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ISSN 2397-3412

ISSUE.27

T H E U K ’ S B I G G E S T I N D E P E N D E N T T R AV E L M A G A Z I N E

THE USA ISSUE

T H E E V E R G L A D E S , F L O R I D A - P H O T O G R A P H E D B Y DAV I D J O B


Tuscany, Italy

T R AV E L E X P E R I E N C E D

coxandkings.co.uk/italy To speak to an expert or request a brochure, call 020 3813 5112 quoting ESCM


FACE TO FACE WITH

ITALY Italy is brimming with enchanting scenery, gastronomic delights, art and ancient history. In the very south, visit the island of Sicily, home to superb Norman architecture, exquisite Arab-inspired gardens and fine Greek temples, or discover the lesser-known regions of Puglia and Basilicata, dotted with whitewashed trulli houses and olive groves. Further north are the great rival Renaissance cities of Tuscany, set amid undulating vineyards that produce some of the country’s finest vintages. Then there is the remarkable city of Venice, its grand palaces and canals crowning the northern tip of the Adriatic Sea.

Sicily Art Tour

Puglia & Basilicata

Expert-led Art Tour • 9 Days & 8 Nights From £2,195

Group Tour • 8 Days & 7 Nights From £1,045

Explore the magnificent Valley of the Temples and see the Palatine Chapel with its unparalleled Byzantine mosaics.

Known as ‘the heel of Italy’, the region of Puglia offers some of Italy’s most remote countryside, full of rural charm and dotted with ancient sites.

Venice: Ca’ Sagredo Hotel

Classic Tuscany

5-star Short Break • 4 Days & 3 Nights From £390

Group Tour • 7 Days & 6 Nights From £1,045

A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the world, the Ca’ Sagredo property dates back to the 15th century and overlooks the Grand Canal.

Discover the beautiful Tuscan countryside and visit the great rival Renaissance cities of Florence, Siena, Pisa and Lucca.

ATOL 2815 • ABTA V2999


THE WORLD’S LEADING ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORTS Check into a Sandals Resort and you will be treated to our Discovery Dining programme, where anytime dining in up to 16 gourmet restaurants awaits you. We pride ourselves in our European and International cuisines using fresh and local ingredients, each of which comes with its own Head Chef that specialises in their area. Unlimited snacks, white glove service and exclusive Butler Service are also available. We even offer Private Candlelit Dinners* on the beach or on your terrace if you prefer. These are just a few of the personal dining touches that come with your next Sandals holiday, the rest we call Luxury Included ®.

ALL INCLUDED, ALL UNLIMITED, ALL THE TIME

0 8 0 0 7 4 2 7 4 2 • W W W. S A N D A L S . C O . U K O R C A L L Y O U R T R AV E L A G E N T *At an additional cost

2015


JAMAICA

SAINT LUCIA

ANTIGUA

BAHAMAS

GRENADA

BARBADOS


EDITOR’S WORD THE FIRST GLIMPSE OF THE VALLEY IS A PANT-WETTINGLY EPIC PAEAN TO THE EMOTIVE POWER OF ROCK AND VEGETATION ED ITO RIA L

DES IG N

EDITOR

ART DIRECTOR

ASSOCIATE EDITOR

DEPUTY ART DIRECTOR

SUB EDITOR

SENIOR DESIGNER

CONTRIBUTORS

DESIGNER

Jon Hawkins Hannah Summers Victoria Smith Aby Dunsby, Graeme Green, David Harrison, Gavin Newsham, Victoria Stewart PRINTING BY alternativeprint.co.uk

Matthew Hasteley Lucy Phillips

Abigail Robinson

I

f you like to see the world (you’re reading this, so I’m guessing you do), there’s a good chance your Instagram feed is flooded with incredible pictures of mountains, cityscapes, rolling oceans, cats (natch) and jaw-slackening landscapes. That’s a good thing, obviously, but it does mean that some of these man-made and geological Insta-magnets lose a bit of their impact in the flesh. Without naming names, I’m looking at you, old terraced city with a pointy mountain backdrop. And also you, hundreds of tufty rocks sticking out of the South China Sea. I’m not saying they’re not remarkable, and I’m definitely not suggesting you avoid them. Just that my mind was more tickled than blown. So when I first visited California’s Yosemite National Park – a place photographed so much you expect it to dissolve into a Bieber-esque meltdown – I was expecting more of the same. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The first glimpse of the valley as you enter the park from the west is a pant-wettingly epic paean to the emotive power of rock and vegetation. And brilliantly, almost unjustly, the US has a big old locker absolutely stuffed full of showstoppers like that – and it does the low-key stuff pretty well too. So to make your life easier, we’ve picked out just 20 places you need to see in America this year – head to page 34 to read it. Blown mind guaranteed… e

Bianca Stewart DESIGN ASSISTANTS

Darcy Alexander

Our editor Jon Hawkins won Travel Feature of the Year (regional publication), and our associate editor Hannah Summers won Young Travel Writer of the Year at this year’s Travel Media Awards.

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DEPARTURES What’s new this month, including a car disguised as a shoe, mountain hikes and new friends 10 . Photography 14 . Just Landed 18 . Means of Escape 21 . Instant Anorak 22 . Head to Head 25 . UK city focus

EXPERIENCES Bored in the USA? Not anymore! We’ve rounded up 20 incredible trips for you to take this year 34 . Best of the US Twenty all-American trips to consider, from art tours to bison round-ups 46 . California, US Forget wine (for one feature only); try, and buy, Sonama County’s food, too 52 . Amalfi, Italy Think Italy’s Amalfi coast is for big spenders? You’re very wrong 58 . Patagonia Park, Chile Hiking and camping through the controversial Patagonia Park in Chile 65 . Malta and islands Malta’s getting cool, and you heard it here first. We give you the low-down 71 . Arc 1950, France Skiing’s not just a sport for speed demons – not this time, anyway

CHECKLIST Looking good takes effort, so we’ve put in the hard work for you. You’re welcome 86. Gear 88 . Guys 92 . Girls

Winners!

