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ULURU & SURROUNDS Discover the wild heart of Austrlia’s Red Centre MAGAZINE ASIA MARCH/ APRIL 2016

Great Escape

Tuscany & Umbria

Win! A 2-NIGHTS STAY* AT THE LAGUNA HOLIDAY CLUB PHUKET RESORT

Savour fine food and wine amidst hilltop towns and wild coastlines

CITY AT A GLANCE

75 ULTIMATE TRAVEL EXPERIENCES Starring the temples of Angkor, the Great Barrier Reef and Machu Picchu

Barcelona’s trendy eats and historic architecture SGD 7.50 RM 20 NT 270 RP 75.000 THB 195 9 7 7 2 0 1 0 0 8 2 0 1 7

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MCI (P) 116/09/2015, PPS 1747/12/2012(022909)

6 MINI GUIDES CORNWALL X EDINBURGH X PARIS X AMSTERDAM X SAN FRANCISCO X FLORIDA


A unique eco-leisure experience, there is no compromise on luxury with each villa offering spacious wood decking and natural surroundings equipped with stylish contemporary facilities for that perfect retreat. Located within serene plantation in Pahang state and Malaysia’s East Coast cultural heartland, this 31 villa boutique spa resort has been rejuvenated from a barren mining land to a natural expanse of palm trees and scenic lake. As its Sanskrit name suggests, a place of auspicious well-being 

Mangala Lifestyle Experience Mangala Spa | The LakeSide Restaurant | The LakeSide Bar | Recreation Site Mangala Facilities and Services Gym | Infinity Pool | Child’s Pool | Airport Transfer | Shuttle to Kuantan | Gift Shop

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MEL S A LORR MELISSA MELISS ME LLORRAINE ORR ORRAIN RAINE AINE CHUA C CHUA, HUA A AS A ASS ASSOCIATE SSO OCI OC CIAT C AT ATE TE E ED E EDITOR DITO TOR

This month...

… we’ve gathered a list of 75 ultimate travel experiences (p30) that you simply have to add to your bucket list, including visiting the fabled grounds of the Taj Mahal, beating the crowds to scenic Kotor in Montenegro, trekking your way through Machu Picchu and running wild across the Masai Mara. Escape to the lush hilltops of Tuscany and Umbria (p47) to sample the very best food and wine this region has to offer, and bask in the wild beauty of its rugged coastlines. If you fancy a trip Down Under, why not steer away from the overcrowded cities and explore the great expanse of Uluru and its surrounds (p62) instead? We promise you won’t be disappointed. And if you’re looking for a place to next rest your head, our list of luxury accommodations with equally stellar restaurants will see to it that your taste buds get all the pampering they deserve (p74).

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015

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Contents

Win! A 2-NIGHTS STAY* AT THE LAGUNA HOLIDAY CLUB PHUKET RESORT

Turn to p95

VOLUME 7 IS S U E 2 / M ARC H / A P R IL 20 1 6 Great Escape Tuscany & Umbria p47

Extraordinary stays p74 Easy Trips p19

Regulars EASY TRIPS

POSTCARDS

Your travel photos and stories 8 East Java’s majestic volcanoes and more images from around the world

GLOBETROTTER

The latest travel news and discoveries 13 Recreate some of the best dishes from luxury hotel restaurants 14 What’s up and coming for March and April around the world 15 What’s hot and what’s not in travel trends 18 Stylish new indulgences to add to your shopping list

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MARCH/APRIL 2016

Short breaks you can take right now 20 Tantalise your taste buds in Hong Kong 21 Catch an elephant polo match in Bangkok, Thailand 21 A flurry of colours fill the sky in Canberra, Australia 22 Stop to smell the flowers in Kyoto 22 Lap up a life of yachting luxury in Singapore

GREAT ESCAPE

Your next big trip mapped out 47 Sample the specialities of Tuscany and Umbria: not just fine food and wine, but also hilltop towns and wild coastlines

CITY AT A GLANCE

A low-down of the best on offer 24 Barcelona’s exciting gastronomy, vibrant culture and gothic architecture will have you coming back for more

MINI GUIDES

Themed guides to take with you 83 A summer of activities in Cornwall 85 Where to eat out in Edinburgh 87 Browse the varied boutiques of Paris 89 The art of Amsterdam, past and present 91 Seeing San Francisco on a budget 93 Discover Florida’s aquatic attractions


75 ultimate travel experiences p30

PHOTOGRAPHS: MATT MUNRO, EVAN DICKSON, BURJ AL ARAB DUBAI, SINGAPORE YACHT SHOW

City at a glance: Barcelona p24

Features 30 75 ULTIMATE TRAVEL EXPERIENCES Here’s our take on the destinations you have to add to your bucket list, from the great temples of Cambodia’s Angkor and the wildlife-rich parks of Tanzania to the giant trees of California’s Redwood National Park and the waterfalls of Iceland - best start ticking them off now 62 ULURU & SURROUNDS Discover the true heart of this magical expanse that is Australia’s wild Northern Territory 74 EXTRAORDINARY STAYS: BEST HOTEL RESTAURANTS You don’t have to stay at these hotels to enjoy their exceptional restaurants, but it sure wouldn’t hurt

Uluru & surrounds p62 Look for these symbols to quickly identify listings Sights

Tours

Drinking

Beaches

Festivals

Entertainment

Activities

Sleeping

Courses

Eating

Shopping Information & Transport

All prices correct at time of going to press. Prices for hotel rooms are for double, en suite rooms with breakfast in low season, unless otherwise stated. Flight prices are for the cheapest return fares, including one piece of hold baggage, unless otherwise stated.

DESTINATION INDEX Australia p32, p45 Canberra p21 Northern Territory p37, p62 Victoria p33 Bhutan p72 Bolivia p35 Bosnia & Herzegovina p43 Botswana p42 Brazil Rio de Janeiro p44 Cambodia p30 Canada p44 Chile p37 Easter Island p43 China p32 Hong Kong p20, p43 Croatia p34 Costa Rica p46 Cuba p37 Dubai p46 England p37 Ethiopia p40 France Normandy p45 Versailles p36 Germany Berlin p39 Greenland p40 Guatemala p34 Holland Amsterdam p43 Hungary Budapest p43 Iceland p44 India p33 Italy Florence p39 Rome p33 Tuscany & Umbria p47 Japan Kyoto p22, p44 Jordan p34 Kenya p40 Malaysia Borneo p44 Mexico p40 Montenegro p39 Morocco p36 Myanmar p36 Namibia p45 New Zealand p34, p43 Norway p43 Peru p32 Prague p37 Russia p37 Rwanda p44 Singapore p22 South Africa p37 Spain p33, p34, p46 Barcelona p24 St Lucia p46 Sweden p42 Switzerland p41 Tibet p42 Thailand Bangkok p21 Ko Tao p39 Tanzania p39 Turkey Istanbul p33 USA p33, p39, p40 California p34, p40, p41, p46 New York p43 Vatican City p40 Vietnam p37, p43 Wales Snowdonia p45

MARCH/APRIL 2016

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NEED TO GET IN TOUCH? Subscription and back issue enquiries Tel: +65 6241 2673 Editorial enquiries Tel: +65 6446 6888

Behind the Scenes

Subscription enquiries subscribe@media-group.com.sg Advertising enquiries sales@regentmedia.sg Editorial enquires lpmagazine@regentmedia.sg General enquiries Regent Media Pte Ltd 20 Bedok South Road, Singapore 469277 ASIA TEAM Managing editor Ben Poon Associate editor Melissa Lorraine Chua Senior writers Raewyn Koh / Jonathan Gan Writer Josmin Ong Creative director Eric Wong Art director Cally Han Graphic Designer Rexmond Oh Senior marketing manager Tasmin Chua Marketing executives Karlyn Ho / Rachel Tan / Sharyl Yeo Finance executive Julie Khong Regional circulation manager Kelvin Poon Regional circulation executive Zheng Zhiren Business directors Marie Yeo / Thomas Leow / Kelly Koh Business managers Alice Ng / Marina Chong/ Joan Chua MALAYSIA TEAM Sales and marketing director Jessly Pak Business director David Choo Business manager Carmen Leow Business executive Toh Kah Yin Customer service executive Nurul Hanizah UK MAGAZINE Editor Peter Grunert LONELY PLANET TEAM Director of Magazines Sue Coffin Foreign Rights Joe Revill MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES Hong Kong/ Indonesia/ Macau/ Thailand Alice Ng alice@regentmedia.sg Abu Dhabi/ China/ Dubai/ Turkey/ Australia/ Japan/ South Korea/ Taiwan Marie Yeo marie@regentmedia.sg

Did you know Takins are Bhutan’s national animal? Aren’t they just adorable?

Josmin Trying to make sense of this chaotic order at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in Taiwan.

DISTRIBUTORS Singapore Pansing Distribution Pte Ltd Malaysia MPH Distributors Sdn Bhd Hong Kong Times Publishing (HK) Ltd Indonesia PT Java Books Indonesia Thailand Asia Books Co., Ltd Lonely Planet Magazine Asia MCI (P) 116/09/2015, ISSN 2010-0825, PPS 1747/12/2012(022909), is published bi-monthly by Regent Media Pte Ltd under licence from Lonely Planet Global,Inc (part of the Lonely Planet Group). The words “Lonely Planet” and the Lonely Planet symbol are trademarks of Lonely Planet Global,Inc. © Lonely Planet Global,Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part prohibited without permission. No part of this publication is to be reproduced, stored, transmitted, digitally or otherwise, without the prior consent of the publisher. The information contained herein is accurate at time of printing. Changes may have occurred since this magazine went to print. Regent Media Pte Ltd and its editors will not be held liable for any damages, loss, injury or inconvenience, arising in connection with the contents of the magazine. Regent Media Pte Ltd will not accept responsibility for unsolicited contributions. Printer: KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd (197801823M) Lonely Planet is distributed in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan.

A Publication of

Member of Magazine Publishers Association, Singapore

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MARCH/APRIL 2016

Raewyn


COMING NEXT MONTH

Locals’ Rome

NEED TO GET IN TOUCH? Subscription and back issue enquiries Tel: +65 6241 2673 Editorial enquiries Tel: +65 6446 6888 Subscription enquiries subscribe@media-group.com.sg Advertising enquiries sales@regentmedia.sg Editorial enquires lpmagazine@regentmedia.sg

General enquiries Regent Media Pte Ltd 20 Bedok South Road, Singapore 469277

The people who know the Eternal City best reveal the places they love – including hidden bars and market stalls, vintage fashion and furniture stores, and a former power station given new life as a gallery filled with classical artefacts ASIA TEAM Managing editor Ben Poon Associate editor Melissa Lorraine Chua Senior writers Raewyn Koh / Jonathan Gan Writer Josmin Ong Creative director Eric Wong Art director Cally Han Graphic Designer Rexmond Oh Senior marketing manager Tasmin Chua Marketing executives Karlyn Ho / Rachel Tan / Sharyl Yeo Finance executive Julie Khong Regional circulation manager Kelvin Poon Regional circulation executive Zheng Zhiren Business directors Marie Yeo / Thomas Leow / Kelly Koh Business managers Alice Ng / Marina Chong/ Joan Chua MALAYSIA TEAM Sales and marketing director Jessly Pak Business director David Choo Business manager Carmen Leow Business executive Toh Kah Yin Customer service executive Nurul Hanizah UK MAGAZINE Editor Peter Grunert LONELY PLANET TEAM Director of Magazines Sue Coffin Foreign Rights Joe Revill MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES Hong Kong/ Indonesia/ Macau/ Thailand Alice Ng alice@regentmedia.sg Abu Dhabi/ China/ Dubai/ Turkey/ Australia/ Japan/ South Korea/ Taiwan Marie Yeo marie@regentmedia.sg

PLUS

̐Make a Great Escape to the Rocky Mountains ̐A gastronomic extravaganza awaits in Melbourne DISTRIBUTORS Singapore Pansing Distribution Pte Ltd Malaysia MPH Distributors Sdn Bhd Hong Kong Times Publishing (HK) Ltd Indonesia PT Java Books Indonesia Thailand Asia Books Co., Ltd

Lonely Planet Magazine Asia MCI (P) 116/09/2015, ISSN 2010-0825, PPS 1747/12/2012(022909), is published bi-monthly by Regent Media Pte Ltd under licence from Lonely Planet Global,Inc (part of the Lonely Planet Group). The words “Lonely Planet” and the Lonely Planet symbol are trademarks of Lonely Planet Global,Inc. © Lonely Planet Global,Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part prohibited without permission. No part of this publication is to be reproduced, stored, transmitted, digitally or otherwise, without the prior consent of the publisher. The information contained herein is accurate at time of printing. Changes may have occurred since this magazine went to print. Regent Media Pte Ltd and its editors will not be held liable for any damages, loss, injury or inconvenience, arising in connection with the contents of the magazine. Regent Media Pte Ltd will not accept responsibility for unsolicited contributions. Printer: KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd (197801823M) Lonely Planet is distributed in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan.

A Publication of

Member of Magazine Publishers Association, Singapore

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MARCH/APRIL 2016


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Postcards WHERE YOU’VE BEEN AND WHAT YOU’VE SEEN

The ancient Tengger caldera stretches six miles across; smouldering Mount Bromo (seen left) is one of three volcanoes to have emerged from its centre

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POSTCARDS Send your pictures and tell us the stories behind them: email lpmagazine@regentmedia.sg

EAST JAVA, INDONESIA

Before the dawn This photo was taken on my first visit to Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. I hadn’t prepared for the visit, I just followed my urge to witness this legendary park firsthand. I arrived at the base soon after midnight and took an off-road car journey to climb to the top of Mount Penanjakan in time for dawn. It was an extremely cold morning and very early, yet the place was full of people eager to catch the sunrise. I moved away from the crowds to an area with no-one around and stood looking at the volcanoes, waiting for the perfect light. It turns out I chose my spot well – the weather was great and I managed to get this wonderful photo.

Suwandi Chandra is based in Medan on the island of Sumatra

MARCH/APRIL 2016

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POSTCARDS FARNE ISLANDS, ENGLAND

Fish supper My father and I were photographing Arctic terns and puffins in the Farne Islands. The puffins were diving from the cliff edge to the sea, returning briefly to the cliff with their catch of sand eels, before heading for their burrows to feed their young. This shot is slightly unusual because the backdrop, by chance, is the painted blue hull of a boat. Because it is so bright it makes me think of sunnier climes like the Caribbean (no disrespect to the northeast of England).

Peter Green is a keen amateur photographer and lives in Essex

Puffins are the most numerous birds that nest on the Farne Islands, with around 37,000 pairs found here

MONTE ROSA, ITALY

Peak time We were staying in the Margherita Hut, at 4,554 metres, Europe’s highest inhabitable building. When I took this picture, I was higher than the Matterhorn you see in the centre of the shot. Everyone from the hut decamped outside when the sunset began in all its glory. The flush of orange in the sky emphasised the icy blues of the glacial world we were travelling through. This shot was one of many I took to distill into a series of paintings once I returned to the valley below.

Monte Rosa is the second highest mountain in the Alps; it straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy 10

MARCH/APRIL 2016

Janet Johnson is an Alpine artist from the US who lives in London


POSTCARDS UYUNI, BOLIVIA

Flat earth After a super-early wake-up call, we had broken down on the Uyuni salt flat. We were observing a really beautiful sunrise, when I turned around to see this unforgettable ‘full moonset’. With the sun peeking out behind us, our shadows stretched to infinity. The result was the best photo from my trip. Every time I look at it, I am reminded how extraordinary the planet is, and how we must never forget to observe all around us and not just the ‘obvious’ – in this case, the sunrise behind me.

Oliver Levy visited Bolivia as part of a 2½-month trip around South America

The Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat, covering more than 4,000 square miles in the southwest of Bolivia

VIENNA, AUSTRIA

Make eyes There’s a side to Vienna I was expecting to see: the Baroque buildings, waiters in starched shirts serving cups of coffee in grand cafés, Klimt’s paintings. But I discovered that Vienna has another side, filled with new fashion, art and food. These two sides make it one of Europe’s most surprising cities. The Donaukanal is brought to life by some sensational street art. I never envisaged I’d be lining up a shot like this on the very first day of my visit – but it helped to set the tone for the rest of my trip.

The 10-mile Donaukanal, once part of the Danube, is redeveloping as a recreational area with markets, cafés and stages

Ian Weightman recently spent a long weekend in the Austrian capital MARCH/APRIL 2016

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Globetrotter A WORLD OF TRAVEL NEWS AND DISCOVERIES

Do try this at home

d wished you could re-creat URANT an e the d RESTA ish in L E T O your o o C k b y r o u o x H k u f L e l atures ov TA own he Smal A T e . r y 2 r N t 0 t 0 E s kitc a r T e e l c A i t p E a g in t d h u i hen s cl e b n i e e – troot sala s fro R can e world h t ? u d m n i w o EVE s it l y e h s t , o g o o h me w at’s c Hall (US$57; slhcoo est e f if l k No b c o r R e e s ’ k d am book.c of th Englan om). from

MARCH/APRIL MA M A AR RC R CH/ CH/ H/AP APRIL RIL 2016 RI 20 2 0116 6

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March 2016

April 2016

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HOLI

CRUCIFIXION RE-ENACTMENT San Fernando, Philippines: Every year on Good Friday, devout and willing Catholics take it upon themselves to re-enact Jesus Christ’s crucifixion in a controversial act of penance. Owww.thecircumference.org/ crucifixion-philippines

23 TO 17 APRIL MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL Melbourne, Australia: Get ready for big laughs at one of three largest comedy festivals in the world. The autumnal festival has an extensive programme of stand-up, cabaret, theatre, street performances and many more. Owww.comedyfestival.com.au

29 TO 3 APRIL BALISPIRIT FESTIVAL Bali, Indonesia: Focus on body, spirit and mind revitalisation with yoga, meditation and healing seminars, and then shake it loose at the Night Concerts, and Dharma Fair Market. Owww.balispiritfestival.com

9 TO 16 BISKET JATRA Bhaktapur, Nepal: The Kathmandu valley comes alive during Bisket Jatra, the Nepali New Year, as huge chariots carrying images of the male and female deities Bhairab and Bhadrakalias collide in a ritual of consummation and fertility. Owww.welcomenepal.com

17 TO 20

13 TO 15

15 TO 17 & 22 TO 24

ST PATRICK’S FESTIVAL

SONGKR AN

Dublin, Ireland: While this holiday is just an excuse to wear green and drink a lot, this reverent day marks the death anniversary of Saint Patrick who spread Christianity to Irish pagans and allegedly drove all snakes off the island. Over the course of four days, catch the pageantry of Irish pride in the city centre, and then have a family day of carnival rides and greasy street food at the Funfairs. St Paddy’s Day wouldn’t be complete without a pint of Guinness or two at the Irish Craft Beer & Whiskey Village. Owww.stpatricksfestival.ie

Chiang Mai, Thailand: The biggest and most memorable water festival in Thailand, Songkran is where the streets of many cities in the country turn wet and wild with colourful splashes and playful water gun fights. While Bangkok is a hot favourite amongst tourists, the largest water festival parade is actually held further up north in Chiang Mai, where the celebrations also take on a more religious note. Osongkranday.com

CHOACHELL A VALLE Y M USIC AN D ARTS FESTIVAL

20 TO 26

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SEMANA SANTA

TH E M USIC RU N ™ BY AIA

Seville, Spain: Holy Week is celebrated in Catholic cities all across the globe, but none with such aplomb as in Seville. Every day from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, the streets are covered in breathtakingly elaborate alfombras (carpets) of coloured sawdust and flower petals, as well as large life-sized sculptures representing the events from Christ’s Passion in processions through the streets. Osemana-santa.org

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California, USA: Spanning over two weekends in April, Coachella 2016 already boasts acts such as A$AP Rocky, Purity Ring, and Sia in its line-up. While on-site camping may do for some, festival goers looking to have a roof over their heads — not to mention luxurious pools and full cocktail bars – should look to book accommodations early. Owww.coachella.com

Singapore: Keep the hearts thumping and the fists pumping at this fun run in Sentosa. To be operated in partnership with Spotify, this un-timed, noncompetitive race will be divided into five themed zones – Rock, Pop, Old School, Hip Hop and Dance. Participants get a chance to control the official soundtrack by voting for their favourite hits leading up to the event. Othemusicrun.com

COMPILED BY: RAEWYN KOH AND MELISSA LORRAINE CHUA

Varanasi, India: Welcome spring with an explosion of colour. Prepare to be dusted in bright pinks, yellows, blues, greens and more as every one of all ages flock to the streets to shower the crowds in vibrant technicolour. Owww.holifestival.org


GLOBETROTTER

WHAT’S HOT CAPITAL BOOZE London’s Artesian has been named World’s Best Bar (artesian-bar. co.uk)

NEW TOUR

You’ve seen these magical karsts by sea, now see them by air; the leading name in Ha Long Bay expeditions, Paradise Cruises has introduced yet another dimension to this landmark attraction – the option of a seaplane tour (from US$473 per pax; www.paradisevietnam.com).

MAMMA MIA! Voted likeliest film to spur a set location trip, to Greece in this case (leger.co.uk)

PRAGUE Overtaking Barcelona as Britain’s favourite city break (easyjet.com)

WHAT’S NOT GENEVA ON A BUDGET The world’s priciest hotel suite costs US$55,820+ (hotelpresidentwilson.com)

QUACKERS It now costs US$355 to eat at the reopened Fat Duck (thefatduck. co.uk) THEME DRINKS A My Little Pony café in Tokyo, and a Will Ferrell bar in New York: that’s en enough nough now.

Anniversary celebrations with Belmond ONE OF THE PIONEERS OF LUXURY TRAVEL IN MYANMAR celebrates its 20th year in the country with an anniversary cruise to top all anniversary cruises. Setting sail on 1 October 2016 on board the grand dame of the Ayeyarwady River, Belmond Road to Mandalay, guests will get the truly unique experience to give back to the community with a visit to Taung Be village in Bagan where Dr. Hla Tun, the ship’s on-board doctor and inspirational leader of Belmond’s Myanmar Foundation, treats hundreds of patients in his free time at a free clinic. To mark Belmond’s 20-year Myanmar anniversary, five percent of the ticket price for this anniversary cruise will be donated to the Belmond Myanmar Foundation in support of the opening of a new hospital facility in Bagan (www.belmond.com).

MARCH/APRIL 2016

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A D V E R T I S E M E N T F E AT U R E

Riding through the Rockies Look out of subways and you’ll only see darkness or an occasional neon-lit billboard but Rocky Mountaineer brings back the romance of luxury train travel with their glass-domed coaches that travel through the picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Site, Canadian Rocky Mountains n operation since 1990, the multiple awardwinning Rocky Mountaineer has been highly acclaimed by Lonely Planet, Travel + Leisure and National Geographic for its unique experience that takes passengers through some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in the world. Its recipe for success boils down to four S’s:

I

Scenery More than 65 vacation packages are available on four distinctive rail routes that traverse through historic paths made by 19th Century explorers. Each journey is a feast for the eyes as passengers watch cityscapes turn into untouched terrains from domed windows for unparalleled panoramic views on the all daylight services. On First Passage to the West, one of the more popular routes, the Rocky Mountaineer takes passengers on the historic Canadian Pacific track, which is famous for uniting the country and connecting British Colombia to Canada more than 125 years ago. Strikingly vivid vistas of natural beauty come to life on Journey through the Clouds that passes by the highest peaks in the Canadian Rockies. Take on the world’s largest temperate rainforest on Rainforest to Gold Rush. The trip experiences dramatic changes in scenery as it passes through Coastal Rainforest into Fraser Canyon and Cariboo Gold Rush region. The newest route, Coastal Passage, connects passengers from Seattle to Vancouver and into the Canadian Rockies. Escape urban bustle into crisp scenes right from a souvenir postcard. Kodak moments abound at some of Canada’s most impressive natural landmarks as the train slows down to take in the most scenic areas to allow photo opportunities. Look out for native wildlife on all journeys too! The snowcapped mountains, colossal evergreens, and crystalline lakes are homes to Canada’s diverse fauna.

