N ATG EOT R AV E L .C O M | F E B R UA RY/ M A R C H 2 0 1 7
Great Escapes 80 PLACES TO GO NOW
T H E H OT I S SU E
Hot Trends in
Hot Nights in
BARCELONA Hot Sauce in
BOLIVIA Hot Springs in
Find sun, sand, and sizzle at this amazing beach in the Seychelles
EDITOR’S NOTE BY GEORGE! A limestone cave frames the turquoise waters of Cala Luna beach in Orosei, Sardinia.
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Nat Geo Highlights INSTAGRAM SHOWCASE
The interactive “@NatGeo” exhibit at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C., features popular images from Nat Geo’s Instagram account. Visit now through April 30.
National Geographic’s 50 States, 5,000 Ideas book is a state-by-state guide to unique adventures around the country, including dinosaur trail hikes in Colorado, sea otter spotting in California, and swamp tours in Louisiana. Pick up a copy at shop .nationalgeographic.com.
ALL ABOARD IN PERU Join National Geographic Expeditions on a train ride trip to Machu Picchu, part of a new 13-day scenic journey in Peru that also takes visitors to the Amazon rain forest, the Sacred Valley of the Inca, and Cusco. Book a spot at natgeoexpeditions.com /explore; 888-966-8687.
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ravel can be a dangerous pursuit. You can torch your tongue on a chili pepper in Bolivia. You can sizzle your backside on a sunswept beach in the Seychelles. You can unleash your duende and incinerate the dance ﬂoor in Barcelona. You can burn rubber on a road trip to Colorado’s hot springs. We’re so ﬁred up over our ﬁrst ever HOT ISSUE, and the power of travel to ignite the imagination, that we oﬀered up two of our favorite contributors—venerable storyteller Don George and unﬂappable photographer Aaron Huey—to the scorching sands of Burning Man, a gathering in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. They braved the elements so that we would be able to peer into that festive conﬂagration and learn how curiosity drives our journeys just as compellingly as do the allures of the world’s greatest destinations. At National Geographic, we stand on the side of science, facts, and the planet. And we give back: 27 percent of our proﬁts help fund the National Geographic mission of exploration and discovery. Travel supports this work, because every traveler is a scientist, ﬁnding knowledge in faraway places; every explorer is a seeker, unlocking revelations about the world and ourselves; and every adventurer is an advocate for our planet, a realm of still unmapped spaces and cultural connections waiting to be made. That’s why we believe in traveling with passion and purpose. Our passions push us to blaze new trails; our purpose illuminates the paths we travel. —George W. Stone, Editor in Chief
SPECTACULAR is everyday in Dubai
DONâ€™T JUST VISIT, LIVE IT. From dune bashing to skydiving over The Palm Islands, every kind of adventure awaits you in Dubai. Book your flight today at emirates.com/us
WHERE’S YOUR FAVORITE HOT ESCAPE?
T R AV E L W I T H PA S S I O N A N D P U R P O S E
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Anywhere in the Caribbean. I particularly like Grace Bay Beach in Turks & Caicos, and Eagle Beach in Aruba. —A.A.
I enjoy camping on the bluffs and surfing at San Elijo State Beach in Cardif, California. —L.E.
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I love Death Valley. Winter is amazing, summer is crazy hot and beautiful. —A.M.
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Santorini in August—from the hot rocky beaches to the clearest water and the most beautiful sunset on the planet— it lives up to its postcard status. —K.C.
Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe: Animals flock to the Zambezi River to cool off in Zimbabwe’s hottest months. Go in July and August, when cloudless skies and cool night temps make for spectacular stargazing. —J.S.
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I spent part of my summer honeymoon in Essaouira, a seaside town in Morocco about two and half hours outside of frenzied—and steamy— Marrakech. —M.C.
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Watching the wildlife, especially the elephants, in the Serengeti. I could never see too many elephants. —S.G.
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Where’s your favorite hot escape? Tweet us at #NatGeo TravelChat
THE DESERT IS WILD Absolutely dangerous.
CONTENTS FEBRUARY/MARCH VOLUME 34, NUMBER 1
In This Issue
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THE HOT ISSUE Our features are on fire: Hot sauce in Bolivia, sundrenched beaches, Barcelona’s sultry side, and the desert bash at Burning Man. Hope you can handle the heat!
SNAPCHAT We’ve taken you to Australia, Peru, Jordan, and other neat places—follow us on Snapchat at NatGeoTravel to see where we head to next.
MINI GUIDE: TOKYO
In Japan’s capital, soak in sento bathhouses, stroll through sculpted gardens, and savor doughnuts shaped like penguins.
#NatGeoTravel is coming to you live! Watch our around-the-world adventures and interviews with explorers and photographers on our Facebook page.
A masked reveler in a devil costume makes an appearance at a carnival in La Paz, Bolivia. COVER: A BEACH ON LA DIGUE, SEYCHELLES, BY CORNELIA DOERR/HUBER/ SIME/ESTOCK PHOTO
Discover the sacred sites and secret stories of Vikings’ culture, from Norway to Newfoundland.
Ocean Reef is more than a club, it’s family; a family that holds tradition, privacy and belonging at its core. A place where kids are free to play and explore in a safe secure environment. A place to relax and truly unplug from the world. 7HETHER ITmS A DAY SEARCHING FOR SAILÜSH OR BIRDIE HUNTING ON THE GOLF COURSE LIFE has its own cadence at Ocean Reef Club. Interested in learning more about the simple pleasures of this unique club? There are only two ways to experience Ocean Reef Club – as a guest of a member or through the pages of Living magazine. Go to OceanReefClubMagazine.com to request your free copy.
FURTHER B E AC H CA M P I N G O C O LO R A D O ROA D T R I P O TO K YO O I N D O N E S I A O I R E L A N D O V I K I N G S O D E N M A R K O B U E N OS A I R E S
Yosemite at Your Own Risk PHOTOGRAPH BY COREY ARNOLD
Getting a front-row seat to the sunrise at Yosemite National Park may not be the safest endeavor, but it does make for a pretty stunning photograph. While shooting a story on the national parks for National Geographicâ€™s October 2016 issue, Corey Arnold captured Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Glacier Point, and one very daring visitor, all in a single image.
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EXPLORER’S GUIDE BEACH CAMPING
How to fall asleep to the sound of waves without shelling out By Alexandra E. Petri While studying fish-eating bats that are native to parts of Mexico’s coast, Edward Hurme, a Nat Geo Young Explorer, sets up camp along the sandy shores of a remote island in the Sea of Cortez, where he’s learned a thing or two about living with Mother Nature. Here he shares his top tips for camping in comfort on the beach.
1 Air it Out Make sure you have somewhere to relax during the day outside your tent. “Your tent gets warm in the sun without much ventilation,” says Hurme. He suggests setting up a tarp or any other breeze-friendly shade. And don’t forget to pack some comfortable chairs too.
Camp out on the shores of Isla del Carmen in Mexico.
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Track the Tides
Don’t Stake Any Risks
When choosing the right spot, Hurme says to make sure you’re camping beyond the reach of high tide. “See where debris and seaweed have washed up so that you can get an idea of how far the tide goes.” Then set up your tent above the high tide waterline.
Hurme suggests placing rocks on top of your tent stakes to give them extra weight. You can also tie a rock or log to the tent and bury it, which stops your temporary home from blowing away.
3 Clean Camping You can minimize sand buildup in your beach abode by taking of your shoes before entering. But sand can have its uses when you’re cleaning up. Rather than using soap that can pollute the water, scrub plates, pots, and cups with sand, which is a natural abrasive.
Camp Here Ready to sleep on the beach? Our favorite campsites include Assateague Island, Maryland; Big Sur, California; Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand; and Fraser Island, Australia.
Ocean Views for Less
Our Photo Contest Winning Image: Vendors cleaning marrons at Nishiki Market, Kyoto, Japan. @andrewzinger
Winning photo launches trip of endless discoveries
“What Japan-inspired photos are your best?” That’s the question National Geographic Travel and Japan National Tourism Organization asked, inviting the world to upload images on Instagram using the hashtag #DiscoverJapanContest to enter our photo contest this past August. We received more than 38,000 entries, and the image you see here earned an exclusive, seven-day journey to Kyoto and Tokyo filled with once-in-a-lifetime experiences customized for our winner and his wife. Follow their adventure discovering the heart of Japanese culture and cuisine, and let their trip inspire a journey of your own…
Lunch at Fire Ramen restaurant Menbakaichidai
Endless culinary delights KYOTO: The very definition of diverse and delicious. In this ancient former capital of Japan, our winner enjoyed a taste of the most luxurious delicacies, casual ramen noodles, and everything in between.
Hit the market at dawn The chef of luxury Hanayashiro restaurant took our winner and his wife along for an early morning shopping excursion at a local market catering to professional chefs. You can also enjoy a similar experience at lively Nishiki Market. Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen,” it bustles with more than 100 vendor stalls and specialty food shops.
Cook with an incredible chef Back at the restaurant, it was time to learn the chef’s secrets at a ryōtei cooking class where they created a quintessential Japanese haute cuisine kaiseki dinner together. Kyoto brims with opportunities for travelers to gain new culinary skills.
Kaiseki dinner delicacies
Geiko and maiko women of the arts entertain at dinner
Experience a gourmet evening of dining and entertainment To make the elegant meal even more special, classicallyaccomplished geiko and maiko women of the arts entertained diners with traditional dance, song, musical instruments, and games.
Brave fire-breathing ramen noodles A favorite lunch was found at the small, local Fire Ramen restaurant Menbakaichidai. Be prepared—burning oil poured over each serving produces a dramatic ﬂash of ﬁre, bringing out the aroma and ﬂavor of green onions— and gasps from diners.
Experiencing Zen meditation at Myoshinji temple
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Endless cultural treasures Learning about Noh, Japan’s iconic performing art
Witness centuries-old silk weaving For more than 1,200 years, Japanese craftsmen have used takabata looms to weave exquisite silk fabric known as Nishiki to adorn the finest Kimono. Our winner witnessed the precision, artistry, and patience required to master this authentic technique at the Koho Tatsumura Corp. Nishikiori Workshop. By meticulously weaving silk in layers, designs take on a three-dimensional efect; with the translucent prism shape of each thread allowing light to penetrate, reﬂect, and create a sparkling, ever changing texture.
Experience an ancient performance tradition Since the 14th century, Noh, Japan’s iconic performing art has combined masks, dance, music, drama, and poetry to
KYOTO famously treasures, keeps alive, and inspires the world with Japan’s cultural, artistic, and spiritual traditions. See what our winner found most intriguing and meaningful.
create a living art form depicting spirits of reﬁned ladies and ﬁerce warriors, gods and goddesses, ﬂowers, and demons. At Kyoto’s International Noh Institute, a Noh master guided our winner through a morning of artistic history, mask carving, and training, culminating in a live production celebrating the world’s oldest performance tradition.
Explore Zen and tea at tranquil temples Kyoto abounds with evocative temples and shrines. Our winner spent a serene morning exploring the ancient structures and quiet garden paths of the large Myoshinji temple complex. There, he experienced Zen meditation and the traditional ritual art of a tea ceremony.
Endless cosmopolitan energy
Struck by the contrast between Kyoto’s traditional charm and Tokyo’s non stop energy, our winner’s adventure continued through the vibrant capital’s blend of ultra-urban excitement and ancient heritage.
Rainbow Bridge over Tokyo Bay
Epitomizing this unique convergence of old and new, the Hoshinoya Tokyo—a luxury Japanese style inn—was our winner’s city home. Within its sleek design, he tried his hand at the centuries-old botanical art of bonsai—coaxing miniature trees to flourish for centuries. Next a refreshing visit to Meiji Jingu Shrine, an urban oasis of calm, classic architecture, and gardens encircled by 100,000 trees. Outside the haven, our winner browsed the Harajuku District’s hip shops and Omotesando’s designer boutiques. Then on to the world’s busiest intersection, Shibuya Crossing, where organized chaos descends as over 1,000 people cross from all directions in unparalleled urban ballet.