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

WIN GREAT ESCAPES AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM

© Square Up Media Limited 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. All information contained in this magazine is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Square Up Media cannot accept responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Square Up Media a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine. All material is sent at your own risk and although every care is taken, neither Square Up Media nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be held liable resulting for loss or damage. Square Up Media endeavours to respect the intellectual property of the owners of copyrighted material reproduced herein. If you identify yourself as the copyright holder of material we have wrongly attributed, please contact the office.

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COMPETITIONS Your chance to win top prizes 97 . Win a holiday to Mauritius


D E PA R T U R E S 14  18  21  22  25  29 

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JUST LANDED MEANS OF ESCAPE INSTANT ANORAK HEAD TO HEAD CITY FOCUS SHORT STAY


D E PA R T U R E S

Photograph by Chase Dekker; Photograph Getty images by ###

SPRING FORTH: Nothing says ‘bath time’ like an electric-blue pool of water fringed by orange rock. Sadly the Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the US, is not for dipping, or soaping. Instead, visitors make their way through Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to take pictures – a lot like this one, but better. Maybe.

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D E PA R T U R E S

A SHINING EXAMPLE: Located on Mount Desert Island, in the USA’s Acadia National Park, this lighthouse is officially known as the Bass Harbor Head Light. It’s currently being used by some very lucky people as their private residence. Jealous. The US National Park Service turns 100 this year. Go to nps.gov to find out more

Photograph by Danita Delimont; Getty images

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KRISTOFFER VANDBAKK

OVER

Photo by: Kristoffer Vandbakk

MOUNTS

ACCESSORIES

MANAGE + SHARE

GOPRO APP + GOPRO STUDIO

#BEAHERO


D E PA R T U R E S

JUST LANDED WHAT’S NEW IN TRAVEL FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS STOPOVER BUDDY

WIZARD OF OZ FIELD OF LIGHT IN AUSTRALIA Where else to make the most of solar power than the sun-scorched landscape of Uluru in Australia’s Northern Territory? We’re not talking luke-warm showers or flickering light bulbs, either – the remarkable Field of Light art installation is the work of acclaimed artist Bruce Munro. He (with help, we hope) will install more than 50,000 slender stems, each crowned with frosted-glass spheres that will ‘bloom’ with light as darkness falls over the remote desert of Australia’s spiritual heartland. The installation will be lighting up the area until April 2017 – plenty of time to plan. australiasoutback.com

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PUNCHY STUFF BOOTCAMP BREAK You don’t have to live off cucumber and give up the wine to kick-start your new year fitness. We’d rather get outdoors and punch things, and you can do just that with Ibiza-based 38 Degree North’s new pop-up UK bootcamps. Each three-day break takes a unique approach to high-intensity interval training, boxing, circuits and a calf-quivering hike or two. From £699 person; thirtyeightdegreesnorth.com

Photograph by Prisma Bildagentur AG/Alamy

Iceland Air’s new ‘stopover buddy’ concept means you can essentially hire a mate for 24 hours to show you the best bits of Reykjavik, such as the blue lagoon.

Flight stopovers don’t have to mean trying to get some sleep on an airport floor. Budget airline Iceland Air has introduced a ‘stopover buddy’ concept for those travelling to the likes of New York, Vancouver and the other 32 longhaul destinations on its flight routes. The scheme allows you to book a 24-hour buddy in Iceland, allowing you to take Reykjavik down in just one day – whether it’s hitting bars or sampling the city’s finest food. Twin-centre trips with flights from London from £397 return, with travel completed by the end of April 2016. icelandair.co.uk


Take a moment in Malaysia…

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7 NIGHTS FROM £849 3 free nights – Saving £500

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7 NIGHTS FROM £999 2 free nights – Saving £485

Including flights, daily breakfast & private transfers

Including flights, daily breakfast & transfers

Including flights, daily breakfast & transfers

Set on Malaysia’s sleepy east coast, this beautifully designed resort using local timbers in a rich Malay style, is the ideal place to get away from it all.

This fabulous resort offers a rainforest retreat, in a marine conservation area, 15 minutes by speedboat from Kota Kinabalu – the perfect spot for enjoying the beauty of Borneo.

This exotic private island retreat offers impeccable service, pristine beaches and sumptuous dining all set against a backdrop of ancient tropical rainforest.

• Unspoilt beach • 2 lovely pools • Excellent seasonal snorkelling & diving • Spa Village • Tennis court • Wide range of activities • 2 restaurants with 2 bars

• Lovely beach • 40 metre lap pool • Non-motorised watersports • Spa Village • Gym • Walking trails • 4 restaurants & a bar

• Private beach • 2 pools (1 exclusively for spa guests) • Spa Village • Watersports • Gym • Resident naturalist • 6 restaurants with 3 bars • Cultural excursions

ards 2015 Aw

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D E PA R T U R E S

HIGHLAND FLING CAIRNGORM FESTIVAL

REACH NEW HEIGHTS

For a fest in the snow without actually having to leave the UK, try Groove CairnGorm, a new festival in Scotland. The party-come-ski-sesh, which is happening for the first time this year over the 11 March weekend, is hosted in conjunction with Natural Retreats CairnGorm Mountain in the Scottish Highlands, and will see a line-up that includes Hot Chip and Glasgow-born synth group, Prides. Two-day tickets including ski passes and entertainment cost from £115. cairngormmountain.org; skiddle.com

MOUNTAIN ADVENTURE

Bored of life on the ground? Take on a new challenge with Secret Compass’s mountaineering expedition to Mongolia and scale unclimbed peaks. Don’t forget your ice-axe.