Service Completing each experience is world-class service by Rocky Mountaineer hosts. Professionals in their own league, these hosts will continue to exceed expectations as they weave tales and bits of history together at each passing landmark. Travellers choose from GoldLeaf or SilverLeaf Service when travelling aboard Rocky Mountaineer. GoldLeaf allows passengers access to a two-level, glass domed coach with full-length windows to enjoy the charming beauty of nature just outside from the upper level and enjoy gourmet meals in the exclusive dining room on the lower level. In addition, they also have access to an exclusive outdoor vestibule. For SilverLeaf guests, experience panoramic views through single level glass dome coaches and enjoy seat-side customised meal service, along with complimentary beverages.

Sweet and Savoury Savour five-star cuisine throughout your journey. GoldLeaf passengers are served mouth-watering meals in an exclusive lower-level dining room, while SilverLeaf passengers are served hot gourmet breakfasts and lunches at their respective seats so not a moment of splendid beauty is missed outside.

Socialisation What makes Rocky Mountaineer passengers return again and again are the friendships made onboard. Likeminded travellers from all over the world are seated just across the aisle from you and are ready to forge lifelong friendships. Adventuring together on a railway is bound to get people talking. Get ready to share life stories and make memories with one another. To start planning your life changing experience aboard Rocky Mountaineer, contact your local travel agent.


GLOBETROTTER

“Whoever said money JOURNALLING

t at the simple ac Studies show th down gs in th ive sit of writing po ch sive benefits su creates impres ess illn r we fe , ep sle as better s. more happines symptoms and nal rso Pe r he at Le (Textured , kikki.K) Planner Medium

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WORDS: JOSMIN ONG

With noisecancelling functions and weighing in at a mere 40g, we’re definitely packing these into our travel carry-ons. (BeoPlay H3 ANC earphones, B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen)

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TICK TOCK

Every now and then, we all

SOUND ADVICE

want to escape from daily life and kickstart a journey of indulgence. Here is our selection of guilty pleasures.

New mer ring/sum latest sp tion? Yes, llec 2016 co s b. VOYAGE nè g (a n) please! ollectio wallet c

Luxury at its best - a good and hardy watch made from blocks of sapphire, a material akin to the hardness and scratch-resistance of diamonds. (Big Bang Unico Sapphire, Hublot)

Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf.

-LING RING-aAy well

NEY NEY MOth O M Y E N O M wallet from e

HIDE THE SPOTS Women in their 20s lose skin radiance quicker than any other age group so it is important to protect and strengthen the skin cells before the dark spots appear. (GenOptics whitening skincare series, SKII) )

UN AVOID THEoriSes are ideal for

ion access h. Also, the latest These fash ealt t is ood eye h g chain tha g blematic m maintainin e ble n a a it s a su ewear h s bracelet Chanel ey hain drogynou n (C a s. n a le s y a d e st interprete nd feminin ection) asculine a ll for both m Chanel Eyewear co bracelet

TRAVEL

SLING Keep your valuables cl ose to you while ho pping throug various attr h actions. Th e bag also adds a pop of colo ur to any outfit fo r a statemen t fu of energy an d vitality. (M ll ini C de Cartier bag, Cartier ) MARCH/APRIL 2016

LIGHT AS AIR Travel with some pizzazz when you tote this colourful little number with you to the airport. Who says packing has to be a drag? (Tegra Lite SS16 collection in Cayenne Tile Print, TUMI)


EASY TRIPS

Easy Trips including

WORDS: RAEWYN KOH. PHOTOGRAPH: SINGAPORE YACHT SHOW

Tantalise taste buds with Michelin-starred dishes in Hong Kong Catch elephants in a match of polo in Bangkok, Thailand A flurry of colour fills the skies in Canberra, Australia Gain a new appreciation for life in Kyoto, Japan Lap up a life of boating luxury in Singapore

MARCH/APRIL 2016

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EASY TRIPS

1 Amber’s Ebisu oyster with seaweed, potato

IMG presents its first Taste Festival in Asia – Taste of Hong Kong presented by Standard Chartered

Tosca’s Tiramisù with limoncello

Taste of Hong Kong

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As a participant, sit back and enjoy four full days of al fresco dining, drinking and entertainment. Top chefs will reveal secrets behind accoladed dishes in live demonstrations. Join in on an interactive masterclass or challenge the palate to discern champagnes, wines and sakes in tastings. The producers market will have samples of exceptional ingredients and artisanal products as well. The main highlight, of course, is the sampling of three signature dishes and an exclusive icon dish by each participating restaurant. Should Taste of Hong Kong not be enough to satiate large appetites, wander the streets of Hong Kong for some of Asia’s best

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local cuisine. Apart from Japan, Hong Kong is the only other Asian country with Michelin-starred restaurants. The cosmopolitan city is most well known for its

MAKE IT HAPPEN Taste of Hong Kong runs from 10 to 13 March 2016. Tickets are now on sale at ticketflap.com/ tasteofhongkong. VIP entry, which includes access to festival grounds and VIP enclosure, 30 Crown (HK$300 worth of festival currency), and three complimentary drinks are available at US$77 for weekdays and US$84 for weekends. Box office tickets are subject to availability. Fly on flag carrier Cathay Pacific, which flies from most

extensive list of Bib Gourmand restaurants – outstanding food at low costs. Check discoverhongkong.com for a complete list. international airports worldwide directly into Hong Kong International Airport (cathaypacific.com). The event is held at Central Harbour Front, which is near major metro interchange Central Station. Get to the event easily by staying at world-class The Landmark by Mandarin Oriental (from US$630 per night; mandarinoriental.com/ landmark), which is just a 15-minute walk away.

PHOTOGRAPHS: TASTE OF HONG KONG

If you call yourself a foodie then you must make your way to Asia’s inaugural Taste of Hong Kong, the World’s Greatest Restaurant Festival. Central Harbour Front transforms into a gourmand’s wonderland as some of the country’s most celebrated restaurants come together to present cleverly innovative dishes. Eight Michelin stars have been accrued by the restaurants that will be featured at this event. Founding restaurants at Taste of Hong Kong will include, Aberdeen Street Social, Amber, CHINO, Ting Lung Heen, Tosca, and Yardbird. Present as well will be international celebrity chefs and visiting restaurants who will be engaging with the Hong Kong gourmet community.


EASY TRIPS

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PHOTOGRAPHS: ANANTARA HOTELS, RESORTS & SPAS; CANBERRA BALLOON SPECTACULAR

Anantara’s King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament The revered majestic beast of Thailand may be the symbol of the royal nation but many of these gentle giants are severely overworked once domesticated by humans. But for 14 years now, Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas are hoping to change and better the lives of Thailand’s elephant population, including the mahouts who train them. The King’s Cup Elephant Polo is one of the biggest sporting charitable events in Southeast Asia. Close to US$1 million has been raised and donated to projects dedicated in helping elephants, as well as research facilities and clinics that use elephants in therapy sessions for children, among many other areas that need continued support. The tournament is a good chance for 18 elephants to have a break from working long shifts at tourist trekking camps. The time of rejuvenation will even include full veterinary checks, proper nutrition and vitamin supplements to boost health and immunity. This year will see 10 teams of more than 40 players, with participants that include Thai celebrities, professional horse polo players, New Zealand All Blacks rugby players and one of the most famous transgender cabaret Strict rules are enforced to ensure elephants are well taken care of at all times

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teams in the country, Miss Tiffany. The family-centric event will have activities for all ages, such as an Opening Parade, Children’s Educational Day, Ladies Day and other elephant related activities.

MAKE IT HAPPEN The charity event will take place by the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok from 10 to 13 March 2016. Purchase tickets from the Front Office of Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort and the pitch on tournament days (US$6 per person; gross proceeds go toward the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation). For pre-purchase tickets, email elephantpolo@anantara.com for more information. There are daily flights on national carriers Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas is offering two-night packages that include tickets to watch the King’s Cup Elephant Polo, breakfast and commemorative polo t-shirts (from US$125 per night; anantara.com elephantpolobangkok).

Thousands of spectators will be treated to a rainbow of colours in Canberra skies

Canberra Balloon Spectacular Already in its 30th year is the Canberra Balloon Spectacular, a nine-day event that is considered to be the best and longest running hot air ballooning event in the world. At as early as 6.15am of each day, hot air balloon pilots begin laying and inflating their balloons on the lawns of the Old Parliament House. The technicolour balloons then take to the sky to create a beautiful backdrop to some of Canberra’s attractions. At this year’s event, two special shapes will take flight: Owlbert Eyenstein, and a balloon inspired by the Disney/Pixar film, Up. Owlbert, a vibrantly coloured owl with tufts of feathers sticking out of his head, will stand at a staggering 30.5m once fully inflated. Built in Brazil but homed in Arizona, USA, the Canberra Balloon Spectacular will be Owlbert’s first appearance in Australian skies. Moviegoers who fell in love with the whimsical balloon house featured in Up will want to look out for the Up inspired hot air balloon. From afar, it looks like a giant cluster of brilliantly coloured balloons holding up a tiny house – just as how it was depicted in the movie. The balloon was created by Cameron Balloons in the United Kingdom and features 540 individually sewn balloons onto the

base fabric. These two balloons are only a fraction of a fleet of more than 40 giant hot air balloons that will take part in this year’s event. Some balloons have travelled from as far as Belgium and USA to participate in the Canberra Balloon Spectacular.

MAKE IT HAPPEN Nine days of ballooning will take place at the Lawns of Old Parliament House, King Edward Terrace, Parkes from 12 to 20 March 2016. The event is free for all spectators (balloonspectacular.com.au). It is best to fly to a major city, such as Sydney or Melbourne and take a connecting flight on Qantas or Virgin Blue into Canberra International Airport. It only takes nine minutes from the airport to reach the event grounds by car. Conveniently stay at Avenue Hotel, Canberra’s newest luxury hotel in the CBD, which is located just across Lake Burley Griffin near Old Parliament House (from US$240 per night; avenuehotel.com.au).

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EASY TRIPS

Pastel shades are preferred when wearing a yukata for Hanami

Hanami in Kyoto In Japan, spring greets you in an explosion of pastel pink. Sakura, cherry blossoms, are beautiful flowers that bloom once a year for a fleeting period of time. Sakura hold weighty symbolism in Japan; the blossoms are often seen as a metaphor for the fragile beauty of life. Bask in and contemplate life purposes with the long-standing tradition of Hanami, the custom of viewing cherry blossoms with a picnic. Once an activity reserved by the elite, the tradition now calls for family, friends and even strangers to come together to enjoy hanami bento (beautifully put together lunch boxes), sakura mochi (rice cakes wrapped in pickled cherry blossom leaves), wine, and hot tea under the full blossoms. While just about every avenue will be lined with cherry blossom trees, Kyoto is our choice for a hanami party. The former capital during the Edo period has a rich history and its people still places a heavy emphasis on traditions and culture. Many places in Kyoto have also preserved its buildings, giving travellers a taste of old Japan when they visit. The geisha district of Gion is a must visit for hanami. Admire geiko and maiko in full ensemble as they walk pass with blushed cheeks the same colour as cherry blossoms at Gion22

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Shirakawa. Maruyama Park in the same district has a magnificent tree called Gion Shidarezakura, a secondgeneration tree planted in the Meiji period known for its stunning appearance. Stay past sunset at Maruyama Park for yozakura, the viewing of cherry blossoms at night.

MAKE IT HAPPEN According to hanami forecasts, the cherry blossoms are due to bloom on 28 March, with the best viewing dates to be from 3 to 11 April this year. Fly direct into Kansai International Airport (KIX) on Singapore Airlines or Malaysia Airlines daily. From KIX, take the 75-minute direct JR Airport Limited Express “Haruka” to Kyoto City. Tickets can be bought at the platform of JR Kansai Airport Station. Complete the hanami experience by staying in a ryokan, traditional Japanese inn. Some of the more popular ones have access to centuries-old natural hot springs for soaking in. Ryokan book out extremely fast during hanami and many places will hike prices due to high demand. Check Japanican.com for listings of ryokans not normally featured on English-written websites.

Luxury vessels will sail into the ‘Monaco of the East’ at this year’s Singapore Yacht Show. The sixth edition of the premier show will host luxury travellers, yacht enthusiasts, first-time buyers and dealers to view more than 100 boats, yachts and superyachts. Look out for superyacht builders, such as Fincantieri and Lürssen. In addition, yacht enthusiasts will get a chance to accessorise and amp up their favourite yachts with superyacht toys from various exhibitors. Notably, the Singapore Yacht Show has added a brokerage section this year, where brokers will be presenting pre-owned yachts and boats. There will also be a World Premiere Yacht by Sunreef Yachts, one of the leading designers in the international industry. Making its Asian debut as well are the Azimut 66 Fly by Azimut, and the Lagoon 450 SporTop by Simpson Marine. Adding to the luxe atmosphere are highly anticipated events. There will be a series of supercar parades, fashion shows, live cooking demonstrations by MasterChef Asia Judge Audra Morrice, and a Gala Dinner on Friday evening. In between catching new exhibitions, take the opportunity to

wander around ONE˚15 Marina Club where the event is being held. The club is part of the luxury neighbourhood Singapore’s wealthiest reside. There are numerous facilities for families, dining establishments and drinking holes that face out into yacht berths and the open sea.

MAKE IT HAPPEN The prestigious event will be held from 7 to 10 April 2016. Register for tickets at singaporeyachtshow.com/visitor/ tickets.php. Single Day passes sell for US$18 per pax and Weekend passes sell for US$30 per pax. Fly in on the internationally acclaimed Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com). Head to the southern party island of Sentosa via the Sentosa Express at VivoCity. Alight at Beach Station and take Bus No. 3 to reach ONE˚15 Marina Club. Stay at the newly refurbished Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort, which is a short five-minute drive away. The hotel also features the world’s largest So SPA (from US$430 per night; sofitelsingapore-sentosa.com).

The exclusive show epitomises the luxury lifestyle of yachting in Asia

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PHOTOGRAPHS: FLICKR JAPANEXPERTERNA.SE; SINGAPORE YACHT SHOW

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Singapore Yacht Show


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City at a glance:

BARCELONA Basking in the best of this Catalonian capital need not be a fussy affair – here are some highlights for an effortless stroll through the streets of this historic city, guaranteed to whet your appetite for more of its flavourful culture, fabled architecture, and world-class dining

PHOTOGRAPH: MATT MUNRO

WORDS MELISSA LORRAINE CHUA

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B A R C E LO N A AT A G L A N C E

PHOTOGRAPHS: TICKETS, MANDARIN ORIENTAL

R

ICH WITH MESMERISING charm and the centre of a cultural scene that’s been exploding in recent years, this beautiful and historic city welcomes over 7.5 million visitors each year. Barcelona, whether you choose to pronounce it with the “th” or not, is indubitably one of Europe’s most significant and gratuitous of tourist attractions – and believe it or not, it’s also the city that invented Chupa Chups. Artists and architects seem to spill forth freely from this Catalonian capital, whether it’s one of the most celebrated surrealist artists in the world Salvador Dali; priest, philosopher, and political writer Jaime Balmes; or renowned architect and urban planner Antoni Gaudí, who seems to have transformed most of the city into his personal portfolio of modernist architecture. In addition to the Sagrada Família and Park Güell, Gaudí’s other notable landmarks include Casa Milà, easily one of the most recognisable constructions in the city for its show-stopping rooftop, and Casa Batlló, popularly referred to as the ‘House of Bones’ (Casa dels ossos) for its skeletal and organic design. The former earned its name due to the open-quarry-like façade that some would say resembles skulls and bones, while the colourful mosaic walls of the latter were designed to evoke the tranquility of water lilies upon a lake, much like Monet’s masterpiece, Nymphéas. Today, Casa Milà serves as a creative space and cultural centre for numerous art exhibitions and performances, and is one of the most famous examples of the Catalan Modernisme or the Catalan Art Nouveau period.

Tickets has become one of the city’s most sought-after gastronomic destinations

Birthing such gastronomic geniuses as Ferran Adrià and the Roca brothers, you can be assured that dining in this colourful city is an adventure not to be missed. Whether your appetite craves the richly flavoured tapas hawked along

almost every street corner, or if you’d prefer to challenge the senses with some Michelin-starred molecular gastronomy, Barcelona is a culinary extravaganza that will please all. Getting to Barcelona from our part of the world is less daunting than you would expect; a multitude of airlines offering non-stop flights. Singapore Airlines in particular flies thrice weekly from Singapore direct to Barcelona, its less-than-14-hour-long flight made slightly more manageable with the increased availability of Premium Economy options. If travelling from an adjacent country as part of an extended Europe trip, why not take the scenic route on board a high-speed train? Eurostar operates between the UK and mainland Europe to shuttle you between countries in a matter of hours. Whatever your itinerary, Barcelona is one unique city that is sure to please, a truly one-of-a-kind destination that constantly seeks to reinvent itself, effortlessly riding the cusp between trend-setting cool and ancient heritage.

The haunting of history is ever present in Barcelona. I see cities as organisms, as living creatures. To me, Barcelona is a woman. And it’s a woman who’s extremely vain.

- Carlos Ruiz Zafon, renowned Spanish novelist

Stay in prime real estate at the Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona

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Cotton House Hotel, Autograph Collection For a true sense of Barcelona’s heritage, the Cotton House Hotel is it. This emblematic neoclassical 19th century building is the site of the former headquarters for the Cotton Textile Foundation, an emblem of the Catalonian bourgeoisie that once dominated the city. A genuine landmark, its interiors are a juxtaposition of both the historic and modern, a suspended metal spiral staircase and sleek chandeliers making themselves at home amidst boiserie embellished ceilings and elaborate brass knockers. Owww.hotelcottonhouse.com

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP Highquality cotton features heavily at the Cotton House Hotel; spectacular roof-top views at Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona; Hotel Claris; DestinationBCN

DestinationBCN An off-beat boutique hotel overlooking the iconic Avinguda Diagonal, Destination BCN’s collection of minimalist apartments is everything you need for a stylish stay in the city. All apartments are kitted with a complimentary selection of Malin + Goetz natural-based skin and hair products, with the option to purchase a mini travel kit of the Peppermint shampoo, Dark Rum body wash, and Cilantro conditioner, perfect for product junkies. Choose to stay at the Merimon penthouse for its huge arched window and private terrace. Odestinationbcn.com

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Hotel Claris A centre for commerce and the arts, the luxury Hotel Claris is a treasure trove of over 400 objets d’art right in the heart of Barcelona’s renaissance. Housed within a 1892 façade, this member of the Design Hotels™ group in the refined Eixample neighbourhood is undeniably cool with its contemporary aesthetic and prestigious postal code. Rooms have been decorated with understated luxury – think more rich organic textures and less garish opulence – with pieces of original Roman, Egyptian and Hindu art. Owww.designhotels.com/hotel-claris

PHOTOGRAPHS: COTTON HOUSE HOTEL, DESIGN HOTELS, MANDARIN ORIENTAL, DESTINATIONBCN

Hotels

Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona Prime real estate doesn’t get any better than this – perched right on the bustling Passeig de Gràcia with coveted views of the modernist Casa Batlló, Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona is a wonderful mix of five-star luxury, gourmet Michelinstar dining, and award-winning treatments. Had a long day? Indulge in one of Mandarin Oriental’s signature spa therapies that incorporates elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine and aromatherapy. Owww.mandarinoriental.com/barcelona


B A R C E LO N A AT A G L A N C E El Barri Gòtic Adjacent to Las Ramblas is an entire area designated as the Gothic Quarter (El Barri Gòtic), home to some of the oldest architecture in the city that dates back to as far as the Roman times. An unusual juxtaposition of medieval buildings and contemporary vendors – expect to find a yoga studio, an American Apparel store, and a Chinese tea house nestled within these labyrinthine side streets – the Gothic Quarter’s most iconic attraction is the Barcelona Cathedral, which was constructed between the 13th and 15th centuries.

PHOTOGRAPHS: SPAIN TOURISM BOARD

Las Ramblas One of the most famous landmarks in Barcelona is Las Ramblas, a historic tree-lined street that cuts through the heart of the city centre and is dotted with vibrant promenades, colourful street performers, and cultural theatres. The pavements of this bustling 1.2-kilometre stretch of road are filled with souvenir hawkers and artists, as well as dozens of restaurants and shope, a stalwart of the everchanging tourist scene that stretches all the way from Placa Catalunya to Port Vell.

La Sagrada Família This towering cathedral is as fabled as it is awe-inspiring – this massive undertaking by the famously innovative Antoni Gaudi has been under construction since 1882 till date and, although incomplete, attracts around 2.8 million visitors every year. The completed sections and the in-house museum can be explored at leisure, but we recommend booking your tickets online beforehand if you want to beat the queues. Ovisit.sagradafamilia.cat CLOCKWISE FROM TOP La Sagrada Família is one of the city’s top attractions; Barcelona Cathedral; Las Ramblas; the colourful mosaics of Park Güell

Attractions Park Güell Another of Gaudi’s great works is Park Güell, a public municipal garden located in the La Salut neighbourhood of the Gràcia district, further up north from the city centre. Meant as a beacon of Catalan modernism, Park Güell was designed with futuristic urban aesthetics in mind – well, as imagined on the cusp of the 20th century, that is. Its distinctive colourful mosaics and famed mascot, the multi-coloured salamander affectionally nicknamed “el drac”, have become some of the city’s most iconic sights.