© Hoshino Resort
How to say goodbye to an unforgettable journey? An evening helicopter cruise over Tokyo’s glowing cityscape. We’ll be back. Visit us.jnto.go.jp/DiscoverJapan to learn more about this trip and find helpful information to plan your own Japan journey.
Bonsai class at Hoshinoya Tokyo
Photos © Japan National Tourism Organization
Each Bite Tells a Story In Japan, sushi is a conversation spoken without words. Each person is treated to a unique experience designed to delight the senses. Be it the firmness of the shari, or the cut of the neta, the sushi master leaves nothing to chance. Each moment reveals a new discovery with its own story waiting to be told. The language of sushi is unique. Shari (sha-ree), hand-shaped rice; and neta (ne-tah), the topping; are some of the special words only used in sushi restaurants.
ROAD TRIP COLORADO HOT SPRINGS ³
Days on the Road: 6
Best Scenic Overlook: Independence Pass
Best Of-the-Beaten-Path Hot Spring: Penny Hot Springs
Coloradans like to boast about having higher red blood cell counts than their sea level–dwelling counterparts. This is true: At an average elevation of almost 7,000 feet, the body is forced to do more with less oxygen. But there’s another secret behind that healthy, hardy Coloradan glow. Balneotherapy, or the use of natural hot springs to ease muscle aches and mental
stress, has been around since ancient times. Native Americans sought out Colorado’s soothing mineral vapors long before the silver miners showed up in the late 1800s. Now, a new hot springs route has connected the Centennial State’s most prized balmy bathing spots—and you can test the waters. —Alex Schechter
Refresh your spirits among the mountains in Conundrum Hot Springs, located near Crested Butte, Colorado.
ROAD TRIP COLORADO HOT SPRINGS
Dive Into History
Since 1888, the town of Glenwood Springs has held the title for the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool. For something more intimate, check out Iron Mountain’s 16 pocket-size pools. The hottest one (108°F) pairs perfectly with a can of Durango-brewed Modus Hoperandi from the on-site café. hotsprings pool.com, ironmountain hotsprings.com
Sitting between the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide is Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort, a cozy year-round retreat built on a 120ºF artesian well. To access the springs, you’ll have to climb down into a creek and wade around the shallow rocky pools until you find the right mix of scalding jets and cold water. mtprinceton.com
Continue your ascent through the Rockies with a mid-morning stop at Leadville, America’s highest incorporated city at 10,578 feet. On Harrison Avenue, the main drag, stroll past the grand facade of the historic Tabor Opera House, where Harry Houdini once performed, then settle in at a booth at the Golden Burro Cafe. Breakfast at this Old West saloon is no joke—try the “golden burro-ito,” a missile-size pouch of eggs and potatoes slathered with green chili sauce and melted cheese, or the chicken-fried steak and eggs, topped with housemade sausage gravy. taboroperahouse.net, www.goldenburro.com
Start in downtown Steamboat Springs, which has blossomed lately with a spate of craft cocktail bars and small-plate dining rooms (try The Laundry). Then head to Mad Creek Trail, a serene hiking loop outside of town, where you’ll pass sage-scented meadows and aspen groves before reaching Strawberry Park Hot Springs, an open-air spa and campsite. Once the sun goes down, the pools switch to clothing optional—so be ready to check your inhibitions at the door. strawberryhotsprings.com
Boulder balances the buzz of a modern metropolis with the tranquillity of a close connection to nature. Nowhere is that dual spirit more evident than at the Boulder Farmers Market, a weekly ritual where multiple generations of local farmers mix (from April to November) with artisan food trucks. You can fill up on samples, including Fortuna Chocolate’s dangerously addictive Mexican cacao bars and ganache trufles. Then head to Shine, a holistic brewery and bar that also specializes in herb-based, nonalcoholic “potions,” such as the black cherry- and basil-infused Three Laughing Monks. Not that you’ll need much of a health boost: After days spent soaking in hot springs, that native Coloradan shine will have rubbed of on you too. bcfm.org, shineboulder.com
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GUILLERMO TRAPIELLO (MAP). PREVIOUS PAGE: JACK BRAUER (POOL), TAMER KOSELI (ILLUSTRATION)
MiNi GUiDE TOKYO
If I had to die mid-meal anywhere, it would be Tokyo.
If ever a city refused to conform to a simple label, it’s Tokyo. Japan’s capital is rarely shy about reinventing itself—especially now as it prepares to host the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games and the 2019 Rugby World Cup—yet the city and the 13.6 million people who call it home still proudly uphold tradition. If you look at the city’s craft beer boom and recent thirst for artisanal
cofee—and, yes, the crowds stumbling around town like a wave of zombies, phones in hand, looking for Pokémon—it’s pretty obvious Tokyo loves the new. You see that almost everywhere: in architecture, technology, fashion, and even the nonstop turnover of innovative products. But then comes the old. Tokyo residents still descend on shrines en masse to welcome in the New Year. A large number of Tokyo’s major festivals—such as the annual Sanja Matsuri in May—have barely changed for generations. Traditional landscaped gardens and other pockets of calm
survive amid the urban sprawl. Thankfully, so do classic Japanese flavors. None of them are as enjoyable as what the Japanese call B-kyu gurume, or simple, low-cost comfort food: the smoky yakitori stalls and backstreet ramen joints that are delicious discoveries anytime of year. There’s no need to wait for the Olympics for an excuse to visit Tokyo. —Rob Goss
Tokyo’s packed cityscape even includes an Eifel Tower replica.
BOOK iT TOKYO
Balance out the bustling city with clean lines at the Claska hotel.
GO WITH NAT GEO
Get to know Japan’s spiritual side on National Geographic Expeditions’ “Japan Adventure: Tokyo to Sacred Kumano.” During this 11-day trip, travelers will wander through ancient temples, trek pilgrimage trails, and soak in steamy hot springs. natgeoexpeditions.com /explore; 888-966-8687
Where to Sleep in Tokyo By Rob Goss O TRENDY O NEW O CLASSIC
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hipster’s hangout, the CLASKA (O) is a combination boutique hotel, art gallery, café-restaurant, and interior design store. With 20 rooms fashioned by local architects, the hotel is a sleek mix of minimalist Japanese and Scandinavian design and is located on the backstreets of the trendy Meguro Ward, a quick taxi ride away from Nakameguro and other fashionable neighborhoods. With its tatami-matted interiors, refined sense of omotenashi (hospitality), and French twist on kaiseki dining, HOSHINOYA (O) became the first luxury ryokan (Japanese inn) in central Tokyo when it opened in the summer of 2016. It follows in the footsteps of extensive Hoshinoya resorts blended into natural surrounds in places like Karuizawa and Kyoto, but this time packaging itself in a 17-story tower within a short walk of the Imperial Palace and Tokyo Station. Whether plush like Hoshinoya or more modest (and more typical) like the tatami-mat rooms of the SAWANOYA (O), ryokans in any form are rare on the ground in modern-day Tokyo. It’s even more unusual to find one with friendly English-speaking owners like the Sawa family and with a location smack in the middle of Yanesen—one of Tokyo’s least modernized areas—close to the Nezu Shrine in one direction and the historic Yanaka Cemetery and Ueno Park in the other.
FOR THE HISTORY BUFFS With an itinerary that mixes samurai culture, a tea ceremony, imperial castle sightseeing, and sushi-making, National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures’ “Iconic Japan” manages to cram some of the country’s top hits into a 12-day trip from Tokyo to Kyoto. natgeojourneys.com /explore; 800-281-2354
CLASKA (ROOM), TAMER KOSELI (ILLUSTRATIONS). PREVIOUS PAGE: MASAYUKI YAMASHITA (CITY), TAMER KOSELI (ILLUSTRATION)
FOR THE SHRINE SEEKERS
SEE iT TOKYO
Four Ways to Do Tokyo Like a Local In Japan’s capital, take a dip in a sento or sip tea in a traditional garden
NOBLEIMAGES/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO (GARDEN), TAMER KOSELI (ILLUSTRATION)
By Rob Goss
Sento bathhouses were once the center of local communities in Tokyo. While some neighborhoods are still punctuated by the occasional towering sento chimney, most are gone. Springing up instead are “supersentos” like the Odaiba area’s Oedo Onsen Monogatari, a collection of indoor and outdoor baths set in an Edo era–themed amusement facility that also includes spas and restaurants. Don a yukata (a light kimono) and soak it all in.
Whether it’s 7-Eleven, Ministop, or FamilyMart, Tokyo residents would be lost without their ubiquitous konbini chains. Open 24/7, they sell almost everything, from low-cost bento and onigiri (rice balls) to snacks and drinks like green tea Kit Kats and lemon and mint Pepsi. Aside from edible oferings, you can send mail, pay bills, and buy concert tickets. Some stores even stock dress shirts in case you spill their instant ramen down your front.
Tokyo has a reputation for being carpeted in concrete, but it also houses a variety of green spaces, including major parks such as Shinjuku Gyoen and traditional gardens like Rikugien. The latter, created using waka poetry themes in the late 1600s, is a classic stroll garden with a large pond and pathways that lead visitors to a succession of carefully sculpted scenic points and time-honored teahouses, transporting you to an older Japan.
The famous Tsukiji Market—a regular fixture in guidebooks—is in the middle of a drawn-out relocation. But luckily the twice-monthly Oedo Antique Market, located at the Tokyo International Forum near the city center, is just as vibrant. With some 250 stalls dealing in everything from antique furnishings and ceramics to retro bric-a-brac such as kimonos, artwork, and even antique padlocks, it’s a great place for finding a unique souvenir.
Cherry blossoms in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
F E BRUA RY/MA RCH 2 0 1 7
EAT iT TOKYO
Giant macarons adorn the walls of the Kawaii Monster Cafe.
At FLORESTA the only thing sweeter than an iced doughnut is an iced doughnut shaped like a cat, frog, penguin, or panda. The treats are equally appealing on the inside too, with flavors such as matcha, caramel, and chocolate, and local, organic ingredients. POMPOMPURIN CAFÉ in the Harajuku neighborhood is an eatery based entirely around Hello Kitty’s canine friend Pompompurin. Almost every menu item, from the beef stroganoff to the marshmallow latte, is adorned with the pup’s image. But don’t assume the café’s just for kids: Plenty of patrons come child-free.
It’s OK to Play With Your Food
Comfort Food on the Cheap
COZY UP TO CURRY
MUNCH ON MONJAYAKI
READY FOR RAMEN
Moyan Curry in Nishishinjuku ofers customizable spice levels and a rich curry sauce that can be mixed with cheese, shrimp, and chicken for only around $10. Plus there’s a manga collection for diners to read over their meal.
Try monjayaki, fried batter with cabbage, at Kondo, Tsukishima’s oldest monjayaki restaurant. It has upwards of 60 options on the menu, including the $15 house special, a cheese, cod roe, and sticky rice cake combo.
When done right—and in Tokyo, it usually is—ramen is a blend of slightly springy wheat noodles in a meaty broth topped with slices of roast pork. Slurp it at the spot with a Michelin star—Tsuta, in the northern neighborhood of Sugamo.
For a true taste of Tokyo, sample the city’s B-kyu gurume, or B-grade gourmet bites By Rob Goss
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These Tokyo eateries serve Instagram-worthy snacks that are animated and delicious By Karen Yossman
KAWAII MONSTER CAFE (CAFÉ), TAMER KOSELI (ILLUSTRATION)
okyo’s insatiable appetite for all things kawaii (meaning “cute”) has transcended fashion and found its creative zenith in food, incorporating Japan’s predilection for cartoon culture and anthropomorphism. But be warned: Some items may be too cute to consume. KAWAII MONSTER CAFE , established in 2015 by Japanese artist Sebastian Masuda, has fast become known for its psychedelic decor and trippy cuisine, with rainbow spaghetti presented on paint palettes and cereal-topped ice cream served in cat bowls.