Fancy yourself as a climber? Grab your ice-axe and crampons and gear up for a new trip from adventure company Secret Compass. The aim of the mountaineering expedition to Mongolia is to attempt to summit two previously unclimbed peaks, including Nariin Ekhin (3,952m), located deep in the country’s Siikhem National Park. You’ll cross rivers and trek over glaciers, and will be rewarded with epic views and full-on bragging rights. Experience isn’t necessary, although you’d probably find it easier if you’ve left sea level and seen snow on the odd occasion. 14 nights from £2,999 for the June expedition. secretcompass.com

BEST OF BOTH For those who get a bit restless lazing on a beach all day, check out a range of new additions to the Chic Retreats website, including Sun Gardens, a boutique hotel just ten miles outside of Dubrovnik, Croatia. It’s a win-win holiday – basking in glorious sunshine gawping at the Adriatic in the morning, then strolling the 16th-century streets of the nearby city’s old town in the afternoon or evenings. Or you could just lie on the sand all day, churning through Lee Child books. Can’t blame ya with that view. From £70 per room per night. chicretreats.com

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The aplty-named Sun Gardens hotel in Croatia offers a lovely beach, lush outside space and a location that’s close to Dubrovnik.

Photographs (Mongolia) byTed Wood; (Sun Gardens) Zenn’s Foto

CITY + BEACH BREAK


CAYMAN BRAC LITTLE CAYMAN GRAND CAYMAN

3 of life’s little luxuries

ca ymanislands.co.uk

There’s more than one type of seahorse in the Cayman Islands.


D E PA R T U R E S

WEIRD WORLD Public loos with a difference, sitting in ant nests naked, and Slovenia’s ‘Magical Chaser of Winter’... What’s not to love? CHINA

The worlds of automotive design and shoe shining collide in the Iranian capital, Tehran #26 THE STILETTO CAR

“Every time I come to town, they be spottin’ me. In the drop Bentley, ain’t no stoppin’ me,” says Will Smith in ‘Miami’. And he’s right – in Vice City, they probably would be spottin’ him and his big, fancy motor. But in Tehran? Not so much. Because the streets of the Iranian capital have already seen mobile celebrity shoe shiner Aliwaxima (real name, Mohammad Ali Hassan Khani) cruising around in the motorised red stiletto he built himself. Having started using a three-wheeled scooter to reach

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clients all over Tehran, he soon modified it into the shape of a men’s loafer. Next, an act of fibreglass metamorphosis saw it re-emerge as a red stiletto heel. “I have all sorts of new requests,” Khani told Business Insider last year, adding that he’s now drumming up entirely new kinds of business. “I’ve already been asked to five marriages. The newlyweds have their pictures taken in my car.” And what did Big Willy ever do for marital relations? Hitch. Exactly. He needs to get himself a giant mobile stiletto, pronto. e

FINLAND Still reeling after losing your annual Trivial Pursuit marathon this Christmas? Here’s a competition you may actually win – if you’re a real hard arse, that is. And you’ll need a hard arse for Finland’s ant-nest-sitting competition, which takes place from June to September and involves exactly what the name suggests: sitting on an ant nest, naked. Whoever lasts the longest is the, er, winner.

SLOVENIA Nothing says “Go away, cold weather,” like donning a furry coat, grabbing a massive bell (oo-er) and charging around town warding off the snow. That’s what they do at the Kurentovanje festival in Ptuj, where the Kurent – the central figure in the February event – is given the title of the Magical Chaser of Winter. And there we were feeling proud of our position as associate editor. Damn it.

Photographs by (China) ChinaFotoPress/Getty; (ants) Don Johnston/Getty; (Slovenia) Crtomir Goznik

MEANS OF ESCAPE

Going to the loo is a better experience when you share it with 999 other people. Fact. Well, that’s the case on Foreigners Street in China at least, where the locals are flush with pride. That’s because it’s the location of the world’s largest bathroom – that’s a four-story, 33,000sq ft space complete with 1,000 loos that you can enjoy while listening to relaxing music...


I did my first Exodus trip hiking the Amalfi Coast in September. It far surpassed my expectations. Every day we were treated to spectacular views… Our accommodation for the trip was also excellent, as was the food and the special activities like making pasta and tiramisu… I’m already looking for my next Exodus trip! Patricia Van Bentham, Walking in the Amalfi Coast • October 2015

Because 97% of our customers would recommend us to a friend

CULTURE • TREKKING • CYCLING • FAMILY • WINTER ACTIVITIES • WILDLIFE • POLAR • #JOINTHEEXODUS


Est. 1977

The Arabia Collection Last year our travel experts spent a collective 197 days test-driving luxury holidays across Arabia. From the opulence of Oman to the decadence of Dubai, we sampled the region’s best hotels, restaurants and excursions in preparation for our 2016 Arabia Collection. Available now, it’s loaded with direct holiday savings and exclusive extras, so book your middle eastern escape in the Kenwood Travel Arabia Collection from just £379 now.

Ras Al Khaimah 3 nights hotel + flights from £379pp

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Abu Dhabi 3 nights hotel + flights from £419pp

Oman 7 nights hotel + flights from £629pp

7456X

020 7749 9228

kenwoodtravel.co.uk/arabia Terms and conditions apply.


INSTANT ANORAK 28%

South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, is the place for film, music and tech fans to see and be seen. But don’t even think about going if you’re not armed with the facts

TWITTER is the year a small tech company called Twitter launched at SXSW

artists attended the event last year

2,266

2007

The average SXSW attendee has 28% more Facebook friends than the standard user

is the average number of profane tweets sent by the festival’s attendees in 2012 (we’re not sure Twitter was created for that...)