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La Roca Village Located half an hour outside Barcelona, visitors can take the Shopping Express, a luxury coach service, from the city centre, and from Lloret de Mar and Santa Susanna in the summer months (June to September). The service is available five times daily from Monday to Saturday. On top of the already discounted prices, La Roca Village holds several sale seasons, with further price reductions on selected brands, from Armani, Burberry, Calvin Klein Jeans, Coach, Diesel to Levi’s, Lacoste, Nike and Puma. Owww.larocavillage.com

El Corte Ingles At the end of Portal de I’Angel stands El Corte Ingles, the largest department store in Europe. The variety of brands and products is mind-boggling. Electronic stores such as Apple, Canon, LG, Panasonic and Philips are great places for gadget-shopping, while Miele, Nespresso and Bosch are stores tailored for appliances lovers who are tasteful and with cash to spare. Armani Collezioni and Polo Ralph Lauren offer stylish apparels, and the beauty counters (Biotherm, Carolina Herrera, Guerlain, Lancome and Sisley) are a giant conglomeration of beauty and grooming essentials. Owww.elcorteingles.eu

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Shopping

OMG BCN Chocked full of personality and a miscellany of items from apparel and jewellery to homeware and crockery, OMG BCN prides itself in its exclusive selection of Barcelona-designed and made items. Founders Iu Bartolomé and Estela Portolés are the two curious minds dedicated to showcasing the best this city has to offer. Browse the racks to uncover quirky novelties such as cocktail forks shaped like sardines, beard-shaped post-its, and foot stools designed as doughnuts. Oomgbcn.com

PHOTOGRAPHS: CHIC OUTLET SHOPPING, LES TOPETTES, OMG BCN

CLOCKWISE FROM RIGHT Les Topettes; OMG BCN; El Corte Ingles; La Roca Village Barcelona

Les Topettes Not just any beauty junkies’ heaven, Les Topettes has built its entire philosophy on sourcing high-quality, raw, and environmentally friendly products that have been hand-picked and carefully curated by the owners, couple Lucia and Oriol. High quality brands with limited distribution range from the international to the cult, including Diptyque, Tokyomilk, and Juniper ridge. Whether perfumes, soaps, creams, candles or toiletries, there’s almost no way you’ll walk out empty-handed. Owww.lestopettes.com


B A R C E LO N A AT A G L A N C E

PHOTOGRAPHS: SPAIN TOURISM BOARD, TICKETS, UMA, DAN BLYSTONE

Tickets World-renowned founder of now-defunct El Bulli and pioneer of molecular gastronomy Ferran Adria has opened his own tapas restaurant in Barcelona, and Tickets has quickly become one of the most sought-after gastronomic pit-stops in the country. It is nearly impossible to get a walk-in table, so be sure to make reservations in advance. Owww.ticketsbar.es/web

Mercat de la Boqueria At the centre of Barcelona’s produce industry is the famed Mercat de la Boqueria, a bountiful cornucopia of colourful fruits and vegetables, fresh and exotic seafood, and home-ground sausages and artisanal cheeses – many of Barcelona’s top chefs shop at this market. Feeling adventurous? Try some Catalonian specialties such as bacalla sala (dried salted cod), served with a salad of tomato, onion, and black olives, or peus de porc, pig’s trotters stewed with snails. Near the entrance of the market is the internationally-loved Bar Pinotxo, which serves up some of the best quality tapas in the city.

Food CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT The famed Mercat de la Boqueria; Churros with chocolate at Tickets; UMA’s ROCA; signature seafood tapas at Casa de Tapes Cañota

UMA Doubling up as an experimental kitchen, UMA is a sensual, exploratory experience unlike any other. Chef Iker Erauzkin, who contributes to over 20 Michelin-starred restaurants in the city, uses this space as a testing ground to deliver such adventurous and deconstructed plates such as liquefied olive, bubbly custard, and white chocolate and almond pudding disguised as a sausage to “toy with your senses”. UMA is an affordable option for you to sample some sophisticated molecular gastronomy, but be sure to book ahead as the restaurant is not always open. Owww.espaciouma.com

Casa de Tapes Cañota Traditional seafood dishes are the specialty at El Cañota, and it’s interesting to note that it’s the slightly more casual younger sibling of the renowned Rías de Galicia, one of the greatest Galician restaurants in the country. Expect top-notch comfort food made from the best produce, including fried seafood, Galician octopus, patatas bravas, and endless flows of draught beer and wine. With a menu specially designed for groups, this is the place to enjoy a no-frills meal with friends and family. Ocasadetapas.com MARCH/APRIL 2016

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U LT I M A T E T R A V E L E X P E R I E N C E S

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E X PE R I E N CE S Lonely l Planet’s l ’ travell community recently l got together to rank 500 of the world’s greatest sights – discover some of the top finishers from the vote right here 1 REDISCOVER THE TEMPLES OF ANGKOR When all the votes were counted, it was clear that the number-one sight in Lonely Planet’s ‘Ultimate Travelist’ had won by a landslide. So, how did Angkor Wat do it? Even in a region as gifted with temples as Southeast Asia, Angkor Wat is something out of the ordinary: an image of heaven on Earth, hewn from thousands of stone blocks and carved floor-to-ceiling with legends from Hindu epics. Even better, Angkor Wat is the crowning glory in a complex of more than a thousand Hindu and Buddhist temples, shrines and tombs that forms a virtual city of spires in the jungles of Cambodia. International flights drop into nearby Siem Reap, so it’s hard to describe Angkor as ‘undiscovered’, yet every visitor who steps among the ruins, where tree roots tear through ancient walls and the heads of forgotten deities 30

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poke out from between the vines, feels like an adventurer peeling back the foliage for the first time. Few experiences can match arriving at the ruins of the Bayon at dawn and watching dozens of benevolent stone faces appearing slowly out of the mist like heavenly apparitions. Angkor Wat itself is a massive representation of the sacred Mt Meru, executed with such grace that it might have been made in the presence of the divine.Travellers feel similar emotions when exploring the overgrown 12th-century ruins of Ta Prohm (pictured). Angkor is a powerful reminder of the ambitions of human creativity, and the very Buddhist realisation that nothing material is eternal, and that given time, all will be reclaimed by the jungle. O tourismcambodia.com/attractions/angkor.htm


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4 WALK THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA

2 DIVE AUSTRALIA’S GREAT BARRIER REEF Second place in our list goes to a natural wonder stretching for more than 1,500 miles up the northeastern coast of Australia. The Great Barrier Reef hardly needs an introduction. But here are some facts: this is the world’s largest network of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral and 1,500 species of fish. Some 30 kinds of whales, dolphins and porpoises have been spotted here, along with six species of sea turtles and 17 kinds of sea snake. If that doesn’t convince you to make the trip to Oz, there’s this: the

reef may not be around for much longer, at least in its present state of glory. Rising sea temperatures have been bleaching and killing the coral, and the trend shows no sign of stopping. But for now, the reef is a psychedelic underwater playground for divers and snorkellers. Even above the surface, and closer to the Queensland coast, this vital ecosystem enthrals all who visit, with abundant bird life found on its countless tropical islands and beaches. O gbrmpa.gov.au/visit-the-reef

3 MYSTERIOUS MACHU PICCHU Just a handful of votes separates the second and third spots in the list. But they could not be more different. Gawping down at Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate after a four-day hike along the Inca Trail is a rite of passage for travellers to Peru. But it’s not the outrageously dramatic Andean setting, nor the way that the ancient Inca city clings to impossibly precipitous slopes that makes Machu Picchu so mind-blowing – it’s the fact that no-one really knows what happened here. There are theories aplenty – from royal retreat and temple for virgins, through to alien landing pad – but they remain just that. Theories. Today, you can wander wide-eyed around the mountain metropolis in a liberating knowledge vacuum, forming your own ideas. O peru.travel

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Every country has its must-see monument; in China, that monument covers a significant part of the country. The Great Wall of China is not just one wall but an awe-inspiring maze of walls and fortifications stretching for more than 13,000 miles across the rugged landscape of the north of the country. Constructed in waves over more than a thousand years, the Great Wall ultimately failed in its objective of keeping barbarian hordes out of China, but it became the defining symbol of the Ming Empire, which ruled the country between 1368 and 1644. It’s a myth that you can see the Great Wall from space, but when confronted by the sight of this endless structure stretching off into infinite distance, it seems almost impossible that this wouldn’t be true. A few rugged souls trek the entire length of the wall, but even if you pick just one section, you’ll be humbled by its aura of indestructibility. Which part you choose to explore depends on whether you’re after imperial grandeur (the sections nearest Beijing, such as Jinshanling, pictured), military precision (in Gansu) or timeless desolation (in Inner Mongolia). O cnto.org/thegreatwallofchina


6 SLACK-JAWED AT THE GRAND CANYON

5 ROMANTIC TAJ MAHAL How do you create architectural perfection? Start with acres of shimmering white marble. Add a few thousand semi-precious stones, carved and inlaid in intricate Islamic patterns. Take a sublime setting by a sacred river, in jewel-like formal gardens. Apply a little symmetry, and tie up the whole package in a story of timeless love. And there you have India’s Taj Mahal, built in the mid 17th century by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Today, the ghosts of Mughal India wander the gleaming marble courtyards, drifting like shadows under archways and floating behind latticework screens.

Stand before this vast slice through the Earth’s crust and you’re looking down at two billion years of geologic time. That fact does something funny to the human brain. Lit by flaming sunsets, filled with billowing seas of fog and iced with crystal dustings of snow, this mile-deep, 277-mile-long stretch of the Colorado River in the southwestern US state of Arizona is nature’s cathedral. You’ll feel tiny yet soaring, awed yet peaceful, capable of poetry yet totally tongue-tied.

As the explorer John Wesley Powell once said: ‘The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself.’ But we had to try anyway. Come here to hike, to raft the wild Colorado River, to spot condors, black bears and elk, or simply to marvel. Most visitors access the canyon from the South Rim, about 75 miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona. The North Rim is more remote. O nps.gov/grca

PHOTOGRAPHS: ALAN COPSON/AWL IMAGES, MICHELE FALZONE/GETTY IMAGES, PHILIP LEE HARVEY,MATT MUNRO, MARK READ, PETE SEAWARD

O tajmahal.gov.in

7 COLOSSEUM POWER GAMES

8 THE EPIC IGUAZU FALLS

9 GLORIES OF THE ALHAMBRA

10 IMPERIAL AYA SOFYA

11 THE TWELVE APOSTLES

This massive 50,000seat amphitheatre is the most thrilling of Rome’s ancient sights, a monument to raw power. Gladiators met here in mortal combat, and condemned prisoners fought off wild beasts in front of baying crowds. Two millennia on, it still exerts a hold over all who set foot inside.

The Guaraní name for the point where the Iguazu River plummets over a plateau on the Brazil-Argentina border is an understatement: Big Water. Big? The falls are mind-bogglingly mighty. The whole thing is glimpsed through a stretch of subtropical rainforest forming a national park. O iguazuargentina.com,

The palace complex of the Alhambra, in the southern Spanish city of Granada, is perhaps the most refined example of Islamic art anywhere in the world. It’s the combination of intricate detail and epic scale in the heavenly gardens and lavishly decorated palaces that gives the Alhambra its breathtaking appeal.

Church, mosque and museum in one, the Aya Sofya in Istanbul defies easy categorisation just as it defied the rules of architecture when it was built almost 1,500 years ago. Byzantine Emperor Justinian I demanded a cathedral to eclipse the wonders of Rome and mimic the majesty of heaven on Earth. He got his wish.

How did a group of sea stacks feature so high in our list? There aren’t even 12 of them; thanks to erosion, just eight are left. The answer lies in where the Twelve Apostles stand: on Australia’s Great Ocean Road, one of the world’s must-do drives, which hugs the state of Victoria’s supremely scenic southwest coast.

cataratasdoiguacu.com.br

O alhambra-patronato.es

O ayasofyamuzesi.gov.tr

O visitvictoria.com

O coopculture.it

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13 TIKAL’S JUNGLE-CLAD SECRETS Mexico might have the most well-known Maya sites, but it’s Guatemala that grabs a place in the top 20. Filled with palpable notes of jungle, earth and stone, the air of Tikal feels suitably timeless. Twelve hundred years ago, you’d have

been walking through a bustling Maya metropolis. Today, you’re greeted by haunted jungle ambience: wind through vines, the cries of howler monkeys and the occasional cacophony of squawks emitted by the birds that call the once-great city home. Archaeologists say Tikal rivalled Rome in size, and population, but most of the city remains beneath a thousand years of dense jungle that has claimed the old heartland of the Maya. O mcd.gob.gt/tikal

12 PETRA AS SPIELBERG SAW IT countless tombs. The 19thcentury Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt heard rumours of an ancient city hidden in these canyons, unknown beyond the local Bedouin tribes. What he found was the two-millennia-old ‘lost’ city of the Nabataeans – a trading people whose routes extended across Arabia. Ever since, millions have followed him to Petra. But it’s still just about possible to get away from the crowds: linger until closing time to find yourself alone in a corner of the city, treading stony pathways with only the ghosts of the past for company. O visitpetra.jo

14 IN WILDEST FIORDLAND

15 COLONIAL CARTAGENA

16 LIFE IN THE GALÁPAGOS

17 ROCKIN’ IT IN YOSEMITE

18 THE BEAUTY OF DUBROVNIK

Covering a rugged corner of New Zealand’s South Island, Fiordland is a primeval landscape of jagged peaks, glacial valleys, pristine lakes, tumbling waterfalls and sheer fjords. Ancient forests drip green and twitch with birds such as kiwi and takahe. Visiting Fiordland is like travelling back to a time before humans.

Having pierced the rind of Las Murallas (the city walls), an explosion of tangy citrus colours confronts you in the old centre of Cartagena, former seat of Spanish imperial power on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The best way to explore is simply to meander, tasting local street treats and taking in the sights and smells.

Nowhere else does the animal kingdom turn the tables on humanity quite like in the islands of the Galápagos. Out in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles from mainland Ecuador, it’s a place where visitors may feel they are the exhibit, for a varied cast including blue-footed boobies, sea lions, marine iguanas and giant tortoises.

Could Yosemite be the world’s most enduring rock star? The national park in the mountains of California is a place where waterfalls burst from the cliffs and giant sequoias scratch at the sky. But the park’s rocks are its true royalty: the vast granite Half Dome, and the sentinel of El Capitan guarding the entrance to the valley.

The coastal Croatian city juts out on its headland into the blue Adriatic, towers rising over green islands and the masts of anchored ships. Explore Europe’s most handsome city ramparts, built from the 12th to 17th centuries, on the circular walking route, where you may encounter filming for Game of Thrones.

O fiordland.org.nz

O colombia.travel

O galapagospark.org

O nps.gov/yose

O experience.dubrovnik.hr

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PHOTOGRAPHS: JUSTIN FOULKES, ROBERTO MOIOLA/SUPERSTOCK, MARK READ

If we’re honest, most people’s mental image of Petra is of Indiana Jones riding through a narrow canyon, marvelling at the rose-red façade of the Treasury, stepping inside and proving himself fit to discover the Holy Grail. In fact, if you step inside the Treasury, all you’ll find is a bare room rather lacking in holy grails. But in other respects the reality is as extraordinary as Hollywood fiction. Everyone can experience the drama of the Siq – the chasm from which the Treasury emerges – but unlike Indy, you can also explore the ruins beyond; the High Place of Sacrifice, the Monastery and


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19 ILLUSIONS AT THE SALAR DE UYUNI Licking the walls is strictly prohibited in the Palacio de Sal. Constructed from salt, the hotel wouldn’t survive long if everyone got inquisitive with their tongues, and besides, it’s bad for your heart, so you’ll have to trust us. Walls, floors, ceilings, furniture, even the sculptures – all salt. Over a million blocks of the stuff. And the view: that’s all salt too. Welcome to Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, the planet’s biggest salt lake. There’s virtually nothing to see here, but you’ve never

seen anything half as surreal as this, especially if you score a tour when there’s a layer of water on the surface, transforming the floor into a mirror and convincing your frontal cortex that you’re travelling through the middle of the sky. It’s a sensation-bending experience, and it’s a relief to focus on something real when you finally reach one of the lake’s few features that isn’t a mirage, such as Isla Incahuasi or Isla del Pescado. O bolivia.travel

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21 KEEPING YOUR HEAD IN VERSAILLES

20 THE COUNTLESS TEMPLES OF BAGAN Some places earn a position on this list through their sheer scale, others through dazzling ornateness. Bagan wins on both counts. A religious site to be mentioned in the same breath as Machu Picchu or Angkor, Bagan is a complex of at least 2,000 Buddhist pagodas on the banks of the Irrawaddy River in the heart of Burma. Largely constructed between the 11th and 13th centuries by a dynasty of zealous temple-building kings, the pagodas come in all

shapes and sizes. Some, like Shwezigon, sparkle an ethereal gold in the sunset, whereas others such as the Ananda Temple are home to tall Buddha statues. A few, the Shwesandaw pagoda for instance (pictured), have terraces with views over all Bagan. And then there are innumerable others among the undergrowth: places that go days without hearing the footfall of visitors.

How many abodes in the world have 700 rooms, 2,153 windows, 67 staircases, 800 hectares of gardens, 2,100 statues and sculptures, and enough paintings to pave a seven-mile road? That’s right, France’s first entry in the Ultimate Travelist isn’t the Eiffel Tower, it’s the ultimate crash pad: the Château de Versailles. And what is possibly even more mesmerising than this building’s extreme size is the ostentatious opulence that pervades every last brick and Baroque, egg-and-dart carved cornice. French ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV transformed his father’s humble hunting lodge nine miles southwest of Paris into a monumental palace to house him and his 6,000 sycophantic courtiers in the

17th century. It was the kingdom’s political capital and the seat of the royal court for most of the period between 1682 and the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789. Today a Unesco World Heritage site, the royal residence is a glittering evocation of French royal history and the conspiring, romancing, plotting, intrigue and backstabbing drama that went on behind royal doors. Ogle at your reflection a dozen times in the shimmering Hall of Mirrors, imagine the queen having to give birth in front of an audience in her bedchamber, watch fountains dance in the gardens, see horses prance in the stables, and congratulate yourself on making it to the ball. O chateauversailles.fr

O myanmartourism.org

Chaotic and enchanting in equal measure, Djemaa el-Fna is the vibrant heart of Marrakesh. The main square of this former capital of Morocco is a hub of hoopla, halqa (street theatre) and hikayat (oral storytelling) that has been thriving since medieval times. During the day, soothsayers and snake-charmers patrol the pavement along with a ragtag assortment of hawkers, henna tattoo artists and rather dubious dentists. Once the sun sets, the square transforms into a mashup of music and mayhem that is part circus and bawdy vaudeville act, and part open-air 36

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concert. The original activity here was of a more gruesome nature. In the 11th century, this was a site for public executions, which explains the square’s name: ‘assembly of the dead’. From these macabre beginnings, the Djemaa evolved into an entertainment centre and evenings here are now fuelled by food stalls offering tajines and snail broth, while acrobats, storytellers, musicians and slapstick acts perform for milling crowds. Unesco proclaimed it a ‘Masterpiece of World Heritage’ in 2001. O visitmorocco.com

PHOTOGRAPHS: PHILIP LEE HARVEY, PHILIPPE LE JEANVRE/GETTY IMAGES, CHRIS MELLOR/GETTY IMAGES, MATT MUNRO, MARK READ

22 STREET THEATRE IN DJEMAA EL-FNA


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23 HALONG BAY ISLAND-HOPPING Imagine 2,000 or more islands rising from the emerald waters of Vietnam’s Gulf of Tonkin and you have a vision of mystical beauty. Legend claims the islands of Halong Bay were created by a great dragon that plunged into the sea. The bay’s immense number of islands are dotted with eroded grottoes, and their sparsely forested slopes ring with birdsong. It’s unlikely you’ll have it all to yourself, but when the view’s this good, who cares?

25 THE TIMELESS CHARLES BRIDGE

O vietnamtourism.com

If Charles Bridge were still the city’s main artery, Prague would have gone purple and died years ago. Fortunately, there are now other ways across the Vltava River in the Czech capital, and the iconic thoroughfare is pedestrianised. The foundation stone was laid by Charles IV in 1357, on 9 July at 5.31am exactly. The Holy Roman Emperor, a numerologist, allegedly selected this precise moment because it forms a numerical bridge, or scale: 1 3 5 7 9 7 5 3 1. Visit at dawn to dodge crowds, explore the stonework and enjoy views up and down the river, but look out for the Bradácˇ (Bearded Man), a stone head at the Staré Meˇsto end that traditionally marked out dangerous flood levels.

24 ULURU’S KALEIDOSCOPIC SPECTACLE For a whopping great chunk of rock, Uluru has an uncanny ability to sneak up on people – even those who have spent hours driving through the desert specifically to see it. Suddenly, boo! There it is, leaping up from the otherwise blank horizon. The profile is familiar, but the colour always

surprises. For the full effect, wait until early morning. In the bone-chilling pre-dawn desert gloom, pick a spot and get a fix on the sacred silhouetted monolith. Have your camera ready because, when the sun leaps out from behind the dunes, an extraordinary but brief lightshow begins: Uluru

blushes royally, before a revolving palette of earthy tones washes across its face. Afterwards, explore this continent-defining behemoth boulder up close, discovering myriad features including pools, waterfalls and sacred Indigenous sites. O parksaustralia.gov.au/uluru

O prague.eu

26 ENGLAND’S LAKE DISTRICT

27 TORRES DEL PAINE HIKING

28 AROUND HABANA VIEJA

29 UP TABLE MOUNTAIN

30 ART IN THE HERMITAGE

The Lake District contains England’s highest mountain (Scafell Pike at 978m) and deepest and longest lakes (Wastwater and Windermere). Seeing this landscape for the first time is wonderfully inspiring, just as it must have been for the Romantic poets who flocked here in the 19th century.

Patagonia summons every iota of its fabled wilderness into one dramatic thrust of precipitous granite in an outdoor-lovers’ oasis of forest-cloaked mountains, lakes, plains and glaciers in the south of Chile. Small wonder many consider Torres del Paine to have South America’s best hiking.

Old Havana is the closest you can come to stepping into a sepiatinted photograph: stroll along cobbled streets, past pastel buildings and vintage cars. The atmospheric decay makes it a hit with photographers, but this remains a living city, perhaps soon to change as Cuba-US relations open up.

Other cities have signature buildings or manmade monuments, Cape Town has its own mountain. You can catch a cable car up, but it’s better to earn the reward of a panorama across South Africa’s most exciting city and towards the Cape of Good Hope. Various hiking routes take you to vantage points.

The richness of this St Petersburg landmark is staggering: it’s been estimated that to view every display here for a minute would take 11 years. Commissioned by Russia’s Catherine the Great to store her imperial art collection, the museum’s treasures range from Egyptian relics to Impressionist art and Fabergé eggs.

O lakedistrict.gov.uk

O parquetorresdelpaine.cl

O cubatravel.tur.cu

O tablemountain.net

O hermitagemuseum.org

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31 BASK IN THE BAY OF KOTOR Geologists may quibble over whether Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor is the only fjord on the Mediterranean, but with a landscape this charismatic, who really cares what you call it? In the many twists and turns of the bay, rugged mountains of lavender-grey scree tumble down to a coastal fringe of olive and pomegranate trees above a limpid opal sea. Whether you are kayaking around rocky coves, sailing across to islands topped with monasteries or trekking into the craggy hinterland, you will be far too captivated by your surroundings to worry about how to classify it. In fact, the bay does an excellent job of presenting all of the

highlights of the Mediterranean in one neat package, fusing Baroque architecture, Napoleonic history and Slavic bravado. The historic walled city of Kotor offers café culture, neat cobbled alleyways and Venetian loggia; Risan is home to Roman mosaics; and Perast (pictured) is just one of numerous seaside hamlets fragrant with wild fig. The bay gets crowded with the yachting set during summer months, but you can escape on a mountain bike into the brooding hills, trip up to lofty Lovc´en National Park or seek complete serenity in the 12th-century Cathedral of St Tryphon. O montenegro.travel

32 ON SAFARI IN NGORONGORO Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater is not just one of the world’s largest volcanic calderas: the concentration of wildlife on the floor of the crater, particularly of lions and black rhinos, is unparalleled in Africa. O ngorongorocrater.org

33 FEELING HOT IN YELLOWSTONE Half of the globe’s collection of geysers, mud-pots and other geothermal features can be found in America’s – and the world’s – first national park, along with bison, wolves, bears and other iconic wildlife. O nps.gov/yell

34 RETRACING THE BERLIN WALL Although little remains of the infamous wall that encircled West Berlin from 1961 to 1989, a few graffitied stubs still stand among later memorials. Walk the Mauerweg, a waymarked trail along the old footprint. O visitberlin.de

35 THE VIEW FROM IL DUOMO Get a shot of espresso before ascending the 463 steps into the cupola that crowns Florence’s cathedral. With each step, remember you’re inside an architectural wonder that was a highlight of the Italian Renaissance. O museumflorence.com

36 SCUBA-DIVING GOLD IN KO TAO Why Ko Tao over Thailand’s other islands? The answer lies beneath the warm, calm waters that surround this beautiful droplet of land. Its trump card is diverse diving in a playground of neon coral right off its shores. O tourismthailand.org

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37 THE PYRAMIDS OF PALENQUE Spilling out of the jungles of Chiapas like the sun-bleached bones of a vanquished Maya king, Palenque is the most atmospheric of the Maya sites in southern Mexico. It could be the fearful symmetry of the Temple of the Inscriptions, where an honour guard of servants was slaughtered to accompany king K’inich Janaab’ Pakal into the afterlife. It could be the eerie skull carved into its namesake temple. Or it could be the noises in the jungle – as if nature is coming to take Palenque back. Complete the Maya trinity with a boat trip to Yaxchilán and a bike ride through the jungle to Bonampak.

