround Stocksund-Bockholmen-Djursholm-Tranholmen-Edsviken. There are quite a few choices. We recommend the Salt & Sill Floating hotel off the coast of Gotenburg. They arrange for guests to take an evening cruise along the coast before spending the night gazing up at the stars from a private rooftop Jacuzzi. The hotel also boasts a floating sauna where you can detach the sauna from the main hotel and take romantic excursions out to remote islands. saltosill.se

62 58

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

C L O C K W I S E : C O U R T E S Y O F S W I T Z E R L A N D T O U R I S M ; C O U R T E S Y T H E L E A D I N G H O T E L O F T H E W O R L D ; L U I S D AV I L L A / G E T T Y I M A G E ; C O U R T E S Y O F S A LT & S I L L F L O AT I N G

Switzerland & Italy


ITINERARIES

Poland Warsaw and Krakow

Poland is a charming country with clear rivers, expansive lakes, tall mountains and a host of other attractions.

F R O M TO P : C ESA R R A N G E L / G E T T Y I M AG ES ; D R E A M ST I M E

► Old town tour of Warsaw to see

how the city rose like a Phoenix from the ashes of World War II. ► Visit to Palace on The Water, the English gardens of Lazienki Park, the Jewish Ghetto and the atmospheric Jewish Cemetary. Walk along the Royal Way, browsing through Warsaw’s modern luxe shopping district formed by reconstructed townhouses. ► An option to stop at Auschwitz – the notorious site from Nazi Germany times. ► There’s a beautiful Baroque monastery along the way.

► Drive through true-blue rustic

farmlands and deep forests on the way to Krakow. ► Visit churches with stunning Art Nouveau interiors, see Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine at the Czartoryski Museum, shop on Florianska Street, relax in the outdoor cafes at Market Square. ► Visit the dramatic Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, 700 years old and filled with sculptures, friezes and chapels carved out of salt. `2,62,000 per person on twin sharing basis; traveloclick.com

Ways | Tapas Tour of Barcelona

The Catalonia region in north-eastern Spain is particularly romantic with its lively beaches, Pyrenees mountains and spectacular architecture by Gaudi. Walking through its capital city, Barcelona, is a great way to soak in the vibe, culture and heritage. But when combined with good food and wine, it just becomes all the more enjoyable. The food tour of Tapas in Barcelona is a great way to begin your visit - not only do you get an overview of the sites, but also learn how to order tapas (bar snacks) and discover some of the most unique bars and cafes Barcelona has to offer. You can go in a group or book a private tour. foodwinetours.com starting at €50 per person.

IDEAS | FIND SECRET BEACHES

When in Europe you don’t need to share your patch of sand with beach bums. Enjoy your twosome time in total privacy at hidden beaches like Es Trenc in Mallorca, Arrifana in Portugal, Calanques in Provence, Pinarello in Corsica, and Butterfly Valley in Turkey. Oops, hope we haven’t let out clandestine hideaways! But you won’t find many people here, and there are still many more, we promise. Ask your hotel concierge to pack you a gourmet picnic while you soak in some sun, sand and the sea.

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

63 59


ROMANTIC IN EUROPE

IDEAS | DINE AT THE OLDEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD

Stiftskeller, situated in St Peter’s Abbey in Salzburg, Austria, claims to have been around as an inn serving food since the year 803. In addition to the historic landscape, Stiftskeller is also famed for its weekly Mozart-themed dinners in which performers in period costume replay Salzburg’s most famous musician. You may order the famous schnitzel or simply go for a multi-course set menu featuring other traditional Austrian dishes. stpeter-stiftskeller.at

ITINERARIES

Portugal

Douro Valley and Lisbon From the deep notes of Duoro valley’s wines to the rich smoothness of Port in Porto to finally the festive flavours of Lisbon, this lovely five-night tour of Portugal is dreamy and indulgent for the taste buds and other senses. Penha Longa Ritz-Carlton in Sintra. ► Wine tours in Duoro valley. ► Visit to Quinta de Marrocos wine estate including wine tasting and lunch. ► Scenic private cruise on the Douro River. ► Tour of Porto’s old lanes, the Golden

Church and the Lello Bookshop.

► Private tours of the enchanted

villages of Sintra and the old seaside town of Cascais. ► Walking tours of Alfama, Chiado and iconic neighbourhoods of Lisbon. ► Sunset cruise in Lisbon. Tristar Holidays; €5,200 per person; tristarholidays.com;

Ways | Get Behind the Wheel

Driving is one of the best ways to take in European vistas. You can stop in to enjoy breathtaking views of glaciers, the ocean or farmers’ lush fields. It only gets better in a swanky set of wheels or a zippy sports car. Fun classics such as an MGC Roadster, a convertible Alfa Romeo Spider or a Morris Minor are available too across Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, and Spain. kingrent.com

64 60

TT RR AAVV EE LL ++ LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UUAA RRYY 22 00 11 66

CLO CK W I S E: C OUR T E SY OF S T IF T S K EL L ER (2);W E S T END 61 /GE T T Y IM AGE S ; C OUR T E SY OF QUIN TA DE M A R R OC O S

► Stay at Six Senses Douro Valley,


ITINERARIES

Germany

Ways | Board a Train

F R O M T O P : T H E G O O D LY/ G E T T Y I M A G E S ; C O U R T E S Y O F C H AT E A U V I G N E L A U R E ( 2 ) ; D R E A M S T I M E

While the Eurorail is a great way to see the picturesque countryside and travel from one country to another, a luxury train offers an entirely different experience. Travel along ancient Scottish mountains and mysterious highland lochs aboard Belmond Royal Scotsman or take the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express on its classic 15-day route between Vladivostok and Moscow. Book a gold class cabin, featuring power showers and dine on gourmet meals prepared with local produce.

Frankfurt, Wurzburg, Rothenburg, Augsburg and Munich While Germany doesn’t quite come to the mind when one thinks romance, but you’ll be surprised at how picturesque and idyllic it can get. With Romanesque, Baroque and Rococo architecture, a contrasting but great youthful vibe and a stunning landscape of fields and forests best enjoyed on a long drive, don’t overlook this destination.

► A tour of period and royal

architecture in Frankfurt and Wurzburg. ► Wine tasting at Juliusspital, a medieval wine cellar, and the second largest winery in Germany. ► Visit to Rothenburgob der Tauber to explore its historic churches, cobbled lanes and colourful squares. ► A beautiful drive to Rothenburg and Augsburg through open fields, forests, sleepy towns and quaint villages. ► Visit to Feuchtwangen, adored for its traditional half-wooden gabled houses and Donauworth, a 5th-century fishing village. ► Walk through Fussen, famous for its fairy-tale castle Neuschwanstein. ► Guided tour of Kunstareal. Tristar Holidays; €7,800 per person; tristarholidays.com

IDEAS | PRIVATE WINE TASTING TOUR IN FRANCE IDEA

Prov Provence is a very scenic and romantic wine producing region France. The luxe Chateau Vignelaure is the perfect place for in Fr you to get acquainted with the wines on a private tasting. Enjoy guided tour and taste five of the wines produced by the estate a gu in a special tour for couples. vignelaure.com

TTRRAAVVEEL L ++ L LEEI SI SUURREE / / F FEEBBRRUUAARRYY2 2001 16 6

65 61


ROMANTIC IN EUROPE

ITINERARIES

Spain

► Dinner on luxury yacht—an

excursion on board the luxury yacht to see the beautiful coastline of Tenerife, see whales and dolphins swim in the ocean and visit the the spectacular cliffs of Los Gigantes and Masca. ► A sunset-and-stargazing adventure in the craggy landscapes of Mount Teide National Park with a professional guide from a special viewpoint. ► Toast the sunset with a glass of champagne and enjoy a typical Canarian dinner. ► Water sports such as fishing

and snorkelling. Enjoy a buffet of delicious Italian and Canarian food and drinks. ► Back to the lower station of Teide Cable Car for a cocktail dinner. ► Red, White and Rose wines from the islands. ► A private 4x4 tour in Barcelona around a family-owned, organic vineyard located 2 kilometres from the coast in the wine growing region of Alella. ► A tour of the winery and the Cava Nova to learn about their ‘transparent’ wines and cavas.

► A tasting and pairing lunch,

overlooking the lush vineyards and the glistening blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, with a member of the winery Price on request; contact Bespoke Tours ► Sample a variety of tapas dishes inspired by the traditional cuisine of the Canary including potatoes served with a variety of Canarian mojos, skewers of carne fiesta, local soft and hard cheeses, almogrote and traditional desserts. Bespoke Tours; bespoketours.co.in; price on request

Ways | Visit a Medieval Town

Europe is packed with old cities, many of them are well-preserved and offer a glance at the way people used to live centuries ago. Regensburg in Germany was founded by the Romans almost 2,000 years ago; Bruges in Belgium is often referred to as ‘Venice of the North’; Carcassonne in France is known for its old walled city; San Gimignano is a medieval walled city in Tuscany famous for its beautiful towers and great art; and the almost entirely pedestrian Cesky Krumlov abounds with fables and gorgeous architecture.

IDEAS | BATHE IN BEER IN PRAGUE

The Czech Republic is famous for its vast choice of beers. While you may drink as much of it as you like, the Beer Spa in Prague also allows guests to have a dip in a bath filled with a unique combination of natural ingredients like hops, brewer’s yeast and malt. The magical effect leads to longevity and immunity, stimulating metabolism, removes harmful substances from the body and ease fatigue and stress, and enjoy blissful mental and physical relaxation. During the beer spa you enjoy an unlimited amount of genuine Czech, relax in a genuine wheat straw bed by a warm fireplace and tuck in home-made beer bread. pivnilaznebernard.cz/en; priced at €70 per for 1 hour

66 62

+ LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66 TT RR AAVV EE LL +

C LO C K W I S E : ST UA RT P E A R C E / G E T T Y I M AG ES ; D R E A M ST I M E ; F R A N C K R E P O RT E R / G E T T Y I M AG ES ; L AU R A BAT T I ATO / G E T T Y I M AG ES

Barcelona and Tenerife Whether you wish to relax by the beach or in the hotel, or take a luxury yacht to see the beautiful coastline of Tenerife, everything about this journey and this part of Europe is pure and romantic.