4.7

TEN DAYS

10

The amount of time the festival lasts for. This year, it’s set to make its return from 11-20 March

N NW

NORTH BY NORTHWEST Three men fromThe Austin Chronicle launched SXSW, and its name was inspired by the Alfred Hitchcock film

The year SXSW launched, with just 72 music acts and a crowd of only 700-odd people

1987

SEE MORE AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM

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D E PA R T U R E S

HEAD TO HEAD RAMSGATE, KENT Population: 40,408

DISAGREE? HAVE YOUR SAY AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM

WHITBY, NORTH YORKSHIRE Nickname: The Raven’s Gate

Nickname: The White Settlement

Population: 13,213

INHABITANTS

INHABITANTS

London escapists looking for no-nonsense old-school seaside kicks. Anyone who thinks Margate’s gone into hipster overdrive. 7/10

Dracula (part of Bram Stoker’s novel is set there). Masses of tourists. Seagulls – trying to nick your fish and chips. 6/10

WHAT TO SAY

WHAT NOT TO SAY

WHAT TO SAY

WHAT NOT TO SAY

“Margate? More like Meh-gate. There’s only one ‘gate for me.”

“Can you show me the way to the nearest hipster?”

“Yeah, I’m good mates with Dracula. We go back years.”

“Fish? With chips? In paper? Are you having a laugh?”

DO

STAY

EAT & DRINK

DO

STAY

EAT & DRINK

Check out the two miles of bomb tunnels, built under the city during the Second World War and now accessible to the public for the first time since then. Elsewhere, the Wellington Crescent Lift goes from sea to street in seconds. 7/10

Albion House is a 13-bedroom boutique hotel on Ramsgate’s East Cliffs, housed in an elegant Regency building. It isn’t the thriftiest option (rooms from £145 pn) but on a clear day you’ll wake up with views of the French coast. 7/10

The Ravensgate Arms has quirky, vintage decor, beer from the Late Knights brewery in Penge and decent pork pies – with generous dollops of piccalilli. Try Caboose for brunch or great Mexican food four nights a week. 7/10

No trip to Whitby is complete without climbing the 199 steps up to the gothic Abbey ruins – they inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, set on the East Cliff. He’s not buried there though, no matter how many people tell you he is. 6/10

The Marine – and its chilledout little sister, brasserie/threeroom boutique hotel the Moon and Sixpence – are neat and swanky options. Bagdale Hall has appropriate levels of gothic charm for Draculaphiles. 6/10

Whitby is famous for its fish and chips. Skip the queue for the Magpie if you must – the quality’s almost as good at nearby Trenches or Quayside. And ask for scraps – leftover batter, drowned in salt and vinegar. 7/10

7/10

AND THE WINNER IS…

Ramsgate sees off the seaside competition

6/10

HANNAH SUMMERS IS…

THE TOURIST SHE SELLS SEA SHELLS

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Like the sticky-buttoned arcade machines that I remember from holidays with my grandparents or my dad, when we’d play crazy golf on a leaf-strewn course in Scarborough, followed by massive portions of salt- and vinegar-drenched fish and chips. For me, the wind-pummelled, old-school seaside towns – the ones that are not too heavy on the hipster hangouts or glossy new restaurants – are the best. They have a charm that, although somewhat illogical in a world of pristine white beaches and bare-bricked bars, can’t fail to lure me. And so this year I’ll be visiting more of the British seaside – from the coffee-and-kale hangouts of Brighton, to those sure to face the limelight soon enough. Weston-super-Mare – you’re next. e

Photograph by Mark Boardman

“It’s going to be OFF THE HOOK,” Charlotte tells me. If it sounds like she’s describing something mental and cool, you’re right, sort of. My Hastings-born-and-raised mate is excited about the town’s new pier – an £11.5m structure that, combined with a load of pier-based gigs and events, marks the start of a new era. It may even nudge this “little bit scuzzy” (her words) seaside town into semihip weekend-break territory… But I’m nervous. Famed for donkey Don’t get me wrong – rides, its Grand I want towns to realise Pier, and more their potential, and arcade games than you can shake a 2p for the British coast at, Weston got all to thrive like it once hipster last year did. Seaside towns, thanks to Banksy’s ‘Dismaland’. particularly in the UK,

have suffered a bad rep since, well, the dawn of air travel. Tourists moved out, and all the arcades, piers and shops fell into disrepair. Hardly anyone saw their appeal, not even Bill Bryson, who in Notes from a Small Island described a night in Weston-super-Mare as “the dreariest evening of my life in this Godforsaken hellhole of a resort.” And that’s why I’m worried, because Weston-super-Mare and Hastings aren’t the only beach towns desperate for some loving. If the recent glossing-over of Margate’s seafront is anything to go by, in the next few years, more once-heaving holiday destinations will start to see an influx of cash that’ll make old buildings shiny again, hike up prices and strip out the parts that I love so much.