PLACES WE LOVE INDONESIA
School is in session in north Raja Ampat, where West Papuan fishermen skim the surface of waters teeming with silverside fish.
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As our fragile globe sprouts further cities and highways, it is easy to forget that more than two-thirds of the Earth’s surface consists of a vast underwater realm of mountains, valleys, and plateaus that harbor a universe of life. If out of sight means out of mind, then Nat Geo Explorer in Residence and veteran oceanographer Sylvia Earle is here to remind us: “We need to save marine species as if our life depends on it, because it does.” Perhaps nowhere
of sustainable tourism to save the seas. Since 2005, the resort has successfully protected 297,600 acres of vital marine habitat that was once the target of illegal fishing (think dynamiting reefs and harpooning manta rays). Scientists have now recorded a 250 percent rebound in the fish population thriving amid healthy coral lagoons, creating a brighter future for villagers turned marine stewards and the travelers whose dollars help protect this spectacular water world. — Costas Christ
Q Places We Love: National Geographic Traveler celebrates the United Nations 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. For more information on this global initiative, visit unwto.org.
Biodiversity and Bliss in Raja Ampat
else is this call to ocean action playing out with more passion than in the aquatic galaxy of Raja Ampat, a remote Indonesian archipelago of forested islands that appear to float like green planets in a region of abundant marine biodiversity known as the Coral Triangle. There are more kinds of fish and coral found here than there are bird species in the Amazon rain forest. Misool Eco Resort, a 17-bungalow adventure outpost constructed from recycled hardwood, is working to keep it that way. Built on a site formerly used by shark fin poachers, Misool demonstrates the power
GO WITH NAT GEO IRELAND
Ashford Castle overlooks Lough Corrib from 350 acres of woodland.
To explore this rugged part of Ireland, base yourself at a historic country estate. By Justin Kavanagh
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areful, that’s a fairy circle!” said Paula Stakelum, head pastry chef at Ashford Castle hotel, during an early morning forage for berries and wildflowers with executive chef Philippe Farineau. She was teasing, of course. It was just a ring of hedgehog mushrooms, not the magical entrapment Irish folktales warn against. But myth and mischief-making go hand in hand in Ireland, particularly here in the west of the country, where 13th-century Ashford Castle sits on 350 acres along the shores of Lough Corrib, on the border of counties Mayo and Galway. The castle, a National Geographic Unique Lodge, has hosted royalty (George V, Princess Grace) and aristocrats, and was also home and hunting grounds for the Guinness brewing family. Modern-day hotel guests can join in on a bit of the craic—the inspired Irish sense of fun—at local sporting and cultural events such as the Galway Races; the Ballinasloe October Fair, Europe’s oldest cattle and horse fair; and the Corofin Traditional Festival of Irish music, held February 27-March 5 this year. Later, guests can feast on fare such as Achill Island lamb or Galway oysters, prepared by chef Farineau, who hails from France. His creed, true to the castle’s Norman origins, is “French heart, Irish produce.”
LODGE ESSENTIALS With a recently completed $75 million renovation, the 83-room Ashford Castle combines elegant antique furnishings with contemporary amenities such as electronic shades. The estate features a ninehole golf course and an equestrian center ofering rides on draft horses and Connemara ponies. Guests can learn the ancient arts of falconry, archery, or fly-fishing from experts. Other facilities include cellars for wine tastings, a 32-seat cinema, and an award-winning spa. BOOK IT Call 888-701-5486 or visit natgeolodges.com/explore.
Into the Mythic West
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER
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ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHERS Award-winning photographer Nevada Wier explores the world on assignment for National Geographic and dozens of other publications. She specializes in documenting the remote corners of the globe and the cultures that inhabit them. Nevada’s numerous journeys have taken her to places throughout Southeast Asia, India, China, Africa, and South America, just to name a few. National Geographic photographer and former director of photography for National Geographic Traveler for 15 years, Dan Westergren was responsible for the magazine’s award-winning photographic vision. He is also an experienced teacher, having led workshops for National Geographic all over the world.
REGISTER NOW: nationalgeographic.com/ngtseminars
OBSESSIONS VIKINGS Return of the Raiders Sagas, swords, and surprises on the trail of all things Viking from Newfoundland to Norway By Judith Fein
always believed that the Vikings were a bunch of raiders and pillagers whose only redeeming quality was that they built sophisticated ships to carry out their murderous missions. But one day, at an exhibit in Los Angeles, I saw elegant jewelry by Viking goldsmiths, encountered writing on rune stones, and learned that Vikings practiced a form of democracy and that their women had personal and political power. That’s when my fascination with the eighth-to-11th-century culture began. I planned a trip to L’Anse aux Meadows, in Newfoundland, Canada; it’s the only authenticated Viking site in North America. There I saw my first longhouse, built with thick sod walls and a sod-covered roof. Inside, historical interpreters re-created quotidian Viking chores such as weaving, candlemaking, and cooking over an open
Flames consume a Viking ship at the Up Helly Aa festival in Shetland, Scotland.
DAVID GUTTENFELDER. OPPOSITE PAGE: ROBERT CLARK
ﬁre. But what made the deepest impression was learning that Vikings suﬀered from lung disease, caused by smoke from indoor fires. They were no longer “the Vikings” but, rather, humans who lived, loved, laughed, worked, and had lung issues. I wanted to know where the Vikings hailed from, and if there were any left, so I headed to Norway. And I developed a sort of traveler’s tunnel vision. All I wanted to see were places connected to the Vikings. On the small island of Vibrandsøy, I met a couple who were constructing a 115-foot-long Viking ship by using the exact building methods and materials the Norse did. Inspired by their passion for Viking vessels, I set oﬀ for the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, where I saw three beautiful ships that had carried Vikings and then carried their bodies. It made me long to encounter living, breathing Vikings. I went on Facebook and connected to Georg Olafr Reydarsson Hansen, the director of the annual Viking Market in Gudvangen. I jumped on a bus in Voss and rode to an encounter that transformed my fascination into an obsession. At the edge of a jord, Viking reenactors came together as blacksmiths, bards, cooks, rune-makers, and weavers to live the ancient lifestyle. My Facebook friend Georg, in a fur-trimmed hat, sailed up to the site on a Viking ship. He greeted a gaggle of buﬀ, bare-chested young men who were ﬂinging each other around in the Viking sport of glima wrestling. He introduced me to their coach, Lars Magnar Enoksen, who gleefully said to me that even eye gouging was permitted. I was relieved when Lars explained that gouging actually meant pressing on an opponent’s eyes—much more civilized. I was gobsmacked when Lars invited me to attend his evening sorcery class. Inside a wooden cabin I sat around a crackling ﬁre with Lars’s students, learning the ﬁne art of galdurs, or Viking incantations. Several hours later we were outside, swilling from a mead-ﬁlled horn, cajoling the powerful forces of nature with our alliterative galdur. Once back home, when I would give public talks, I ended them with an Old Norse galdur. And the nightstand next to my bed became a repository for Icelandic sagas, which are masterworks of medieval literature about—what else?—the Vikings. By night I read and by day I planned a trip to Iceland. It was at the National Museum of Iceland, in Reykjavík, that I saw my ﬁrst real Viking sword. A conﬁrmed paciﬁst, I was nonetheless mesmerized by a culture as sensitive as it was violent. At Viking World
Ribe Viking Center, in Denmark, re-creates a Viking manor farm circa A.D. 980.
More Events on the Viking Trail THE ICELANDIC SAGAS Who said Vikings didn’t have a sense of humor? Icelandic Sagas: The Greatest Hits is a 75-minute uproarious theatrical show (in English) in Reykjavík that surprisingly sums up the ancient tales really well. icelandicsagas.com UP HELLY AA Dating from the 1880s, this annual Viking-themed community event in Shetland, Scotland, takes place on the last Tuesday in January. The highlights are a torch-lit procession and the burning of a replica Viking galley. uphellyaa.org
GO WITH NAT GEO National Geographic Expeditions ofers “Iceland and Greenland: Viking Legends and Wild Fjords,” a 16-day small-ship cruise that includes stops in Reykjavík and Erik the Red’s homestead in Greenland. natgeoexpeditions.com /explore; 888-966-8687
I boarded a replica of a ninth-century ship and then planted myself in front of videos that explained the secrets of Viking shipbuilding and the navigational technology that allowed them to raid, conquer, and sail by dead reckoning. Then I raced to Thingvellir National Park, the epicenter of the Viking legal system, where the world’s oldest existing parliament ﬁrst assembled in A.D. 930. Everyone back then was invited to attend the annual event, where the laws of the land were proclaimed aloud by a lawspeaker, who stood at the still extant Law Rock. Alas, there was no system in place to enforce the Vikings’ subtle and brilliant legal decisions, so they literally took matters into their own hands and used their deadly swords. Murderers. Sorcerers. Storytellers. Farmers. Traders. Adventurers. Inventors. Artists. Lawyers. I am haunted by this complex culture that dominated a large chunk of the globe a thousand years ago. I recently learned that archaeologist and National Geographic Fellow Sarah Parcak has used satellite imagery to try to locate new Viking sites, which I long to see. Those fearless ancient mariners speak to the traveler and explorer in me, and they have become my mentors, guides, and inspiration as I set oﬀ once again in their wake. Follow New Mexico–based JUDITH FEIN’s Vikinginspired travels at GlobalAdventure.us. For more on Vikings, pick up the March 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine.
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WHERE IN THE WORLD ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS
Pair these larger-than-life objects with their states America loves to supersize, even when it comes to ordinary items. These massive monuments serve a purpose, though: They provide plenty of kitschy photo ops from coast to coast. Can you match the states with their sculptures? By Hannah Sheinberg
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q
California Colorado Georgia Illinois Maine Massachusetts Minnesota Missouri New Jersey New Mexico North Carolina Ohio Oklahoma Pennsylvania Tennessee Texas West Virginia
PHOTOS: 1. JUSTIN TSUCALAS 2. F11PHOTO/SHUTTERSTOCK 3. STEPHANIE SAVAGE 4. SREEJITH SD 5. RANDY DUCHAINE/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO 6. TOM FOX 7. FRANCK FOTOS/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO 8. LOOP IMAGES/UIG/ GETTY IMAGES 9. CHRISTIAN HEEB/AWL IMAGES LTD 10. JESSECA KEPPER 11. HOWARD GRILL/ISTOCKPHOTO/GETTY IMAGES 12. JOE DANIEL PRICE/GETTY IMAGES 13. ABELARDO M. BUCU, JR., M.D. 14. FRANCK FOTOS/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO 15. JACOB FU/LOCAL ADVENTURER 16. RICHARD ELLIS/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO 17. DANITA DELIMONT/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
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ANSWERS: 1.H 2.A 3.E 4.L 5.O 6.P 7.I 8.N 9.M 10.J 11.Q (We gave you that one!) 12.B 13.G 14.F 15.D 16.K 17.C
SMART CITIES AARHUS, DENMARK
Copenhagen gets all the attention, but Denmark’s lesser known city of Aarhus is giving Nordic travelers many reasons to go west. Situated about a hundred miles northwest of Copenhagen, Aarhus has been designated a 2017 European Capital of Culture, and both the city and the central Denmark region received the title of the 2017 European Region of Gastronomy. To see it now is to witness a city undergoing a transformation, as
A rainbow-colored glass walkway at the ARoS art museum
new food markets, light-rail links, futuristic libraries, refurbed hotels, and value-centric restaurants—an alternative to Copenhagen’s exorbitant prices— have reinvigorated this Danish city. But Aarhus’s makeover has been in the works for the past several years. In 2009 it announced plans to go carbon neutral by 2030, and it has stayed on track since. The city has evaluated 70-plus new technologies to determine which will have the biggest impact on carbon reduction. Most of all, it’s presenting a variety of ways to experience its charms, both new and old. —Adam H. Graham
FOOD FIT FOR VIKINGS AND VISITORS
ARCHITECTURAL AMUSEMENT PARK
Last August, Aarhus Street Food market opened in a former bus garage with around 20 vendors ofering options such as grilled cheese with trufled vesterhavsost (a Danish Gouda), bao buns stufed with beef and kimchi, and spicy Nigerian stews. Bryggeriet Sct. Clemens restaurant and brewery, located on the site of a Viking-age combmaker’s workshop, serves turbot with apple butter and fennel, dryaged steaks, and hoppy pilsners. Aarhus has three Michelin-starred spots, but eco-bistro Pondus was one of two to receive the Bib Gourmand, awarded to restaurants serving quality food at reasonable costs. Daily specials include goat cheese with lemon and walnut and silky cod soups.