ITINERARIES

Belgium & Netherlands Bruges, Brussels, Antwerp and Amsterdam The best of Belgian quaintness and the cool and contemporary scene in Netherlands.

F R O M T O P : C O U R T E S Y O F T H E R I T Z L O N D O N ; D AV E A N D L E S J A C O B S / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; D A N I E L T H I E R R Y/ G E T T Y I M A G E S

► City tour of Bruges' atmospheric

IDEAS | ROMANTIC HIGH TEA IN LONDON

There are many classic and contemporary venues for enjoying English high tea in London, complete with including freshly made finger sandwiches, an assortment of delicate pastries, light and fluffy fruit and plain scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve. But the Valentine’s Afternoon Tea at The Ritz is the ultimate romantic choice. Set in picturesque surroundings, sip on a glass of Rosé Champagne, and take your pick from a variety of 16 loose-leaf teas, while the pianist serenades you with renditions of classical romantic favourites. On Saturday 13th February and Sunday 14th February Valentine’s Afternoon Tea will be served at five daily sittings 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, 3:30 pm, 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm. theritzlondon.com; price £69 per person

Ways | Get on the Romantic Road

An erstwhile trade route in Germany, the Romantic Road is a 400-km stretch from the vineyards of Würzburg to the foot of the Alps. This scenic route passes through picturesque countryside, cobblestoned villages and medieval towns of Bad Mergentheim, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Dinkelsbuehl and Noerdlingen. While you can cover the entire distance in one day, it is worth stopping in a town or two to experience traditional Bavaria.

backstreets, gothic buildings, squares, and includes a boat tour along the canals. ► Climb to Belfry for stunning views of Bruges, visit a lacemaking studio, a local brewery, sample Belgian chocolates. ► Bike through lesser-visited neighbourhoods to see historic Beguinage housing. ► In Brussels, a visit to the Grand Place, Horta Museum—an example of art nouveau architecture. ► Sit at the Manneken-Pis fountain, browse antique districts and open-air markets. ► See historical highlights such as the medieval Cathedral of Our Lady, guild houses on the Grote Markt (main square), and fin-de-siecle Centraal Train Station; tour historic houses including Museum Van Loon, the home of a co-founder of the Dutch East India Company. ► Enjoy the Heineken Experience ► Shop for antiques, and dine on culinary treats such as rijsttafel, an Indonesian-influenced meal of many small dishes served in speciality restaurants throughout Amsterdam. ► Private tour of the Aalsmeer flower auction, the Keukenhof gardens (seasonal), or cheese-producing towns like Edam or Gouda. ► Visit Delft, where Johannes Vermeer lived, to explore backstreets, antiques shops and the Royal Dutch Delftware Manufactory (Royal Delft). `6,75,000 per person on twin sharing basis; traveloclick.com


Your Ultimate Travel Companion for the Grand Tour of Switzerland

D

mis t ’ n o

s

ket c o P o A Ide t u G tRAIN eRlANd z SwIt he

t with leisure el+ trav rch 2016 Ma sue is

M IL E A G

E MA

: 24 C KEOVER

LEVER W

AY S T O

STA

ND US CK UP A

E P O IN T

INSIDE

S & M IL

FE BR

ES

UA RY

EUROPEL SPECIA

G E T YO

KET UR TIC

20 16

SWI

/

15 0

GRE

TZE

ATE

TO

E V O L RARIE

RLA

ST R AIL

JOU

ND’S

RNE

YS

S

E /14 ITIN EASY 4WAYNSTIC TRAVEL E AS / 1

14 ID AKE ROMA TO M

THE E AT ULTIMIGN DES ’S LOVER

BUT KY DE SWANL VAGABOND H OT E P O R E SINGA

MIAM

W!

XE SUPER LUAYS GETAW EASTER

ES E SUIT H AU T P L AC ES WITH

I

BOOK NO

FIRE

R 60 / MV 0 35 R 35 0 / NP TA KA R 45 20 0 / 0 / SL BT N $ 4.5 R 30 O / PK

A KENY ABWE ZIMB A SP IN

tO BOOK YOur cOPY NOw

inDiA

& soUtH

AsiA

09899414369

68 T H

E

W O R L D ’ S

M O S T

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

I N F L U E N T I A L

T R A V E L

circulation@emmindia.com

M A G A Z I N E


||

T R AV E L S M A RT E R

||

The Mileage Makeover

If you’re like most travellers, you’re not making the most of your points. We’ve identified the most common challenges, come up with smart solutions, and figured out the top strategies for a rewarding 2016. BY GRANT MARTIN ILLUSTRATIONS BY OLIVER MUNDAY

If You’re

AN AIMLESS ACCUMULATOR

With all the loyalty programmes out there, it’s easy to end up with little stashes of points that hang around like those handfuls of foreign coins you find in your pockets after overseas trips. But just because the amounts are small isn’t a reason to ignore points; they are baked into the price of your hotel room or car rental, and you should get the full value of what you paid for. Here’s how to turn small pools of miles into useful, redeemable balances. Take inventory. You don’t have to keep count yourself. Use an app that accesses your accounts and collects all your balances in one place; just be sure to choose wisely (see ‘Track Happy,’ on the next page).

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

69


Transfer what you can. Don’t let those Sri Lankan Airlines miles go to waste— even obscure loyalty programmes have partnerships that let you exchange points with other brands. Because the options for shuffling balances can seem endless, start with a goal, such as moving soon-toexpire points or bundling several smaller balances into your largest one to score a free ticket. Then start scouring programme websites for partnership details. Let’s say you have 23,000 United miles and need another 2,000 to book a roundtrip flight. If you have 1,200 Hertz Gold Plus Rewards you know you won’t be using, you can swap them for 1,000 United miles (at a rate of 600 points to 500 miles). Toss in those 6,000 languishing Wyndham points—which are not nearly enough for a free night—and that gives you another 1,200 miles. Points.com makes it simple to transfer points throughout hotel and airline brands: sign up for an account, link your programmes, and click ‘exchange’ to

see which moves are eligible. The ability to swap between certain programmes is limited, but Points.com allows some otherwise impossible trades—moving miles between Virgin America and JetBlue, for instance. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t offer any insight into whether a particular use of points is a smart idea. Spend small balances on small pleasures. Can’t muster enough points for a flight or a night? You can still squeeze value from those rewards. You can buy e-books and albums in United’s MileagePlus portal (Taylor Swift’s 1989 will take care of 1,600 miles). A magazine subscription can be had for 400 miles through sites like MagsforMiles. Delta allows you to exchange points for, among other things, an Amazon gift card. Or, give instead of get: Make-A-Wish and the American Cancer Society accept donations of as few as 500 and 1,000 miles, respectively. (Those gifts are not tax-deductible.)

If You’re

A FREQUENTFLYING FAMILY When you travel with a spouse, kids, and other relatives, you can rack up miles quickly. But those points usually go into separate accounts, and airlines, in particular, make it expensive to combine miles. Transferring 10,000 American Airlines points to your spouse, for example, will cost you US$125— plus a US$20 transaction fee. You have a (very) few options: Join a family-friendly mileage programme. It might not help much with the miles you’ve already accumulated, but a handful of companies allow relatives to combine their miles for free. “JetBlue is really out in front of the other airlines in terms of family accounts, allowing for a family of up to seven people to pool points they earn,” says Edward Pizzarello, who writes the points blog Pizza in Motion. British Airways (BA) also allows families to share miles in household accounts, and Qantas gives fliers a certain number of free transfers per year. Pooling can be powerful. Typically, a BA ticket in premium economy from New

70 66

TT RR AAVV EE LL ++ LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66

Track Happy Keep tabs on all your points with apps that are powerful, reliable, and—most important of all—secure. For US$49 a year, TripIt Pro lets users track most major airline, hotel, and car programmes. (Notable exceptions: shopping loyalty programmes.) The interface is sleek, and because the company is owned by software giant SAP, the security controls are among the most reliable out there. AwardWallet is one of the oldest tracking sites, launched in 2004. It connects to nearly 700 programmes, from American Airlines to Walmart. Although Delta, United, and Southwest aren’t included, if you forward your monthly statements AwardWallet will scan them and update your account. The app is free, but you have to pay US$5 to get the full range of features. — BRIAN KELLY

50% More than

York to London will yield 3,458 frequentflier miles. For a family of four, that adds up to 13,832 miles—enough to get Mom a round-trip business-class seat between London and Paris. Top off your accounts. A few flexible programmes, including American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Chase Ultimate Rewards, permit free transfers to airline, hotel, and other reward accounts, meaning you can boost balances to a usable level.

of miles in Asia are earned on ground—on credit cards linked to airline programmes.


11M

If You’re

DESPERATELY SEEKING STATUS Many frequent fliers don’t care about free flights, rooms, or rentals—they’re interested only in getting special treatment from airlines because of their elite status. Perks for VIPs, like complimentary upgrades and waived fees, are doled out on a tiered basis: the more you fly, the more you receive. Status can be especially valuable if you’re delayed or your flight is cancelled; elites are the first to be rebooked. In the past, fliers reached elite status based on how many miles they flew, so you’d just pick the most convenient airline. Over the past year, however, Delta and United overhauled their programmes to include a spending component in their calculation for elite status. On Delta, for example, you don’t just need to fly 25,000 miles to achieve the lowest-tier status, you also need to spend US$3,000. That might not bother high-spending business travellers, but for frugal fliers (or those with frugal bosses), the new provisions can dramatically affect a year’s elite status. To ascend to VIP: Juggle your connections. What if your home airport isn’t a hub for the carrier? Be creative with your planning. Flying out of Denver, a United stronghold, for instance, you’ll have few American Airlines options. But if the boss is paying and you’ve got the time, connect and earn with the competition. Say you have a meeting in Boston; American offers no direct flights there from Denver, but you can hop a plane

The cost, in miles, of an electric BMWi3 through Lufthansa’s Miles & More programme.

to Dallas and then fly American to Boston to earn 2,200 miles, or connect in Miami to add 2,970 miles to your tab.

Avianca, the national carrier of Colombia and another Star Alliance partner, offers similar benefits.