38 ON ICEBERG WATCH IN ILULISSAT

39 UNDERGROUND LALIBELA

Welcome to the Greenland of your wildest travel fantasies. The astonishing ice-fjord by the town of Ilulissat is packed with icebergs the size of apartment blocks. It’s fed by Sermeq Kujalleq, a hulking, prolific glacier that flows an average of 25 metres daily. A phenomenal 35 billion tonnes of icebergs pass through here each year. There’s no sight more mesmerising than gazing upon these monsters, easily accessible on a boat tour or a short hike from town.

Throughout this list, numerous monuments have been built by stacking stone on top of stone. One exception is Lalibela: Ethiopia’s foremost historical site. The 11 monolithic churches of this holy city were chiselled out of bedrock in the 12th and 13th centuries, most famously Bet Giyorgis – the church of St George (above). The city is a headquarters of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, one of Christianity’s oldest strands, and pilgrims cross the country to pray here.

O greenland.com

O ethioembassy.org.uk

40 ST PETER’S HOLINESS

41 REDWOOD NATIONAL PARK

42 THE WILD MASAI MARA

43 MONUMENT VALLEY BEAUTY

44 BHUTAN’S BEST DZONG

If ever a building could make you feel small and humble before God, this is surely it. Work began on St Peter’s Basilica in in the 16th century. Now the symbolic heart of the Catholic church rises above Rome like a gargantuan wedding cake. During Papal Mass, more than 15,000 worshippers can easily squeeze inside it.

In northern California, this park is home to the tallest trees on Earth: coast redwoods. The conifers thrive in the cool foggy conditions, often growing more than 100m in height (to put that in perspective, the Statue of Liberty is 93m tall). Standing by yourself in a grove of these giants can be a spiritual experience.

It’s a sad reality that, after visiting the Masai Mara, other wildlife parks can be a little underwhelming. At this Kenyan reserve, you may wake here to see a herd of elephants lumbering around your camp or glimpse a cheetah whooshing at speed though the savannah grasses, scattering her prey.

Monument Valley has a face known around the world. Its fiery red spindles, sheer-walled mesas and grand buttes have made this stretch of desert on the borders of Arizona and Utah, inhabited by the Navajo people, into the world’s idea of the American West (with a little help from John Wayne). O navajonationparks.org/

It’s hard to pin down what makes Punakha Dzong inspire such feelings of inner peace and harmony. Dzongs are the characteristic fortress-like monastery compounds of this small Himalayan state. At this dzong, two gently swishing rivers meet beneath the sturdy walls, with jacaranda trees lining the banks.

O vaticanstate.va

O nps.gov/redw

O magicalkenya.com

htm/monumentvalley.htm

O tourism.gov.bt

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PHOTOGRAPHS: TIMOTHY ALLEN/GETTY IMAGES, JUSTIN FOULKES, JUSTIN FOULKES/4CORNERS, PHILIP LEE HARVEY, MATT MUNRO, WESTEND61/GETTY IMAGES

O visitmexico.com/en/palenque


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45 UNSPOILED COAST IN BIG SUR, CALIFORNIA Big Sur is more a state of mind than a place you can pinpoint on a map. There are no traffic lights, banks or strip malls, and when the sun goes down, the moon and the stars are the only street lights. Nestled up against mossy, mysteriouslooking redwood

forests, California’s rocky Big Sur coast is a secretive place in which hot springs, waterfalls and beaches lay hidden. Its raw beauty and energy has long been a muse for creative types; in the 1950s and 1960s it became a retreat for artists and writers, including Henry

Miller and Beat Generation visionaries. Today, Big Sur attracts self-proclaimed artists, new-age mystics, latter-day hippies and city slickers seeking to unplug and reflect more deeply on this emeraldgreen edge of the continent. O bigsurcalifornia.org

46 IN THE SHADOW OF THE MATTERHORN No other mountain has so much pulling power and natural magnetism as this charismatic pyramid-shaped peak on the Swiss-Italian border. It is Europe’s most photographed mountain, and once you’ve spied this celebrity of the Alps, you too will be snapping it from every last angle. You don’t need to be superhuman to reach the 4,478m summit, but you do need to be a skilled climber and in top physical shape to make the ascent up sheer rock and ice. For non-climbers, a trip to the spiffy Swiss resort of Zermatt is an easy way to get up close. The Matterhorn Museum offers insights into the 19th-century pioneers who reached the top, and those who didn’t make it. O zermatt.ch

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47 STOCKHOLM’S HISTORIC CENTRE History positively drips from the edifices in Gamla Stan – Stockholm’s old town. Here, cobblestone streets wriggle past Renaissance churches, Baroque palaces and medieval squares, while spice-coloured buildings frame cosy cafés. Founded in 1250, Gamla Stan has taken many dark twists and turns over the centuries since. It’s been blackened by plague and famine, consumed by flame, and embattled by Danish and Swedish factions. Dominating the skyline, Storkyrkan is the old town’s medieval cathedral. O visitstockholm.com

48 WADE INTO THE OKAVANGO DELTA highlands of Angola it takes a month to reach the Okavango, deluging the area in enough water to fill more than four million Olympic-size swimming pools. All of which has the happy effect of ensuring everyone who makes it into the heart of the Okavango – by incredibly scenic flight, 4x4, traditional mokoro canoe or on foot – feels as if it’s one of the most special experiences they’ll ever have, not just in southern Africa, but anywhere. O botswanatourism.co.bw

49 THE POIGNANT POTALA PALACE As haunting as it is magnificent, the Potala Palace is the largest monastery in the Tibetan Buddhist world, and one of the most recognisable buildings on the planet. Spread over thirteen floors, cascading down the face of Marpo Ri (Red Hill), the palace formed the spiritual heart of Tibet before China’s Cultural Revolution, and it still towers over downtown Lhasa. Today, the Potala lives on as a humbling, but empty, memorial. More sightseers than monks stalk its passageways and painted chapels, but the intricate, rainbow-coloured murals and gilded statues and stupas speak eloquently of a vanished era. Come to immerse yourself in Tibet’s past. O lonelyplanet.com/china/tibet

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PHOTOGRAPHS: BLAINE HARRINGTON/GETTY IMAGES, WILL SANDERS, TOMAS SEREDA/ISTOCK, SYLVAIN SONNET/GETTY IMAGES, VISIT NORWAY/© PER EIDE 2013, RADU ZACIU/GETTY IMAGES

Surely the only reason that the Okavango Delta is not higher on this list is because relatively few people make it here. Botswana likes its visitors rich and low in numbers, and the Okavango is also remote. This huge inland delta’s annual flood attracts a wonderful concentration of the continent’s big-ticket animals, including elephants and lions, as well as lechwe antelopes, which move easily through the waters (pictured). Statistics bear out the Okavango’s sublime status. When rain falls in the


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50 EMPIRE STATE BUILDING VIEWS This is America, and there are always options to upsize if you splash more cash, so you have a choice: be content with the killer view of New York City from the open-air deck on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, or make like King Kong and keep climbing to the top of this Art Deco landmark, where a smaller, enclosed space awaits on 102. Romantics and photographers prefer the lower deck, where wind tickles skin and sounds of the sleepless city float ever so faintly in the air, and this option leaves some coin for the New York Skyride, a simulated aerial tour of the city voiced by Kevin Bacon. O esbnyc.com

51 BUDAPEST’S THERMAL BATHS You’ve got to love a city where long, luxurious baths are a civic pastime. In the Hungarian capital Budapest, locals and visitors revel in the many public bathhouses, which range from 16th-century Turkish-style domed pools to Gilded Era palaces to modern spas. Choose a co-ed or single-sex (read: naked) spa, grab a towel, and prepare for a ritual soak lasting several hours. The waters are said to heal everything from arthritis to asthma, but bathing here is as much about culture as health and cleanliness. O budapestinfo.hu

52 GEIRANGERFJORD BY FERRY The 12-mile chug along Norway’s Geirangerfjord must rank as the world’s loveliest ferry journey. Long-abandoned farmsteads still cling to the fjord’s near-sheer cliffs while ice-cold cascading waterfalls tumble, twist and gush down to emerald-green waters. The main ferry travels between Hellesylt and Geiranger village. If you

start out from Hellesylt, docking in Geiranger can come as a shock to the system, as you mingle with the waves of people delivered by bus and ship. No matter: out on the water it’s total calm. Prime your camera, head for the open-air top deck and enjoy the only way to travel this fjord’s secluded reaches. O visitnorway.com

53 MOSTAR’S ICON BRIDGE

54 ANAKENA BEACH’S MOAI

55 UP HONG KONG’S PEAK

56 CANALS IN AMSTERDAM

57 THE BAY OF ISLANDS

A symbol of the trauma of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the country’s subsequent rebuilding, Stari Most is a magnificent 16thcentury Ottoman bridge that spans the turquoise currents of the Neretva River in the city of Mostar. Bombarded and since rebuilt, the bridge serves as a powerful icon of recovery.

OK, so no-one comes to Easter Island just to catch some rays, but Anakena is a beach worth talking about. A proud line of seven moai – the Chilean Pacific island’s famous statues – overlook the only serious stretch of sand. Anakena is the best spot to contemplate the wonderful otherness of this place.

Emerging from a tramcar at the Peak is like leaving a sauna, such is the relief from Hong Kong’s humidity. The funicular has ferried people up to this mountaintop panorama for 120 years. Watch black kites gliding on thermals while the towering metropolis below goes about its frenetic business.

Take to the water and you’ll understand why Amsterdam’s canals are a World Heritage site. You can learn a lot by following the flow of these vital arteries, and nowhere more so than on Prinsengracht. Most people come here to visit Anne Frank’s house, but the canal is a fascinating and graceful sight in its own right.

While New Zealand’s coast has no shortage of handsome nooks and crannies, the Bay of Islands tops the lot for its sheltered anchorage, kind climate, Maori history and abundance of wildlife, onshore and off. Its 144 undeveloped islands are sprinkled across hidden coves awash in shimmering turquoise waters.

O bhtourism.ba

O chile.travel

O thepeak.com.hk

O iamsterdam.com

O newzealand.com

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58 KYOTO’S GEISHA QUARTER Japan’s mysterious geisha don’t just appear in best-selling novels: you can see them in the narrow streets of Kyoto’s Gion district, where they slip in to restaurants and old teahouses signalled by glowing lanterns. O kyoto.travel

59 STORYBOOK NEUSCHWANSTEIN The vision of the eccentric King Ludwig II of Bavaria, this confection of turrets in southern Germany was the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella castle. Ludwig used it for 170 days before his strange death in 1886. O neuschwanstein.de

60 ICE-BLUE MORAINE LAKE

O pc.gc.ca

61 CLIMBING MT KINABALU In Malaysian Borneo, Kinabalu rises 4,095m above dense tropical lowland. The two-day ascent requires fitness but no elaborate equipment. The reward is a blue-and-orange sunrise over the Crocker Range. O sabahparks.org.my/kp

62 RIO’S CRISTO REDENTOR Standing atop Corcovado peak, arms outstretched in peace, this monumental statue of Christ and symbol of Brazil watches out over one of the world’s greatest cityscapes: mountaindotted bayside Rio de Janeiro. O cristoredentoroficial.com.br

63 THUNDEROUS GULLFOSS Glorious Gullfoss is more than simply a plummet of water. It is the symbol of Icelandic conservation. Yes, these ‘Golden Falls’ on the White River, in south-central Iceland, form one of Europe’s

most powerful cascades. They also look damn pretty, especially in winter, when parts are frozen. But in the early 20th century, foreign investors wanted to buy Gullfoss, to produce

electricity. Sigriður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of the landowner, was having none of it, and fought tirelessly to save the falls from development. O visiticeland.com

64 RWANDA’S GORILLA HAVEN Nothing compares to gazing into the eyes of a gorilla and seeing them look back at you with the same sense of wonder. There’s nowhere better to embrace this experience than in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, where five steep-sided conical volcanoes, each covered in rainforest, rise out of the East African plains. Their rugged nature becomes apparent as you climb through the thick bush to one of the 10 habituated family groups that live on the Virunga volcanoes’ slopes. O rwandatourism.com

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PHOTOGRAPHS: LUÍS HENRIQUE BOUCAULT/GETTY IMAGES, ALAN NOVELLI/GETTY IMAGES, DAVID YARROW PHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY IMAGES

This vista in Banff National Park is an icon of Canadian tourism. There’s something about the deep-teal depths of Moraine Lake, framed by snow-capped mountains and emerald firs, that knocks your jaw to the floor.


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65 LEGENDS OF SNOWDONIA Snowdonia National Park is full of beauty and myth. Snowdon itself is a mountain for anyone: those who don’t want to walk can get a train up, while hikers can follow clearly marked tracks or scramble up one of many harder options. But there are other ranges in this Welsh park, with many highlights: craggy Tryfan has invigorating scrambling routes and is topped by rocks called Adam and Eve (jumping between them brings good luck), while Cadair Idris is home to legends of bottomless lakes and giant hounds. O eryri-npa.gov.uk

66 TRAGIC HISTORY IN GLENCOE

67 ON EDGE ALONG KOREA’S DMZ

68 PILGRIMAGE TO MONT SAINT MICHEL

69 AUSTRALIA’S BLUE MOUNTAINS

Glencoe may not be cosy or pretty – just a sullen expanse of rock, heather and thistle, empty and desolate – but this is rugged mountain scenery quite unlike anywhere in Western Europe. Snow-dusted Munros rise sheer along the valley, bearing down on hikers who trudge along the boggy, barren floor. Don’t leave without hearing stories of massacres past, when Highland clans fought to the death here.

To set foot in totalitarian North Korea without going there, visit the heavily guarded DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) that separates it from South Korea. Join a tour from Seoul to the Joint Security Area for a surreal experience: a series of blue buildings straddles the ceasefire line, and the guides take visitors around the conference tables inside, technically venturing into North Korean territory.

Mont Saint Michel only really merits this list in low season, when calm envelops this abbeyisland in Normandy. Sans crowds, it’s possible, at low tide, to stroll barefoot across the bay. The centuries seep through your soles as you trace the path of ancient pilgrims who crossed the sands to reach the turrets. It’s almost a disappointment to reach its church-spire summit – it’s more romantic from afar.

Blue Mountains National Park earns its place on the list not only through its natural beauty but also its proximity to Sydney. This is prime weekending territory, for when you need to swap the sand and surf for a view of the Three Sisters rock formation (pictured), or a leg-stretching hike among the eucalyptus trees that give the park its name through the fine mist of oil they exude.

O discoverglencoe.scot

O visitkorea.or.kr

O ot-montsaintmichel.com

O nationalparks.nsw.gov.au

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Rising above the parched pans in Namibia’s Namib-Naukluft National Park, the mammoth, wind-sculpted sand dunes of Sossusvlei create a mesmerising play of orange light and shadows at sunrise and sunset. O namibiatourism.com.na

71 BURJ KHALIFA DIZZINESS From the world’s highest observation deck, the dizzying view from the Burj Khalifa tower is testament to Dubai’s ambitious nature. At 828 metres, this giant pointy engineering masterpiece is shockingly high: the world’s tallest building (for now). O burjkhalifa.ae

72 HIKING THE PICOS DE EUROPA Inland from the Atlantic north coast of Spain, this jagged mountain range offers some of the finest walking in the country. The Picos de Europa show a different side to Spain, where the local tipple is cider, not sangria. O spain.info

73 STAYING ALIVE IN DEATH VALLEY Who can resist visiting a place with such a foreboding name? Straddling California and Nevada, this starkly beautiful national park is a land of extremes, with the USA’s lowest point and hottest temperatures. O nps.gov/deva

74 MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST Just the name of this forest reserve in Costa Rica, ‘Green Mountain’, evokes a magical place, where life is abundant but concealed: orchids in the undergrowth, and the sound of a three-wattled bellbird in the canopy. O reservamonteverde.com

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75 STAND ATOP ST LUCIA’S PITONS The sky-scraping twin towers of rock known as the Pitons are St Lucia’s tourism poster pin-ups. Jutting from the Caribbean Sea like shark’s teeth, the summits offer views that are just as bewitching as the experience of first clapping eyes on them. Though Gros Piton (777m) is taller than Petit Piton (743m), it’s the easier mountain to climb, but still not for the faint-hearted: the trek involves switchbacks and steps carved from volcanic stone. The reward is a wondrous island panorama (pictured) and a cold Piton beer after the descent. O stlucia.org

See the full list of 500 sights in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist, out now (US$24.99; lonelyplanet.com).

PHOTOGRAPHS: JUSTIN FOULKES, JACQUELYN MARTIN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES, WHITWORTH IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES

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Great Escape T U S C A N Y

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Rich food, rolling fields, world-class wine: few regions sum up la dolce vita more than Tuscany and Umbria. Look beyond the cities to tour vineyards, trek through the mountains, explore the coastline with cowboys, delve into the history of hilltop towns, and finish with gourmet food in the valley of Norcia WORDS OLIVER BERRY O PHOTOGRAPHS MATT MUNRO

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The Maremma is a protected stretch of hills and marshes along the Tuscan coast, home to the Italian version of the Wild West cowboy

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Plan your trip 1

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Hidden in the mountains of northern Tuscany, the Garfagnana region is a littleknown escape for hikers (p54).

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For ‘cowboys’ read ‘butteri’ in the coastal stretch of the Maremma, home to long-horned cattle and their horseriding herders (p56).

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Take a spin around three of Umbria’s loveliest hilltop towns – Orvieto, Spello and St Francis’s old home of Assisi (p58).

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Patience is a virtue for food connoisseurs, as the truffle-hunters and organic farmers of Norcia know very well (p60).

MAP ILLUSTRATION: ALEX VERHILLLE. PHOTOGRAPHS: WAYNE PERRY/ALAMY

Drink in views of the Chianti hills along with a glass or two of red from the most legendary of Italian wine regions (p52).

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ON THE ROAD

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It's recommended to first fly in to the region’s main gateway airports in Florence, Pisa and Rome before catching a coach to your final destination. Lufthansa and British Airways fly from Singapore to Florence and Rome respectively with one stopover each, while KLM and Etihad Airways fly from Kuala Lumpur.

HOW TO GET AROUND It can be hard to get around the more remote areas of Tuscany and Umbria without a car, although bus and train routes offer a few options. A week’s car hire starts at around US$258 with Avis (avis.co.uk). Trenitalia is the primary train operator and the network connects major cities; tickets can be bought on the day at stations or online (Florence to Pisa from US$9; italiarail.com). Buses are a better option between small villages; numerous companies operate throughout Tuscany and Umbria, with tickets available on board, from bus stations or at tobacco kiosks (singles from US$1.40; one-day passes from US$3.50).

HOW LONG TO SPEND Though Tuscany and Umbria are compact, a combination of rural roads and town traffic often means that getting around takes longer than you think. Ten days should be enough to cover the region, but two weeks will allow more time to linger and explore the out-of-the-way areas. You’ll need a week for Tuscany’s highlights, with a couple of days each in Chianti, the Garfagnana and the Maremma, plus optional time in Florence as well. Another three or four days should be enough to head east into Umbria to explore the area’s hilltop towns and soak up the scenery around Norcia and the Sibillini Hills.

WHAT TO BUDGET Tuscany and Umbria are among Italy’s most popular destinations, so prices rocket in the summer, especially for accommodation – US$170 to US$210 a day should be enough to cover a basic double room, meals and car hire; US$280 would take you a few rungs up the luxury ladder. Another option is to base yourself in one location, in a self-catering apartment or agriturismo, which can allow you to cut costs by cooking your own meals. Visit sites such as agriturismo.net or bellaumbria.net for listings.

WHO CAN HELP For general information, the website of the Italian Tourist Board (italia.it) is a good place to start for inspiration. Many companies offer activity trips. A week of walks with Tuscany Walking (tuscanywalking. com) costs US$1,390, including all meals and activities. For wine lovers, Smooth Red (smoothred. co.uk) and Italian Wine Tours (italianwinetours.com) offer various packages exploring the region’s major wine areas, including Chianti; prices start from around US$630 with guides, transfers and two nights’ accommodation. If you’d like to hone your culinary skills, Tuscookany (tuscookany.com) specialises in residential cookery courses – a three-day course costs US$1,933.

HOW TO PLAN For in-depth information pick up Lonely Planet’s Florence & Tuscany (US$24.99). For a broader view, the Italy (US$4.95) guide also covers Umbria.

Hum

Watch For ravishing views of the Tuscan countryside, watch Bernardo Bertolucci's dreamy coming-of-age tale, Stealing Beauty (1996). )

Sip

Nessun dorma – Pavarotti’s signature tune comes from Turandot, the final opera composed by Tuscan maestro Giacomo Puccini, who was born in Lucca in 1858 and spent most of his life in a villa near Torre del Lago. Just in case you were wondering, ‘nessun dorma’ means ‘none shall sleep’.

Vin santo – a popular ar after-dinner digestif in Tuscany, this sweet dessert wine is made from a blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianca grapes. It’s often served with almondy cantucci biscuits.

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Cinghiale – they’re a menace to vinegrowers and g ffarmers, but chefs love wild boar. Prized for its gamey fflavour, iit has a lower fat ccontent than pork. Pappardelle al ccinghiale (pasta ribbons in a wild boar sauce) is a classic. Boar also makes delicious sausages.

Sample Lenticchia di Castelluccio – the Italian equivalent of Puy lentils, prized by chefs and connoisseurs alike, sold in all of Norcia’s food shops.

Buy You can’t visit Assisi and not come home with a souvenir of St Francis. In the basilica’s shop, you’ll find the town’s patron saint gracing everything from bookmarks to keyrings.

Did you know? The three knots on a Franciscan friar’s belt signify the order’s three cardinal vows: poverty, chastity and obedience.