CLASSIC ROUND VOYAGE

IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE BEAUTY OF NORWAY

DAILY DEPARTURES AVAILABLE Call or visit us online to book your trip

YOUR ITINERARY

A breathtaking adventure through the landscapes that shape Norway

WHAT'S INCLUDED? ✔ 12 day Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen Classic Round Voyage in cabin grade of your choice on a full-board basis ✔ Free camera or binoculars offer* ✔ English speaking tour guides on excursions ✔ 34 ports of call, including 22 north of the Arctic Circle ✔ Huge choice of departure dates ✔ 7 days (of your 12 day voyage) are spent above the Arctic Circle ✔ Full ATOL protection (when booking flights through Hurtigruten)

NOT INCLUDED

• Return flights and transfers (available from £330pp) • Optional excursions • Luggage handling • Travel insurance YOUR 12-DAY ITINERARY - BERGEN-KIRKENES-BERGEN

A

DAY 8: Mehamn – Tromsø

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EXCURSIONS AVAILABLE

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Flo rø Bergen Railway

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DAY 7: Båtsford – Kirkenes – Berlevåg

DAY 12: Bergen

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DAY 6: Øksfjord – Berlevåg

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DAY 4: Brønnøysund - Bodø - Svolvær DAY 5: Tromsø

Har stad

*Terms and Conditions: From price per person is based on an inside twin cabin on full board basis, departing 6th April 2016 on MS Midnatsol and is correct at time of going to print. Hurtigruten operates a flexible pricing system and all prices are subject to availability. Single supplements may apply. Not included: flights, transfers, luggage handling, travel insurance and excursions. All flights booked through Hurtigruten Ltd. are ATOL protected (ATOL 3584). Full booking terms and conditions available online at hurtigruten.co.uk. **Offer Terms and Conditions: Free digital camera or binoculars offer valid on new bookings only, made by 31st March 2016. Valid on our 12-day Classic Round Voyage, departing from 3rd April to 30th September 2016. Choose between a Canon PowerShot G9X digital camera (RRP £399) or Canon 10x30 IS II Binoculars (RRP £384). Only one item per cabin, subject to availability; item may be substituted with similar model if those listed are unavailable. Offer may be withdrawn or amended at any time. Not combinable with any other offer.

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or visit your preferred travel agent

DAY 3: Kristansund - Trondheim - Rørvik

DAY 11: Trondheim

Ki rk en es

Fin nsn es

Ris øyh amn Sor tlan d es Sto kma rkn Svo lvæ r

DAY 2: Florø - Ålesund - Molde

DAY 10: Bodø – Rørvik

Var dø Vad sø

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DAY 1: Embarkation in Bergen

DAY 9: Stamsund

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Call 0203 393 6511 or visit www.hurtigruten.co.uk

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FREE CAMERA

This ultimate 12-day voyage takes you from Bergen to Kirkenes and back visiting no less than 34 ports.


D E PA R T U R E S

IN FOCUS CARDIFF Wales’s first city has a big year coming up, with Roald Dahl’s centenary celebrations on the horizon

SEE AND DO

Photograph by ###

Remember the adventures of Fantastic Mr Fox? James and the Giant Peach? Danny, the Champion of the World? Although Roald Dahl may have left as a teen, Cardiff is still proud that the Welsh-born writer of these books once called the city home. Over 16 and 17 September, Cardiff will be the hub of his centenary celebrations, with City of the Unexpected, a city-wide performance including parades and theatre spectacles celebrating all things Dahl, produced by the National Theatre Wales and the Millennium Centre. From one favourite to another, The Doctor Who Experience is a chance to join your very own mini-episode of Dr Who right there in Cardiff. The adventure will see you assisting the Doctor as he tries to destroy a terrifying new foe, while gettting to take in the doctor’s best props (many dating back to 1963) in a free-flow exhibition that’ll appeal to adults as much as children. If art exhibitions, theatre and films are more your thing, try Chapter, a multi-artform cultural space that also

serves great food and drink. Along the same lines, Sherman Cymru is a great theatre with some excellent comedy going on – keep an eye on its website. Be sure to swing by the West Wharf Gallery – a contemporary arts space that allows young, emerging Welsh artists to showcase their work. Cardiff Bay has been heavily developed over recent years – much of its history is based around the waterfront, which transformed from a village to an Industrial Revolution-era boom town, then to a city in 1905. Nowadays it’s a good place to appreciate what a vibrant, modern capital Cardiff has become. Wander along the water – you can follow it for five miles if you’re really keen on food-based sightseeing. Those who are tight on time might prefer to explore by bike – handy, then, that a preplanned six-mile cycling route will take you from Roald Dahl Plass to Cardiff Bay, speeding you through wetlands, past old buildings such as the Norwegian Church (where Norwegian ships once brought Scandinavian timber to Wales) and via far more modern examples of architecture like the Cardiff Millenium Centre – an impressive arts space for theatre, opera, ballet and tons of other cultural stuff.

Historical Cardiff Bay was redeveloped and is now home to restaurants, bars and shops, making the previously overlooked area a worthwhile stop on the tourist trail.

SLEEP For compact, modern rooms (or roomz, apparently) Sleeperz fits the bill – there are 74 roomz in total, many of which come with flat-screen TVs (although we can’t see you staying in much). The location, one minute from the train station, is handy for city exploring. The Safehouse’s “accommodation for the weary and the wise” is a hostel with Victorian features, functional wooden bunks made by local craftsmen from the Dutchwood Joinery in the city. Opt for a private room on the fourth floor if you want castle views. For a five star-hostel experience (yes, that exists), try the YHA, winner of the Best Accommodation award in the British Youth Travel Awards – like the Grammys but for fresh-faced travellers. It’s not all hostels (although Cardiff’s certainly blessed in that department) – for a plusher experience, book into the contemporary water-view rooms at the five-star St David’s Hotel and Spa in smart Cardiff Bay.

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D E PA R T U R E S

EAT Cardiff’s arcades, particularly the Victorian and Edwardian ones, are a big attraction for visitors. They’re so popular that Cardiff is known as the ‘City of Arcades’.