Look for back doors into the club. Airline alliances offer sneaky alternatives for claiming those VIP perks. Take, for instance, ConnectMiles, the recently launched rewards programme for Panamanian carrier Copa, part of the Star Alliance airline network. To reach gold status on United, you need to fly 50,000 miles in a calendar year and spend at least US$6,000. Or, you can sign up for ConnectMiles, then credit your points for future United flights to the Copa programme, and hit gold after just 45,000 miles. You automatically get the same standing in Star Alliance, which means priority boarding, priority check-in, and, perhaps best of all, free access to 1,000 lounges around the world, no matter which member carrier you fly.

Shoot for a status match. If you have elite status on one carrier and want to switch allegiance to another, you can try calling customer service and asking them to match your credentials (they may challenge you to fly with them for a few thousand miles to prove your loyalty). The website StatusMatcher can help guide you through the process. Consider credit-card extras. Most of the points you earn by spending on a cobranded card aren’t ‘elite-qualifying miles’ or EQMs. But a number of cards offer signup and spending bonuses that count toward status requirements. Delta’s Platinum SkyMiles card, for example, awards 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles after you spend US$25,000 in a calendar year.

Rack Up New Rewards

Recently launched points programmes worth considering. For bedding down in boutiques

Stash Hotel Rewards, a loyalty programme for indie hotels, recently launched a credit card that provides a 60 per cent bonus for stays at member hotels. There are about 150 hotels in the network, almost all of them in the US So if you’re a fan of San Francisco’s Inn at Union Square, say, you can rack up free nights just like at the traditional hotel chains.

For frugal fliers

For its most loyal customers, budget carrier EasyJet is launching Flight Club, a fancier and free alternative to its US$250-a-year Plus programme. Benefits include the ability to change itineraries and names on tickets without incurring any fees. To get in, you’ll need to fly at least 20 EasyJet segments or spend a certain amount (yet to be announced) on flights in a 12-month period.

For road-trip rewards

Plenti, which launched in 2015, provides points for purchases from a wide range of everyday shopping partners, including Rite Aid and AT&T. While Enterprise Rent-A-Car is the only travel outfit in the mix, Plenti points can be redeemed at Exxon and Mobil, fuelling your next driving vacation. Just 1,000 points lets you knock US$10 off your gas tab. — G.M.

TTRRAAVVEEL L ++ L LEEI SI SUURREE / / F FEEBBRRUUAARRYY2 2001 16 6

71 67


My Big Points Win

Three experts share the greatest trips they’ve scored with rewards.

If You’re a

POINTS HOARDER Plenty of travellers are under the misconception that saving points—like saving money—is a wise idea. But there’s a big downside to socking away miles: they lose value dramatically over time, thanks to constantly changing programme rules. On February 2, for example, British Airways will increase the price of shorthaul award tickets in the US from 4,500 to 7,500 miles one-way. Voilà: your points just became worth 40 per cent less. To dodge devaluation: Rightsize your emergency fund. Unless you’re saving up for something specific, hang on to only enough points for a reward you’re likely to use in the next year. A last-minute round-trip domestic flight on United, for example, can generally be picked up for 50,000 miles; a night at the Westin New York Grand Central is 12,000 points. Appraise your assets. Maybe you’re reluctant to spend your points because you’re concerned that you’re not maximising their value—that if you swap them for a weekend away, you’ll miss out on a longer, more luxurious stay. “The key to understanding whether or not an award is

a good value is to know what you would be willing to pay out of pocket for the ticket,” says Gary Leff, author of the popular frequent-flier blog View from the Wing. “If you’re getting several cents of value out of the miles that you spend, you’ve done well.” For example, if you find a ticket for 25,000 miles that would normally cost US$700, that’s the equivalent of 2.3 cents a mile—a pretty good deal. But if the seat would typically be US$200, each mile is worth a skimpy 0.8 cents. (If you want to check the value of your stash, the Points Guy website issues monthly valuations for airline and hotel points.) Get a bargain by spending big. The good news if you’ve been hoarding: the best values for award bookings tend to be on luxury products. A business-class ticket from San Francisco to London on American, for instance, costs 100,000 miles, while in cash it would be more than US$6,000— you’re getting about 6 cents a mile. Book far enough in advance, and you can jet from San Francisco to Singapore in one of Singapore Airlines’ suites for around 70,000 miles. On the hotel front, a night at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, near San Francisco, runs US$565, or 60,000 points.

US$170.4 M The amount art collector Liu Yiqian paid for a Modigliani painting with his American Express card—in part so his family could fly for free, always.

72 68

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE / / FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166

“I’m about to fly first class on the Airbus A380s of Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar. I’ll shower in the sky on board Emirates from Houston to Dubai and Bangkok—all courtesy of my Alaska Airlines miles. My flight to Doha is on Qatar, and I’ll come home in Etihad’s First Apartment, which is big enough to walk around in. Total cost: US$500, 235,000 miles, and 6,000 Starpoints.” — Gary Leff, of the View from the Wing blog “For my husband’s 40th birthday we took an around-the-world trip. We flew business class to Amsterdam, Singapore, and the Maldives, where we stayed in a private villa. The trip would have cost tens of thousands of dollars. In total, our award tickets cost 240,000 United miles, plus around US$200.” — Summer Hull, of the Mommy Points blog “I recently redeemed 135,000 American miles to fly round-trip to Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific’s first class—a trip that retails for US$25,000. Cathay has fantastic service, great food (caviar and Krug, what more can you want?), and some of the most comfortable beds in the sky. I used points for a suite at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, which normally costs around US$1,000 per night.” — Ben Schlappig, of the One Mile at a Time blog


Be No Stranger To This This issue, we tell you why the lack of company should not be a hindrance to your travel plans by easing you into the concept ‘travel mates’. A host of websites and online agencies today connect you to travellers from different parts of the world with similar interests as you, so you can explore the far and wild with a new friend. Here’s a beginners’ guide to travelling with a stranger.

SHUT TERSTOCK

BY ANWESHA SANYAL

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

73


IT’S TRUE. THERE HAS BEEN A 134% increase in solo travellers since 2008. And if you are the kind who needs company, there are safe websites to help you exchange detailed conversations with genuine travellers about your destination of choice, personal preferences, and budgets, and find you a travel soulmate.

WHERE TO START | WEBSITES AND PROFILES The best websites are those that are open for scrutiny, with no dodgy sign-up/ security fee or dubious popup links asking you for your credit card details. Once you are logged in, you can check for user reviews too. Couchsurfing.com No tomfoolery with this one, couchsurfing connects you with locals who open up their homes for your stay. Perfect for those who like spending more money on the road, and less on accommodation. Travbuddy.com New people and new places, all in one. You enter your destination to be introduced to

members as well as a list of hotels, restaurants, and bars, useful travel tips, current security concerns, and other updated travel news. Tripapp.com To go-to site for the mustvisit spots in big cities such as Amsterdam, Rome, London, and Sao Paulo among others, straight from the locals. Meetup.com Unlike others, here you connect with people based on your preferred activity: find someone to catch a dance show or art exhibit with, or tag along with a photography group to tour interesting parts of the city.

Wandermates.com It’s the easiest website to get around when the network is slow and you need a travel buddy. Enter your age, gender, and location to find likeminded people when you’re already on the move.

Thelmandlouise.com Women travellers can get on to thelmandlouise to find other women travel companions. Join discussions about the safety issues, find interest groups, ask a question or read the anecdotes.

Disposition: Keep an informal tone and show your willingness to adjust. “I plan on dining at Iggy’s in Singapore but I’m also game for some local cuisine at the hawker’s market.”

sites. It increases your chance of finding a suitable travel partner.

ADS THAT ARE INFORMATIVE

74 70

Be real: Budget is one of the most important things to factor when putting your AD on the website. Keep no one in delusion of how much you are willing to spend. Your personal preferences: You don’t want to snore through a ballet show just because you’re travelling together. If you’d rather go on a food tour or to a basketball game, it’s OK to part ways for a few hours. Research the destination and write out the things you are willing to do on the trip before you connect.

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE / / FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166

Dates: Your dates are of prime importance and you needn’t change them for someone’s convenience; you are reaching out to a vast audience. Being fidgety will only show your lack of confidence and nobody wants to cater to tendencies of irresolution. Multiple Accounts: It’s OK to make profiles on multiple

Gender bias and age group: Point out whether you want a male or a female travel partner, if you’re willing to join a girl gang or stag party. Give your age, and tell them what age group you prefer to travel with. How far are you willing to go:

 Will you share a room? Make only part of the

journey together?  Travel with a smoker if you

aren’t one, or a fruitarian if you’re a meat lover? Expect late night-outs?

SHUT TERSTOCK (2)

Once the profile is made, you put an AD that describes your travel plans. the best way to avoid a flood of unnecessary inbox messages, is to give fellow members a clarity on your expectations from the trip.


HOW TO BE A GOOD TRAVEL BUDDY?

WHAT WHO AND HOW YOU DON’T WANT TO GET STUCK WITH SOMEONE YOU HAVE BIG DISAGREEMENTS WITH, AND THEREFORE, NO AMOUNT OF QUESTIONING IS TOO MUCH WHEN YOU’RE MEETING A STRANGER. HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS TO GET YOU STARTED. SLOW TRAVEL OR THE EXPRESS TRAIN? Travellers can be of two kinds: one who likes to cover more ground by visiting more places of interest, and the other who likes to take in what he/she has at hand. The two kinds don’t always gel. So don’t hesitate to ask this. FLEXIBILITY VS COMMON INTERESTS? Simple things such as a sleeping schedule can ruin an entire trip if one is an early bird and the other, a night crawler—ask them how much time they are willing to spend exploring the destination. While it is important to have your own list of things to do, try to accommodate their choices in your itinerary. Although, if some interests do not match at all, be graceful and allow them privacy instead of trying to push your opinion on the matter. Ask them how

much time they’d like to have alone: if they are a loner, and you like crowds, there might be a problem. FOOD RESTRICTIONS: ETHICAL OR CHOICE? If you find yourself mostly ordering meat dishes or a bottle of wine to go with the food, you can find a traveller who has different food choices and still get along well. But if they are ethically disagreeable, chances are you’ll be stuck with disdainful looks on the trip. Choosing a travel partner who has similar food choices is easier on the pocket as well as on the table. REALISTIC FITNESS LEVELS? Think long walks through a historic district or a hike to a picturesque mountain top, as opposed to cab rides and cable cars. Comfort or not; either way if your new friend doesn’t share your

idea of travel, you’ll be a burden on each other. ADVENTUROUS OR SAFE? Does your travel buddy need advance planning? Or is he/she ready to hop off the train on the next station and go with the flow? Veteran travellers usually have less preplanned itineraries, although they might have a to-do list. They ask locals for insider tips, dare to visit dodgy districts, and look for hidden spots rather than follow clichés. BACKGROUND PLEASE? You can start with ‘why do you travel?’ to get an insight into the kind of traveller they are. It is better to know if you are travelling with people who enjoy the thrill of being in a new destination or are vacationing individuals who’re seeking an escape from the hectic work life.