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TUSCANY & UMBRIA Evening sun breaks through the clouds above the Rocca Maggiore fort in the pilgrimage town of Assisi in central Umbria

Welcome to the land of wine and honeyâ&#x20AC;Ś

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1. Chianti Get a real taste of Tuscany – where a passion for wine seeps into every corner of life – with a visit to one of its hallowed vineyards

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HAZY YELLOW SUN IS cresting over the hilltop as Monica Raspi sets out on her daily tour of her vineyards at Villa Pomona. It’s early; crows are cackling in the trees and mist cloaks the fields, drifting through rows of glossy green vines that unfold in every direction as far as the eye can see. ‘This is always the best time of day in the vineyard,’ Monica says, breathing in the crisp morning air. ‘When the fields are quiet, and before the midday heat.’ She stops beside a row of vines, a tangle of acid-green leaves popping out from the orange soil. Brushing back the branches, she reveals the vineyard’s hidden treasure: clusters of plump, purple-black grapes, skins still frosted with dew. Producing a pair of secateurs from her pocket, she snips off a bunch. ‘Sangiovese grapes. The soul of Chianti wines,’ she says, popping one into her mouth as she disappears into the vines. Even in a country as oenologically blessed as Italy, the vineyards of Chianti command a special status. Sprawling across Tuscany’s hilly spine between Siena and Florence, this is Italy’s oldest and best-known wine region. Viticulture has been a cornerstone of life here since Roman times, and vines cover every inch of landscape, rolling down the hillsides, carpeting the fields, sprouting from gardens, creeping up the sides of

farmhouses and barns. Along the backroads, ‘degustazione’ signs line the verges, inviting customers to sample the latest vintage – a crucial part of Tuscan wine culture, and something that’s offered by every vineyard, from world-famous villas to humble backyard growers. ‘Everyone in Chianti is an expert. Or thinks they are,’ Monica says, uncorking a bottle and filling up glasses on a table outside her cellar. ‘But it’s good that everyone here is passionate. Wine is more than a drink here. It’s a way of life.’ She takes a sip and rolls it around her mouth, sucking in air to intensify the flavour. The taste should be fruity and floral, she says, with a sharp, acidic finish from the Sangiovese grapes, and a nutty overtone from the oak barrels in which the wines are aged. It’s especially good with food – and as if by magic, a plate of cheese, olives and ham arrives from inside the farmhouse, carried by her mother, who ran the vineyard before Monica took it over in 2007. Together they settle down to enjoy their winemaker’s breakfast – or caffè rosso, as Monica prefers to call it – enjoying the sunshine and the scent of clematis and rosemary wafting across the courtyard. For Monica, at Villa Pomona, as in most Chianti vineyards, winemaking is a family affair. The first vines here were planted in the 19th century by her great-great-

grandfather, Bandino Bandini, and the vineyard has been in family hands ever since. It sits right in the heart of the Chianti Classico, a 7,000-hectare area between Siena and Florence known for producing some of the region’s finest, and most expensive, wines. Standards within this hallowed zone are strictly enforced, from blending techniques to bottle designs, and only the best wineries can display the gallo nero, or black rooster, on their labels. The ultimate seal of Chianti quality, his crowing presence is an appropriate symbol for a region which has elevated winemaking to an art form. Once you’ve had your fill of Chianti’s vineyards, ask your designated driver to make a beeline for the craggy peaks of the Apuan Alps. It’s a 95-mile drive (be sure to break for lunch in Florence).

Essentials

The borders of the ‘Chianti Classico’ wine region were first set as far back as 1716

Castello delle Serre This grand baronial castle in the hilltop village of Serre di Rapolano has been lovingly restored by its American owner. Rooms are full of medieval atmosphere, with tiled floors, solid beams and shuttered windows overlooking the valley. There’s a gorgeous rooftop pool, as well as a fancy tower suite offering 360° views over the countryside (from US$195; castellodelleserre.com). Villa Pomona is nine miles north of Siena (fattoriapomona.it). Most Chianti vineyards are open for visits, but some only by arrangement, so do check ahead. Tasting is generally free of charge, but it’s good manners to buy a bottle.

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The hills around Villa Pomona are a tapestry of vineyards and old stone farmsteads, many now converted into wineries

Monica Raspi examines a glass of Villa Pomona red. LEFT Accompaniments for a wine tasting. RIGHT In the cellars at Villa Pomona

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2. Garfagnana Strap on your hiking boots, hit the hills and soak up the culture of this remote mountain valley

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S THE OLD PROVERB goes, ‘friends may meet, but mountains never greet’ and this morning, the Apuan Alps seem determined to live up to the maxim. For the last two hours, a cloak of cloud has clung to the mountaintops, obscuring both the valley below and the peaks ahead. But the weather hasn’t deterred the hikers; they’re picking their way along the ridge-lines, kitted out with hats and fleeces, braving the cloud in the hope of better weather down the trail. Their optimism is rewarded; within half an hour, the cloud burns off and they’re under a clear canopy of blue, surrounded by spiky summits and lush slopes daubed with wildflowers. It’s a reminder of another old mountain adage: if you don’t like the weather, sit down and wait. The weather is the only thing that changes at any discernible pace in the Garfagnana. Hidden away in Tuscany’s northwestern corner, 40 miles north of Pisa, this rural valley preserves a way of life that’s hardly changed in centuries. Historically, most families here would have made their living from the land – farming sheep, growing spelt and maize, and harvesting chestnuts used to make everything from cakes to bread. Quarrying was the valley’s other major industry – seams of white Carrara marble streak the mountainsides, of a purity and clarity valued by Roman architects and Renaissance artists alike. Today, the Garfagnana is part of a national park, the Parco Nazionale dell’Appennino Tosco-Emiliano, and is renowned for some of Italy’s best hiking. Sandwiched between the twin ranges of the Apuan Alps and the Apennines, it’s a pocket of unexpected wilderness on Tuscany’s northern edge, less well known than the Dolomites, but every bit as beautiful. Mouflon and mountain goats roam the high pastures, and old drovers’ paths wind through a landscape of lakeside chapels, abandoned quarries and shepherds’ bothies. Many of the valley’s old farmhouses are now agriturismi, and on a clear day, from the top of Monte Prado, the Garfagnana’s highest peak at 2,054m, the view encompasses three regions of Italy: Liguria to the west, Emilia-Romagna to the north and Tuscany to the south. Marco Santino has been hiking here for 20 years, travelling every summer from Rome, where he works as an architect. ‘It’s another 54

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world here,’ he says, taking a breather against a rock. ‘If I could, I’d spend every day in the mountains.’ He waits for his companions to catch up before they settle down on the grass for lunch: a walkers’ picnic of salami, fruit, bread and pecorino cheese, all freshly bought this morning from the valley’s main town, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. A troupe of goats trots past along the trail, bells tinkling as they disappear down the near-vertical slope. Pastoral scenes like these are key to the Garfagnana’s appeal. Dotted with tiny villages and sleepy towns – where the streets are lined with old-fashioned cafés and grocers’ shops, and family-run trattorias serve up recipes such as wild boar ragù – this is a region that celebrates a traditional life. The local calendar is chalked with festivals honouring everything from beer to chestnuts, and one village even holds its own medieval pageant, when jesters and harlequins roam the streets, and locals feast on hog roasts and spelt ale, much as they would have done hundreds of years ago. Look out for old chapels and marble quarries as you head west across the mountains, then pick up the coast road near Massa, following it south all the way to the Parco Naturale della Maremma.

Essentials

Tenuta San Pietro The Garfagnana’s agriturismi are pretty rustic – if you’re after something special, base yourself at this ravishing gastro-hotel further south, near the pretty city of Lucca. The Norwegian owners have given the rooms a light and stripped-back Scandinavian feel, plus there’s an infinity pool with mountain views (from US$167; tenuta-san-pietro.com). Most of the Garfagnana’s trails can be tackled solo, but Tuscany Walking offers guided treks from around US$70 per day (tuscanywalking.com).


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The small village of Isola Santa, once abandoned and now being restored, lies in the forested mountains west of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana

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3. The Maremma Explore the wild beaches and empty hills of the Maremma before travelling back in time in the company of Tuscany’s cowboys

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T’S AFTERNOON IN THE Uccellina hills, as guide Daniele Contarino and his riders seek shelter from the fierce heat of the sun under a grove of umbrella pines. Shadows lace the ground like spider’s webs, and through the canopy there’s the cobalt flash of sky and ocean. After half an hour the trees thin out and the riders emerge near the beach at Collelungo, marooned in swathes of marram grass. Along the coast an old watch-tower stands guard, its battlements burning red in the sun. Beneath, a strip of ivory sand disappears into the distance, fringed by foaming surf. Apart from a couple of walkers and some bleached driftwood, it’s deserted. In summer, the only way to reach Collelungo (and much of the Maremma’s coastline), is on foot, by sea – or as in Daniele’s case, in the saddle. Since 1975, this strip of hills, beaches and salt-marsh has been protected as a nature reserve, recognising its unique wildlife and rare ecosystems, and for several months because of the risk of forest fire, much of the park remains off-limits without the company of an official guide. As a result, its coves stay quiet, even when the bigger beaches beyond the park’s borders are heaving. A little way south lies another secluded beach where Daniele often leads his horse treks, Cala di Forno. Cradled between two rocky headlands and hemmed in by maquis shrubland, it’s half an hour from the nearest road, accessed via a dusty forest track or by

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piloting a kayak along the rocky coastline. It’s worth the effort: with its white sand and crystal water, it’s a patch of paradise in the middle of Tuscany’s busiest stretch of coast. But there’s more to the Maremma than beaches. A century ago, this sunbaked strip of land was Tuscany’s answer to the Wild West: a centre for cattle production, with its own breed, the long-horned Maremmana. Traditionally, the cattle were left semi-wild, roaming freely over the hills until it was time to round up the herd. That’s where the butteri, the Maremma’s cowboys, came in. The profession required steely nerves and superb horsemanship – something that still remains the case, even though the days of wild cattle herding are mostly gone. ‘Today we work with small herds, but the skills are the same as in my grandfather’s day,’ says Ernesto Buratta, whose family have herded Maremmana for generations. He picks up his hooked staff, known as a bastone, and coils a loop of rope around its end, whirling it round his head before releasing with a flick of his wrist. The lasso curls through the air, landing on a gatepost ten feet away. ‘It’s harder when the gatepost is running away from you,’ he says, flashing a smile under his white moustache, before mounting his horse and cantering away.

After a quick spin south along the coast, head inland to central Tuscany, where you’ll find some of the region’s most beautiful hilltop towns – including the birthplace of St Francis, Assisi.

Essentials

La Valentina Nuova This farm offers self-catering apartments converted from old outbuildings, with wood furniture and terracotta tile floors. Owner Paola Petrilli is a mine of local information (from US$69; lavalentinanuova.com). The park headquarters in Alberese organises activities including guided hikes, kayaking trips and horse-riding expeditions (parco-maremma. it). You can also arrange rides directly with local farms: a half-day ride with Tenuta dell’Uccellina costs from US$90 (tenutauccellina.it). The Burattas’ ranch is open for dinner most nights (mains from US$7; buratta.com).


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Ernesto Burattaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eldest son Silvio, taking after his father. OPPOSITE Seaside views along the coast south of the Maremma

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4. Assisi, Spello & Orvieto Soak up centuries of history in three of Umbria’s prettiest hilltop towns, where ancient architecture and modern life exist side by side

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N THE PIAZZA IN FRONT of the Upper Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, three friars are taking a break from their morning duties with a game of Frisbee. They’re dressed in the garb of the Franciscan order – hooded robes, tied at the waist with a knotted cord – the same outfit worn by St Francis himself, only instead of sandals, the friars are wearing brightlycoloured trainers. Apart from some early pilgrims and a few pigeons fluttering at the church’s façade, the town is pin-drop quiet. Famous as the birthplace of St Francis, who founded his namesake order here in 1209, centuries later Assisi remains the spiritual home of the Franciscans. It’s also a kind of monastic finishing school; aspiring novices travel from all over the globe to study here and take their final orders. Andrew Hochstedler is one of them. An American by birth, he’s been studying to become a friar since 2010. ‘The history here can be a little overwhelming,’ he admits, taking a break from the game. ‘I’ve lived here Spello has been inhabited since before Roman times

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for three years, but even now, I still discover corners of the town I’ve never seen before.’ Assisi’s history stretches back much further than St Francis. The Etruscans were the first to settle here, taking advantage of the town’s defensible position, protected by steep slopes on three sides and the hump of Monte Subasio behind. Many others followed, and walking the backstreets is like trying to decipher an architectural puzzle. It’s a chaotic jumble of styles, built and rebuilt over the course of three millennia. Along one street, columns from a Roman temple prop up the façade of a Renaissance church. On another, a line of Gothic arches is cut off by the addition of a medieval wall. There are dead ends and blind alleys, bricked-up doorways and staircases leading nowhere. Clues lurk in the walls: coats of arms, beastly gargoyles and saintly images loaded with obscure religious significance. ‘There are secrets everywhere,’ says Andrew. ‘It’s like a real-life Da Vinci Code.’ He points to a T-shaped cross carved above the basilica’s entrance: it’s the Tau, the emblem of the Franciscan order, but also an ancient cipher signifying the resurrection. Lions are another common motif – leering from gutters and peering out from doorknockers – but despite their prevalence, no-one’s quite sure what they mean. Some scholars think they represent Christ, others the Holy Roman Emperor. A few miles southeast of Assisi, along a winding road which veers round the wooded flanks of Monte Subasio, Spello demonstrates another feature shared by many of Umbria’s hilltop towns: a ring of ramparts, gates and watchtowers, a reminder of the days when a hilltop location was prized not for its prettiness but its protection. Walking along its battlements, Spello is transformed into an impregnable bastion, bristling with crenels and murderholes. Watching cars beetle up the hillside and sparrows flit down its sheer walls, it’s easy to imagine the town under attack, surrounded by siege engines and trebuchets. Off to the southwest, along quiet lanes that meander through corn fields and cypress trees, lies Orvieto. Perched on a spur of rock high above the plain, this hilltop town had another solution for times of trouble. Beneath the town’s cathedral, a network of tunnels burrows through the limestone, providing escape routes during a siege. Right beneath the townsfolk’s feet,

centuries of cobwebs drape the walls of this labyrinth of passageways, staircases, and galleries, where every step returns a ghoulish echo. Guides recount tales of people who entered the tunnels, and whose ghosts are still trying to find their way out. But Umbria’s hilltop towns are far from museum pieces. Life carries on as it has for centuries. Old men drink their morning grappa at pavement cafés. Cats stalk along the cobbles, and couples marry at the town church under Renaissance frescoes. Mopeds putter along alleys where housewives string their washing between the buildings, the blare of an afternoon soap drifting from open windows. At least once a week, the town square hosts a market, where everyone gathers to exchange produce, money, and – perhaps most importantly – the latest news. Now head for a feast in Norcia – southeast of Spello on the other side of the Sibillini hills, its a journey of 45 miles. If you have time, the hilltop towns of Bevagna and Montefalco are a worthy detour.

Essentials

Hotel Palazzo Bocci This 17th-century palazzo in Spello still has original frescoes on show in the first-floor reading lounge. Rooms don’t share the same period dazzle, but they’re comfy, with big beds, modern bathrooms and air-con. Breakfast is served in the hotel’s inner courtyard (from US$146, palazzobocci.com). The Basilica Papale di San Francesco in Assisi is open every day (sanfrancescoassisi.org). It’s free to enter, but donations are welcome – or you can do your bit by buying a souvenir from the church shop. Orvieto’s tunnels can only be explored on a guided tour, leaving several times a day from the main square of Piazza Duomo (US$6.14; orvietounderground.it).


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Sweets on Via Portica in Assisi. LEFT The piazza in front of the Basilica of St Francis. RIGHT The right transport for Spello’s narrow streets The upper part of Assisi’s 13th-century basilica. LEFT Andrew Hochstedler (right) and a fellow friar

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5. Norcia Hunt for truffles, learn culinary secrets and sample wild boar salami in Umbria’s gastronomic capital Nicola Berardi checks one of his dogs’ prize finds

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T’S JUST AFTER DAWN IN THE hills above Norcia as truffle-hunter Nicola Berardi parks up in the woods and steps out into the misty morning air. He opens the trunk of the car, and his two dogs Nina and Lulu jump out, yapping with excitement. ‘As you can tell, they are happy workers,’ Nicola says, filling his pockets with dog treats. ‘They must be curious to make good truffle dogs, but they get over-excited.’ He barks an order, and the dogs sit obediently at his feet, each earning a biscuit as a reward. Then with another command, he sends them bolting down the hillside, their barks cracking like gunshots over the quiet woods. The truffle hunt has begun. It doesn’t take long before the dogs make theirfrom firstamong dicovery. On the edge of the wood, Seen the stupas one theofdogs beginsthe to sniff around the at theoftop Borobudur, volcanic of Merapi rises and frantically roots ofpeak a young oak tree, above morning startsthe to dig with mists her front paws. ‘Good dog, 60

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Nina,’ Nicola says, pulling her away as he excavates the soil carefully with a small trowel. ‘We must be careful not to damage the truffle as we dig. To fetch the best price, they must be perfect.’ He scoops his hand into the earth and emerges with a knobbly black mushroom the size of a cricket ball. ‘Not bad,’ he says, holding the truffle to his nose before stowing it safely in his jacket pocket. ‘Now let’s see if we can find more.’ Black truffles, or tartufi neri, are just one of the ingredients that have made the name of Norcia synonymous with fine food. Hidden away in the Sibillini hills, this old walled town is renowned across Italy for the quality of its ingredients – from organic honey to ricotta and rare-breed pork. It’s a poster town for the Slow Food movement, championing the use of home-grown products and organic farming. The valley even has its own trademarked lentil, the lenticchia di Castelluccio, renowned for its delicate texture and nutty flavour. One man who knows how to get the most from Norcia’s ingredients is Emanuele Mazzella, head chef at Palazzo Seneca, the town’s top hotel. While his staff are hard at work getting ready for lunch service, he’s holding a cooking class in the kitchen, demonstrating how to make two classic Umbrian dishes: zuppa di lenticchie, a rich lentil broth, and agnello al tartufo – roast lamb with truffles. The kitchen thrums with the sound of whizzing blenders and clattering pans as he meticulously trims his lamb joint, stuffing it with butter, herbs and truffle shavings before tying it up with the perfect butcher’s knot. That’s the secret to cooking, he says: use the best ingredients, and treat them with love. Outside, it’s lunchtime in Norcia’s narrow backstreets, and its trattorias are packed with diners. Seating themselves at long wooden tables, under stuffed boar’s heads and gnarled roof-beams, diners dip chunks of bread into bean soup and rabbit hotpot, or twirl ribbons of wild hare pasta onto their forks. At the rear of the restaurants, woodfired ovens blaze and smoke in the gloom, staining the ceilings charcoal black. Just along the street, one of the town’s norcinerias, or butcher’s shops, is doing a brisk lunchtime trade. Dressed in a white apron, the butcher engages his customers in debate about the day’s choicest cuts, only pausing to slam a cleaver through a beef joint, or shave a slice from a leg of ham.

On the street outside, baskets are stacked with wheels of pecorino cheese, bulbs of garlic, bags of risotto rice and salamis the size of saplings. The choice – and the smell – is overpowering. While lunch gets into full swing in Norcia, up in the hills, Nicola and his dogs have finished their hunt. It’s been a good morning – well over a kilo of truffles in just a couple of hours. Now he’s heading home for his own favourite lunch – black truffle omelette. ‘Food is such an important part of life here,’ he says, as he unloads his haul into a hamper on the front seat, and Nina and Lulu settle down in the boot to gnaw on a well-earned bone. ‘It keeps us connected to the land, and brings people and families together. And if you ask me, nothing is more important than that.’

Essentials

Palazzo Seneca Lodged inside a nobleman’s townhouse near the main square, this luxurious hotel is the place to treat yourself in Norcia. It has retained much of the building’s medieval heritage, from a hidden library to a fancy spa in the former wine cellar. ‘Romantica’ rooms are small, but the suites are palatial, with antique secretaires, carved bedsteads and marble pillars (from US$181; palazzoseneca.com). A morning’s truffle hunt costs around US$83 per person, while a cooking course in the Palazzo Seneca kitchen starts from around US$90. There’s usually a two-person minimum; rates are cheaper if more people book. Bookings for these and other food activities in Norcia can be made through Exavel (exavel.com). Ask about special rates if you’re also staying at the hotel.


TUSCANY & UMBRIA

Norcia’s own pecorino cheese. RIGHT A bumper crop of truffles. FAR RIGHT Lulu looking on the damp side after her truffle search

G R E AT E S C A P E

Castelluccio, of lentil fame. LEFT Emanuele Mazzella (right) at Palazzo Seneca’s restaurant. RIGHT ‘Coglioni di mulo’ salami

Norcia’s Corso Sertorio, leading to the Porta Romana. LEFT Pasta with wild hare. FAR LEFT A sprig of juniper

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ULURU AND SURROUNDS

Australia’s Revered by the Aboriginese as a sacred totem a geological and cultural landmark that speaks WORDS TATYANA LEONOV O PHOTOGRAPHS EVAN DICKSON

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ULURU AND SURROUNDS

Red Heart that connects them to the gods, Uluru is both of the very essence of Northern Australia

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We trek the Kings Canyon Rim Walk, climbing to the top of the canyon and then trailing its edge, relentlessly gawking into the ravine dazed by its beauty.

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usty yellows, burnt oranges, deep browns and rich reds any way we look. Sometimes it’s just sand and dirt, other times we see patches of scrubland and the occasional bright wildflower in bloom. We stop frequently to take photos, to plunge our toes into the hot red sand and laugh about how red our feet get as the holiday advances. Starting at Alice Springs and heading towards Uluru, my husband and I have been driving our trusty Apollo motorhome for a few days. We’ve been breaking up the endless white line of the tarmac as much as possible – invigorating swims in ancient waterholes, picnic lunches overlooking salt lakes and sand rivers, long leisurely walks with no set route or place to be, road shop breaks to sample local delicacies like camel burgers. And every night we unfold our portable camp chairs for cheese and wine as dusk washes over the desert. One of the most remarkable stops is Kings Canyon, where we stay a couple of nights. We trek the Kings Canyon Rim Walk, climbing to the top of the canyon and then trailing its edge, relentlessly gawking into the ravine dazed by its beauty. Half way into the hike the Garden of Eden makes for a pleasant sojourn. This lush green space, where galahs and finches squawk amongst the thriving vegetation, really does feel like its namesake. We only just make it back to the campsite in time for sunset and quickly scramble to get what’s become our customary cheese and wine out in time.

Sunset is an ethereal time of day when neon pinks and flaming oranges roll over the peculiar vastness that is the Red Centre wilderness. The many reddish-pink hues of the sky and land intertwine, and just before the sun sinks below the horizon it becomes mystifying as to where the land ends and the sky begins. The day we first see Uluru is one of the most memorable days of our journey. As children we learnt about this sacred Aboriginal site. As adults we dreamed of setting foot here. It’s that quintessential Australian journey that has to be done by every Australian at some stage in their lives. Formerly known as Ayers Rock, the gargantuan sandstone boulder is the world’s biggest rock monolith. At it’s highest point it stands 348 metres above the ground and has a circumference of 9.4 kilometres. Expectedly, it attracts tourists from far and wide, with over 250,000 people visiting and staying at Yulara (the township where Ayers Rock Resort is located) each year. Although most people stay two to three days, we stay for four. There’s plenty to do and see in UluruKata Tjuta National Park – home to the main attraction – Uluru – but also to the domed Kata Tjuta (formerly known as The Olgas) rock formation. It’s the kind of place you want to take it slow and soak up every moment. Archeological findings suggest that Aboriginal people have been living around Uluru for at least 22,000 years and that both Uluru and Kata Tjuta have long been places of ceremonial and cultural significance to a number of Aboriginal clan groups. The Anangu people are the traditional custodians of Uluru and the surrounding land, and today some members of the clan group are involved in aspects of tourism. If you can book a tour lead by an Anangu guide you’re in luck!