DRINK

SHOP Cardiff is the proud home of eight Edwardian and Victorian arcades. Try the Castle Arcade for hundreds of varieties of cheese from Madame Fromage – 40 of which are Welsh. In the Morgan Arcade, Spillers (established 1894) is recognised by Guinness World Records as the oldest record shop in the world, with tons of LPs lined up for your perusal, while passionate staff are sure to have you diversifying your music taste in no time. If reading’s more your thing, Troutmark Books in Castle Arcade is a second-hand bookshop where walls are lined with rare novels. Jacobs Antique Market by West Canal Wharf is the place to find stalls spilling with antiques and furniture looking for a loving new home – expect to find anything from vintage sequin jackets to tea cups painted with a young Queen Liz. Meanwhile, the Castle Emporium, located opposite the clock tower of Cardiff Castle, is a converted art deco cinema with stalls selling vintage and retro fashion. Need a sugar fix after all that? Try Fabulous Welshcakes, a shop specialising in the traditional fruity cake/scone.

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For caffeine, be sure to try Lufkin Coffee Roasters, a small-batch roaster that also serves coffee via a pourover filter (a favourite of locals in California, the US state the owners decided to up sticks from). The Little Man Coffee Company is one of the newest coffee shops in the city, serving brews from local roasters. Beer fans (we’re talking craft, not Fosters) try Westgate Street, the city’s craft-beer hub, home to familiar faces such as BrewDog, and more local options including the Urban Tap House, a two-floor, late-night hangout with loads of blinding beer choices. Porter’s combines jazz and comedy nights with some excellent choices including seaweed ale (try it, trust us) and more classic Belgian and US craft bottles. Pipes Brewery, established in 2008 in Pontcana, is an eco-conscious drink-in artisan brewery that offers two monthly specials on top of an already staggeringly large range of IPAs, wheat beers and more. Buffalo Bar is a late-night den with a beer garden, live music space and bar playing a selection of funk, soul and Motown until 4am.

Cardiff’s been no stranger to the recent burger boom, and US-founded Shake Shack has chosen the city as its first UK location outside of London. For something with more of a local flavour, try the Grazing Shed for “super tidy” burgers, or try Got Beef, once a mobile food truck, now a permanent restaurant space on Whitchurch Road. And that’s not all – make room for the New York Deli, with subs stuffed with meat, cheese and pickles, NATA & Co for all your Portuguese pastel de nata pastry needs, Kimchi for bargain Korean BBQ dishes and Calabrisella for an Italian restaurant that could be mistaken for a greasy spoon (hey, it’s no looker but the food’s on point). For something typically local, Canna Deli is a cosy, pretty, Welsh-speaking deli with lush coffee and damn tasty rarebit. If all those craft breweries get too much for you, head to the iconic Chippy Lane, which does exactly what you’ll want it to. e

NEED TO KNOW First Great Western offers return offpeak fares to Cardiff from £74, book via the trainline.co.uk; National Express offers coach travel from £10 one way, book in at nationalexpress.com; head to visitwales.com and visitcardiff.com for more information about visiting the city and beyond.


EXPLORE THE WORLD IN THE LAP OF LUXURY…

Monument Valley, Arizona

EARLYBIRD OFFER – Enjoy an exclusive saving of £200 per couple when you book before 30 April The Insight Vacations difference These outstanding escorted journeys bring you award winning comfort and style paired with the highest levels of personal service. Including luxury hotels, gourmet dining and exclusive experiences, Insight Vacations journeys are handcrafted to bring you the full authenticity of each destination. Their luxury coaches have fewer seats, business class legroom and a professional and friendly Tour Director with in-depth local knowledge.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Enchanting Canyonlands Escorted Touring Holiday – 8 days from £2,499 Including International flights, airport transfers in the USA, expert Tour2 Director & local guides, Number of nights luxury hotels in the best locations, exclusive included sightseeing and a selection of gourmet meals Day 1 Fly to Phoenix Meet your fellow travellers at your hotel in Scottsdale. Day 2 Scottsdale to Grand Canyon NP Travel to the Grand Canyon National Park via bohemian Sedona and through Oak Creek Canyon, one of Arizona’s finest drives. Day 3 Grand Canyon NP to Lake Powell Marvel at the sunrise over the canyon before you head through the Painted Desert to the calm waters of Lake Powell. Day 4 Lake Powell Relax and enjoy your surroundings or join an included tour to iconic Monument Valley.

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Days 6-7 Bryce Canyon NP to Las Vegas Explore the dramatic cliffs and canyons of Zion National Park before watching the scenery change as you approach the bright neon lights of Las Vegas.

2

Number of nights Coach

NEVADA Las Vegas 1

CALIFORNIA

UTAH

BRYCE

1 CANYON NP

LAKE POWELL

ZION NP

2

GRAND CANYON NP 1

ARIZONA

MONUMENT VALLEY

OAK CREEK CANYON Sedona

Los Angeles

1 Phoenix/Scottsdale

Day 8 Arrive back in the UK San Diego

Simply hand over your responsibilities, along with all your cases – everything’s taken care of

TRAILFINDERS named

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Day 5 Lake Powell to Bryce Canyon NP Perhaps join an optional float trip down the Colorado River before heading to Bryce National Park, home of natural amphitheatres and gravity defying stone bridges.

Tailormade Travel Worldwide 020 7408 9014 First & Business Class Travel 020 7408 9011 trailfinders.com Prices are per person based on twin share, subject to availability & valid for 21 October departure. Please call for alternative dates. Select departures will overnight in Zion NP.


For one wanting a better way to Spain

Set sail from Portsmouth Think you know Spain? Think again. Surprises await you in the north of the country, away from the crowded Costa’s and all day breakfasts. And, there’s no better way of getting there than a relaxing overnight cruise from Portsmouth, a short and easy drive from London. Choose to sail to either Santander or Bilbao and enjoy award winning levels of service and comfort arriving refreshed and ready to explore. Reserve this year’s sailings now for a deposit of just £35.

Visit brittanyferries.com/london or call 0330 159 6764 Terms and conditions apply.