Understanding: Refrain from making judgements about someone you’ve just met, or giving unwanted advice for that matter. Respectful: Engaging in conversations with someone from another part of the world can educate you about the other’s culture. Adjustable: It’s healthy to compromise a little when you travel together. You’ll be surprised what opening yourself to new ideas can bring. Stress Management: Handling stress is a major part of being a team player— you might miss a flight or a cruise—the trick is to weigh your options before losing your cool. Space: Travelling together doesn’t lead to sharing your private lives. Personal questions are a big ‘no’, unless the conversation is going that way. Fair Pay: It’s nice to remember paying your fair share; it’s agonising to travel with someone who doesn’t open his/her wallet. Factor Hygiene: More than anything, it’s courteous. For example, don’t ask for a bite off their food unless you’re offered. Clarity: If you have plans to take off on your own for a day, do inform in advance to avoid confusion.

SHUT TERSTOCK (2)

WHAT IF YOU’RE DITCHED ON THE TRIP? “I’ll find a good hostel or an AirBnb place where I can mingle with locals and get recommendations from there. My favourite travel app is City Mapper.” —ANTON DIAZ, travel and food blogger at ouranawesomeplanet.com

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE / / FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166

75 71


FIRST-TIME DESTINATIONS

AS A FIRST TIMER, CHOOSE A DESTINATION THAT IS WELL-TRAVELLED, HASSLE-FREE, AND TOURIST-FRIENDLY. THE LESS CRISIS YOU HAVE TO DEAL WITH ON THE ROAD, THE BETTER THE TRIP. activities such as angling and sailing are for outdoor enthusiasts. ISRAEL From the time Tel Aviv became the new party capital of the world, globetrotters made a beeline for the country, and while Jerusalem can be a pilgrimage of sorts, wide-eyed nature lovers can head to the lowest place on Earth at Dead Sea and swim the famous waters. Unlike what is commonly known as a conservative country, Israel has bloomed as a modern

nation—well-planned roads, great connectivity, and luxury. NEW ZEALAND New Zealand is for those who appreciate ethnic and cultural diversity, and are also a fan of the cool New Zealander accent. Home to phenomenal landscapes, excellent roads, the rustic Pacifi c Rim cuisine, warm people, and luxury experiences including scenic fl ights over Mt Cook in Queenstown, yacht cruising in Auckland, helicopter fly fishing in remote areas, and unique wildlife in Kaikoura. On the lighter side, NZ is known for its campervans, so you can rent one for a road trip with a picnic basket in tow. SOUTH AFRICA Adventurists can take on any challenge alone, although, game drives, austere gastronomic indulgences, and countryside hiking takes a bit of company. South Africa has recently been on the radar for Indian travellers since security concerns have slowly lifted, and the modern offerings of adventure, nightlife, and Michelin star dining in the three big cities of Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg, followed by

FROM ABOVE: Sailing in Scotland; at

Cairngorns National Park in winter.

birding, horse safaris, and whale-watching, in the serene and remote landscape of the countryside makes SA an all-rounder. It is wise to travel with someone experienced. MOROCCO One of the most underrated countries in the world, Morocco is not an ordinary choice for a newbie traveller. All the same, it is a great place for trekking the breathtaking landscape of the Rif, High Atlas, and Middle Atlas Mountains; the sunny beaches lining the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, such as Agadir or Casablanca; a relaxed walk through the churches, museums and mosques of Marrakesh, Fez, and Rabat; or a camel tour on the Sahara Desert at sunrise.

HANDY TRAVELLING APPS OneFineStay Connects you with people who sublet their homes while they’re travelling, so you can live in a character home instead of a hotel. Travelmob You’re in the new city

76 72

and need to book a hotel right away. Travelmob gives you the best options in your area. Backpackr Helps you find travellers in the same city as you, so that you

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

can find a last-minute travel buddy. Food Spotting It’s worse than hunger pangs…you want a particular dish. The app will find you restaurants that serve it.

CityMaps2Go You want to go from Point A to Point B in the fastest route, pop comes a map to get you there. Google Translate Makes conversations easier in a place where

you need some local language to save you. Like A Local Away from the popular tourist destinations, this app helps uncover hidden wonders, straight from the locals of the city.

SHUT TERSTOCK; PHOTOPLUS MAGA ZINE/GET T YIMAGES

SCOTLAND Scotland is perfect for golf enthusiasts who enjoy playing at world-class golf courses, numerous of which frame the country—Cairngorms National Park, East Lothian, James Braid or the Highlands, being the finest. Gastronomic indulgences can be met with everything between local Arbroath smokies and seafood. Literature geeks can find the annual Stanza International Poetry Festival in March a great place to connect with upcoming writers, while leisurely


ST E FA N R U I Z

/ FEBRUARY 2016 / The old and new in Seville |

The conquer of the fabled Canadian Arctic | Thriving wildlife in Lake Naivasha | Luxurious lodges of Zimbabwe T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

77 73


A CYCLIST'S CY

P RADISE PA R

C LLED CA

SEVILLE PHOTO CREDIT

I N FOREI G N L A ND S , T HE RE IS ALWAYS THAT ON E TH IN G TH AT CO NNECTS US BACK TO H OME. IN SEVIL L E, THE PREDOMIN ANT CYC L E C ULT U RE WAS T HAT B ON D FOR ME. B Y A M R I TA D A S

78 74

A VV EE LL + + LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66 TT RR A


HOLGER LEUE/GET T YIMAGES

A woman cycles through Triana neighbourhood.

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

79


Seville’s oldest bar, El Rinconcillo.

80 76

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE / / FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166

populace is under 30. With a flourishing university which invites students, the two-wheels are a low-cost affordable option. Occasionally, I did see a few suited office-goers on their bikes too. And I have to admit, their bikes were sleek, envy-worthy—to match their professional stature perhaps. But what if a tourist wants to cycle around? Well, there's the SeviCi dock. Claiming to have 250 docking stations at 300 meters apart around the city, SeviCi is on a mission to make Seville more bikefriendly. Tourists can hire a bike by getting a weekly subscription from the machines at the station itself.

OLD TOWN SECRETS

This is the most charming part of the city. The broader roads of Avenida del Cid are a perfect starting point. The University of Seville, a magnificent structure previously a tobacco factory, lies opposite this Avenida. Passing the renowned Hotel Alfonso XIII and riding alongside the canal, the Golden Tower (or Torre del Oro) appears next. It is a 13th-century tower illustrating the Almohad style of architecture. The wide roads narrow down and are replaced by cobbled lanes. This is an indication that you are entering Old Town’s centre. The impressive Royal Alcazar, which features the most extraordinary Moorish architecture, is the main highlight in the neighbourhood. The lanes of Santa Cruz or Jewish Quarter borders with the Alcazar making it the next area to explore. The bright colours, the numerous turns and the welcoming patios—are in sharp contrast to the Alcazar. I saw a number of cyclists here with bikes parked while they admired the beauty of the Quarter. I noticed another group of cyclists just in front of the Cathedral of Seville. They were a part of a guided tour—clearly guide bike tours are de rigueur here. Considered as one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world, the Giralda is most popular for it exquisite work. Built by the Almohad dynasty, this minaret (presently a bell tower) was originally built as a part of the grand mosque. It now adorns Renaissance work above the original Mudejar architecture. A slight distance away from the Cathedral, through the compressed lanes, is Calle Tetuán.

COURTESY OF EL RINCONCILLO

S

Spain’s fourth largest city, Seville, is quite flat. When I looked out from my window, there were no ridges and no inclines. The town's topography contributes greatly to its charm on cyclists. While returning from dinner on my first night here, I enquiringly pointed at the green paint on the tiled pedestrian path. I was told that these are dedicated cycle tracks which run through the city. While I wondered if these were actually used, a cycle zoomed past me. I paid attention to the frequency of bikes whizzing by and lost count in the next three minutes! In the old town, the tracks are quaint and the cobblestone lanes here are partitioned with steel knobs. Many corridors of this part of the city are limited only to pedestrians and cyclists. On the other hand, the new, busier part of the city has broader roads for buses, cars and motorbikes. However, this does not deter the number of bikers. Here, the cycleway is a ‘cooler’ green and tarmacked lane with large cycle icons on it that a pedestrian must be blind to miss! I observed that a majority of Seville’s resident


C L O C K W I S E : J E R E M Y W O O D H O U S E / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; T I M E W H I T E / G E T T Y I M A G E S ; A M R I TA D A S

CLOCKWISE: A curving footbridge in Seville; people enjoying an al fresco meal at a cafe near Parasol; an evening performance at the Museo del Baile Flamenco.

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE // FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166

81 77


GEOGR APHY PHOTOS/UIG V IA /GE T T Y IMAGES

The Plaza de Espana, built in 1929, is a landmark example of the Renaissance Revival architecture.

82 78

TT RR AAVV EE LL ++ LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66


FROM TOP: COURTESY OF HOTEL ALFONSO X III (2); COURTESY OF HOSPES L AS CASAS DEL RE Y DE BAE Z A

CLOCKWISE: A guestroom with Moorish decor at Hotel Alfonso XIII; the striking suite bathroom at the hotel; terrace deck of Hospes Las Casas del Rey de Baeza Hotel.