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We luxe it up and stay at the recently refurbished Sails in the Desert Hotel for a few nights, one of five accommodation offerings at Ayers Rock Resort (managed by Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia – a business enterprise which runs tourism and resorts on behalf of the Indigenous Land Corporation). Committed to increasing and supporting Indigenous employment, the last few years has seen significant growth in the number of Indigenous staff employed at the resort. To put it in perspective, in 2010 there were just two Indigenous workers onsite, whereas now there are over 200. We join Anangu man Leroy Lester, who heads up the resort’s guest activities team, for a stroll around the resort’s native gardens. He sports a dusty brown hat and a wide smile that reveals gleaming teeth. Our group of five follow him around like puppy dogs, wanting to be nearby so we don’t miss anything he has to say. Leroy walks as he talks, explaining which plants can be used for bush medicine and which ones can be used for food. “My grandparents and aunties used to collect plants. They lived off the land,” he says bending down to point out a native fig. “That’s an ili. And over there we have kampurarpa. That’s what we call a desert raisin. And these are the arnguli. You know em as bush plums. Good for jams,” he says with a twinkle in his eye. Exploring Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is getting to know the people whose ancestors have lived here for thousands and thousands of years and acquiring somewhat of an understanding about the importance of the scared area. Although climbing the rock was once a climax tourist activity, the Anangu people discourage it because it’s culturally insensitive to climb something so sacred – and it’s not always safe. Instead visitors can walk the 10 kilometres around Uluru, hire a bike and cycle the loop, or simply enjoy sunrises and sunsets (there are plenty of tours and culinary events to choose from) while gazing the marvel. We decide to cycle the around the rock first thing the next morning and scout out the best spots for photographs, leaving the walk until the last day. We meet one of the Outback Cycling team members, Adam Palmer, bright and early to rent the bikes so we can hit the track. Affable and chatty, Adam has lived all 66

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over the Northern Territory and cherishes his work time at Uluru where he oversees the bicycle program from March to November. His energy is infectious and within minutes we are on our bikes making our way around the mammoth rock. Early morning is a lovely time to pedal. There’s a very slight breeze and the flies are not out at full force yet. Neither are many of the other tourists. That night we attend the impressive Sounds of Silence dinner. As gastronomic experiences go, this is a highlight of our stay. A bus collects us from Sails in the Desert Hotel, and along with a cluster of excited people we are whisked away to a private sand dune where cheery staff greet us with just-popped Champagne and trays of delectable hors d’ouvres. What follows is one of the best nights of our holiday. As the sun begins to set on another magical day, all eyes are on Uluru. The colours dance on the sandstone monolith – first an escalating series of oranges and reds, then a deep russet, finally when the sun sinks below the horizon the famous sandstone hulk becomes a dark bulge as fiery oranges, rich reds and rosy pinks light up the sky. After the sun has set we shuffle to another sand dune platform where we’re treated to a bushtucker-inspired buffet dinner. I pile my plate high with unusual delights, like myrtle chicken thigh, wattleseed-infused sausages and pepperberry kangaroo, and enjoy my meal while watching an Indigenous dance performance. Later that evening an astrologist provides a captivating southern night sky commentary. The lights are temporarily turned off and we all gaze at an inky black sky flooded with stars lost in our own version of space. And so our days and nights become an amalgamation of amazing adventures. Sure, Uluru is the star of the show, but a visit to Kata Tjuta is a must do too. We jump in our trusty Apollo motorhome and drive the 50 kilometres or so from our hotel to the Kata Tjuta car park where the hiking trails start. Apart from bulging out of the desert like a bodybuilder’s bicep there’s not a great deal of similarities between Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Uluru is a monolith, while Kata Tjuta is made up of 36 bornhardts. From afar the domed rock formations look connected, but close up we discover that you can walk around them and the passages that knit their way through open up another world.


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We head to the viewing area first, then hike The Valley of the Winds Walk, the longest and most challenging trek – four hours and 7.4 kilometres of bliss. Wispy white clouds hurdle across the sky, oddlooking trees jut out in unexpected spots like crooked teeth, nothing is what we thought it would be here and we take our time exploring this otherworldly landscape concealed within the bornhardts. When it’s too hot to be out in the bush we visit the Uluru Camel Tours farm, the largest camel farming operation in the Southern Hemisphere. The camels are marshaled from the wild and used for camel rides. “Without camels the whole of central Australia would not have been opened up,” explains marketing and sales manager Lisa Evans shooing a fly away. “Explorers used camels to navigate, then when the railway was being constructed the camels were used to transport the building materials. After the railway was completed the camels were released into the wild and they throve in the arid environment.” Today it’s estimated that there are over one million wild camels roaming Australia’s deserts. The ones mustered and sent to Uluru Camel Tours farm can count themselves lucky. “They have an all-youcan-eat hay buffet here,” Lisa laughs. “They 68

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are definitely living the camel high life! Some of the other wild-caught camels get sent to the UAE. Australian camels are beautiful and disease free and many people don’t realise how in demand they are.” Although I don’t jump on a camel for a ride, I meander around watching farm life playing out, admiring the intricate handmade saddles and spending a bit of time hanging out with the gentle giants. Time is the best accessory to pack. Although some would argue a few days is enough, it quickly becomes evident to us that the best activities are the ones where you aren’t doing much – sunsets of glorious hues while nibbling on crackers topped with melting brie cheese, bubbly Champagne under a starlit sky, long slow strolls. Walking around Uluru is one of our highlights and we leave this until the last day. Having cycled around the rock we know which parts we want to photograph, but even so find ourselves taking longer than anticipated. Every curvature beckons; a sporadic waterhole twinkles like shimmering diamonds in the sun; little hidden pockets of greenery and shade are welcome surprises; and ancient rock art transports us to another era. We try to imagine what life might have

been like a long time ago here. With not much else except Ayers Rock Resort (which you can’t see from Uluru), whichever way you look is probably very similar to what it might have looked like a century ago… and a century prior to that one and that one and that one. Wanting to find a great spot for our last sunset we drive around searching for the best panorama and decide on a sunrise viewing area – so that we can see both Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Some groups have snacks set up and cameras ready to go, others are just arriving, scanning the car park for empty car spaces and deciding where they might get the best shots. As the day nears its end I look around and notice just how diverse the crowd gathered around us is. To our right three backpackers are sprawled out on their car bonnet chatting intensely to each other; to our left a mother chases her raucous twin girls; about 30 metres away from us a group of 20 retirees are engrossed in something their charismatic guide is saying; a lone photographer slides in front of a bush, noticeably surprised he was able to snag such a good spot with so many people around. We all watch the sun reel away and as the sky darkens people begin to leave. Eventually it’s just us staring up at the blanket of stars watching nothing and everything go past all at once. The park closes soon after sunset and we know we need to get going… but Uluru is the hardest place we’ve ever had to leave.


ULURU AND SURROUNDS

Later that evening an astrologist provides a captivating southern night sky commentary. The lights are temporarily turned off and we all gaze at an inky black sky ďŹ&#x201A;ooded with stars, lost in our own version of space.

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CAIRNS

Cairns Do!

The adventure never ends in this city down under WORDS DAVID FUHRMANN-LIM

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et you didn’t know that Queensland is the only state in Australia where you are allowed to hold/hug/handle a koala. And that said koala, being cute and fragile and torpid (due to its all-leaf diet) is only allowed to work for a maximum of two hours a day – about the same as babies on movie sets. So there I was, in the Cairns Night Zoo, trying to get cosy with a koala, when it occurred to me that this trip – to this northeast city along the coast – is about to offer a lot of surprises. The Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics rainforest lie side by side, two Unesco World Heritage sites where the reef meets the rainforest – truly unique and unrepeatable. The city offers more than 600 tours for you to experience its native wildlife, outdoor activities, adventures, dives, rides, Indigenous culture and environment conservation, and everything is no more than 30 minutes away. Whatever perception I had of Cairns was quickly dispelled: I love the outdoors and adventures, but even I could not conceive of the myriad ways one can have fun here. So with a mere week to experience the city, I hit the ground running (yes, almost literally).

Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures www.crocodileadventures.com Crocodiles can live in all kinds of water, and given that they’re been around for about 120 million years, they’re pretty adaptable and have seen a lot. Who has really been around the Hartley’s block is this one fella affectionately named Ted, the oldest croc in the farm – the Hugh Hefner of the lot. Apparently he has one tooth left, but still has a harem of seven girlfriends, and he’s competing with 4,000 other crocodiles on this man-made wetland, built for a hefty AU$2 million. The five-hectare wetland also has a commercial skins section, where younger crocs are hatched just for the 4Bs: Boots, bags, belts, and burgers. Louis Vuitton has first dibs with an exclusive deal on the leather; a buyer comes three times a year to pick out just a hundred or so of the most pristine, unsullied pieces. It’s not all crocs that dominate the story here. With almost 2,100 metres of timber boardwalks and pathways – the construction feels natural and organic, the lagoon seemingly from a timeless past – you’ll also encounter tropical birds, wallabies, reptiles, snakes, cassowaries, koalas and native fauna. But careful where you walk though, Ted has his eye on you.

Tjapukai By Night www.tjapukai.com.au/tjapukai-by-night This was my only cultural experience during the trip (unless you count late night drinking at the bar). Where everything had been sea, sun and sport, this trip took us into a Dreamtime legend to experience Queenland’s native culture. At the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park you journey through a fire-making ceremony, live dance performances, learn traditional dances and a didgeridoo blessing ceremony. While the enterprise isn’t rote, it does feel a bit commercial, but it did prompt me to buy Bruce Chatwin’s Songlines.

Air Balloon www.ragingthunder.com.au The interesting thing about air ballooning here is that you don’t know where you board, and you can’t plan where to land (the wind has the final say). We followed the air balloon around the Atherton Tablelands in a small bus like storm chasers, while pilot and driver communicated their whereabouts (we were the second shift of punters). When we located our gondola inside a prickly, shrubbery field, the first group were disembarking and doing their final selfies. It wouldn’t be an air balloon flight if no one made a marriage proposal. So there we were, high over the Cairns Highlands, squeezed into the gondolas just as the sun was rising, when this Hong Kong guy – with buddy videotaping it all – nervously and quietly asked if the fiancé would do him the honours. As proposals go, it was all very subdued and silly, but the view made it just that little bit special. 70

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CAIRNS hurt in the construction process. For me, it was one of the most rewarding adventures one can have.

White Water Rafting www.ragingthunder.com.au Of the adventures you can have in Cairns, this was the most fun for me. With experienced guides, all trips are twice as safe and thrice as fun (we found out our instructor was opening a surf lodge in El Salvador, and of course one of our team fell out of the raft into the water!). The rafting is very casual, but team work is emphasised, as well as the mantra to leave nothing but a footprint and to take nothing but a photo – conservation is really big here. The rafting trip through Lake Placid allows spectacular views of the banks and forests. When you get a chance, slide into the water to float and swim – it’s a nice diversion from paddling.

Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours junglesurfing.com.au It was a drizzling morning when we arrived for jungle surfing, a ziplining (flying fox) tour of the Daintree Rainforest between six tree canopy platforms. A team of three experienced instructors work effortlessly to keep you buckled, bolted and blasted through the heart of the forest. There’s barely a moment to take notes, but plenty of time to appreciate the astonishing variety of life around you, even as you’re zipping through the forest at an exhilarating pace. It’s possibly the most unique way to ever experience a rainforest (the only other way is hiking/walking, naturally) – 20 metres above the forest floor. Environmentally there’s very little impact/damage: a lot of care has been taken to build the platforms, and no trees (many are centuries old) were

period – every tower structure was airlifted to site by Russian helicopters, as you weren’t allowed to drive up/through the rainforest. Workers had to wear special “damage nothing” boots to trek to work each day, carrying their own equipment. It was an ambitious family project that took 10 years of planning (and paperwork) to see light. But thanks to them, 32 towers were built, with 116 gondolas that can ferry 650 passengers per hour in each direction. As a rainforest experience, this one is hard to beat.

Reef Cruise www.sunlover.com.au The most Michael Bay part of this trip is the cruise to explore the outer reef from the Moore Reef pontoon. The Great Barrier Reef is a protected Unesco site, but it is big, and it is beatific, and deserved a bombastic treatment. So I started with a sweeping helicopter flight, perhaps the best way to get an epic sense of the reef. (It’s over 2,300km long and we could still only see a smidgen of it). There were many options to explore the reef and marine life up close, so I did it all. Donned a wetsuit and heavy helmet to seawalk into the ocean. (You can’t do this if you have heart issues, as you’ll be in a compressed atmosphere). Cold? You bet. Cool? Definitely. Loads of fish drifted in front of my visor, some bigger than a teenager, but no sharks. Then I also snorkeled with the marine biologist, who was able to, intermittently, explain about the ecosystem while reminding us to not touch the corals. (Dear readers, please do not touch the corals). You also have the option of observing from a glass bottom boat, or swim on your own in designated areas. In certain seasons you can also live on board the pontoon – highly recommended.

Cairns Night Zoo www.cairnsnightzoo.com Group dining, big speeches, trekking in the dark and strange creatures roaming about – this could almost be Hogwarts. Meet kangaroos, owls, koalas, Blue Tongue lizards, possums and snakes and find out what Queenslanders get up to at night.

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway www.skyrail.com.au The Skyrail is a technological marvel that you’ll have to ride to truly appreciate. The cable cars stretch over 7.5 kilometres and at its peak, you’re 545 metres above sea level with views of the Barron Gorge, Kuranda Rainforest, Cairns Highlands and the Coral Sea. I’ve trekked it on the ground, I’ve flown from trunk to trunk via harnesses, but this one lifts you right above the trees to see for miles. The view is serene and stupefying, but what’s even more boggling to conceive is that – during its 15-month construction MARCH/APRIL 2016

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B H U TA N

“Place Of Peace” In Bucolic Bhutan Bhutan is unlike any other country in the world. The Himalayan kingdom is world renowned for being mysterious and magical, along with a culture strongly rooted in Buddhism WORDS JOSMIN ONG O PHOTOGRAPHS JOSMIN ONG, ZHIWA LING

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hutan is a small and remote kingdom nestled between two of the largest countries in the world, India and China. For centuries, it has been a country that has fiercely guarded its ancient traditions and foreigners were refused into the “Land of the Thunder Dragon” until the 1970s. Within a week of travels through West Bhutan, I had set foot on an iron chain bridge that was made in the late 1300s, trekked up 10,240 ft to the famous Tiger Nest temple grounds, watched the locals enjoy a game of archery shot with a bamboo bow and came up close and personal with a Takin, Bhutan’s national animal. All these may seem out of the world for us, but for the Bhutanese, these are mere daily activities to pass time. 72

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A Unique Economy The country holds many surprises, but the biggest of them all should be the measurement of country progression by Gross National Happiness instead of the popular index of Gross Domestic Product. Economists over the world have argued that the key to happiness is often obtained through enjoying material developments. However, Bhutan begs to differ and believes that material wealth does not necessarily lead to happiness. Instead, equitable and equal social-economic development, preservation and promotion of cultural and spiritual heritage, conservation of environment and good governance have formed the backbone for the people to pursue happiness in Bhutan.


B H U TA N got me feeling all calm and relaxed with a personal scenic viewpoint. I am not too sure of the choice of bedding used, but it is one of the softest, most comfortable beds I have slept in within the whole week.

Top Experiences

PHOTOGRAPHS: FLICKR - ARIAN ZWEGERS, FLICKR - GÖRAN HÖGLUND (KARTLÄSARN), FLICKR - KHALED MONSOOR

Cliché Comparisons The world is constantly evolving due to the increment of wealth, advancement in technology or simply new discoveries made daily. Being a protected country, Bhutan is often dubbed as the world’s last Shangri-La, with the idea of a stunning and wide variety of flora and fauna, amazing architecture, rich ancient traditions that are still being practiced today and the multitudes of impressive monasteries and high-altitude trekking trails. Authenticity is a rare commodity, and travellers will usually go far lengths to find it. That is why tourism has been booming in Bhutan since the 1990s where the largest influx of tourist comes from America, despite them being half a globe away.

Secluded Retreat A wide variety of accommodation is available in Bhutan, ranging from 5-star hotels to cosy home-stays in traditional Bhutanese home settings. If you are looking for a luxe stay option, why not try a night or two in Zhiwa Ling Hotel – the only Bhutanese owned 5-star hotel certified by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. The name translates to “Place of Peace” which reflects

Bhutan’s deeply rooted Buddhist traditions, making the lodge into a spiritual retreat for guests. The esteemed establishment is also one of the world’s most unique lodges, with a seamless combination of ancient Bhutanese architecture and décor alongside modern facilities such as a fitness centre, yoga room and restaurants. The moment you step into the lobby of the hotel, you will find yourself feeling pretty small yet in awe within the walls of the intricately carved pillars and hand-painted ceilings and walls. In Zhiwa Ling, hospitality and comfort comes at the top of the staff’s priority list and they will stay committed to keep their guests satisfied throughout their stay. What I really like about the hotel is the blend of old and new, where you can get to enjoy traditional Bhutanese dances or watch an authentic Buddhist ceremony within the comfort of the advanced Swedish in-floor heating system in winter time. The genuine concern and hospitality received from the staff also left an impressionable statement. Whether in the grand main building or one of the cottages where the 45 suites are in, Zhiwa Ling is able to provide every guest with splendid views of the surrounding nature from the comfort or your room, either from the balcony or your sofa indoors. Just sitting by the balcony with a pot of hot tea

If you only have enough time for 3 attractions, these will be the ones I highly recommend. The first comes as no surprise, a hike up to Tiger’s Nest, also known as Paro Taktsang. It is a monastery that is built at the edge of a cliff 3,000ft above the Paro valley in Bhutan. The path is well laid and maintained with fresh and cool abundance of mountain air. However, if you live at sea level, it may be difficult to acclimatise while exercising vigorously, so a relaxed pace with plenty of rest and water is the way to go. Here, you will be able to learn about the rich Buddhist history of Bhutan and the origins of the temple, as well as a chance to admire nature up close, alongside thousands of colourful prayer flags that are often seen around the country. The second is the Gangtey Nature Trail, which takes about an hour and a half to complete hiking. It is one of the best trails in the country, as you walk through sloping grounds of pine trees and spot the various species of birds. Visit during the winter seasons (late October to mid February) to get a peak at the globally endangered black-necked cranes as they arrive from the Tibetan Plateau to set up base in Phobhjikha valley. Last but not least, take to the top of the hill above Para Dzong to find yourself at an old watchtower that has been renovated to house the National Museum. Within the various galleries, you can find an impressive collection of ancient and modern thangkas, fearsome festival mask and a collection of religious statues and early stone carvings and more. An interesting yet educational ground that will ensure to pique your interest, leaving you satisfied after quenching the thirst for knowledge in the mysteries of Bhutan.

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Places to Stay

EXTRAORDINARY

In the past, dining at hotel restaurants would have been the last resort for hungry travellers who opt for convenience over the lack of food quality and overpriced tag. Today, there are plenty of world-renowned hotel restaurants that have a reputation for dishing out dazzling displays of gastronomy. These coveted dining spots are popular amongst locals and travellers alike, and usually require a long wait in line or reservations months in advance. Here are our pick of the hotels that house the ďŹ nest of them all. WORDS JOSMIN ONG

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E X T R A O R D I N A RY P L A C E S T O S TAY

MANDARIN ORIENTAL, HONG KONG Hong Kong

BURJ AL ARAB Dubai, United Arab Emirates WHAT IS THE STAR RESTAURANT? Al Mahara (also known as Oyster Shell) is one of nine signature restaurants and bars within Burj Al Arab. This restaurant allows patrons to dine with the fishes with its floor-to-ceiling aquarium surrounding the circular 74-seat dining room. The signature dishes are seafood themed, designed by executive chef Maxime Luvara. Only the freshest ingredients cook up the best meals, so go ahead and enjoy the Atlantic wild turbot cooked in vine leaves served with vegetables blanquette and cep relish with tapioca.

WHAT IS THE STAR RESTAURANT? Man Wah is Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong’s Michelinstarred Cantonese restaurant and is often regarded as Hong Kong’s most exquisite dining space. On top of the splendid imperial ambience, guests are able to get a panoramic view of Victoria Harbour and the general Hong Kong cityscape from 25th floor of the restaurant. Some award-winning signature dishes include Steamed fillet of spotted garoupa with crispy ginger and crabmeat and egg white sauce as well as Stir fried lobster with egg white and scallop mousse.

WILL I BE CONVINCED? Enjoy luxury nowhere else quite comparable to being in Burj Al Arab. The distinctive sail-shaped silhouette of the hotel is more than just a stunning hotel, but also a symbol of modern Dubai. The hotel comes with 202 luxurious duplex suites, four swimming pools and a private beach, complimentary waterpark access and spa.

WILL I BE CONVINCED? For those who have an eye for art, the restaurant walls are adorned by exclusively commissioned original silk paintings – depicting the traditional Mandarins by David Wong. Lacquered enamel and gold-plated ceiling lamps are also fashioned to resemble birdcages, a unique detailing. The hotel is positioned within the heart of the metropolis, the perfect location for both leisure and business travelers seeking an exclusive sanctuary.

RATE: US$1,600++

RATE: US$708++ www.mandarinoriental.com/hongkong

PHOTOGRAPHS: BURJ AL ARAB DUBAI , MANDARIN ORIENTAL HONG KONG

www.jumeirah.com/en/hotels-resorts/dubai/burj-al-arab

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THE COSMOPOLITAN OF LAS VEGAS Las Vegas, United States WHAT IS THE STAR RESTAURANT é by José Andrés is a hidden gem found within The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Helmed by multi-award-winning chef José Andrés, the chic yet dramatically decorated restaurant sits exactly 8 guests and serves up creative tasting menus of Spanish avant-garde dishes, presented in an inspiring and whimsical style. Prepare to surprise your taste buds as the tasting menu is often kept a secret and constantly evolves. We’ve gotten news that some favourites included the Cava Sangria Sphere and Torta Pscualete with Cotton Candy and Crema Catalan Egg. WILL I BE CONVINCED? Have we mentioned that the restaurant only sits 8 guests each session? Reservations are required for the esteemed establishment and photography is prohibited. Situated within The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, travellers can also indulge in gaming, nightclubs, spa and hammam, art and shopping; all of which are available on site the oversized residential-style living space of the hotel. RATE: US$150++ www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com

LE BRISTOL HOTEL WHAT IS THE STAR RESTAURANT? What other place to try out the world’s best French haute cuisine than in France itself. Epicure is listed on everyone’s Best Hotel Restaurants list and it is not a wonder as the three-Michelin-starred restaurant dishes out large langoustines and caviar, blue lobster roasted with grilled chestnuts, sautéed celeriac, milk-fed saddle of lamb cooked from head to trotter flavoured with harissa and zucchini semolina perfumed with argan oil. Head chef Eric Frechon has been working in restaurants for at least 30 years and cooking is basically ‘his everything’. WILL I BE CONVINCED? Restaurant settings are changed according to seasons to suit the mood. In wintertime, it is remodeled with decadent gold chandeliers to warm up the atmosphere while in warmer weather, guests are able to enjoy the fine cuisines upon tables laid formally in an exquisite garden setting. Located in Le Bristol Paris, within the elegant Rue de Faubourg Saint Honoré, a few hundred yards from the Presidential Palace and the ChampsÉlysées, travellers are able to walk to these acclaimed attractions from the hotel. RATE: US$715++ www.lebristolparis.com/eng/home 76

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PHOTOGRAPHS: THE COSMOPOLITAN OF LAS VEGAS , LE BRISTOL HOTEL PARIS

Paris, France


E X T R A O R D I N A RY P L A C E S T O S TAY

MANDARIN ORIENTAL HYDE PARK PHOTOGRAPHS: MANDARIN ORIENTAL HYDE PARK LONDON, IRENE/FLICKR

London, UK WHAT IS THE STAR RESTAURANT? Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park provides a phenomenal dining experience for all food lovers. Home to two outstanding restaurants, including the three-star Michelin restaurant - Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, it is one of London’s premier gourmet destinations in its own right. Head chef Heston Blumenthal is best known for The Fat Duck, a three-star Michelin restaurant located in Berkshire, England. But he brings his knowledge of British gastronomy into Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park to introduce good food to the people in the country’s capital. Some famous dishes include Rice & Flesh (rice with saffron, red wine, calf tail), Spiced pigeon with ale and artichokes and Roast halibut with leaf chicory and cockle ketchup. WILL I BE CONVINCED? It may not be the most opulent dining setting, but the sleek design is sufficient to make visitors feel invited and comfortable while enjoying quality British cuisines. The restaurant is situated within one of London’s most celebrated 5-star hotels, and it exudes an enticing mix of elegance and luxury from its world-famous restaurants to the stunning spas and rooms that overlook the iconic Hyde Park and Knightsbridge. RATE: US$546++ www.mandarinoriental.com/london MARCH/APRIL 2016

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Mini Guides S I X T H E M E D G U I D E S TO TA K E O N T H E P E R F E C T S H O RT B R E A K

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Fold 2 On the beach at Polzeath, near Padstow

Walking SOUTH WEST COAST PATH Britain’s longest national trail, the 630-mile route careers around the shores, taking in sparkling bays, perfect fishing villages and swathes of rural idyll. For a nine-mile day walk, tackle Portreath to Trevaunance Cove, which covers mining heritage, a surfer’s beach, sandy cove and 192m-high headland (southwestcoastpath.com).