Mounted atop a dock at the edge of the harbor, Dokk1 is a heptagonal library that opened in 2015. The mixed-use facility is the largest public library in Scandinavia and hosts cultural events ranging from 3-D printing demos to table tennis meet-ups. The wedge-shaped exterior of Moesgaard, an archaeology museum, protrudes from the ground like an excavated relic. Its galleries house the 2,000-year-old Grauballe Man, a famed bog body discovered in Denmark in 1952, and interpretive displays on the Vikings and the Bronze and Iron Ages. And in 2017, ARoS, Aarhus’s massive art museum, will receive an open dome extension designed by American artist James Turrell.
COASTAL VIEWS, MODERN COMFORTS
CULTURAL AND CREATIVE SOUVENIRS
Rest up on a quiet beach along a stretch of sandy Jutland coast at Marselis Hotel, a mid-century Aarhus respite that faces the calm Kattegat Sea. For those who’d rather be downtown, try the Hotel Oasia, near Rådhusparken (City Hall Park), where 65 design-forward rooms are fitted with custom furniture from Danish makers like Montana and Kjærholm. The newly revamped First Hotel Atlantic overlooks the city’s bustling harbor and the walled Aarhus River.
Den Gamle By is a living re-creation of an old town, playing up several of Denmark’s historical periods. The 1864 Merchant’s House still hawks timber and porcelain, while 1920s chain store Schous Sæbehus sells perfumes and washing flakes. For one-of designs of divider screens, tea cozies, and pillows, head to 1+1 Textil, which sells avant-garde Danish craftwork.
From top left: Moesgaard Museum, Hotel Royal, Salling Tower, and Restaurant Frederikshøj with its head chef and owner, Wassim Hallal.
70 mi 70 km
EDEN North Sea
FROM TOP LEFT: JULIAN BROAD (WOMAN, ELEVATOR), QUINTIN LAKE (TOWER), JULIAN BROAD (RESTAURANT, CHEF), NG MAPS. OPPOSITE PAGE: QUINTIN LAKE.
D E N M ARK
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OFF-SEASON STRATEGIST BUENOS AIRES AUGUST TO NOVEMBER: Buenos Aires is a one-stop wonderland that blends the faded grandeur of Old World capitals with the vibrant, exotic flair of South America. The end of the Southern Hemisphere’s winter is the ideal time to take a tango south of the Equator.
55 J F M A M J
Average high temperature
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Buenos Aires may be known for its famous steak houses, but true innovation takes place in puertas cerradas, or closed-door restaurants. Located in private homes or apartments, these makeshift supper clubs are like eating at a friend’s house. At Casa Coupage, based in an apartment building in the Palermo neighborhood, chef Facundo Maroñas de Bardeci changes the menu seasonally. In late winter you might find dishes such as trout gravlax and guacamole over a potato rösti, or white fish with pea-mint puree, bacon, fennel, and dill oil. Prices start at around AR$590 ($38) per person for a six-course tasting menu. casacoupage.com
Teatro Colón, the city’s landmark theater, has been considered one of the world’s best performingarts venues since 1908. After a massive renovation, it reopened in all its glory in 2010. The calendar usually features a full slate of performances, including opera, ballet, and concerts. However, the season runs from only mid-February through December, so the stage is dark during the typical tourist high season.
On cold winter nights, cozy up to a dance partner at a traditional Argentine milonga, or tango dance party. Every evening, La Viruta Tango Club, located in a community center in Palermo Soho, ofers tango classes that draw in tourists and locals alike. Your AR$120 ($8) admission will include a class, a show, and an invitation to the milonga afterward, so you can keep dancing through the early morning.
You can find nonstops to BA on American Airlines from Dallas and Miami, Delta from Atlanta, and United from Houston. However, you can also earn and redeem miles on partner airlines. Use Delta miles to fly Aerolíneas Argentinas from New York (JFK) or Miami; use American miles to fly LATAM from various U.S. cities via Santiago or Lima; or use United miles to fly Copa via Panama City or Avianca via Bogotá.
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BY E R IC RO SE N
LUIS ARGERICH/CC BY 2.0 (CITY), TAMER KOSELI (ILLUSTRATION)
Savor Argentina’s capital without as many crowds.
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BEST LIST 21 HOT NEW HOTELS ³
These spectacularly situated lodges, romantic resorts, revived historic hotels, and neighborhood hubs inspire us to travel right now
Geodesic tents at Asilia’s The Highlands, in Tanzania
A magnificent view from a new hotel window makes for one of the most memorable welcomes a destination can provide. We especially love the setting of these canvas domed tents at Asilia’s The Highlands, which perch on the forested slopes of a volcano in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater area. The sustainable lodge is a perfect base for game drives to spot elephants, bufalo, zebras, and leopards. Read on for 20 additional great new hotels.
NICOLAS SCHUYBROEK ARCHITECTS & MARC MERCKS INTERIORS/COURTESY OF GRUPO HABITA (CITY), OLIVIER LEROI/LE BARTHÉLEMY HOTEL & SPA (POOL), STACI MARENGO (GREAT ROOM); OPPOSITE PAGE: ASILIA (DOMED TENTS); TAMER KOSELI (ALL ILLUSTRATIONS)
PANORAMIC WINDOWS ONTO THE WORLD
HIDEAWAYS FOR ROMANCE
Shades of blue saturate the sea-to-sky views from Le Barthélemy Hotel, on St. Barths’ Grand Cul-deSac beach. At Amanemu, private terraces and onsen hot baths overlook forested islets and oyster rafts in Japan’s “Bay of Pearls.” One of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges, Seal River Heritage Lodge added a six-tent Tundra Camp for exclusive access to northern Manitoba’s Arctic terrain. Explora Valle Sagrado, in Peru, looks up—and around—to a ring of serrated Andean peaks. On the urban flip side, majestic Table Mountain fills the floor-to-ceiling windows at The Silo, in Cape Town, South Africa.
The barrel-vaulted, 16th-century chapel at Masseria Trapanà, in southern Italy, provides a cozy setting for making —or renewing—vows. Sandals Royal Caribbean, in Jamaica, introduces luxury South Pacific–style over-the-water villas—with outdoor showers and glass floors for viewing marine life—to the region. Casa Laguna Hotel & Spa, in California’s Laguna Beach, ofers colorful, intimate rooms at a 1920s former artist colony dotted with palm trees. On an island located in the Maldives’ Noonu Atoll, Soneva Jani features over-the-water villas with retractable roofs for stargazing. In Mexico, Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya fronts white sands ideal for beachcombing, with sleek rooms that look onto tropical gardens, a clear lagoon, or the Caribbean Sea.
Revived Royalty GRAND HOTELS WITH FRESH MAKEOVERS Timber Cove, a 1963 Frank Lloyd Wright–inspired lodge, features new redwood-decked suites overlooking California’s Sonoma coast. The Beekman transformed a 19th-century building into Lower Manhattan’s destination hotel, thanks partly to the soaring nine-story atrium lobby. The reopened Hotel Royal Savoy, in Lausanne, restored its art nouveau exterior and appended a state-of-the-art Swiss spa. The historic Pulitzer Hotel, in Amsterdam, added a courtyard sculpture garden, giant swings, and themed suites.
Stay cool (from top) at The Robey’s rooftop, in Chicago; Le Barthélemy’s pool, in St. Barths; and Timber Cove’s Great Room, in California.
REP ORTED BY EL AIN E GLU S AC
Good Neighbors WHERE TRAVELERS AND LOCALS HANG OUT The Tilden Hotel, in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, brings in local poets and artists for rotating residencies. Hotel Saint George shares an address—and a clever vibe—with the indie Marfa Book Company, in Texas. Local acts perform at the music club at the Ace Hotel New Orleans, a community magnet in the Warehouse District. The Williamsburg loans bikes for exploring Brooklyn, while Chicago’s The Robey opens doors to the arty Wicker Park neighborhood. FOUND:RE Phoenix, which doubles as a gallery for area artists, embodies the Arizona city’s downtown revival.
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SAO PAULO, 25 - 28 APRIL 2017 w w w.travelweeksaopaulo.com
HO HO HO HOT
Hot Sauce in Bolivia PAGE 40
Hot Beaches Around the World PAGE 53
Barcelona: Spainâ€™s Hot City PAGE 60
Hot Party at Burning Man PAGE 72
H OT SAU C E
BOLIVIA ON FIRE A HUNT FOR HEAT GOES DEEP INTO SOUTH AMERICA, TO A LAND OF SCORCHING PEPPERS AND PYROTECHNIC COLORS
BY DENVER NICKS PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRISTIAN RODRIGUEZ 40
Andean exuberance: Vivid hues jazz up murals in El Alto by Bolivian architect Freddy Mamani; A multicolored peck of picante peppers (left) .
n a small courtyard in the sprawling Andean city of Sucre, Bolivia, Claudia Vicente Ventura unloads a bowl of chopped red and green chilies onto a flat stone. Wearing a blue apron and with her black hair plaited into two long braids, she takes another stone, smooth and oblong, hunches over, and rocks that stone back and forth over the chilies to mush them into a paste. She does the same with a bowlful of tomatoes. Combining the two, she adds chopped onions, stirs in some water, and tastes her latest batch of Bolivian llajwa (YA-hua), the hot sauce that seems to power this landlocked nation in the heart of South America—and the object of my quest. “PHILOSOPHERS HAVE often looked for the defining feature of humans,” writes psychologist Paul Bloom in his book How Pleasure Works. “I’d stick with this: Man is the only animal that likes Tabasco sauce.” And what distinguishes Tabasco sauce? Capsaicin, the tasteless compound that makes hot sauce hot and is found solely in chilies. Most animals avoid chili peppers, but birds and some of us humans love the multicolored fruits.
Today chilies are integral to cuisines around the globe, but they were only introduced to the larger world in the 15th century by Christopher Columbus, following his collision with the Americas. Some scientists trace the plant’s evolutionary origins to a part of Bolivia between Sucre and Cochabamba, two cities that will form the backbone of my journey. With the recent publication of my book Hot Sauce Nation, about our national love affair with spicy food, I’m intent on a kind of pilgrimage through this birthplace of the chili pepper and to find hot sauce in its purest, most ancient form. I settle into my lodging in Sucre, the Hotel de Su Merced, an 18th-century Spanish-style residence. From the rooftop terrace I look out over the city’s bleach white buildings, assembled around the meticulously manicured Plaza 25 de Mayo, named for the day in 1809 when a protest helped launch Bolivia’s movement toward independence from Spain—an event announced with a peal of the bell at the white, arcaded Basílica de San Francisco de Charcas.
Among the world’s loftiest urban areas, La Paz (below) blankets the altiplano between the Andes and Lake Titicaca. Folk medicines—salves, animal parts, “magical” powders—fill a stall at the city’s Witches’ Market.