Running parallel to it is Calle Sierpes. And together they make Seville’s upscale shopping district. After the cobbled roads, I felt a slight incline that led me to Metropol Parasol, an example of Seville’s modern architecture. The structure looks like a giant mushroom, though the light around sunset is brilliant for taking panoramic photos of the city. I thought I had seen enough but Seville without flamenco is incomplete. And even though the distances between these sights isn’t much, the wealth of information that comes along is enormous. I made my way to the Museo del Baile Flamenco (Flamenco Museum), where I participated in my pre-booked class, amusing everyone around with my out-of-sync steps. Later that evening, as I sat to witness the outstanding performance, I once again felt overwhelmed by the passion and energy of this city. With darkness in the lanes and dim yellow lights in each corner, I assumed that perhaps the bikes would have reduced. I was surprised yet again as it made me realise that this was simply their way of life. After my dinner at Seville’s oldest bar, El Rinconcillo, I happened to step out and bump into a cyclist. As an Indian, we seem to always expect road rage, but he cooly reminded me that I had breached the cycleway partition, and went on. Perhaps, that’s the charm of Seville and its bike culture—it’s fun, it makes discovering any alien city an exhilarating experience, and it keeps people cheerful. LUXE STAY Hospes Las Casas del Rey de Baeza; hospes.com Palacio de Villapanés; palaciovillapanes.com Corral del Rey; corraldelrey.com

5 FILMS SHOT IN SEVILLE 1 Lawrence of Arabia (1962): You’ll see the Royal Alcazar and the Plaza de Espana featured. 2 Star Wars Episode II:

Attack of the Clones (2002): Features Plaza de Espana again.

3 Game of Thrones (Season

5): Beautifully shot within the Royal Alcazar.

4 Knight and Day (2010):

The longest bike chase sequence in the movie was shot around Seville’s oldest bullring and Cathedral.

5 Kingdom of Heaven (2005):

The Andalusian palace, Casa de Pilatos makes an appearance in the movie.

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

83 79


the

lake that

ripples In Kenya’s section of Africa’s Great Rift Valley is a beautiful freshwater lake fringed by thick papyrus, with the world’s highest population of hippos; giraffes wander among acacias, buffalos wallow in the waters, and Colobus monkeys flit over tree tops. | Text and photographs by Kalpana Sunder


A view of Lake Naivasha, the largest of the Rift valley lakes


A brilliant orangeand-yellow weaver bird carries a blade of grass and deftly tucks it into its spherical hanging nest as I walk up from the boat, across sloping land, for about a hundred yards to a ridge; and then I look over another lush plain filled with animals. I feel like I am part of a scene from Jurassic Park. Resplendent giraffes lope gracefully, arranging themselves in perfect geometric patterns, against the backdrop of volcanic mountains and a silvery lake which looks more like a sea. I am on Crescent Island, a private conservancy owned by a BritishKenyan family on the banks of Lake Naivasha. This freshwater lake has always been subject to mysterious fluctuations. The waters of the lake are rife with bass, crayfish, and tilapia. Overlooked by many tourists for the more popular Lake Nakuru National Park, renowned for its pink

86 82

TT RR AAVV EE LL ++ LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66

flamingos, Lake Naivasha is serene and virgin. We buckle ourselves into bright orange life jackets as we pull into the waters, studded with floating mountains of papyrus reed, and water hyacinth. Great white pelicans swim silently in small groups, testing the waters for fish with their long beaks, pouches ready for a catch. We see pied kingfishers, stocky Egyptian geese, super starlings flashing their iridescent blue wings and flocks of storks. High up on the branches, I hear the haunting call of keen eyed fish eagles, before I spot them, as they wait patiently to catch their prey. Fishermen stand waist deep in water to harvest crayfish in small buckets.   Naivasha means ‘rippling waters’ and it’s the largest of the Rift Valley lakes. It’s probably named because of sudden afternoon storms which cause the lake to become rough and produce high waves. Much of the lake is surrounded by forests of the yellow barked Acacia Xanthophlea, also known as the ‘yellow


FROM LEFT: Giant floating islands of

water hyacinth, threaten to choke the lake; Pod of hippos lie submerged in the waters of lake Naivasha; Walking with Giraffes on Crescent Island, which lies on the Lake, where there are no predators.

fever tree’. Bare skeletons of trees dot the waters, which abound with bird life, and cast surreal reflections in the waters. The shores of this freshwater lake used to be traditional Masai grazing ground for centuries till Joseph Thomson arrived in 1884. Then in the 1930s the British settled here and used the lake to carry mail on boats to Britain and back. Our boatman suddenly steers the boat towards a flotilla of water hyacinth and we spot the large and pink faces of a pod of hippos, with their disproportionate ears, their comical giant nostrils, and their sunken eyes, poking out of the water-like periscopes huddled together—some lounging, others yawning—as the hippos plunge into the waters and surface again. We maintain a

respectful distance for after all the deceptively adorable looking hippos are the ‘lions of the waters’. “Hippos are very territorial,” warns our boatman. They draw an invisible border which you better not cross and these strong creatures can eat 70 kilograms of grass in one session. We dock at Crescent Island, a stretch of land that is the rim of a submerged volcanic caldera. I see a board that cautions tourists that ‘Walking on Crescent Island is at your own risk’. “There are no predators here, no fences and no vehicles—it was created 35 years ago for shooting of the film Out of Africa when animals from the Masai Mara were brought in here,” explains our guide Moses. In the distance is the 2,776-metre high Longonot, meaning ‘Mountain of Spurs’ a ragged dormant volcano that dominates the

U RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66 TT RR AAVV EE LL ++ LL EE II SS U

87 83


88 84

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6


FROM LEFT: Zebras form patterns on Crescent island; Fishermen stand knee-deep in the waters of the Lake to catch crayfish; Keen eyed Cormorant waiting for its prey.

southern skyline. We stroll about the grassy slopes as a group of zebras graze nearby nonchalantly, and impalas spring past. The animal life on the island is prolific—giraffes, impalas, small dikdiks, wildebeests and steenbok. We see deep burrows, home to aardvarks which roam the island at night, along with pods of cantankerous hippos that climb on to the island at night to browse the shores. Above our heads fly a flock of pelicans in a geometric pattern, “They are migrating all the way to Israel to breed there,” says Moses. As we drive from the lake, we see green, translucent greenhouses made of polythene along the shores of the lake that grow flowers (especially roses) for export to European markets. More than 50 multinational flower and horticultural companies employ more than 50,000 people here. Great stretches of acacia scrub have been cleared and housing has sprouted accommodates the workers. “It’s the flower industry that is responsible for pollution of the lake; the fertilisers they use drain into the lake,” says our driver. We have lunch at the luxurious Chui Safari

Lodge set in a private 18,000 acre wildlife sanctuary, and furnished with African artifacts, art, and even a fireplace that looks like an anthill. Post lunch, we take a safari drive through vast stretches of savannah dotted with herds of impalas, zebras, and wildebeest. Our knowledgeable guide shows me leaves used by local tribes as lipstick, sage leaves used as deodorants, whistling thorn plants which are filled with ants, and identifies birds by their distinct calls. I’m starting to recognise a tiny fraction of the hundreds of bird species listed in the book in my bedroom and can’t help feeling how ignorant we are of the diversity in places such as this. “There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you have drunk half a bottle of champagne — bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive,” wrote Karen Blixen in Out of Africa… I cannot but agree with her!

THE DETAILS GETTING THERE Nairobi is connected to Mumbai by South African Airways. Lake Naivasha is a 2.5 hour drive from Nairobi. WHERE TO STAY Hacienda Hotel Stay at Enashipai Resorts that has a great location (enashipai. com). For a luxe experience, the beautifully designed Chui Lodge is highly recommended. Do: Take a boat ride on the lake, walk on Crescent Island, visit the Hells Gate National Park, and visit Elsamere, once the home of the Adamsons of ‘Born Free’ fame. Eat: Local Kenyan food like Ugali (cornmeal), Nyama Choma (roasted meat) and Kachumbari salad with onions and tomatoes. You will be surprised to see that most menus feature chapatis too. Drink: Local Tusker beer and fine Kenyan coffee.

TT RR A A VV EE LL + + LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66

89 85


PHOTO CREDIT

For centuries, the search for the Northwest Passage captivated explorers—and led many to their deaths. Today, warming seas have made it possible to traverse the fabled route through the Canadian Arctic. first passenger ships in the region to survey this emerging frontier. Photographs by Stefan Ruiz

90 86

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEIISSUURREE // FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166


testTHE 覺ng

waters

PHOTO CREDIT

Saki Knafo climbs aboard one of the

91

The passenger ship Vavilov navigates ice floes near Baffin Island, in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6


I don’t thınK

I realısed

just how desperate we were to see polar bears until the trip was almost over. We’d been in the Arctic for nearly two weeks, and we’d hardly seen any animals at all, apart from a mound of fur that our leaders identified as a musk ox. A musk ox, I’ll admit, is not something you see every day, but it’s also not what you have in mind when you book an Arctic cruise. What you have in mind is polar bears. I think our leaders understood this. I think that’s why they steered our inflatable skiffs toward the mother bear and her cub as soon as we saw them off in the distance, two specks of white against the drab background of rock and sea. I think that’s why we kept getting closer and closer even as they tried to swim away, crossing a cove and scrambling up a cliff. There were people on the cruise—a minority, to be sure—who later criticised the decision to follow them. Polar bears, they pointed out, often go up to a month without finding anything to eat and can ill afford to waste precious calories paddling away from people, even if those people only want to share pictures of them on Facebook. But I’m not sure we had a choice. Having spent two weeks on a ship populated mostly by Canadians, I can confirm that Canadians really are very polite. But if we hadn’t seen any polar bears, I think there might have been a riot. We were in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, a sprawl of more than 36,000 islands covering an area more than three times the size of California. Though we hadn’t encountered any polar bears until now, we had observed many scenes of epic beauty: Gothic castles of ice that rose out of nowhere, royal blue mountains at midnight set against the lighter blue of sea and sky. For many years, this was one of the last places on the planet where a traveller could drop off the map. Starting in the 16th century, thousands of men tried to navigate what they called the Northwest Passage, a hypothetical route through a maze of icy channels from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Until Roald Amundsen in 1906, every one of them failed. Many vanished into the ice. Today, of course, it is the ice that is vanishing, which is why the Northwest Passage can now be navigated by cruise ships. For generations of visitors, the Arctic ice was something to be endured. But for the people and animals who have lived here for millennia, the ice is what makes endurance