MINI GUIDE

BODMIN MOOR

Active in Cornwall Hike iconic coast paths, surf England’s best waves, cycle old rail routes and explore desolate moors in the Southwest county’s diverse, adventure-inspiring landscape.

Watersports

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SWIMMING Just inland from the coastal village of Trethevy is the swimming spot of St Nectan’s Glen, where an 18metre-high waterfall tumbles into a bracing knieve (plunge pool). It’s a mystical spot, fringed by ivy and shrubs, supposedly frequented by pixies. The mile-long track to the pool starts opposite the bus stop in Trethevy – just follow the signs (st-nectansglen.co.uk; 9.30am– 5pm Apr–Oct, 10.30am–3pm Nov–Mar; glen entry free, small seasonally changing charge for visiting the waterfall).

THE SAINTS’ WAY

Ruined tin mines dot an atmospheric, mystical landscape of bogs, Stone Age sites and high tors (hills), making for a moody hiking environment. Highlights include walks from the ancient mining village of Minions, with its own stone circle, and the high tors of Rough Tor and Brown Willy. The best route for tackling Brown Willy is the car park at Poldue Downs, three miles south of Camelford.

This 26-mile jaunt – allow three to four days – across Cornwall follows the path of early Christian pilgrims heading from Ireland and Wales to the European mainland (avoiding the deadly Land’s End sea route). Today, it’s a quieter, less visited path that starts at Padstow in the north, before passing shrines, stones, and Neolithic sites, until it reaches St Fimbarrus Church in Fowey in the south.

Other activities

SURFING Britain’s best-known surf beach, Fistral, outside Newquay, remains popular thanks to its constant swells. If you want to learn to surf, there are few better places to do it: the breaks are consistent, and suitable for beginners as well as more experienced surfers. Expect to pay from around US$42 for a two-hour lesson with a local operator like fistralbeachsurfschool. co.uk or errantsurfschool.co.uk.

Granite rock formations at the top of Rough Tor, Bodmin Moor

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CYCLING

The River Trevillet has carved out the slate at St Nectan’s Glen

KAYAKING It’s thought Kenneth Grahame got the inspiration for The Wind in the Willows while boating around Fowey’s quiet creeks, so messing about on the river is a must. It’s ideal for exploring by kayak, with lots of quiet inlets and plentiful birdlife. One of the loveliest sections is the area around Pont Pill Creek, where old oaks dangle their branches in to the water and you might spy herons and the odd kingfisher (foweyexpeditions.co.uk; May–mid Sep; US$42pp for a guided kayak tour).

The old Padstow-Bodmin railway tracks were removed in the 1980s, but the route has been reused as part of the Camel Trail. Cornwall’s most popular bike path runs for a flat, easygoing 18 miles between Padstow and Bodmin Moor’s west edge (cornwall.gov.uk/cameltrail). You can hire bikes at either end of the cycle route (padstowcyclehire. com and bridgebikehire.co.uk; from US$17 per day).

HORSE RIDING

One mile to go before reaching Padstow on the Camel Trail

MULTI-SPORTS

Cornwall provides riders with diverse landscapes to discover, including the Clay Trails, a network of walking and riding trails around former claypits, which make up a weird landscape of spoil heaps and turquoise pools (claytrails.co. uk). Boskell Riding Centre, near St Austell, offers beginners’ lessons on its grounds, and jaunts along the Clay Trails for more seasoned riders (facebook. com/boskell.ridingcentre; from US$35 per hour).

Cornwall was made for adventure: try your hand at a range of adrenaline sports at a multi-activity centre. BF Adventure, near Falmouth, runs ‘RAW’ half-day adventures, which include rock climbing, archery and a water challenge, or pick from activities such as abseiling, raft-building, coasteering, and learning about bushcraft and how to fend for yourself in the wild (bfadventure.org; RAW session US$35).

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MINI GUIDE Active in Cornwall

Cornwall essentials

WHERE TO STAY Vintage furniture and upcycled design pieces give each room at Falmouth’s Highcliffe ccontemporary b&b its own feel. The pick of the bunch is the 84

The know-how EXPLORE THE SOUTHWEST’S BEST UNSPOILT BEACHES

TRANSPORT Fly on British Airways (ba.com) from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur into London Heathrow daily. From here, Flybe flies to Newquay (from US$133; flybe. com). The main train route from London passes through Liskeard, Truro, Camborne and other stops en route to Penzance (from US$108; firstgreatwestern.co. uk). There are also branch lines to St Ives, Falmouth, Newquay and Looe. The main bus operator in Cornwall is First: a one-day ticket (US$14) offers unlimited travel on its bus networks for 24 hours (firstgroup.com). For timetables, visit cornwall.gov.uk/ buses. Having a car comes in handy when visiting rural areas, but count on traffic at peak times.

Breakfast on pancakes, hog’s pudding and more at Highcliffe

light-filled penthouse with bay views (highcliffefalmouth.com; 22 Melvill Rd; from US$112). If you want to be in the heart of Padstow, the charming, Grade II listed, ivy-clad Althea Library is hard to beat. The three rooms have a homely feel with coffee machines and in-room fridges (althealibrary. co.uk; 27 High St; from US$137, two-night minimum). For out-and-out luxury, the adults-only Scarlet Hotel takes the crown. In a regal location five miles from Newquay, it offers huge seaview rooms with funky furniture, plus a luxurious spa (scarlethotel.co.uk; Tredragon Rd, Mawgan Porth; from US$294).

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Saunton Sands Three miles of undeveloped north Devon shore backed by the UK’s biggest dune system. Porthcurno One of west Cornwall’s most atmospheric beaches – a sand-filled cove framed by dramatic cliffs. Slapton Sands This immense pebble (not sand) beach in south Devon borders a watery nature reserve. Gwithian and Godrevy Escape the crowds in Cornwall’s longest stretch of sand (more than three miles). Bantham A rural south Devon beach with a vast expanse of golden grains at low tide. Perranporth Two miles of sand on the north Cornish coast, backed by grassy dunes.

FURTHER READING Lonely Planet’s Devon & Cornwall (US$19.60) contains a comprehensive guide to the region. Four chapters of the book deal with different sections of Cornwall, and these can be downloaded individually at lonelyplanet.com (US$4.20). Check out the county’s sands at cornwallbeaches.co.uk, which has information on more than 150 beaches. For a classic thriller set on Bodmin Moor, read Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn (US$9.50; Virago).

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM OLIVER BERRY. PHOTOGRAPHS: NIELS VAN GIJN/AWL IMAGES, JAMES OSMOND/ALAMY, MANOR PHOTOGRAPHY/ALAMY, RICHARD TAYLOR/4 CORNERS, SIMON WHITE, SEB OLIVER/GETTY IMAGS

Activities


Fold 2 Edinburgh city centre viewed from Calton Hill

Cafés LOUDONS A café that bakes its own organic bread and cakes, ethically sources its coffee and offers some outdoor tables – Loudon’s has got it sussed. The weekend brunch (9am– 3pm) includes eggs Benedict and blueberry pancakes with fruit salad (loudons-cafe.co.uk; 94b Fountainbridge; 8am–5pm Mon–Fri, from 9am Sat–Sun; mains from US$7).

VALVONA & CROLLA

MINI GUIDE

Eating in Edinburgh The Scottish capital has more restaurants per head than any other UK city – grab brunch in a café, try Michelin-starred dining or sample what modern local chefs are creating.

Modern Scottish THE SCOTTISH CAFÉ AND RESTAURANT

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This appealing place, part of the Scottish National Galleries complex, has views of Princes Street Gardens, and offers traditional dishes such as Cullen skink, haggis, smoked salmon and venison (thescottishcafe andrestaurant.com; The Mound; 9am–5pm Mon–Sat, until 7pm Thu, 10am–5pm Sun; twocourse set lunch from US$14).

GARDENER’S COTTAGE A country cottage in the heart of the city, bedecked with flowers and fairy lights, that provides one of Edinburgh’s most interesting dining experiences. The two tiny rooms, with communal tables made from salvaged timber, offer a set menu with most of the vegetables and fruit grown in an organic garden in the city suburbs (thegardenerscottage. co; 1 Royal Terrace Gardens; 12pm–2.30pm & 5pm–10pm Thu–Mon; lunch mains from US$8.40).

Swedish cardamom buns are the number-one seller at Peter’s Yard

PETER’S YARD

Try breakfast with an Italian flavour – deliciously light and crisp panettone in carrozza, a sweet brioche dipped in egg and fried – or choose from almond croissants, muesli, yoghurt and fruit, and perfect Italian coffee. The lunch menu features chicken escalopes wrapped in Parma ham (valvonacrolla.co.uk; 19 Elm Row; 8.30am–5.30pm Mon– Thu, 8am–6pm Fri–Sat, 10.30am–3.30pm Sun; mains from US$14).

This Swedish-style coffee house produces its own breads, from sourdough to focaccia, which form the basis for lunchtime sandwiches, with fillings such as roast beef with beetroot and caper salad, and roast butternut squash with sunblush tomato pesto. Breakfast includes yoghurt with granola and fruit (petersyard.com; 27 Simpson Loan; 7.30am–7pm Mon–Fri, 9am–7pm Sat & Sun; mains from US$7).

High-end

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ONDINE

Lamb with fresh garden peas at the Scottish Café and Restaurant

TIMBERYARD Worn floorboards, cast-iron pillars, exposed joists and tables of old mahogany create a rustic atmosphere in this restaurant where the accent is on locally sourced produce from artisan growers. Typical dishes include seared scallop with apple, Jerusalem artichoke and sorrel; and juniper-smoked pigeon with wild garlic flowers and beetroot (timberyard.co; 10 Lady Lawson St; 12pm–2pm & 5.30pm–9.30pm Tue–Sat; mains from US$18.20).

One of the city’s finest seafood restaurants, with a menu of sustainably sourced fish. Take a seat at the curved bar and tuck into tempura oysters, lobster thermidor, a roast shellfish platter or good old haddock and chips with minted pea purée, just to keep things posh (ondine restaurant.co.uk; 2 George IV Bridge; 12pm–3pm & 5.30pm– 10pm Mon–Sat).

THE KITCHIN

The Kitchin’s relaxed dining room, with a window onto the kitchen

CASTLE TERRACE

Fresh, seasonal, locally sourced produce is the philosophy that has won this elegant but unpretentious restaurant a Michelin star. Delights include Orkney scallops served with a white wine, vermouth and wild herb sauce, and Inverurie ox tongue with braised ox shin and bone marrow potato (thekitchin. com; 78 Commercial Quay; 12.15pm–2.30pm & 6.30–10pm Tue–Thu, until 10.30pm Fri & Sat).

It was little more than a year after opening in 2010 that Castle Terrace was awarded a Michelin star under chef-patron Dominic Jack. The menu is seasonal and applies Parisian skills to the finest of local produce, be it Ayrshire pork, Aberdeenshire lamb or Newhaven crab (castle terracerestaurant.com; 33–35 Castle Terrace; 12pm–2pm & 6.30–10pm Tue–Sat).

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MINI GUIDE Eating in Edinburgh

Edinburgh essentials

The know-how SMOKIN’ SCOTLAND

TRANSPORT Connect to Ediburgh via London Heathrow onboard British Airways (ba.com) from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. Edinburgh is 4½ hours from London King’s Cross (from US$99 rtn; nationalrail.co.uk). The city has a good bus service, including the Airlink service 100 from the airport to Waverley Bridge train station (30 mins; US$10.50 rtn; flybybus. com), plus tram links from the airport to the city (US$7 from the airport, US$2.10 in the city zone; edinburghtrams.com). The best way to explore Edinburgh’s nooks and crannies, despite the numerous hills, is by foot.

WHERE TO STAY Dene Guesthouse is an informal place, set in a charming Georgian townhouse in the New Town. The owner is welcoming and helpful, the bedrooms are spacious and the breakfast plentiful (deneguesthouse.com; 7 Eyre Place; from US$91). 86

Sleeping

A double/twin convertible room at B+B Edinburgh

B+B Edinburgh is a Victorian extravaganza of carved oak, parquet floors, stained glass and elaborate fireplaces that’s been given a contemporary makeover. Top-floor rooms enjoy the finest views (bb-edinburgh.com; 3 Rothesay Terrace; from US$154). Set in a 17th-century mansion in eight hectares of parkland, Prestonfield House is draped in damask and packed with antiques. Rooms are sumptuous and come with a complimentary bottle of champagne (prestonfield.com; Priestfield Road; from US$343).

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The ancient art of smoking food has undergone a revival. O Cold-smoked products include smoked salmon, kippers and Finnan haddie. Hot-smoked products include bradan rost (flaky smoked salmon) and Arbroath smokies. O Arbroath smokies are haddock that have been gutted and cleaned, then salted and dried overnight, tied together in pairs and hot-smoked over oak or beech chippings. O Finnan haddies are also haddock, but are split down the middle and cold-smoked. O Kippers (smoked herring) came to Scotland in the 19th century from Northumberland in the 19th century, and both Loch Fyne and Mallaig became famous for their kippers. O Visit hebrideansmokehouse. com, smokedsalmon.co.uk, visitmarrbury.co.uk and lochduartsmokedsalmon.com.

FURTHER READING Lonely Planet’s Pocket Edinburgh (US$11) is ideal for weekend breaks, and Scotland (US$19.60) has ideas for trips further afield. Its chapter on Edinburgh can be downloaded at lonelyplanet.com (US$4.20). For extensive local restaurant listings, the excellent Edinburgh & Glasgow Eating & Drinking Guide (food.list.co.uk) published annually by The List magazine, provides hundreds of reviews.

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTONS FROM NEIL WILSON. PHOTOGRAPHS: PETER BARRITT/ROBERT HARDING, MARC MILLAR PHOTOGRAPHY, HANDMADE PICTURES/ISTOCK IMAGES

Eating


Fold 2 Hermès’s own Parisian concept store

Fashion KILIWATCH A Parisian institution just north of Les Halles, Kiliwatch gets jam-packed with hip guys and gals rummaging through racks of new and used streetwear. Here you’ll find a startling vintage range of hats and boots, plus books on art and photography, eyewear and the latest sneakers (espacekiliwatch.fr; 64 rue Tiquetonne; 10.30am–7pm Mon, to 7.30pm Tue–Sat).

MINI GUIDE

Shopping in Paris In the city that coined the expression lèchevitrine for window shopping, pay homage to the designer fashion houses or grab yourself a quirky souvenir from a speciality shop.

Food and cookware E DEHILLERIN

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Founded in 1820, this two-level store carries an incredible selection of professional-quality matériel de cuisine (kitchenware) and indeed the city’s chefs stock up here. Poultry scissors, turbot poachers, copper cookware, even a pumpkin-shaped casserole pan for US$196 – it’s all here (e-dehillerin.fr; 18–20 rue Coquillière; 9am–12.30pm & 2pm–6pm Mon, 9am–6pm Tue–Sat).

Choose from some 70 kinds of cheese at Fromagerie Goncourt

LA GRANDE ÉPICERIE DE PARIS

FROMAGERIE GONCOURT

Among a vast array of edibles, the magnificent food hall of Le Bon Marché department store sells bars of Bonnat chocolate (from US$5.35), Lebanese rose petal jam (US$7.60) and fist-sized Himalayan salt crystals to grate over food (US$8.90). Its fantastical displays of chocolates, pastries, biscuits, cheeses, fruit and vegetables and deli goods are sights in themselves (lagrande epicerie.fr; 38 rue de Sèvres; 8.30am–9pm Mon–Sat).

Styled like a boutique, this contemporary fromagerie is a must-visit. Clément Brossault ditched a career in banking to become a fromager and his selection is superb. Cheeses flagged with a bicycle symbol are varieties he discovered during a two-month French cheese tour he embarked on as part of his training (facebook. com/lafromageriegoncourt; 1 rue Abel Rabaud; 9am–1pm & 4pm–8.30pm Tue–Fri, 9am– 8pm Sat).

DIDIER LUDOT Since 1975, collector Didier Ludot has sold the city’s finest couture creations of yesteryear in his exclusive twinset of boutiques. He also hosts exhibitions, and has published a book on the evolution of the little black dress, brilliantly brought to life in his shop La Petite Robe Noire, on the other side of the gardens from the main branch (didierludot.fr; 4 Galerie de Montpensier, Jardin du Palais Royal; 10.30am–7pm Mon–Sat).

Jamin Puech’s Oscar, decorated with wooden beads and sequins

JAMIN PUECH This Parisian design house creates beautiful handbags in all manner of bold colours, textures and textiles (from US$154 for a small bag). Isabelle Puech and Benoît Jamin are the duo behind the catchy, ethno-urban look. For vintage pieces from the 1990s, head to the 61 rue d’Hauteville boutique (jamin-puech.com; 68 rue Vieille du Temple; 11am–7pm Mon & Wed–Sat, noon–7pm Tue).

Best concept stores

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GAB & JO For quality local gifts to take home, browse the shelves of Gab & Jo, the country’s first-ever concept store stocking only made-in-France items. Designers include Marie-Jeanne de Grasse (scented candles), Marius Fabre (Marseille soaps), Germaine-desPrés (lingerie), MILF (sunglasses) and Monsieur Marcel for T-shirts (gabjo.fr; 28 rue Jacob; 11am–7pm Mon–Sat).

HERMÈS

Buy the best of Français at Gab & Jo in Saint-Germain-des-Prés

MERCI

A stunning Art Deco swimming pool now houses luxury label Hermès’s inaugural concept store. Adding enormous timber pod-like ‘huts’, the vast, tiered space showcases new directions in home furnishings including fabrics and wallpaper, as well as classic lines including signature scarves (from US$336 for a 90 silk scarf). There’s also an appropriately chic café (hermes. com; 17 rue de Sèvres; 10.30am– 7pm Mon–Sat).

A Fiat Cinquecento marks the entrance to this unique concept store, whose profits help to fund a children’s charity in Madagascar. Shop for fashion, accessories, linens, lamps and nifty designs for the home; complete the experience with a coffee in the hybrid used-book-shop-café or a lunch in the stylish basement (merci-merci.com; 111 bd Beaumarchais; 10am–7pm Mon–Sat).

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MINI GUIDE Shopping in Paris

Paris essentials

The know-how LE TRIANGLE D’OR

TRANSPORT From Singapore, travel direct on Singapore Airlines (singaporeair. com) or Air France (airfrance.sg) to Paris. If travelling from Kuala Lumpur, fly on Emirates with a stopover in Dubai (emirates. com/my). All flights run on a daily basis. Travel from the airports to the city using RER commuter trains, the Roissybus and Orlybus express bus services, or the Beauvais shuttle bus. A single metro ticket costs US$1.30, or US$14 for a booklet of 10, with various other passes available (ratp.fr).

WHERE TO STAY The friendly, down-to-earth Hôtel de la Herse d’Or has 29 rooms, some with original old stone fireplaces and a couple with outdoor terraces (hotelherse-dor.com; 20 rue SaintAntoine; from US$133). Hôtel Fabric is an ode to its industrial heritage: steely pillars prop up the red-brick lounge 88

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Hôtel Fabric began life as a textile factory in the 19th century

area and vintage touches include a Singer sewing machine. Rooms are crisp and bright with beautiful textiles (hotelfabric. com; 31 rue de la Folie Méricourt; from US$210). L’Hotel is the stuff of romance and Parisian legend. Oscar Wilde died here in 1900, and his former room is now decorated with a peacock motif. There’s also a Michelin-starred restaurant under a glass canopy (l-hotel.com; 13 rue des Beaux-Arts; from US$330).

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The 8ème arrondissement is home to icons of haute couture: Chanel, 42 & 51 av Montaigne Box jackets and the little black dress, as chic now as in the ’20s. Christian Dior, 30 av Montaigne Re-established Paris as world fashion capital after WWII. Givenchy, 36 av Montaigne The first designer to present a luxurious collection of women’s prêt-à-porter. Jean-Paul Gaultier, 44 av George V This shy kid from the suburbs morphed into fashion’s enfant terrible with his granny corsets, men dressed in skirts and Madonna’s conical bra. Louis Vuitton, 101 av des Champs-Élysées The canvas bag with the LV monogram is as covetable as ever. Yves Saint Laurent, 53 av Montaigne The first top Parisian designer to incorporate non-European styles into his work.

FURTHER READING Lonely Planet’s Pocket Paris (US$11) gives a good insight into the city, while Paris (US$18.20) has more detailed information. My Little Paris features little-known local treasures, be it a fashion boutique or homestore (mylittleparis.com). L’Élégance du hérisson (The Elegance of the Hedgehog in English) by Muriel Barbery is a French bestseller that unveils the world behind a Parisian façade.

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM CATHERINE LE NEVEZ, CHRISTOPHER PITTS AND NICOLA WILLIAMS. PHOTOGRAPHS: SIPA PRESS/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK, KIRSTIN SINCLAIR/GETTY IMAGES

Shopping


Fold 2 The Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum

Golden Age RIJKSMUSEUM The Netherlands’ premier art trove splashes Rembrandts, Vermeers and 7,500 other masterpieces over a mile of galleries. Works from the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age are the highlight: feast your eyes on still lifes, gentlemen in ruffled collars and landscapes bathed in pale light. Rembrandt’s The Night Watch (1642) takes pride of place (rijksmuseum.nl; Museumstraat 1; 9am–5pm; US$17.50).

MINI GUIDE

MUSEUM HET REMBRANDTHUIS

HERMITAGE AMSTERDAM

The Dutch Masters helped spawn the prolific art collections around town and now you can’t walk a kilometre without bumping into a masterpiece in Amsterdam.

Rembrandt van Rijn ran the Netherlands’ largest painting studio in this beautiful house, only to lose the lot when bankruptcy came a-knocking. The museum has almost every etching he made and a mindboggling collection of his possessions, which include seashells, weaponry, Roman busts and military helmets (rembrandt huis.nl; Jodenbreestraat 4; 10am–6pm; US$13).

This satellite of Russia’s Hermitage Museum features one-off blockbuster exhibits. Until the end of 2016 it will host Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age – a unique collection of 30 colossal group portraits from the 17th century, showcasing civic guards and merchants by the likes of Govert Flinck and Nicolaes Pickenoy (hermitage.nl; Amstel 51; 10am–5pm; US$15.40).