I WATCH HER make llajwa sauce on a flat stone, the batán, which she considers essential. “It tastes more rich, healthier, when you use the stone instead of a blender.” Bolivia’s first seat of government, Sucre remains the ceremonial capital and holds many attractions for history and culture buffs, from the silver and gold artifacts in the Treasure Museum to the National Ethnography and Folklore Museum and a Museum of Indigenous Art, featuring colorful, intricately woven textiles made by local indigenous communities. The city is the urban center for Quechua-speaking people living in surrounding rural areas. A day trip will bring you to the village of Tarabuco, where on Sundays people from even farther-flung places gather to sell and barter handmade crafts, produce—chili peppers, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes—tools, and coca. Sucre is known for its tranquillity, but on this weekend in early September the city is electric. A thumping outdoor rave will kick off at midnight on Friday, making for a restless night’s sleep. By late morning Saturday, marching bands and costumed
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dancers are high-stepping and twirling through the streets, only sometimes in unison. It’s all a dress rehearsal for next weekend’s celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the city’s patron saint. Away from the commotion in the city center, in the lowerincome Barrio San Antonio, whitewashed walls give way to red brick and exposed rebar. Claudia Vicente Ventura has set up her food stall in time for the sajra hora, the traditional Bolivian midmorning or midday snack. I’ve been guided to her by my taxi driver, Mayra Garrado, who, like Ventura, wears her waist-length black hair in the twin braids of a cholita, or Bolivian woman of indigenous descent. Along with many Bolivians, Garrado is bilingual in Spanish and an indigenous language. She explains that sajra is Quechua for “evil,” making sajra hora the “evil hour” between meals, when stomachs start growling and people turn hangry. For five bolivianos (75 cents),
From far left: A woman mashes locoto peppers on a batán stone as she makes Bolivia’s traditional llajwa sauce. A red locoto shows its seeds. Llajwa flavors a drink at inventive Gustu restaurant, in La Paz.
Ventura sells me a plate of potatoes, hominy, and grilled chicken gizzards, with all the llajwa I can stomach. It’s rough fare, the gizzards are tasty but gristly. The llajwa, however, is spicy and fresh, giving the food a serious bite and adding the bright flavors of raw vegetables. “We do not eat without llajwa,” Garrado tells me, a phrase I will hear repeated many times on my journey. “It’s like a vice. It’s something that hurts you, but you also like it. Like a drug. Some people take drugs and can’t stand to be without them. We here in Bolivia? We’re addicted to llajwa.” Ventura’s llajwa is the classic modern version, made with locotos, the most popular among the kaleidoscope of chilies that grow in Bolivia. The locoto is the only pepper for which scientists have not found a wild relative, which suggests a long relationship between humans and plant. (Some Bolivians say locotos get jealous; if you pick a pepper from a plant that is not yours, your locoto plant will die.) But I’m looking for the primogenitor hot sauce, and Ventura’s preparation, which includes onions—an Old World crop—isn’t it. So I make for Cochabamba, the “City of Eternal Spring,” considered by many Bolivia’s culinary capital. Birthplace of the famous Bolivian dish pique a lo macho—a heaping pile of beef,
french fries, eggs, and vegetables, accompanied by a few locoto slices—Cochabamba is the urban nexus for a highly productive agricultural region that supplies the city’s vast markets as well as other parts of Bolivia. Among its notable locals is award-winning chef Gaby Terán Clavijo, who works with a group that preserves Bolivia’s culinary traditions. She owns La Gaviota (The Seagull), a small restaurant recommended to me for authentically traditional Bolivian food, in a quiet neighborhood sheltered from Cochabamba’s pandemonium. I stop by one afternoon to learn about her version of llajwa and soon am snacking on fried guinea pig while Terán prepares different takes on the hot sauce. Like Ventura, she makes llajwa on a flat grinding stone—called the batán—which she considers essential. “It tastes more rich, healthier, when you use the stone instead of a blender,” Terán explains, noting the adoption of the electrical appliance by some. She’s right, I confirm later, when I buy a bag of blender-made llajwa. The act of crushing the ingredients rather than slicing them with a blender does a better job of bursting open the cells in which flavors live, releasing them into the sauce. And the small amount of heat produced by a blender can ever so subtly degrade fragile flavors in raw
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On the march, a uniformed band from the Ignacio León Primary School drums up civic pride for the 206th anniversary of Cochabamba, Bolivia’s temperate “City of Eternal Spring.”
IN THE DISTINCTLY untouristy market, vendors sell essentials: spices, cooking oil, dried chilies, and freshly harvested green and red locoto peppers. vegetables. Without the batán, an implement central to Bolivian identity, llajwa wouldn’t be what it is. Each batán is passed down through generations. Terán’s belonged to the grandmother of her mother-in-law. I watch Terán prepare, first, uchu llajwa, a blend of locotos, tomatoes, uchu—another variety of chili, typically burned black over a flame—and quirquiña, a pungent native herb sometimes called Bolivian cilantro. Next she gins up an austere llajwa verde, using only green locotos and salt. Finally she takes pleasure in feeding me a helping of exceedingly spicy llajwa normal, a mix of green locotos for flavor, red ones for heat, tomatoes, and quirquiña. These are pre-Columbian forms of llajwa; they make clear that the soul of this sauce is the elemental freshness of the raw chilies. It’s the raw chili in its element, rooted in the soil, that will
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define the final part of my quest, as I drive into the mountains to pick a locoto right off the farm. I happen upon market day in Colomi, a tiny town in the highlands an hour east of Cochabamba, frequented by locoto farmers from isolated hamlets in the surrounding mountains. The main square bustles as people shop, trade, and catch up with friends. Children run in packs, sweets in hand, laughing as they weave through the throng. In the distinctly untouristy market, vendors sell essentials: spices, cooking oil, llama fetuses (Bolivians often bury a llama fetus in the foundation of new construction projects to ensure success), tools, dried chilies, and freshly harvested green and red locotos. I try to strike up a conversation in Spanish with an old Quechua woman before realizing she can’t understand a word I say. An onlooker translates my apology into Quechua.
It’s nearing noon and I still have a long drive ahead, so I go to Colomi’s city hall for a rendezvous with my guide and interpreter for the day, Señor Peredo. When I enter his oﬃce, he stands up from his desk, smiles cheekily, and exclaims, “Gringito!” I smile, and we head to my four-wheel-drive pickup, which will take us into Bolivia’s backcountry. Traveling north from Colomi, we pass Lake Corani, a mountainringed reservoir with nascent ecotourism, including a couple of restaurants and some cabins to rent. The landscape is arid and ocher, the yellow grass dotted with green conifers, until we turn onto an old cobblestone switchback carved into the hillside, and plunge into the lush valley of Corani Pampa. Vegetation clinging to the hillsides becomes denser as the elevation drops and the road turns to dirt, winding raggedly into mountains that extend to the clouds on the horizon. We cruise by terraces of potato plants—a telltale sign that we’re in pepper country, since farmers rotate the two crops. Then, driving past an impossibly steep incline, I spot shrubs of locotos. We stop, and I
Dried chili peppers grown around Cochabamba—Bolivia is considered the birthplace of wild chilies—crowd produce bags. At Sucre’s Central Market (left), peppers vie with potatoes, carrots, and other produce.
leap out of the car, ecstatic. Peredo laughs as I scramble excitedly up the hill, phone in hand to record my eureka moment, though in my excitement I forget to turn on the camera. I plunk myself down among the plants and pick a novelty: a yellow locoto. I’ve seen only red and green locoto peppers to this point. I chomp through the thick fruit. It burns. But I’ve come a long way, so I relish the burn. I also taste water and earth in this fruit picked fresh oﬀ the land. Locotos impart a heat that lingers longer than that of most chilies. As the burn builds in my mouth, I look out on the mounhe moment. If freshness and raw, living ﬂavors llajwa, then I’ve reached the source. or all of Bolivia’s agricultural bounty, the country’s cuisine has suﬀered the same fate as those in other lands with the rise of fast food. Bolivians are in the enviable position of claiming one of fast food’s most popular ingredients—the potato originated in the Andes—as a traditional dish, but these days a lot of mayonnaise and sausage also is involved. The country was ripe for a culinary movement, and
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Its mix of Spanish colonial touches and indigenous details makes Mi Pueblo Samary Hotel a fitting retreat in Sucreâ€™s center.
BOLIVIA Lake Titicaca
P E R U
La Paz Corani Pampa Lake Corani Colomi
21,463 ft 6,542 m
Salar de Uyuni
B O L I V I A
TOROTORO NATIONAL PARK
I L E C H
@DenverNicks) is the author of the 2016 book Hot Sauce Nation: America’s Burning Obsession. This is the first Traveler assignment for Uruguayan photographer CHRISTIAN RODRIGUEZ ( @christian_ foto). Find more of his work on National Geographic’s Instagram page, @natgeo.
100 mi 100 km
CAST A SPELL
Witches’ Market TASTING TOUR
Sucre to Cochabamba to La Paz Hankering for traditional Bolivian dishes? In Sucre, head to El Pica Picante for its mondongo—spicy pork soup—and pollo picante (spicy chicken); in Cochabamba, find Restaurante Miraflores, where owner Honorato Quiñones Andia and his wife created the plateful of beef, vegetables, and potatoes called pique a lo macho; in La Paz, check out El Pueblito, which serves quinoa soup and Lake Titicaca trout in themed rooms. PEPPERS TO PONCHOS
La Cancha Market You’ll feel the deep roots of Bolivia’s indigenous cultures at Cochabamba’s La Cancha, an open-air street market that draws vendors from across the region to sell everything from peppers to traditional wares. CHECK IN
DENVER NICKS (
in recent years one has taken hold, centered in the capital of La Paz and spearheaded by locals partnered with, implausibly, a few enterprising Danes. Among them is Danish chef Kamilla Seidler, who, invited by fellow Dane and star chef Claus Meyer, moved to La Paz in 2012 to open the restaurant Gustu. (Meyer’s award-winning Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, is the standard-bearer for the New Nordic Food Manifesto.) Set in an upscale neighborhood on La Paz’s south side, Gustu is kind of a restaurant-meets-NGO, giving aspiring low-income Bolivians the opportunity to attend culinary school, study English and ﬁne-dining etiquette, and work in the restaurant business. To develop Gustu’s menu, Seidler traveled all over Bolivia, collecting knowledge about local ingredients with a mission to respect tradition but innovate. Gustu’s revolution is small yet growing; a few other places also committed to slowfood principles have recently appeared in La Paz. “There are so many ladies cooking very good Bolivian food that I don’t want to step on their territory,” Seidler tells me over coﬀee at Gustu. One of Gustu’s challenges as a sophisticated restaurant catering to an upscale Bolivian and international clientele has been what to do about llajwa. “We came here and everything was llajwa, llajwa, llajwa,” Seidler says. She didn’t want to use llajwa in every dish, but banishing it was, of course, unthinkable. “I love llajwa when I eat at a typical restaurant here,” she says. “We wanted to do llajwa, but we wanted to do something diﬀerent with it without oﬀending anybody.” One result? A cocktail. Gustu chefs prepare llajwa the traditional way, on a batán, freeze it, distill it, then mix it with the local singani brandy for a spicy drink garnished with a cherry tomato. “Some people ask, ‘What is this?’” she admits. “Then they sip it and say, ‘It tastes like llajwa!’” Gustu may be pushing llajwa’s boundaries with this cocktail, but the restaurant will serve the pepper sauce when Seidler feels a dish calls for it. “I love spicy food,” she says. “I think it’s like a drug a little bit. You get happy.” After all the spicy food I’ve consumed here, ignited by locotos used raw and in a range of llajwa preparations, I certainly feel happy. The superfresh ﬂavors of a llajwa made on the spot sets it apart from bottled or cooked versions. The sauce’s vegetables, herbs, and cool plant juices play with the burn of the capsaicin and the heat of a cooked dish to create dynamic ﬂavors and textures. But perhaps best of all, I’ve learned that humanity’s most ancient hot sauce tradition, whether at street-food stalls or in gourmet restaurants, is still ﬁercely alive.
Hotel Aranjuez Luxuriant gardens and tiled patios make Hotel Aranjuez, an old hacienda converted into a boutique hotel, an oasis in the bustle of Cochabamba.