92 88

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

possible. In the winter, when the Arctic is white, it is also secretly green. Coating the underside of the sea ice is a film of algae, which feeds the krill that feed the fish that feed the seals that feed the polar bears. As a sightseer in the Northwest Passage, it is somewhat unsettling to realise that the thawing of this frozen habitat is the reason you’re able to see the place at all—and also the reason there’s so little wildlife here to see. Our ship, the Vavilov, was a repurposed Russian research vessel with seven decks, a manila-coloured interior, and all the charm of your local DMV. A Canadian travel company, One Ocean Expeditions, leases it year-round for tours of the Maritimes, the Falklands, and South Georgia Island, as well as the Arctic and Antarctica during their brief seasons of relative mildness. As the company’s promotional literature had made clear, this was not the sort of cruise that would feature the comforts and amusements normally associated with cruises. Instead, there were trips to shore, several a day, in rubber skiffs thumped by the waves. Long, cold walks along rocky shorelines littered with whale bones. Infinite grey landscapes interrupted by the luminous beauty of an iceberg or a tower of rock rising from a green bed of moss, its walls ablaze with bright orange lichen. The Vavilov wasn’t the first cruise ship ever to venture into the twisting corridors of the Northwest Passage, and despite the refusal of the polar bears to cooperate with our agenda, it won’t be the last. Three decades have passed since a commercial vessel first completed the journey, but in the past five years, as warming seas have opened new routes through the ice, passenger ships have multiplied. Last summer alone, at least 25 cruises were offered in the Canadian Arctic, and as water temperatures continue to rise, that number is expected to grow. “We’ll see large vessels like we haven’t seen before,” said Jackie Dawson, a geography professor at the University of Ottawa, who predicts that pleasure travel to the region will increase by 20 per cent over the next 10 years. This summer, if all goes as planned, Crystal Cruises will convey more than 1,000 souls through the Passage on the biggest luxury vessel ever to traverse the route. Even if they don’t see any polar bears, they’ll get to see a live production of My Life: The Music of Billy Joel.


ABOVE: A bird-watching expedition

near Prince Leopold Island.

BELOW: Passengers aboard a rubber

PHOTO CREDIT

skiff in Disko Bay, off the western coast of Greenland.

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

93 89


PHOTO CREDIT

94 90

TTRRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI ISSUURREE // FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001166


PHOTO CREDIT

95 91

An icebergTTin Disko Bay, near the Greenlandic town of Ilulissat. RRAAVVEELL ++ LLEEI S I SUURREE / / FFEEBBRRUUAARRYY 22001 166


96 92

TT RR AAVV EE LL ++ LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66

what? And why did they cut off the fingers?” Barbara, one of the Scots, nodded appreciatively over her glass of Talisker, a philosopher savouring a curious riddle. “You’d think they’d be a bit tough,” she observed. Our leaders, genial kayaker types, didn’t spend much time discussing the cannibalism part of Franklin’s story, or any of the other topics that might harsh the vibe, like Canada’s subjugation of the Inuit, or, you know, climate change. At every breakfast, lunch, and dinner, one of our guides, a manly Canadian dude with a blond ponytail, stood up in the dining hall and delivered a wide-eyed recap of whatever adventure we’d just come back from, never failing to assure us that what we’d seen had been “absolutely beautiful” or “absolutely awesome.” Once, he proclaimed the morning “absolutely spectacular.” We’d spent it scrabbling over some rocks and taking pictures of lichen. One day a voice came over the loudspeaker announcing the musk-ox sighting. No one will admit to playing favourites, but, trust me, everyone does, and in the hierarchy of Arctic animals, the musk ox ranks well behind the polar bear, the walrus, the narwhal, the beluga whale, the bowhead whale, and the arctic wolf. Still, we dutifully changed into our waterproof, ship-issued uniforms—red jackets, red overalls—and took off in the skiffs. What followed resembled nothing so much as a military operation. Several of our guides spread out across the shore, each carrying a rifle or a shotgun to protect us. The musk ox, to be clear, did not seem very threatening, perhaps because we could barely see it, standing, as we were, a hundred yards away. We were instructed to move toward it shoulder to shoulder, a wall of red encroaching on the target like British soldiers at Lexington. We advanced toward the musk ox. We took pictures of the musk ox. We watched the musk ox plod away. We advanced toward the musk ox, again. We took pictures of the musk ox, again. We watched the musk ox plod away, again. When we returned to the ship, we learned that the father of the Nikon family had stayed on board with his giant lens, capturing images of the musk ox that put ours to shame.

After two days at sea, we arrived at Pond Inlet, an Inuit settlement on the northern edge of Baffin Island, a landmass 16 times the size of Belgium. A woman came down to the beach to greet us in her traditional sealskin amauti. We gathered around her, taking pictures and asking questions. “How did you make the parka?” “I ordered it from a place in Manitoba.” “How about your earrings?” “Amazon.” We followed her up the winding dirt road past the ramshackle wooden houses, many of them boarded up. The homes were grey and unpainted, sheets of insulation and aluminium shingles peeling from the walls and roofs. A pair of dead seals lay in someone’s front yard. At the cultural centre, a cavernous auditorium with bare walls, a few vendors sold knitted hats and trinkets carved from antler bone.

O P P O S I T E , T O P : E D U C AT I O N I M A G E S / G E T T Y I M A G E S

Getting to the ship wasn’t as difficult as you might think. I flew from New York to Ottawa, where the Vavilov’s 75 passengers first convened. We ate some poutine, slept in a hotel, and fired off a last e-mail, then flew to Greenland on Canadian North, an airline with polar bears painted on the tails of all its aircraft. A Danish expat gave us a bus tour of Kangerlussuaq, population 550. At the top of a mountain, I watched him wander off into the ankle-high shrubs and look out at the immense emptiness. Shivering in my fleece, I noted that he was dressed in a T-shirt. I walked over and introduced myself. Without shifting his gaze, he imparted some advice. “Don’t live here,” he said, “unless you can be alone with your thoughts.” Aboard the ship, I glanced over the itinerary. Starting with a two-day crossing from Greenland to Canada, we’d be following the path of John Franklin, the British explorer who, in the spring of 1845, set sail for the Northwest Passage with 128 men and never returned. Throughout the 1800s, the British and American governments launched around 40 expeditions to find the lost explorers. In 2014, a team of Canadian divers succeeded in locating one of Franklin’s two ships at the bottom of a channel. Stephen Harper, the recently deposed Conservative prime minister, declared the discovery a “truly historic moment for Canada.” As our ship pulled out of Baffin Bay, I stood at the bow and gazed at the endless sweep of grey to the west, experiencing the kind of wonder we feel as kids, when the world is new and vast and full of mystery. It wasn’t until three monotonous days later that I found myself thinking, Now I understand why sailors drink. It’s a mistake to characterise the Arctic as barren. Certainly, the Inuit people, who have lived there for millennia, do not consider it ‘empty,’ as it is so often described. If you’re from there, the land must be full of stories. But to an outsider, its wonders reveal themselves slowly. To stave off boredom, we would have to amuse one another. “We” included the courteous, unassuming Canadians, an American couple with two teenage boys and four supersize Nikons, and a frizzy-haired sculptor who said that her Catskills estate was home to more than 80 pets, including peacocks, Angora rabbits, and an owl. Then there were the Scots, of whom I was particularly fond. They were very clear about what they wanted to accomplish on the trip. They wanted to drink all the whiskey on the boat. I myself drank an inordinate amount of whiskey with Robin Esrock, a South African TV personality and author of the Bucket List adventure-travel books, which he kept out on a table at the bar in case anyone felt the urge to do a little onboard shopping. He told me he sought to write stories that played to people’s desire to “feel good about the world.” And yet I found he’d taken an interest in the least reassuring part of John Franklin’s unhappy tale. One evening, he brought up the subject of the human remains, presumed to belong to Franklin’s crew, that were found in 1981 on a particularly inhospitable island we’d pass later on. “Why were there incision marks on their chests?” he asked. “Were they trying to get to the organ meat or


CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE:

PHOTO CREDIT

Fort Ross, an abandoned trading post in Nunavut; a soak aboard the Vavilov; sea kayaks near Prince Leopold Island.

A VV EE LL + + LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66 TT RR A

97 93


Before coming to the Arctic, I’d perused several books about the Franklin expedition I’d picked from the reading list. I’d learned how the crew had set out from England equipped with the very finest in Victorian technology, confident that the ice would prove no match for steam propellers and tinned pork. No one knows exactly how they died, but the knife marks on their bones suggest that things got very desperate before death claimed the last survivor. I was surprised by how few people on the ship seemed to share my fascination with this story. Why, then, were our leaders so intent on steering us down Franklin’s ill-chosen path? The explanation came at dinner one night when the down-to-earth expedition chief, a stocky outdoorsman named Aaron Lawton, appeared in the mess hall. Looking slightly embarrassed in a formal khaki shirt, he presented medals to several crew members. In 2014, he explained, One Ocean Expeditions had played a supporting role in the search for the Franklin ships. Watching the ceremony, I remembered some of what I’d read about Canadian politics before the trip. Stephen Harper, an aggressive champion of oil exploration in the Arctic, had been quarrelling with the United States and Russia over control of the region and the right to mine and drill it. At the centre of the dispute was the Northwest Passage and, more to the point, the enormous wealth it is bound to produce now that the loss of ice is creating new

98 94

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

opportunities for oil companies, freighters, and yes, cruise lines. Even though Franklin had been British, Harper claimed that the discovery of his ship helped establish Canada’s claim to Arctic sovereignty. The Vavilov, I realised as another crew member stood to accept a medal, had sailed into the stormy seas of an international power struggle.