Contemporary

Best of the rest

Art in Amsterdam

WALLS A former garage now houses this edgy art gallery, which hosts six to eight exhibitions a year and also represents young, up-andcoming art students. Also look out for work by graduates from the Design Academy in Eindhoven and special showcases of international artists’ works (walls.nl; Prinsengracht 737; noon–6pm Wed–Sun; free entry). Tear out page here then fold along the dotted lines

The Rembrandthuis holds daily etching demonstrations

STEDELIJK MUSEUM The Stedelijk displays some 2,500 artworks at a time, including some of the world’s most admired modern classics, amassed with great skill by postwar curator Willem Sandberg. The permanent collection includes all the blue chips of 19th- and 20th-century painting – Monet, Picasso and Chagall among them – as well as sculptures by Rodin, abstracts by Mondrian and Kandinsky, and much, much more (stedelijk.nl; Museumplein 10; 10am–6pm, to 10pm Thu; US$15.40).

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VAN GOGH MUSEUM

Jeff Koons’s Ushering in Banality (1988) at the Stedelijk Museum

DE APPEL See what’s on at this swanky contemporary arts centre and you may just have your mind expanded. The curators have a knack for tapping young international talent and supplementing exhibitions with lectures, film screenings and performances; this 26 September sees one such event: Midsummer Night Scream. From September you can also view works by artist collective ‘gerlach en koop’ (deappel.nl; Prins Hendrikkade 142; 11am–6pm Tue–Sun; US$7).

Framed by a gleaming new glass entrance hall, the world’s largest Van Gogh collection offers a superb line-up of masterworks. Trace the artist’s life from his tentative start through his giddy-coloured sunflower phase, and on to the black cloud that descended over him and his work (vangoghmuseum.nl; Paulus Potterstraat 7; 9am–6pm, until 10pm Fri–Sat; US$17).

Experience a feline artistic overload at the Kattenkabinet

KATTENKABINET

FOAM Simple, functional but roomy galleries, some with skylights or grand windows for natural light, make this an excellent space for all genres of photography. Two floors of exhibition space create a great setting for admiring changing exhibits from world-renowned photographers, including Sir Cecil Beaton, Annie Leibovitz and Henri CartierBresson (foam.org; Keizersgracht 609; 10am–6pm, until 9pm Thu–Fri; US$10.10).

Inside a creaky old canal house is this offbeat museum devoted to, of all things, the feline presence in art. Among the artists, Swiss-born ThéopileAlexandre Steinlen (1859–1923) figures prominently. There’s also a small Rembrandt etching and Picasso’s Le Chat. You may get the chance to admire the collection along with the cats that live in the building (kattenkabinet.nl; Herengracht 497; 10am–5pm, from noon Sat–Sun; US$7).

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MINI GUIDE Art in Amsterdam

Amsterdam essentials

The know-how THE DUTCH GOLDEN AGE

TRANSPORT KLM has direct flights from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport (klm.com). The airport is nine miles southwest of the city centre and trains leave for Amsterdam Centraal station every 10 minutes or so (US$8.40 return; ns.nl). Alternatively, Connexxion runs a shuttle bus to several hotels in the city (airporthotelshuttle.nl; US$9–19). Central Amsterdam is easy to cover by foot, or you can also rent a bike (from US$16 per day; bikecity.nl). An OV-chipkaart covers trams, buses and the metro (US$7.70 minimum purchase price; ov-chipkaart.nl).

WHERE TO STAY Overlooking the Vondelpark, Hotel Piet Hein offers a startling variety of contemporary rooms at daily-changing rates, as well as a sublime garden for breakfasting on a fine day (hotelpiethein.com; Vossiusstraat 51–53; from US$77). The view out front of Hotel 90

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Art’otel’s lobby is a swanky refuge with a library for guests

Amstelzicht, on the Amstel, is straight from a 17th-century painting, so make sure you get one of the rooms facing the canal. The whole hotel is smooth and refined (hotelamstelzicht.com; Amstel 104; from US$91). Art’otel Amsterdam, part of a European chain, is conveniently located opposite Centraal Station. The 107 rooms have original artworks on the wall, and there’s a gallery in the basement (artotelamsterdam.com; Prins Hendrikkade 33; from US$224.50).

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O The Netherlands stood out in 17th-century Europe for its wealth, its Calvinism and its semi-republican government. Without patronage from church or court, the art market catered instead to a bourgeois society, and grew like never before. O Rembrandt van Rijn (1606– 1669) and his studio staff churned out scores of paintings, including group portraits such as The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp. O Frans Hals (c.1582–1666) used the same unpolished brush strokes as Rembrandt, and like him his style went from bright exuberance in his early career to dark and solemn later. O Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) only produced about 45 paintings in his career; some 36 of them survive today, including View of Delft and the beautiful Girl with a Pearl Earring.

FURTHER READING Lonely Planet’s Amsterdam (US$19.60) is a comprehensive guide to the city, chapters of which can be downloaded at lonelyplanet.com (US$4.20), while Pocket Amsterdam (US$11) is ideal for short trips. For art, music and fashion to-dos see overdose.am. Rembrandt’s former pupil, Fabritius, and his painting, The Goldfinch, have been put back in the spotlight by Donna Tartt’s novel of the same name.

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM CATHERINE LE NEVEZ AND KARLA ZIMMERMAN. PHOTOGRAPHS: MARK READ, CHRIS ROSE/ISTOCK, JORGE ROYAN/ALAMY, GERT JAN VAN ROOIJ, PAUL WINCH-FURNESS

Sights


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Entertainment AMOEBA MUSIC

A traditional tram trundles down a San Francisco street

THE ROYALE

MINI GUIDE

Budget San Francisco Take in the best of this Californian city’s cultural highs, see cutting-edge theatre, music and readings, and taste local, artisan produce and gourmet dishes for a snip.

Sights

Tear out page here then fold along the dotted lines

CABLE CAR MUSEUM Observe the inner workings of SF’s transport icon, which remains largely unchanged since its invention. Located in a historic cable car barn and powerhouse, the museum is home to three original 1870s cable cars and you can watch cables whir over massive bull wheels – as awesome a feat of engineering now as when invented by Andrew Hallidie in 1873 (cablecarmuseum.org; 1201 Mason St; 10am–6pm Apr–Sep, to 5pm Oct–Mar; free).

Amoeba Music’s huge store is set in a former bowling alley

CITY LIGHTS

A Parisian tiled floor and semicircular fainting couches lend atmosphere and acoustics to this lounge, which hosts free live jazz, film screenings, theatrical presentations, readings by local writers and sometimes even a spot of belly dancing. There’s also a pool table, food until 10pm, and the wine bar is pleasingly affordable (theroyalesf.com; 800 Post St; 4pm–2am; free).

San Fran’s literary scene is legendary, perhaps nowhere more so than this bookstore founded by poet laureate Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Enter the sunny Poetry Room for piles of freshly published verse, a poet’s chair and views across Jack Kerouac Alley, or head to the non-fiction cellar. There’s a free weekly reading series in store (citylights.com; 261 Columbus Ave; 10am–midnight; free).

Eating and drinking

CLARION ALLEY STREET ART Today the Mission district has more than 400 murals but its hot spot for trial by fire is on Clarion Alley, where street artworks are peed on or painted over in a jiffy unless they deliver enough to last a little while like Megan Wilson’s daisy-covered Capitalism is Over! (If You Want It). Go see what’s new (off Valencia Street between 17th & 18th St).

The west coast’s most eclectic collection of new and used music and video is housed in this store, which also offers listening stations, a free music zine with uncannily accurate reviews, plus a free concert series that recently starred the likes of Mark Ronson, Lana Del Rey, Death Cab for Cutie and the Dandy Warhols (amoeba. com; 1855 Haight St; 11am– 8pm; free).

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LA TAQUERIA

Fort Point on the southern side of the Golden Gate Bridge

FORT POINT Built just prior to the American Civil War in 1861 by the United States Army to protect the city from Confederate warship attacks that never came, Fort Point is now more famous as the spot where Kim Novak leapt into the frigid waters of the bay in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 thriller Vertigo. It’s an ideal vantage point for views of the Golden Gate Bridge if you aren’t up to the walk across (nps.gov/ fopo; Marine Dr; 10am–5pm Thu–Tue; free).

The definitive burrito at La Taqueria in The Mission packs vast flour tortillas with perfectly grilled meats, slow-cooked beans and homemade tomatillo or mesquite salsa. Add spicy pickled jalapenos and sour cream, then grab a stool – it may take a while to finish (facebook.com/LaTaqSF; 2889 Mission St; 11am–9pm Mon–Sat, to 8pm Sun; burrito from US$3.40).

LIGURIA BAKERY Morning doesn’t start in North Beach until third-generation Soracco family bakers pull the first fragrant focaccia from their 100-year-old brick oven. Come early for a choice of cinnamonraisin focaccia, tomato or classic rosemary and garlic, and take yours for a picnic at Coit Tower for top bay views (1700 Stockton St; 8am–2pm Mon–Fri, from 7am Sat, until 12pm Sun; focaccia from US$3.65).

Rosamunde Sausage Grill’s food goes perfectly with a glass of beer

ROSAMUNDE SAUSAGE GRILL Load up classic bratwurst, lamb merguez or duck and fig links with complimentary gourmet toppings including roasted peppers, grilled onions, wholegrain mustard and mango chutney in Haight. Enjoy with a choice of hundreds of beers at Toronado next door (rosamundesausagegrill.com; 545 Haight St; 11:30am–10pm Sun–Wed, until 11pm Thu–Sat; sausages from US$6.30).

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MINI GUIDE Budget San Francisco

San Fran essentials

Eating

Sleeping

The know-how MOVIE LOCATIONS

TRANSPORT Fly Singapore Airlines with one stopover in Hong Kong before heading to San Francisco. Cathay Pacific flies a smiliar route from Kuala Lumpur. The airport is 14 miles south of downtown, which the BART train offers a regular service to (30 mins; US$15.40 rtn; bart.gov), while a taxi costs from US$35. Numerous rental stores will hire bikes (from US$7 an hour; avenuecyclery. com). Cable cars are run by MUNI, which is also responsible for the bus and streetcar line. Single cable car tickets cost US$6.30 – you can buy these from the conductor or from ticket booths by the lines (sfmta.com).

WHERE TO STAY A good-value hotel at Union Square, Stratford has simple white-walled rooms with plain furnishing, but they’re clean and the bathrooms have rainfall showers. Rooms on Powell St can be noisy (hotelstratford.com; 92

Sights

The Nob Hill Hotel lies in one of the city’s most historic districts

242 Powell St; from US$98). Just two blocks west of Union Square, The Andrews Hotel has a homey feel and small but comfortable rooms (the quietest are in the back), plus a good Italian restaurant downstairs (andrewshotel.com; 624 Post St; from US$140). Rooms in the 1906 Nob Hill Hotel have been dressed up in heavy Victoriana, with brass beds, fringed lampshades and floral-print carpets. Rooms on Hyde St can be loud, so book towards the rear (nobhillhotel.com; 835 Hyde St; from US$196).

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Nob Hill Steve McQueen’s muscle car goes flying over the summit in Bullitt – and somehow lands in SoMa. Ocean Beach The moody, windswept beach sets the scene for turbulent romance in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. Sutro Baths SF’s dandified ruin made a suitable setting for the romance in Harold and Maude. Human Rights Campaign Action Center & Store Harvey Milk’s camera shop in Milk was this actual Castro location. Alcatraz Even America’s highest-security prison can’t contain Clint Eastwood in Escape from Alcatraz. Fort Point Hitchcock was right – swirling film-noir fog and giddy Golden Gate views make for a thrilling case of Vertigo.

FURTHER READING Lonely Planet’s San Francisco (US$21) is a comprehensive guide to the city, and chapters from the book can be downloaded at lonelyplanet.com (US$4.20). Freebie mags that cover the city’s listings are SF Weekly (sfweekly. com) and San Francisco Bay Guardian (sfbg.com). All Over Coffee by SF-based artist Paul Madonna combines stories and watercolour landscapes of the city (US$23.70; City Lights Books).

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ALISON BING, SARA BENSON AND JOHN A VLAHIDES. PHOTOGRAPHS: SUSANNE KREMER/4 CORNERS, JAY BLAKESBERG, ALAN COPSON/AWL IMAGES, MOVIE POSTER IMAGE ART/GETTY IMAGES

Entertainment


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Swimming SWIMMING WITH MANATEES

A manatee near Crystal River on Florida’s west coast

TUBING

MINI GUIDE

Water fun in Florida This southeast state’s coastline includes 660 miles of the best beaches in the US, plus plentiful activities to make the most of the wet stuff, be it freshwater or seawater.

Canoeing & kayaking THE EVERGLADES

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To properly explore the Everglades, you need to push a canoe or kayak off a muddy bank. The sheltered launch of Hell’s Bay leads to a capillary network of mangrove creeks, sawgrass islands and shifting mudflats, where the brambles form green tunnels – canoes can be hired cheaply throughout the park (nps. gov; Royal Palm Visitor Center, State Road 9336; 8am–4.15pm).

SUWANNEE RIVER Flowing 246 miles, the meandering Suwannee winds through wild Spanish mossdraped countryside from the far north of the state to the Gulf of Mexico in the curve of the Big Bend. The river is decorated with 60 clear blue springs and 169 miles of it are a wilderness trail, with nine cabins spaced one day’s paddle apart, and the section near Big Shoals State Park has some Class III rapids. Canoes are easily rented on the outskirts of the park (suwanneeriver.com).

The lumbering, intelligent West Indian manatees seek Florida’s warm-water springs and rivers each winter and many places offer the chance to swim or snorkel beside them. Top of the list are the warm waters of Kings Bay, near Crystal River, on the Gulf Coast, which attracts upwards of 500 manatees a day (fws.gov/refuge/crystal_river).

Tubing down the river in Ichetucknee Springs State Park

SWIMMING

At Ichetucknee Springs State Park you can swim in the clear waters of Ichetucknee Spring or, for experienced swimmers, Blue Hole Spring, which has a strong current. Or lie back on a giant inner tube and gently float down the lazy Ichetucknee River through unspoiled wilderness as otters swim right up beside you (floridastateparks.org; 12087 SW US 27, Fort White; 8am–sunset; river use US$4.20).

Ponce de Leon Springs State Park features one of Florida’s loveliest and least-visited springs. It produces 14 million gallons of water daily, has clear, almost luminescent waters, and is studded with knobby trees and surrounded by ladders for easy swimming access. The water temperature remains a constant 20°C (floridastateparks.org; 2860 Ponce de Leon Springs Road; 8am–sunset; free).

Diving & snorkelling

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WRECK DIVING

Explore the wild waterways of the Everglades up close

MOSQUITO LAGOON Hugging the western side of the barrier-island strip on the Space Coast is this incredibly peaceful waterway connected to the ocean by the Ponce de Leon Inlet. At just over a metre deep, it’s a good place to paddle between island hammocks and dense mangroves, observing the birds and dolphins. A manatee observation deck on the northeastern side of the Haulover Canal connects the lagoon to the Indian River and is a great launch point for kayaks (fws.gov; boat launch US$4.90).

So many Spanish galleons sank off the Emerald Coast, near Panama City Beach, that it’s dubbed the ‘wreck capital of the south’. The area has more than a dozen boats offshore, including a WWII Liberty ship and numerous tugs, plus more than 50 artificial reefs made from sunken structures. Dive Locker is a well-respected dive school (basic open-water course US$294; divelocker.net).

CORAL REEFS

The Christ of the Abyss statue in John Pennekamp Coral Reef Park

DESERT ISLANDS

One of the best spots to see coral reef is at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, located in Key Largo. You can snorkel, dive or take a 2½-hour glassbottomed boat tour to see swathes of soft coral, balletic sea turtles, multicoloured schools of fish and dangerouslooking barracuda (pennekamppark.com; snorkel tours US$35, scuba tour including two dives US$77, glass-bottomed boat tour US$28).

Make an island-hopping detour to Dry Tortugas National Park. The park is open for day trips and overnight camping, which provides that rare phenomenon – a quiet Florida beach. The sparkling, shallow waters offer excellent snorkelling where beautiful corals, tropical fish, star fish and queen conches can be spotted. The Yankee Freedom III offers trips to the park and camp information (drytortugas.com).

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MINI GUIDE Water fun in Florida

Florida essentials

The know-how SURF’S UP

TRANSPORT United flies from Singapore to Miami with two stopovers in Tokyo and Houston (united.com). Qatar flies from Kuala Lumpur to Miami with one stopover in Doha (qatarairways.com). If flying to Orlando instead, Emirates flies from both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur with one stopover in Dubai. Travelling by car is the best way to get around as it allows you to reach areas not otherwise served by public transport (week’s car hire from US$170; budget.com). Buses run by Greyhound and Megabus serve larger cities (greyhound.com; us.megabus.com).

WHERE TO STAY Beachbreak by the Sea is a small four-storey spot with a central beachfront location in Panama City Beach. It offers basic motel-style rooms with balconies, plus a Gulf-front pool (bythesearesorts.com; 15405 Front Beach Rd; from US$77). 94

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Shephard’s features a 7,000 square-foot tropical pool terrace

Everglades City Motel is an exceptionally good-value lodge if you’re looking to spend some time near the Ten Thousand Islands. It has large renovated rooms and hugely helpful staff (evergladescitymotel.com; 310 Collier Ave; from US$84). Shephard’s is a popular resort with a lounge, nightclub and two tiki bars, all with live music and DJs, plus two restaurants. The rooms are recently renovated, with kitchenettes and balconies (shephards.com; 601 S Gulfview Blvd; from US$133).

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O Nearly the entire Atlantic coast

FURTHER READING

has rideable waves, but the best spots are along the Space Coast, where you’ll find surf lessons, rentals and popular competitions: shoot for Cocoa Beach, Indialantic, Sebastian Inlet and Playalinda Beach. However, you’ll find tiny, longboard-friendly peelers from Fort Lauderdale down to Miami’s South Beach, although the presence of the Bahamas offshore prevents Miami from being a truly great surfing destination. In general, you’ll find the big waves end at around Jupiter Beach. O Florida’s northern Atlantic coast has chillier waters, but good surf can be had at Daytona Beach, from Flagler Beach up to St Augustine, and around Amelia Island.

Lonely Planet’s Florida (US$22.40) is a comprehensive guide to the state and its individual chapters can also be downloaded at lonelyplanet.com (US$4.20). Want to be sure to visit Florida’s best beaches? Consult drbeach. org for a top 10 list. Salvaging the Real Florida by Bill Belleville is a collection of moving nature essays on a fragile landscape.

COMPILED BY NATALIE MILLMAN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ADAM KARLIN, JENNIFER RASIN DENNISTON, PAULA HARDY AND BENEDICT WALKER. PHOTOGRAPHS: AI ANGEL GENTEL/GETTY IMAGES, PAT CANOVA/ALAMY, BLEND IMAGES/PBNJ PRODUCTIONS/GETTY IMAGES, IMAGE SOURCE/SUPERSTOCK, WAYNE CATHEL, JOE SCARNICI/GETTY IMAGES

Activities


PRIZE DRAW

WIN A 2-nights stay* at the Laguna Holiday Club Phuket Resort

Worth

US$355++

Laguna Holiday Club Phuket Resort is centrally located amid the tropical surrounds of Laguna Phuket overlooking the golf club’s scenic fairways. The resort features 44 spacious suites available in three room types ranging from 65-113 square meters. All suites feature separate living and dining area, convenient kitchens and furnishings. Resort amenities available to guests include a swimming pool with waterslide, a pool bar, restaurant, kid’s club, game room, and Internet access in every suite plus free wireless connection. * Terms & conditions apply

THE PRIZES

PRIZE DRAW ENTRY FORM For your chance to win this fantastic prize, fill in your details and post this form to: Regent Media Pte Ltd, Lonely Planet Asia Mar/Apr 2016, 20 Bedok South Road Singapore 469277

This great prize includes: Two nights’ stay in a Laguna Holiday Club Phuket Resort One Bedroom Suite

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HOW TO ENTER

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Regent Media Pte Ltd may contact you with details of our products and services or to undertake research. If you prefer not to receive such information from any of these companies by post or phone, please tick this box . * Please include your email address on your entry if you prefer to receive such information by email. We may occasionally pass your details on to carefully selected companies whose products and services we feel may be of interest to you. If you prefer not to receive such information by post or phone, please tick this box .

To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize, simply fill in your details on the entry form and send it to: Regent Media Pte Ltd, Lonely Planet Asia Mar/Apr 2016, 20 Bedok South Road Singapore 469277. Alternatively you can email to lpcontests@regentmedia.sg, titled Mar/Apr 2016 - LAGUNA HOLIDAY CLUB PHUKET RESORT Promotion with your full name, ID number, contact number and address. Competition closes 30 Apr 2016 at 11.59pm. Terms and conditions apply.

Terms & Conditions. Pt 1: This prize does not include air flight tickets to Phuket. This promotion is open to all except staff of Regent Media and sponsor. Prizes must be taken as provided and are not transferable or exchangeable for cash. Winners will be notified by post, email or phone and prize is to be collected at address stated on notification letter. The management reserves the right to replace items with those of similar value. The management’s decision is final and no further queries will be entertained. Entry information may be used for future marketing and promotional purposes.

MARCH/APRIL 2016

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Travel Quiz

What on Earth?

1

The Chrysler Building was the world’s tallest skyscraper from 1930 to 1931. Which other New York building then held the title until 1972?

2

In geographical terms, what do Ecuador, Brazil, Kenya, Indonesia and seven other countries all have in common?

3

Where in the world might you be wished a ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ on 25 December, as in the Bing Crosby song?

6 5 Which two countries both claim to have invented the pavlova?

7

In which country can you find the world’s most northerly wild monkeys?

Rudyard Kipling, born 150 years ago, invented the Jungle Book characters Baloo the bear and Kaa the python. What animal was Bagheera?

8

It’s 60 years since Cardiff officially became the capital of Wales. Which other national capital lies exactly due north of it?

9

In which European country is it traditional to wear red underwear and wish people ‘tanti auguri’ on New Year’s Eve?

1) EMPIRE STATE BUILDING. 2) THE EQUATOR RUNS THROUGH THEIR TERRITORY. 3) HAWAII. 4) AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND. 5) A BLACK PANTHER (BLACK VARIANT OF A LEOPARD). 6) THE URALS. 7) JAPAN. 8) EDINBURGH. 9) ITALY.

YOU WANT ANSWERS? 96

MARCH/APRIL 2016

COMPILED BY RORY GOULDING. PHOTOGRAPHS: C TAYLOR CROTHERS/GETTY, JAMES WARWICK/GETTY, EM_PRIZE/ISTOCK, STUART OVENDEN/OLIVE MAGAZINE, THE JUNGLE BOOK WALT DISNEY PICTURES/RONALD GRANT ARCHIVE, PAVEL FILATOV/ALAMY, KEREN SU/GETTY IMAGES, RICHARD T NOWITZ/GETTY

4

Which Russian mountain range marks the eastern limit of Europe, and the boundary with Asia?


Lonely Planet Mar/Apr 2016  

The world’s leading travel magazine, is packed with inspiration to see familiar destinations in the UK and Europe through fresh eyes – backe...

Lonely Planet Mar/Apr 2016  

The world’s leading travel magazine, is packed with inspiration to see familiar destinations in the UK and Europe through fresh eyes – backe...

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