Bolivia is known for its alpaca knitwear, woven textiles, silver jewelry, and Andean ceramics. Keen on a “magical” souvenir? How about an amulet from the Mercado de las Brujas, or Witches’ Market, in La Paz? It’s said to help with love, health, and more—and may just aid you in winning over someone’s afection. PEDAL … LIKE CRAZY
Yungas Road Bolivia’s “death road”—the snaking, clif-hugging Yungas Road, which runs from La Paz to Coroico—is scary enough in a bus, but tackle it on a mountain bike and your heart will start really pumping. Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking, based in La Paz, ofers seasoned guides for this harrowing ride. WILD THINGS
Torotoro National Park A mash-up of landscapes— hanging valleys, precipitous canyons, deep caverns, hidden waterfalls—this park between Cochabamba and Sucre is an oficial national treasure. Other highlights include pre-Inca ruins, ancient cave paintings, rare fossils, and dinosaur footprints.
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H OT B E AC H E S
SUN SAND SIZZLE Finding perfection where land meets water Ask true beach lovers to name a favorite swath of surf and sand, and the answer changes with the tides. Luckily our planet is covered in oceans, seas, and lakes, which means there’s a beach to indulge any whim. From pearly crescents covered in shells to turquoise bays teeming with Skittles-colored fish, they’re not all created equal. Here are some of the best. By Kimberley Lovato
With distinctive water-worn boulders towering over white sands, Anse Source d’Argent helps make the Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean, a beach lover’s dream destination.
Soulful Solitudes Where tuning out, and tuning in, are a part of the journey and destination. AITUTAKI, COOK ISLANDS
One Foot Island The marooned vibe is so palpable here it lured hit show Survivor to this 15-island atoll. Tapuaetai, “one footprint” in the local Maori dialect, is a short hop across the translucent lagoon, with a coconut palm-fringed shoreline you can trace in 15 minutes, but don’t rush, and don’t forget a footprint-shaped passport stamp from the hut turned post ofice. BRUNSWICK ISLANDS, NORTH CAROLINA
Sunset Beach At the west end of this remote beach, a mile from the access point, a solitary mailbox stands, planted by local Frank Nesmith in the ’70s, and continually replenished with notebooks inviting visitors to jot thoughts, dreams, wishes, and whatever else moves the spirit. KOH RONG ISLAND, CAMBODIA
Lazy Beach If thatched roof huts, crystalline waters, and silky sand beaches aren’t reason enough to hop aboard a wooden boat in Sihanoukville and join the 2.5-hour jaunt into the Gulf of Thailand, then take this beach’s name to heart and come to meander the jungle, nap in porch swings, and let life slow to a crawl.
Calling Robinson Crusoe: Snorkelers explore of tiny One Foot Island in the South Pacific.
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Visitor access to Mexicoâ€™s Playa del Amor, a hidden beach crowned by a ring of rock, is limited due to conservation issues.
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Geologic Wonders Where rocks, sand, and water combine to amaze. MARIETAS ISLANDS, MEXICO
Playa del Amor A swim through an opening nearly invisible from the sea reveals what locals call the “hidden beach,” encircled by an impressive rock ring forming a natural oculus for the sun and sky. Only six visitors at a time can visit “Love Beach” via approved tour operators such as Punta Mita Adventures. RIBADEO, SPAIN
Cathedrals Beach For a church visit like no other, head to Ribadeo, on Spain’s northwest Galician coast, where wave-carved, 100-foot rock arches resembling flying buttresses of Gothic cathedrals line the sand. Walk among them at low tide, but beware, when the Bay of Biscay rises, the beach quickly succumbs to the surf. LA DIGUE, SEYCHELLES
Anse Source d’Argent With sun-dappled giant boulders, calm turquoise waters, snow white sand, and palm trees and jungle for greenery, this Indian Ocean beach seems created by a Hollywood set designer. It’s no wonder that it is often ranked as the most photographed beach in the world.
SHORE BETS FOR EVERY BEACH LOVER
Shell Seekers These shores cast a shell spell over any collector.
beaches, including this wide ribbon of hard-packed sand that has the added eye candy of Haystack Rock looming ofshore. An annual dog show unfurls in front of the Surfsand Resort each October. CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA, CALIFORNIA
Carmel City Beach SANIBEL ISLAND, FLORIDA
THIS PAGE: STEFFEN MAMMEN (DUNES), NATURE PICTURE LIBRARY/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO (SHELLS), RODRIGUEZ Y MOYANO (ARCHES), ANDRZEJ EJMONT/WANDERLUST STORYTELLERS (HAMMOCKS), SARAH DENNIS (ALL ILLUSTRATIONS); PREVIOUS PAGES: LAUREN LINDSEY HILL AND MING NOMCHONG (BOULDERS), TRAVELSTOCK44/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO (SNORKELERS), MIGUEL NARANJO (PLAYA DEL AMOR)
Bowman’s Beach Shell hunters hunch in a stance dubbed the “Sanibel stoop” in search of conchs, coquinas, sand dollars, and dozens of other varieties that hitch a ride on Gulf of Mexico currents. Stock up on hats, buckets, and sunscreen at Bailey’s General Store, an island favorite. SHARK BAY, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Shell Beach On the edge of the continent, and part of the Shark Bay UNESCO World Heritage site, countless white cockleshells, up to 30 feet deep in some parts, spread for miles. Take nothing but pictures. Stop at Old Pearler Restaurant, built entirely of shells from this beach. ENGLAND
“It’s hard to say who gets more pleasure on Carmel’s beach: the pooches that can romp of leash, or their ‘pawrents,’ who can gawk at world-famous Pebble Beach to the north and Point Lobos to the south,” says Kelly E. Carter, author of National Geographic’s The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel.
Canine Companions Who let the dogs out? You will at these three paw-friendly beaches.
Tinted Toes Go beyond white sands and sink your feet into some real local color. ZAMBOANGA, THE PHILIPPINES
Pink Beach, Great Santa Cruz Island Hardly lacking in gorgeous beaches, the Philippines claims a pink-sand variety, too. The blush color comes from billions of pieces of crushed red organ-pipe coral, seen in every handful of sand. The number of visitors to the island is regulated, and advance arrangements should be made through the tourist ofice in Zamboanga.
Cannon Beach Rover is welcome on most of Oregon’s 400 miles of public
On sunny days on Iceland’s south coast, Reynisfjara Beach’s ink black sand and basalt sea stacks are absolutely stunning. But don’t be lulled: “Powerful waves are known to knock people of their feet,” says Katie Hammel, who has worked at Iceland-based TripCreator.
Shape-shifting sands mean a new scene every day.
Past the tulip fields in south Holland, between Amsterdam and The Hague, the seaside town of Noordwijk has a separate dog beach for wild gambols by the North Sea. There are walking routes for human-canine bonding, and pooch-friendly restaurants and lodgings, including Take2 Beach & Bungalows, near the entrance to the dog beach.
Papakōlea Beach This small cove gets its verdant
gear. Slip straight into the shallow crystalline bay alive with sea fans and coral, tropical fish, sponges, sea turtles, and more.
Lyme Regis Budding paleontologists and casual shellers love the spiral-shaped ammonites and fossil remains of 180-million-year-old sea creatures found embedded in the rock and sand of England’s Jurassic Coast. The Lyme Regis Museum leads guided fossil walks, and May’s annual fossil festival fetes earth sciences with plays, music, and hands-on exhibits.
good looks from tiny crystals called olivine, found in the rocks of the surrounding 49,000-year-old Puu Mahana cinder cone. Getting there requires a strenuous two-mile trek, but isn’t it worth it to leave footprints on one of the world’s few green-sand beaches?
Snorkelers No boat necessary. Swim from the beach into your very own aquarium.
SLEEPING BEAR DUNES, MICHIGAN
Sleeping Bear Point Pure freshwater and 450-foot blufs mean eyes-open swimming and vast views over Lake Michigan. Walk from the former Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station, now a maritime museum, or along the Sleeping Bear Point Trail over low-lying dunes to the beach. In the distance look for North and South Manitou Islands, prime spots for hiking and camping. ARBUS, SARDINIA
SOUTH WATER CAYE, BELIZE
Pelican Beach “It’s the only place in Belize where you can swim safely to the reef within minutes and explore the South Water Caye Marine Reserve, full of colorful coral, angelfish, blue tang, sea turtles, all in less than 20 feet of water,” says guidebook author Lebawit Lily Girma. MAURITIUS
Blue Bay Enter the Indian Ocean at the west end of the public beach and find yourself amid the parrotfish and other flashy underwater life thriving in the 872-acre Blue Bay Marine Park. The Shandrani Beachcomber Resort and Spa and the Blue Lagoon Beach Hotel also have swimmable access. CURAÇAO
Cas Abao Beach Ringed by reefs, Curaçao hides a Caribbean underwater wonderland, and this beach is one of the few sandy ones on the arid island, with a bar and a shop to rent snorkel
Piscinas Beach Sculpted by the mistral wind and embellished with juniper bushes and olive trees, the Piscinas Dunes paint a mercurial backdrop on Sardinia’s southwestern Costa Verde (Green Coast). A former mining warehouse, Hotel Le Dune Piscinas sits at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, with ample windows and lounge spots for admiring the ever changing canvas of sky, sand, and waves. LA TESTE-DE-BUCH, FRANCE
Corniche Beach At 357 feet high, 1,640 feet wide, and 8,800 feet long, the pine forest–hugged Dune of Pilat is the highest in Europe and tumbles to Corniche Beach on the Atlantic Ocean. Climbing is okay, but go for views the birds brag about and hitch a 10-minute paraglide ride with Pyla Parapente over the geomorphic monument.
San Francisco–based KIMBERLEY @kimberleylovato) has LOVATO ( never met a beach she didn’t love.
Life’s a beach (clockwise from top left): Grass-covered dunes slope to Lake Michigan at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park; small white shells cover the shores of Shark Bay, in Western Australia; rock arches vault over Spain’s Cathedrals Beach; hammocks help guests chill on Cambodia’s Koh Rong Island.
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The spires of Gaudí’s Sagrada Família church rise from an aerial mosaic of Barcelona.
GETAWAY GAME A loco sprint to Spain’s Catalan capital for 72 hours of tapas, rumba, and Gaudí dazzle BY MICKEY RAPKIN PHOTOGRAPHS BY DINA LITOVSKY
H OT C IT Y
DAY O N E
EL GUINARDÓ EL CAMP DE L'ARPA DEL CLOT
EL BAIX GUINARDÓ
EL PUTGET I FARRÓ
EL CAMP D'EN GRASSOT I GRÀCIA NOVA
VILA DE GRÀCIA
SANT GERVASI GALVANY
LA NOVA ESQUERRA DE L'EIXAMPLE
B A R C E L O N A Palau de la Música Catalana
Arc de Triomf
LA VILA OLÍMPICA DEL POBLENOU
SANT PERE, SANTA CATERINA
Classic Sail Barcelona
Museu I LA RIBERA Picasso Satan’s El Born Cal Pep Paradiso Coffee Corner Basílica de Santa Mercat de la Maria del Mar Boqueria EL GÒTIC
Me d i t e rra ne a n Se a
EL FORT PIENC
CARRER DE FERLANDINA
EL PARC I LA LLACUNA DEL POBLENOU
L ONA DIAG
Nømad Coffee Lab & Shop
L'ANTIGA ESQUERRA DE L'EIXAMPLE
La Sagrada Familia
LA DRETA DE L'EIXAMPLE
LA SAGRADA FAMÍLIA
Casa Milà (La Pedrera)
EUROPE ATLANTIC OCEAN
Tickets AVINGUDA DEL PARAL·LEL
Quimet y Quimet
LA FONT DE LA GUATLLA
PARC DE MONTJUÏC
EL POBLE SEC Barcelona Madrid
SPAIN 300 mi
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God Complex Look north, and you spot the spires of Antoni Gaudí’s incomparable Sagrada Família, that rare tourist trap that exceeds the hype. A grand unfinished symphony of a building, the basilica has an exterior that looks like something out of a Tim Burton movie, with its trippy gargoyles peering down from skyhigh towers. Construction began in 1882, but the central tower remains incomplete. Like much in Spain, the pace is chill. A poster marks the progress. “Working toward 2026.” Place your bets! Or don’t. The church is heart-stoppingly beautiful as is, with acres of stained glass and a vast space supported by Gaudí’s parabolic arches. Then there is the difuse lighting—the ideal condition to, yes, take a selfie. Go on. Call it God’s filter. (Tip: If you buy tickets online, you pick your entrance time.)