Later that evening, our leaders called us to the

top deck. Despite the hour, the sky was still bright. Warming our hands on mugs of coffee, we watched as the Vavilov approached two spits of land that reached out from either side of the Bellot Strait. On the left was Zenith Point, the northernmost point of the North American mainland. On the right was the southern tip of Somerset Island. For now, we were on the Atlantic side of the Arctic Ocean. Once we passed through the slender waist of the channel, we’d be on the Pacific side. The heart of the Northwest Passage would be behind us. The scenery really was very beautiful. Even if you didn’t know anything about the significance of the place, you would have felt lucky to watch it glide past. Chunks of ice floated in the calm channel, and the currents that had carried them here had also brought a surprising abundance of wildlife—ivory-billed gulls bobbing on the water, seals poking their heads up for air in the distance. The sun dipped behind the bluffs off the starboard deck, painting the rocks and the water in shades of copper and rose. Behind me, a huddle of Canadians launched into the chorus of one of their folk songs. I caught myself feeling a little patriotic, somehow, for Canada. And then a cry rose up: “Polar bear!” It had been just a few hours since we’d seen the mother and cub. Now another bear was watching us from the shore, close enough that we could see him without binoculars. And then, amazingly, there was another one. And another. After seeing them for so long only in our fantasies, it felt as if we’d slipped into a dream. In a few days, we would arrive in Cambridge Bay, an Inuit hamlet across the Arctic from our starting point in Kangerlussuaq. We’d take one last look at the barren landscape, perhaps a little less inclined now to think of it as barren. We’d get on another plane with a bear on its tail. But now we’d reached the climax of our trip. We had come to the invisible border separating the beginning of the Passage from the end. I knew that I shouldn’t have cared about this. I knew that the heroic quest for the Passage was a self-serving narrative promulgated first by British conquerors and more recently by the Canadian government, and that we were here only because of the destruction of the ice that makes the Arctic what it is. I knew I shouldn’t have felt my heart pump harder as I looked out at the sea and thought about all those people, Franklin among them, who’d tried and failed to reach this corner of the world. And yet, I did. I think we all did. The channel opened wide, and we were in a gleaming bay, and the pearly sea matched the sky so perfectly it looked like we were sailing off the edge of the earth.

O P P O S I T E , T O P : C O U R T E S Y O F C R Y S TA L C R U I S E S

Fifty years ago, this settlement consisted of little more than a police station and a trading post. Back then, the Inuit lived ‘out on the land,’ as they say. In the spring, they hunted for seals. In the summer, they followed the herds of caribou. They did this for centuries. From a modern perspective it all sounds very romantic, but starvation was a real danger. In the 1960s, the government in Ottawa decided that the Inuit needed to entrust their fate to the government in Ottawa. People were paid to move into settlements. Those who resisted were threatened with jail time. Children were removed from their families and placed in residential schools where they were forbidden from speaking Inuktitut. In a single generation, the people of Pond Inlet went from surviving by their wits and skills to depending on the assistance of Canadian bureaucrats. Outside the cultural centre, I spoke with a young woman who described herself as one of the few people from Pond Inlet who had ever left the area—who had ever been in an elevator or seen a tree. It’s not that people don’t want to leave, she said. It’s that the sheer remoteness of the place makes it nearly impossible. A one-way plane ticket to Ottawa costs more than US$3,000. One exit strategy is to get sick. There is no doctor in the village, so if you have a health problem that the nurse can’t treat, the government will fly you down to a hospital in the south. People often bring along an empty suitcase. If they survive, they load up on Nikes, DVDs, and other consumer goods, saving themselves the expense of enlisting the services of the Northern Shopper, a company that forwards packages to Inuit villages.


ABOVE: Crystal Cruises

has the largest luxury passenger ship to ever said through the Northwest Passage. BELOW: A polar bear in Coningham Bay.

THE DETAILS GETTING THERE Most Northwest Passage cruises depart from airports in Canada or Alaska. Contact your tour provider for more information on how to get there. Though the cost of many trips doesn’t include airfare, charter flights and airport transfers are often provided.

PHOTO CREDIT

CRUISES Adventure Canada This operator’s two Northwest Passage tours include perks like barbecues and afternoon teas. Once ashore, passengers can participate in a variety of wilderness excursions and activities. adventurecanada. com; from US$7,995. Crystal Cruises The largest luxury passenger ship ever to sail through the Northwest Passage arrives this

summer. The voyage departs from Anchorage and ends in New York City. crystalcruises. com; from US$21,755. One Ocean Expeditions Choose from an array of activities, from wildlife encounters to history lessons. oneoceanexpeditions.com; from US$5,195. Polar Cruises Offers a range of Northwest Passage trips through operators like One Ocean Expeditions. polarcruises.com. Quark Expeditions The Arctic Circumnavigation tour is the most ambitious Northwest Passage cruise offered. It lasts 75 days, with 18 in the Passage. quark expeditions.com; from US$83,995.

TT RR A A VV EE LL + + LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66

99 95


H E A V E N LY

Victoria Falls, in northwestern Zimbabwe, is one of the largest waterfalls in the world. OPPOSITE: An elephant feeds on foliage at Ivory Lodge, in Hwange National Park.

96

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

PHOTO CREDIT

��E AT


TURES PHOTO CREDIT

After decades of political instability, Zimbabwe is poised for a comeback, with luxurious new lodges, some of the continent’s best guides, and—despite the poachers and hunters—a glorious profusion of big game. By G R A H A M B O Y N T O N Photographs by O L A F O T T O B E C K E R




AS DAW N B R O K E O V E R T H E N GA M O P L A I N I N

BELOW:

Understated luxury at the new Linkwasha Camp, in Hwange National Park. OPPOSITE:

Zebras drinking at a water hole near Ivory Lodge.

102 98

Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, we set out in search of a male lion that local game guides call Bhubezi. At the wheel of our clapped-out Toyota Land Cruiser was Brent Stapelkamp, a dashing young researcher who has been studying Hwange’s prides for almost a decade. The thick Kalahari sand was a test for our wheezing vehicle, but the greater challenge was tracking down Bhubezi, an eight-year-old lion who, together with his brother Bush, has dominated part of this 5,400-square-mile park on Zimbabwe’s western border for the past four years. Our search for Bhubezi was urgent, Stapelkamp explained, because just two weeks earlier Bush had been killed—shot by an American hunter on Forestry Commission land a mile outside the park. Though bait was laid to lure the animal into the hunting zone, his death was perfectly legal. Under the Forestry Commission’s quota, two male lions can be killed on land adjacent to Hwange each year. In theory, the system is tightly controlled. Annual quotas are issued to landowners and operators, and the professional hunters who accompany guests are subject to strict licensing. Hunting is big business: Bush’s killer probably paid between US$10,000 and US$20,000 for the privilege of shooting him and taking his head home to mount on the wall. In 2013, hunters exported 49 lion trophies from Zimbabwe; more

L + T RTARVAEVLE + L ELI ES IUSRUER E / F/ EFBERBURAURAYR 2Y 021061 6

than 250 lions are legally killed in South Africa every year. But conservationists argue that, with large sums of money at stake, corruption has undermined the quota system across Africa, where large expanses of bushveld make individual hunts hard to monitor. Just a few weeks after my visit, another hunt 20 miles away killed Cecil, a 13-year-old blackmaned lion, and the event caused a storm of outrage on social and news media around the world. Like Bush, Cecil was one of 30 collared animals in Hwange being tracked via GPS by Stapelkamp and his fellow researchers at Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit. Like Bush, Cecil had been lured out of the national park and onto a private concession. There, while feeding on an elephant carcass, he was shot with a bow and arrow by Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota. Stapelkamp pointed out that, unlike in Bush’s case, neither the landowner nor the professional who led the hunt had the correct permissions. “Cecil’s hunt was illegal. It was poaching, pure and simple,” he said. Although the Zimbabwe government asked for Palmer to be extradited, it now looks as if all charges related to the case will be dropped. According to Stapelkamp, both deaths will cause massive upheaval in the surrounding lion territories. Bush and Bhubezi’s pride had numbered 20; with one of the males dead, the other will now be under threat from encroaching rivals, who could kill the brothers’ cubs and mate with the females to create a new pride. “One man goes home with his trophy and the pride falls to pieces,” Stapelkamp said. As we spoke, Bhubezi’s plangent calls for his brother rang out across the plain—an ominous sound for the pride, as it offered an unintended invitation for marauding bachelors to attack. This is a critical time for African wildlife conservation. Poaching continues to blight the continent, habitat encroachment threatens big cats and other significant species, and efforts to protect endangered animals face a complex and precarious future. In Zimbabwe, where the most recent decade of President Robert Mugabe’s autocratic rule has brought the country to the brink of economic collapse, natural assets with commercial value—such as wild animals—are particularly vulnerable. And there is almost no state funding for conservation projects, so parks rely heavily on tourism revenue to maintain some semblance of order. The good news is that the numbers of both foreign visitors and some wild animal species are on the rise. (Certain experts argue that the increase in wildlife is, in part, due to licensed hunting, as the practice has dramatically increased the amount of land under wildlife management.)


PHOTO CREDIT

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

99


country still some way from political stability, the project represents a significant investment. Wilderness CEO and Zimbabwe native Keith Vincent joined us around the fire, and was brimming with optimism about his country’s potential. He described the new Victoria Falls Airport, 125 miles from Hwange and slated to open later this year, as “a game-changer for safari tourism in the region.” He seemed confident that, with the expected upswing in international flights, Zimbabwe would see a significant increase in precious foreign revenue. Vincent pointed out that Botswana, where

PHOTO CREDIT

High-end safari camps are opening, major infrastructure projects are in progress, and the animals these operations serve to protect will likely only continue to flourish. As a result, a country that has always been an extraordinary place to visit now offers a wildlife safari experience to rival any other on the continent. We drove back to our camp as dusk was falling and arrived in time to sit around the campfire, watch the sun set, and allow the events of the day to sink in. We were staying at Linkwasha Camp, a new US$2 million property in Hwange built by Wilderness Safaris. In a

100

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6


Rhodesian war in the 1970s, I witnessed little personal animosity between ordinary black and white people. And though, in recent years especially, Robert Mugabe has spewed antiWest, anti-white rhetoric (his campaign, in 2000, to seize white-owned commercial farms triggered the collapse of the industrial sector and brought the country to the brink of famine), among his beleaguered citizens there is very little evidence of race hatred. Some even say the mild, unaggressive nature many Zimbabwean people share may have been their undoing under Mugabe. As Simba Makoni,

The Matopo Hills, near Bulawayo, hold special significance for Zimbabweans.