D E PA R T U R E S

SHORT STAY OCKENDEN MANOR Part historical hideaway, part stand-out spa, Ockenden Manor ticks all the mini-break boxes, says Victoria Smith

Photograph (sauna) by John Warburton-Lee

The Basics

The Food

Tucked away in the pretty village of Cuckfield, Ockenden Manor is set in an Elizabethan mansion, with beamed ceilings, cosy nooks and crackling fireplaces – not to mention a state-of-the-art spa overlooking the South Downs. It’s also only an hour or so from London – leave work on Friday and you can be sitting in front of said fire with a giant glass of wine, finding zen with some candle-lit yoga, or sipping champagne in the outdoor hot tub in no time.

As well as taking the spa side of things pretty seriously, Ockenden takes pride in its Michelin-starred dining room, where guests and locals tuck into dishes that make the most of Sussex’s bounty. We were told our lamb had been grazing on the hotel’s lawns until a few days previously... Any heartbreak was quickly dispelled when it arrived in various guises, including a wickedly crispy chunk of belly. Other stand-outs included foie gras with grapes and game chips, and an epic cheese trolley, which rattled over with a towering display. The rest, as they say, is history – it took 30 laps in the pool the next morning to ease our cheese-guilt.

The Rooms Two families have owned the building since 1520, and the decor stays true to Ockenden’s historical credentials: chintzy (in a good way) fabrics, comfy cushions and four-poster beds. The spa suites – in a newer building on top of the spa – take a different tack altogether. They’re spacious and airy, with a boutiquey feel, open bathrooms with huge free-standing baths, and access to a sleek terrace area overlooking the surrounding countryside.

Nearby A stroll around Cuckfiled won’t take more than about 20 minutes, but if you stop in one of the quaint tea shops or take a browse around a few of the local shops, you can extend your exploration to a couple of hours. If you’re after something a little more energetic, take to the South Downs for a serious dose of fresh air, rambling and views that will make you misty-eyed about England’s green and pleasant lands. e

OCKENDEN MANOR ADDRESS OCKENDEN LANE, CUCKFIELD, RH17 5LD PRICE FROM £199 PER ROOM PER NIGHT, B&B

DISTANCE TRAIN TO HAYWARDS HEATH FROM LONDON VICTORIA, THEN A 5-MINUTE TAXI RIDE

The cheese trolley was epic, and it took 30 laps in the pool the next morning to ease the guilt INFO 01444 416 111; HSHOTELS.CO.UK

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H O T E L OF T H E MO NTH

IN ASSOC IATION W I TH

Paradise Found You get three hotels for the price of one at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa in Oman – as well as sun, sea and a warm welcome. Fly there with British Airways

A

s James Hilton described in his novel Lost Horizon, Shangri-La is a mystical, luxurious place. And so it is with Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa on the fringe of Muscat: a sprawling complex hidden between the towering Hajjar Mountains and the sparkling Sea of Oman. Oman is a gem waiting to be mined. The quieter cousin to its neighbour Dubai, the nation benefits from dramatic contrasting scenery like nowhere else in the Middle East – think spectacular mountains framing sugarwhite sand beaches and topaz seas.

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Then there’s true Arabian hospitality, more indulgent and luxurious than you’ll find anywhere else. This is what the Shangri-La Barr al Jissah Resort & Spa does best. With three separate integrated hotels within its boundaries, there’s a dizzying array of activities on the menu – starting with six swimming pools, adventure sports and direct beach access. The exclusive Al Husn is the crown jewel of this magnificent, palatial resort. Here in this discreet hotel, a complimentary minibar, complimentary afternoon tea and a pre-dinner cocktail reception in the gorgeous palm-fringed

courtyard await, alongside a private infinity pool that overlooks its private tranche of beach. Al Bandar is the beating heart of the resort, with seven restaurants perfect for foodie guests. Indulge in the exquisite roasted meats at Al Tanoor, or freshly caught seafood at Bait al Bahr. Or are you looking for a resort to keep the children entertained? Lively Al Waha is the place to make some proper, lasting family memories, with plenty of activities to keep both kids and adults happy. We’ll bet your Shangri-La looks quite like Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa. ◆


P ROMOTI ON

How To Book Three-night holidays at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, on a Bed & Breakfast board basis at Al Waha, start from just ÂŁ679pp. To book, and for more information, visit ba.com/shangrila

THE DEAL

DETAILS: Terms and conditions apply. Availability may be extremely limited. Price includes return British Airways World Traveller flights from London Heathrow and is based on two adults sharing for selected travel from 1-31 October 2016. Book by 21 February.

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Mauritius

Paradis Hotel and Golf Club

The best choice of luxury hotels on the island

As the first hotel company in Mauritius, Beachcomber Hotels had the first pick of the most stunning locations and the best of the beaches when choosing to place its hotels. We are now fortunate to have a choice of eight individual and exceptional hotels dotted around the island.

We’ve got everything from indulgent luxury to superb all inclusive options. For families all of our resorts are family friendly offering a great range of free land and water sports, free children’s clubs for 3 to 12 year olds, a choice of spacious family accommodation and family friendly dining options.

For the ultimate luxury stay at the best address in Mauritius, the Royal Palm Hotel. For golfers challenge yourself on the Paradis Golf Course. And for the perfect family holiday choose one of our luxury villas at Dinarobin Hotel Golf & Spa, Paradis Hotel & Golf Club or Trou Aux Biches Resort & Spa.

For the very best Mauritius holidays call 01483 445 634

www.beachcombertours.co.uk


EXPERIENCES

EXPERIENCES 34  BEST OF THE US 46  SONOMA, CALIFORNIA 52  AMALFI, ITALY 58  PATAGONIA PARK 65 MALTA 71  ARC 1950, FRANCE

Photograph by ###

LEFT: Who needs YouTube cats when there’s a whole round-up of bison taking place in South Dakota, US, each year?