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To Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey and Sant Jeroni
9:43 am Fresh from the airport, I head to El Raval, a once rough neighborhood undergoing a cultural renaissance, and to Nomad, the best of Barcelona’s new small-batch coffee shops. El Raval is strewn with politically charged street art; secession is on the brain here in Catalonia’s capital. I make like a local and power up with a cafe amb llet, Catalan for café con leche. Cómo se dice Brexit?
Barcelonians have begun lunch with a local aperitivo, sweet vermouth, for more than a century. The ritual even has its own catchphrase: Fem vermut—“Let’s get a vermouth.” But this isn’t your grandmother’s nectar. At Morro Fi, a vermouth bar in a former garage, the house label is sweet without being sickly and pairs perfectly with spicy olives. Then kick it old school at Quimet & Quimet, a tiny tapas joint in the hood called El Poble Sec. The same family has run it for generations. When I ask the mother-daughter team behind the counter why it’s so popular, the daughter deadpans: “Por nosotras.” Because of us. It also may have to do with their delicious sardine canapés.
Holy illumination: Sun beams stream through stained-glass windows, lighting up the Sagrada Família’s airy interior.
Vintage Goes Vogue
Born to Eat 4:20 pm
Check in to Casa Bonay, an old-is-new hotel in Dreta de l’Eixample, a traditionally quiet neighborhood now abuzz with energy. Bonay is that perfect mix of something borrowed and something blue-chip. The 1869 building was renovated in 2015—courtesy of Brooklyn-based design ﬁrm Studio Tack—but its soul remains intact, as do the glorious mosaic-tile ﬂoors. The lobby features a pop-up bookshop (note the vintage editions of Aldous Huxley novels) and coﬀee from hipster roaster Satan’s Coﬀee Corner. I try to nap but can’t, so I head to the rooftop bar to down a local beer, Estrella Damm. As in, damn, that’s refreshing.
It’s a 20-minute stroll to Cal Pep, a tapas eatery nestled in the narrow streets of the historic Born district, home to the 14th-century Gothic basilica Santa Maria del Mar. Cal Pep has just 21 stools and is so brightly lit, one could perform surgery on the bar. Tell the server what you want to spend, then watch plates arrive. Razor clams are cooked to perfection. And don’t be shy: Use the bread to mop up the sauce on your plate of mussels in sizzling garlic.
Down the block from Cal Pep sits the sandwich shop Paradiso. At least that’s what it looks like from the outside. Step in and ignore the two men making sandwiches; to their left is a large refrigerator door. Open it to find Barcelona’s newest speakeasy, a dimly lit temple of craft cocktails where handsome bartenders make drinks such as the Great Gatsby, a blend of amaro and whisky served under a glass dome into which a cloud of smoke is piped. Spooky tasty.
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Fresh seafood tops a pan of paella. A couple sneaks a beso in the old Barri GĂ˛tic quarter.
DAY T WO
Day-Trippin’ 8:30 am I board a van for Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, an 11th-century sanctuary installed in the side of the Montserrat range 35 miles northwest of Barcelona, where, legend has it, the Holy Grail was hidden. Today Montserrat is better known for UFO sightings. Seriously. Believers gather here on the 11th day of every month to spot E.T. (Videos of supposed extraterrestrial activity are all over YouTube.) When I ask Oscar Bardaji, the abbey’s press director and manager of its radio station, to explain the E.T. activity, he strains for an explanation. My Spanish is only mediocre, but I’m pretty sure he said, “The day after a UFO sighting we always find a lot of beer cans.”
Climb Every Mountain Above the abbey looms Sant Jeroni, a 4,000-foot-high peak strewn with curvaceous rock formations that have earned their own nicknames (Elephant, Bishop’s Tummy) and famously inspired Gaudí. I ride the funicular to the top, where guide Ricard Fernández explains that hermits once lived in these mountains— before, lore has it, they feuded with abbey monks. It seems all history is soap opera.
The Voice! I scoot back to the abbey in time to hear its Escolania de Montserrat, the renowned choir of 50 tween and teen schoolboys who live and study here, performing for the public most weekdays at 1 p.m. decked out in Harry Potter–like robes. The boys sing a stirring “El Virolai,” a hymn dedicated to the Virgin Mary of Montserrat, their tones reverberating of the vaulted ceiling. I’m not sure I believe in God. But I’m now sure I believe in harmony.
Pilgrims to the Abbey of Montserrat touch a statue of Catalonia’s patron saint, the Black Madonna.
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I’m in line to see the abbey’s most famous resident, a statue of the Virgin of Montserrat, aka Black Mary. Painted black at one point, she never was returned to her original colors. The line is at least an hour long, so I’m questioning my plan. Until I get close to the front and spot an elderly woman kissing the statue through a pane of glass. Real tears stream down her face. I’m a cynic, but who am I to judge? I have no idea what it took for her to reach this place.
“Carmela,” a supersize bust by Jaume Plensa, fronts the Palau de la Música Catalana.
At the Oasis
Catalonia is a molecular-gastronomy mecca, thanks in part to Chef Ferran Adrià. Adrià’s acclaimed El Bulli closed in 2011, but he and his brother Albert are crushing it at Tickets, their 90-seat tapas bar near Plaça d’Espanya. It’s almost impossible to get a ticket to Tickets; my 6:30 p.m. reservation qualiﬁes as lunch in Spain. But I ain’t complaining. Not when the fun begins with a “liquid olive” that explodes in my mouth, followed by a whimsical take on nigiri—smoked eggplant on meringue ﬂuﬀ. Dessert? A lychee poised on a rose, served in a room that Willy Wonka might have designed. Step right up to the best show in town.
Guitar Hero Stomach full, I make my way to the next treat: the Palau de la Música Catalana, a century-old concert hall and art nouveau masterpiece where Barcelona 4 Guitars (two men and two women) are playing Tchaikovsky on Spanish guitars. The sound track thrills, but the real star is the building—grand marble staircase, enormous stained-glass skylight, ceramic moldings shaped like stars. Take it all in. Then close your eyes and digest.
My nightcap is at Dry Martini. The drinks are perfectly mixed in a perfectly appointed room, miles of dark wood accented by a polished brass railing. I indulge in the best Manhattan I’ve ever had (outside of Manhattan) then tour the bar’s speakeasy—a massive storage room that has been converted into a luxe steakhouse. Who said Barcelona didn’t have secrets?
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The rock-girt Abbey of Montserrat dates to 1025. Its famed boys choir performs daily.
DAY TH R E E
Hamming It Up 10:30 am Hungover (hi, Mom!), I hustle to a Catalan cooking class at La Boqueria, Barcelona’s largest market. Alvaro Brun, the chef of BCN Kitchen—an “espacio gastronomico” that offers cooking classes— takes our 10-person group shopping for ingredients through the expansive food hall, said to go back to 1217. Endless aisles are packed with cheesemongers, vegetable stands, and meat-filled carnicerías. Brun tells us how to distinguish a leg of jamón ibérico from jamón serrano. “Jamón ibérico is shaped like the nice-looking leg of a woman in a high heel.” Serrano is a short, squat leg. We follow Brun to the market’s third-floor kitchen, where we’ll learn how to make gazpacho, a Spanish omelet, and crema catalana, Spain’s answer to crème brûlée. My gazpacho is bland; I chopped around 50 tomatoes but forgot the onions. Dessert, however, is delicious. Even if I was a little trigger-happy blowtorching the top and burned it. Blame the vino.
Masterpiece Theater Barcelona’s Museu Picasso, housed in five adjacent medieval palaces, contains more than 4,000 works that a musician friend described as Picasso’s “B sides and remixes.” Don’t miss his “Las Meninas” series, inspired by Velázquez’s 1656 masterpiece. Picasso was so obsessed with “Las Meninas” that he painted 58 canvases to get it out of his system.
Set Sail I’ve booked a sunset cruise with Classic Sail. Call it super touristy, but I’m not above a ride on crystal blue Mediterranean water. Sails unfurled, we skim the waves—and suddenly Barcelona’s skyline rises behind us, glorious against the sun’s last rays. Sip a beer. Calmate.
Rumba to Breathe I stumble upon Gipsy Lou, a holein-the-wall “bar cooltural” at 55 Carrer de Ferlandina in El Raval, to find a performance by De La Carmela, a singer-songwriter duo (left) that plays the local rumba catalana, a mix of gypsy, flamenco, and Catalan street music that supposedly got its start just a few blocks from here in the 1950s. The singer, Queralt Lahoz, wears a simple black dress, her curly black hair spilling down onto her shoulders. She sings, “Nada dura para siempre” (nothing lasts forever). I know what she means; my flight home leaves in seven hours. Adios, bella, I murmur. Even though I want this evening to last forever.
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Artful disguise: Gaudí camouflaged the stairs and chimneys topping his Casa Milà with sculptural exteriors.
Best of Barcelona STAY Hotel Colón Barcelona Fans of Catalan artist Joan Miró will feel his spirit at this hotel; the Barcelona native lived here in the 1960s and ’70s. Other notable guests—drawn by individually styled guest rooms, a primo setting near Barcelona’s cathedral, and a roof terrace— include Ernest Hemingway, Sophia Loren, and Jean-Paul Sartre. From $130. colonhotelbarcelona.com Barceló Raval A standout with its glass-walled cylindrical tower and award-winning contemporary decor, the Raval is a short walk from Barcelona’s Museum of Contemporary Art and storied Boqueria Market. Don’t forget to take in the view from the 11th-floor terrace. From $98. barcelo.com Hotel Constanza Taupes and leather browns bestow a sense of tranquillity on this modern hotel housed in an 18th-century building seven blocks from Gaudí’s Casa Batlló and nine from his Casa Milà. The rooftop terrace, all white sofas and sunshades, looks out on the popular Eixample neighborhood. From $90. hotelconstanza.com
SEE Joan Miró Foundation Let your imagination take flight as you view more than 250 paintings and 150 sculptures by one of Barcelona’s most famous sons, tracing Miró’s path from cubism to surrealism. Signature works include the swirly “Morning Star” and antlered “Figures in Front of the Sun.” fmirobcn.org Sant Pau Find hospitals dull? Then visit this World Heritage site, an art nouveau gem created in the early 1900s by Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner (who laid out the Palau de la Música Catalana) as a template for a new type of hospital. A series of pavilions designed to be a “garden city” for the ailing (and now a cultural center), Sant Pau is linked by tunnels and decorated with artworks, stained glass, and yes, gardens. santpaubarcelona.org National Museum of Catalan Art Centuries of Catalan artworks fill this domed edifice’s galleries, from Romanesque frescoes to coins and furniture. museunacional.cat
Mas Gaudí! Barcelona’s skyline was unremarkable until World War I, when wealthy Catalans made fortunes selling uniforms to both sides—and began their own arms race, hiring pricey architects for new residences. A few chose Gaudí, who proceeded to design the extraordinary Casa Batlló and Casa Milà. Casa Batlló’s skeletal facade soon earned it the nickname “house of bones”; the living-room ceiling is said to model a female breast. An undulating exterior distinguishes Casa Milà, known for its striking rooftop of sculptural chimneys. In 2017 one of the ﬁrst mansions Gaudí designed, Casa Vicens, will open to the public.
URBANE WINGDING Barcelona’s Metro is a swift, easy delight, but if you’re underground, you’ll miss spotting the city’s most surprising residents: seven species of parrots that have come to call Barcelona’s leafy parks home.
Writer MICKEY RAPKIN ( @mickeyrapkin) last delved into Taipei for us (Aug./Sept. 2016). Photographer DINA LITOVSKY ( @dina_litovsky) has exhibited around the world.