PHOTO CREDIT

Wilderness built its first safari camps, “is pretty much full, and the troubled times are all but over in Zimbabwe. People have come to understand that it is not an unsafe destination.” His optimism is typical of Zimbabweans—always positive, making a plan, moving onward and upward. It surprises many Westerners to learn that not only is Zimbabwe very safe, but that its people are utterly charming. I have always maintained they are the nicest in Africa, but then I am somewhat biased: I grew up here. Strange as it may sound, even during the dark days of the

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6

101


106 102

TT RR AAVV EE LL ++ LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66

Lewis Mangaba, now leads guests at Linkwasha—a significant coup for the camp, as he is regarded as one of the country’s finest. Like so many people working in the bush, Lewis sees maintaining Zimbabwe’s wildlife as a key to the country’s future. “Tourism and the industry we are working in are an essential part of sustaining healthy wildlife populations,” he says, “and Hwange is at the centre of it.” HWANGE WAS JUST THE FIRST STOP ON A MONTHLONG trek through Zimbabwe that took me next to the Zambezi Valley, then to the country’s capital, Harare, on to its second city, Bulawayo, where I grew up, then finally to Victoria Falls, the epicenter of Zimbabwean tourism. It was a journey through the past and the present, from early colonial history and the days when Cecil Rhodes and his fellow British settlers created Rhodesia, through the last days of the colony—the backdrop of my own boyhood in the late 1960s and 70s—and finally to the economic poverty and political uncertainty of modern-day Zimbabwe. After three days in southeastern Hwange, I boarded a two-hour flight to Ruckomechi Camp on the Zambezi River. Ruckomechi is one of my favourite places in Zimbabwe, partly because the 10-tent property has retained a rustic feel, but mainly because of its sublime location in the Mana Pools National Park, on the southern bank of the Zambezi. Shaded by acacia and mahogany trees, Ruckomechi has an uninterrupted view of the mighty river and the Zambian escarpment beyond it. The only sounds are provided by hippos grunting in the shallow waters and the occasional rustle of an elephant passing through the camp. Guests, on the other hand, are extremely cautious around the elephants here, for although most are unthreatening, the occasional young bull in musth (a periodic hormonal change) can go mad enough to menace a fragile Homo sapiens in its path. On my second morning at Ruckomechi I took a long walk with Nyenge Kazingizi, a brilliant guide with an impressive knowledge of plant biology, which he adds to by collecting reference books from the street vendors in Harare. We passed small trees known as fever berry. “These bushes are out of control,” he said. “They were the favorite for the black rhinos. But of course there are no black rhinos left in this part of the Zambezi Valley.” Kazingizi’s statement was a reminder of how poaching can not only drive signature species to extinction but also destabilise entire ecosystems. This area of the Zambezi Valley was once home to more than 2,000 black rhinos, but a wave of poaching in the 1980s wiped out the entire population in a matter of years. These cruel dramas are being played out across Africa,

C O U R T E S Y O F L I N K WA S H A C A M P

Camp pool and sun loungers, Linkwasha Camp, in Hwange National Park.

one of the country’s most charismatic politicians, said to me: “If we were South Africans, we’d have been burning tires, and if we were Nigerians we’d have been tearing each other to pieces. But we don’t do that, because we are peace-loving. Mugabe has abused this.” Out in Hwange’s pristine wilderness, the Sturm und Drang of African politics is a distant thunder. Instead, there are thriving populations of wild animals—which, on this continent of ever-shrinking habitats, is reason for cautious optimism. On this trip I witnessed massive herds of elephants and buffalo and a variety of antelope—sable, eland, kudu—whose proliferation has led to flourishing predator populations in parks across the country. Twenty years ago, the wildlife concessions surrounding Linkwasha Camp were home to just 16 lions; today, about 100 live in and around the concession. Other major predators—leopard, cheetah, and hyena—are also there in healthy numbers. There are an estimated 30,000 elephants in the park, and if you include the animals in contiguous parks in Botswana— Okavango, Linyanti, and Chobe—that adds up to more than 230,000 elephants in the region, easily Africa’s most significant pachyderm population. There are other positive signs for safari tourism in Zimbabwe. The wildlife guides who, during the worst years of the country’s economic collapse, left to ply their trade in nearby Tanzania and Kenya, have started coming home. It is widely acknowledged that this country’s guides are the best on the continent, not only because Zimbabweans are a charismatic people but also because the guide-training system here is the most rigorous and comprehensive by some distance. I was lucky on this trip: one of those returning guides,


and seeing these small imbalances of nature close-up brought home the far-reaching impact they can have. The rest of our walk, however, was sheer pleasure. Although you don’t see as many animals up close on foot as you do in a vehicle, walking connects you to the African landscape in the most profound way. We took a wide arc around an elephant breeding herd, for although they were browsing peacefully, female elephants with young calves can quickly become agitated. Kazingizi, with his .458 rifle at the ready, stalked ahead of me and, after hearing a sudden cacophony of alarm calls from baboons, blacksmith plovers, and go-away birds, decided we should walk closer to the river—clearly there were lions somewhere in the long grass. Right on cue, a long, throaty roar emanated from beyond the mopani trees. Kazingizi urged caution: there was a hunting concession not far away, so there was a chance the animal could have been injured. After an exhilarating morning in the bush, I returned to camp, had a late breakfast at a table overlooking the Zambezi, and took a final wander around Ruckomechi. As always, there were elephants everywhere, chewing on foliage, oblivious to the guests tiptoeing behind them. After a week in the Zimbabwe bush, experiences like this had truly recharged me, and restored my love affair with Africa. Now it was time to head to the airstrip and confront urban life. IN COMPLETE CONTRAST TO THE SERENITY AND TIMELESS order of life in the bush, Zimbabwe’s principal cities, Harare and Bulawayo, display all too vividly the alarming decline of the country’s fortunes under Mugabe. Roads are rutted and potholed; streetlights and traffic lights are frequently out of order. The pavements of the inner cities—in Harare, in particular—are crammed with vendors hawking fruit, clothing, mobile airtime…anything. There are police roadblocks everywhere, fining drivers all day long, often on preposterous pretexts. In Harare, at least, there was a veneer of affluence provided by the embassy crowd, the NGOs, and aid executives, all zooming around in their shiny 4 x 4s. But ever-present under this surface wealth was torpor and unemployment, a reflection of the fact that the country’s industrial and agricultural output continues to falter. The once thriving wheat fields outside Harare appeared to have turned to bushveld, and Bulawayo, formerly the country’s industrial engine room, looked decidedly down-at-the-heels. In Bulawayo I spent a couple of days with Paul Hubbard, a locally born polymath who is, to my mind, the best archaeological/historical/ sociopolitical guide in the country. Hubbard is passionate about Zimbabwe’s second city, which, more than a century ago, was at the

centre of Cecil Rhodes’s ambitions. Today, despite its shabby appearance, the place retains some of the charm of its colonial heyday, with its Victorian buildings and wide, bougainvillealined avenues. Hubbard is proud of the way historic buildings are maintained, despite the lack of investment by central government. “The budgets are minuscule,” he told me, “but the city council takes preservation seriously. We are all very passionate about the city’s heritage.” One crystal-clear autumn afternoon, Hubbard and I went out to the Matopo Hills. This uniquely beautiful place is sacred to the Ndebele people, a branch of South Africa’s Zulu tribe that fled the tyrannical reign of King Shaka in the 19th century and settled in Bulawayo some 20 years before the colonialists arrived. It is also of special importance to white settlers: their forefather, Cecil Rhodes, is buried here. Known as Matopos by the whites and Malindidzimu, or ‘Place of the Spirits,’ by the Ndebele, it has a dramatic sense of a history shared by black and white Africans. From one of the highest viewpoints, the place Rhodes called the View of the World, we took in the grassy plain, the outcrops of acacia and paperbark trees, the granite rocks piled one on top of another in impossible geometric formations. As a young boy growing up in Rhodesia more than a half- century ago, I used to come here and consider the future with all the enthusiasm and innocence of youth. Just as in my boyhood memories, the landscape was completely still, bathed in the golden light of evening. I looked down on a scene unchanged since modern man placed his heavy footprint on the planet, and remembered all that had come and gone. THE DETAILS GETTING THERE Most major airlines fly into Johannesburg, South Africa. From there, travellers can connect either to Harare or to Victoria Falls. VISAS & SECURITY Indian citizens can obtain a single-entry visa valid for 30 days for `6,868 as tourist visa fee and US$30 on arrival at the airport. The country is safe for visitors, particularly on safari, but it is advised travellers get yellow fever vaccination done. TOUR OPERATOR Expert Africa Guests on this nine-day safari stay at the Linkwasha Camp, Ruckomechi, and Victoria

Falls Safari Club. expert africa.com; from US$5,457 per person.

Park; wilderness-safaris. com; from US$572 per person.

HOTELS & CAMPS Amanzi Lodge A 16-room boutique hotel surrounded by gardens and waterfalls. Harare; amanzi.co.zw; doubles from US$300.

Wilderness Safaris Ruckomechi Camp Set beside the Zambezi River, this camp includes outdoor showers, a stargazing deck, and an infinity pool. Mana Pools National Park; wilderness-safaris.com; from US$702 per person.

Banff Lodge Eleven rooms in a historic building in Bulawayo. banfflodgehotel.com; doubles from US$132. Wilderness Safaris Linkwasha Camp An airy luxury camp with a pool and tents overlooking a water hole perfect for yearround game viewing. Hwange National

Victoria Falls Hotel An Edwardian structure that served as lodging for workers on the never-completed Cape-to-Cairo Railway is now one of the most luxurious stays in Zimbabwe. victoriafallshotel.com; doubles from US$395.

AVV EE LL + + LL EE II SS UU RR EE // FF EE BB RR UU AA RR YY 22 00 11 66 TT RR A

107 103


wish you were here...

Karan Takulia / Photographerr / UDAIPUR

At the entrance of Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, I stood for the duration of the setting sun. Watching the golden glow ease its way toward the hills and the silhouettes of boats quiver on the water far away, it was some subliminal illumination that seemed to reect on the lake. Somewhere in between those moments this image was shot. What a romantic beginning it was for a night in the city of lakes.

108 104

T R AV E L + L E I S U R E / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6


Travel leisure india & south asia – February 2016  
Travel leisure india & south asia – February 2016  
Advertisement