F E BRUA RY/M A RC H 20 1 7
A newbie sees the light at
A laser-lit dance party draws some of the 70,000 attendees at Burning Man, a weeklong celebration of creativity in Nevadaâ€™s Black Rock Desert.
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H OT PART Y
Burning Man, the Nevada desert revel turned global movement
DON GEORGE PHOTOGRAPHS BY AARON HUEY
A new generation of Burners flips for the oversize art found on the Playa, the dusty expanse at the center of Black Rock City.
“ WELCOME HOME!” boomed the burly, bearded man in hiking boots, an olive green kilt, and nothing else, as he smiled at my wife and me. “How many times have you been to Burning Man?” “This is our ﬁrst time,” I said. “Ah, virgins!” He smiled even more broadly. “Come on out of your car. We have a special ceremony for you!” He wrapped me in a hairy hug, then pointed at some other newcomers in the lane next to ours, sprawled on their backs, ﬂapping their arms in the dust. “Do you want to do a dust angel?” No, no. I’d been driving for six hours, the sun was setting, and we still had to ﬁnd a place to set up our camp. I did not want to do a dust angel. “OK. That’s ﬁne,” he said cheerily. “How about kissing the dust?” That didn’t sound very appealing either, but OK. I knelt and
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puckered my lips toward the desert ﬂoor as Kuniko, my wife, snapped photos. Kiltie clapped approvingly. “Now you get to ring the bell!” He handed me a metal wand and led me to a two-foot-long suspended bell. I thwacked it three times. The vibrations surged with an electric sizzle up my arm, and the tones rang pure and clear over the dust-baptized cars, trailers, and RVs that snaked behind us, into the dusky Nevada desert. About an hour later, after we had ﬁnally found a congenial place to park our camper and had set up our half-dome daytent, we were huddled out of the wind eating dust-coated bread and cheese when a middle-aged man and his young daughter on their way to the Porta Potties spotted us and immediately detoured toward our tent. “Welcome home!” he said and gave us both big hugs. His name was Tim, this was his fourth Burn, and he and his campmates were setting up a bar at the end of our block. “We’ll have it up by tomorrow night. Come on down, and have a drink!” He paused. “I’m not going to try to give you a lot of advice about Burning Man. You need to experience it your own way. But if you don’t mind, I would like to mention one thing. The wind comes from that direction, so you might want to move your car to the other side of your tent. That way it’ll create a natural windbreak. The wind can get pretty intense out here.” With that, he bowed and disappeared into the dust. A half hour later he reappeared, holding a tiny vial. “I wanted to give you something to start oﬀ your week,” he said, handing the vial to Kuniko. “That’s got Playa dust from 2013, the Burn that changed my life.” And with a wink, he disappeared again. Welcome to Burning Man. DESPITE THE EFFUSIVE welcomes, this pop-up metropolis in the Black Rock Desert didn’t feel like home. For one thing, dust was everywhere. It coated my face, hands, arms, clothes; my bread, cheese, salami, soup, beer; my towel, sleeping bag, pillow. It penetrated into places I didn’t even know I had places. Sleeping was a challenge too. Thumpa-thumpa-thumpa music emanated from somewhere throughout the night. I’d been hearing about this festival for years. And some of my friends had attended numerous times since Larry Harvey and Jerry James ﬁrst burned a wooden man in a spontaneous ceremony on San Francisco’s Baker Beach in 1986. For me, though, Burning Man Goggles search: Dressed for maximum had always seemed a bit too cultish— style and protection and yes, a bit too primitive. A week in against the elements, returning Burners often a desert, enduring blazing days and adopt “Playa names” frigid nights, with no showers, freezefor the week. Clockwise dried camping food, and stinky Porta from top left, meet No Name and William the Potties? No, thank you. Wizard, both from L.A.; Yet here I was, awaking on our ﬁrst Fire Goddess, from morning to music pumping from the Moscow; and Playa Maya, from Seattle. camp half a block away and a couple
dancing in the street out front—he in a fetching black dress, she in a sparkly blue-and-green bra and bikini bottom and a long, flowing head scarf. The Burning Man dress code might best be termed “Come as you wish you were.” The styles ranged from beach to boudoir, Moroccan bazaar to intergalactic bizarre: Think bikinis and big furry boots, medieval robes and Middle Eastern veils, Victoria’s Secret meets Star Wars cantina meets Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Dressed in Japanese pilgrims’ outfits that were tame in comparison, Kuniko and I hopped on our bicycles to explore the Playa. The setting for the event was a stunning tract of 4,400 acres of arid alkali flatness about 110 miles north of Reno. On this expanse, where a month ago there had been nothing, a C-shaped city grid had been laid out, consisting of 12 semicircular streets alphabetically arranged from Arno to Lorenzo, with neighborhoods demarcated in 15- or 30-minute intervals from 2:00 to 10:00, each one filled with tents, trailers, RVs, canopies, w-rolling art cars. edaling past Arno, we stopped at the inner ring called the Esplanade. Beyond that a khakicolored plain stretched to a range of gently serrated mountains, scattered with gigantic artworks. There was an arcing 50-foot-tall humpback whale mother and calf made with tens of thousands of tiny pieces of stained glass; two wooden gorillas about five times human size, sitting contemplatively in the dust; a bristling metal boar about 20 feet tall and 30 feet long, over whose spiky sides adventurous Burners were clambering. The Playa was studded with more than 200 such pieces, each one seemingly set at random, each one inviting—almost requiring—interaction. To our left a road had been created by two rows of regularly spaced light poles that led from the city’s central plaza to the Man himself, designed in accord with the 2016 theme—Da Vinci’s Workshop—to look like the “Vitruvian Man.” The light pole–framed road continued beyond the Man toward the Temple, which would be burned the night after the Man, the contemplative counterpoint to the bacchanalian revel of the Man’s burn. Built all of wood and embellished by more than a hundred decorative wooden lanterns, the tiered Temple soared to a spire in the Buddhist style. Inside, the atmosphere changed from delight and awe to grief and yearning. In the center was an altar where photos and messages scrawled on paper had been left. “To Lauren, Thank you for a golden friendship. See you in the Next. Love, your Best friend Susan.” “Eric and Austin, I can’t believe that cancer took away both of my beautiful boys. I hope you’re raising hell in heaven! Eternal love, Dad.” “We all miss you Jeﬀ. Shine on you crazy diamond.” AS THE WEEK PROGRESSED, we were pummeled by the wind, pounded by the sun, lathered by the dust, and overwhelmed by
F E BRUA RY/M A RC H 2 0 1 7
THE PLAYA WAS studded with more than 200 artworks, each one seemingly set at random, each one invitingâ€”almost requiringâ€”interaction.
Music-blasting art cars and climbable sculptures—such as Lord Snort, a wild boar made of steel by artist Bryan Tedrick— transform the Playa into a 24/7 playground.
Before and after burn: Mike Cline of the Great Sammich Ride hands out free grilled PB&J sandwiches; people gather around the burning remains of the Man (below) to dance, pray, and make dust angels.
JIM URQUHART/REUTERS (AERIAL)
the sheer scope and spectacle of the scene— and yet we found ourselves surrendering to Burning Man’s alchemy. Since using cash was forbidden except LAY OF THE LAND The Temple stands to purchase coﬀee, chai, and lemonade at in the center of the Center Camp Café and ice at three icethe circular Playa, dispensing stations, a culture of giving had surrounded by a 4,400-acre been instilled and nurtured. As we pedaled temporary city. through the city, we were invited to stop for chilled white wine and ice-cold beer; mojitos, mimosas, and margaritas; s’mores, hot dogs, and grilled cheese sandwiches; bacon, pancakes, and pizza. All for free—and it wasn’t just the food and drink. Everything was given away: the all-night dance raves and sunset jazz sets, the yoga sessions and chakra meditations, the talks on mindfulness and space-time physics, even the Introduction to Bondage sessions. Watching a city of 70,000 people function without the use of currency was mind expanding; Black Rock City began to feel like a socioeconomic Galápagos. I was shy on my own ﬁrst foray into gift giving. It just seemed odd to stop people I didn’t know and thrust a gift upon them. But when I saw a woman traipsing across the Playa in a lacy black gown and opera gloves, carrying a matching parasol, I impulsively pulled from my backpack one of the beach ball–style inﬂatable world globes I’d brought. “Excuse me, but I’d like to give you the world,” I said. Her face broke into a dazzling smile. “I’ve got the whole world in my hands!” she sang. I BEGAN TO UNDERSTAND how this experience could truly be life changing and why so many Burners could be inspired to come back year after year. It coalesced for me in one small but pivotal moment when we dropped in on an open-air session called Meditation Through Movement. Eastern music ﬁlled a canopied space, and a woman with a dulcet voice was encouraging three dozen people to move however they felt comfortable. At dances I’m usually the person behind the punch bowl, but somehow in this setting, my balletic baggage was left in the dust. Before long I was swaying through the space, dipping and twirling, feeling liberated and embraced by all the people dancing around me and throughout Black Rock City. I wasn’t quite ready for my naked torso to be covered in shimmery body gel at Glittercamp or to have a team wash it all oﬀ at the Human Carcass Wash. But maybe next year. Traveler editor at large DON GEORGE ( @don_george) is the author of The Way of Wanderlust. Whenever possible, photographer AARON HUEY ( @argonautphoto) wears gold shoes and a rhinestone-encrusted lion headpiece.
Get Your Burn On PLAN AHEAD
2017 Dates The next Burning Man takes place August 27September 4, with the theme “Radial Ritual.” The Man will burn on September 2, the Temple on September 3.
Buying Tickets Options for purchasing tickets are detailed on the Burning Man website (see below). In 2016, the basic ticket cost $390. If you’re parking a vehicle, you’ll also need a vehicle pass.
Survival Essentials Water! (Veterans say 1.5 gallons per person per day; we used about a gallon per person.) Enough easy-to-prepareand-eat food for your entire stay. Sunscreen. Sanitary wipes. Hat. Headlamp. Dust mask. Goggles. More than one pair of sunglasses. LED lights. Festive attire. Gifts. Trash bags (leave no trace). ON THE PLAYA
Getting There Most Burners drive, but you can also arrive by bus, taxi, or plane (a temporary airport
operates at Black Rock City during the festival)—and every year at least a few people parachute in. The website has detailed information and directions. Trafic tip: Expect to wait in line many hours while entering and leaving the festival. For a shorter queue, arrive a day or two after the opening or stay an extra day.
Camping Options From pitching a tent to parking a luxury RV, attendees have a spectrum of options. We rented a camper van from JUCY (jucyusa.com) and found it extremely comfortable and convenient, and comparatively afordable. (Note: The camper doesn’t have a toilet or shower.) BEYOND THE PLAYA
Burning Man Around the World Festivals based on the Burning Man ethos and experience are now held throughout the U.S. and around the world, including Australia, Austria, France, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, and Ukraine.
More Information burningman.org
F E BRUA RY/M A RC H 2 0 1 7
A SUMMER THEY’LL NEVER FORGET
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NICE SHOT! NORTH PACIFIC
National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry gets up close with underwater creatures. By Nina Strochlic
rian Skerry has spent an estimated 10,000 hours underwater during the three decades he’s been exploring the world’s oceans. For the past two years, he’s traveled from New Zealand to Cape Cod photographing sea creatures, using techniques from disguising a camera as a seal to swimming in a chain mail suit. A few of those creatures, such as this bat ray cruising along sea grass in Cortes Bank, off the coast of San Diego, are featured in National Geographic magazine’s February 2017 story on ocean sanctuaries. Another rare sighting Skerry captured? Barack Obama snorkeling off Midway’s Sand Island just a few days after the then president created one of the world’s largest protected marine areas—a 582,578-squaremile sanctuary located north of Hawaii. “People are never going to feel the same way about a fish as they do about furry mammals on land,” says Skerry. “Through photography, we can tell them that this is something cool.”
PRO TIP For photographing underwater, Skerry starts shooting from afar and edges closer as the subject grows comfortable. Q See more of Skerry’s photography in National Geographic’s February issue.
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Framing the Ocean Floor
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