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RIGHT: The eroded and cracked rock and mud formations of Badlands National Park in South Dakota. It’s just one of the spectacular National Parks you can visit in the USA

BEST THE 34


EXPERIENCES

T  OF USA Photograph by Dennis Photograph Frates/Alamy; by ###

Planning a trip to the USA but not sure where to start? Here are 20 places you might want to consider this year… 35


FROM ABOVE: Arches National Park in Utah; Philadelphia is prime city-break territory; Utah has more International Dark Sky Parks than you can shake a telescope at

1

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, CALIFORNIA

Here’s the bad news: the big reason to get really excited about the San Francisco Bay Area in 2016 has already happened – Super Bowl 50, held in Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium, is done, dusted and consigned to the history books. And the good news? Once the Super Bowl train’s left town (for Houston, Texas in 2017), you’ll have the run of an area that’s evolving at a furious pace. From May onwards you’ll be able to check out the biggest contemporary art museum in the US, when San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art reopens after three years of expansion. Foodies and hipsters should head to Oakland – San Fran’s sister city has been riding on a wave of justified hype for a couple of years now, so catch it while it’s still hot. HOW: Norwegian’s new route from Gatwick to Oakland launches in May 2016, with flights from £199 each way, norwegian.com; San Francisco’s Hotel Zeppelin, which promises to celebrate the city’s countercultural history, opens in March. Rooms from £209, viceroyhotelsandresorts.com

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if you ask us. Utah is home to some of the most breathtaking national parks in the country, or the ‘Big Five’ as they like to call them. In southern Utah’s 73,234-acre Arches Park (among others) you’ll find otherworldly rust-coloured sandstone cut by erosion into arches, bridges and faults and peppered with rivers and trees. It’s spectacular during the daytime, and, conveniently, at night, too. Come darkness, in Utah you’ll find yourself in the home state of three newly recognised International Dark Sky Parks – an honour reserved for the world’s most stunning starscapes, with this state now housing five of them (the most out of any of the other states in the US). Telescopes at the ready. HOW: Delta has launched new flights from London to Salt Lake City from May, return fares from £805.55; see visitutah.com and visittheusa.com for more information. Try airbnb.com for a variety of cool homestays.

3

CHARLESTON TO NEW ORLEANS, THE

DEEP SOUTH

NATIONAL PARKS, UTAH

There are more than 400 national parks in the US, and this year the National Parks Service celebrates its 100th birthday – which sounds like a good excuse for a knees-up

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America’s Deep South is famous for its rich music culture, but what if you just can’t decide where to go?

Remote and vast (35,835 acres to be precise), Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah contains a collection of natural ‘amphitheatres’ created from sandstone.


EXPERIENCES

Photograph (Arches) by Mark Hedley; (Philadelphia) Joe Daniel Price/Moment RF/Getty; (Bryce Canyon) Brent Clark Photography/Getty

This nine-night trip with G Adventures will have you jiggling in the region’s most charming and quirky cities – that’s Charleston with its jazz and blues scene, and its beach (yep, there’s one of those); Atlanta, capital of Georgia state and home of Coca-Cola; Savanna, where you can bar-hop around the dive bars; then the Elvis mecca of Memphis. Finally, you’ll round-off the trip in New Orleans, home to creole cuisine, beignets (similar to doughnuts) and of course, jazz. If you’re looking for an insight into the real Deep South, this is as deep as it gets. HOW: G Adventures offers the nine-night trip from £1,200 including transport, accommodation and some tours, excluding international flights, gadventures.co.uk. Virgin Atlantic offers return flights to Charleston from £582, virgin-atlantic.com

4

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA

If, like us, you’ve spent hours poring over UNESCO’s website, you’ll know that late last year the organisation granted Philadelphia World Heritage City status, making it the first and only city in the US to have been given the honour. The title was granted to recognise the city’s notable contributions to the world. No, we don’t mean the cheesy, meaty Philly cheesesteak sandwich, although that is important. Instead, the city matched a load of rigorous criteria that Spain and Italy are famous for (from architecture to the ability to “represent a masterpiece of human creative genius”). We don’t really know what that means, but we’re with UNESCO on this one. Along with human creative genius, this is a city stocked with music bars, and is also home to the world’s largest collection of public outdoor art, thanks to the Mural Arts Program that’s been running since 1984. Take a wander

PHILADELPHIA IS THE FIRST AND ONLY CITY IN THE US TO HAVE BEEN GIVEN UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE CITY STATUS down the Mural Mile and see it for yourself. HOW: British Airways offers return flights to

Philadelphia from £480, ba.com; the Kimpton Hotel Monaco is stylish yet well-priced, with nightly rates from £150 per room, kimptonhotels.com

5

HAWAII’S ISLANDS, HAWAII

New for 2016 is TrekAmerica’s Big Island tour of Hawaii, an eight-day trip that means

YOUR ISLAND SANCTUARY BOOK YOUR STAY AT THE PARK HYATT ABU DHABI HOTEL AND VILLAS WITH BRITISH AIRWAYS For natural beauty, served up with a generous side-order of luxury, look no further than the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas. An exclusive sanctuary, just minutes from Abu Dhabi’s business district and the dazzling sands of the Corniche, the resort makes the most of its enviable setting on an environmentally protected, naturalsand beach on Saadiyat Island. In the resort itself, there’s luxury at every turn, from the 306 amenityfilled rooms, suites and villas – many with private, open-air plunge pools and beach views – to the array of restaurants serving delicious dishes. Try The Café for globe-spanning cuisine and an impressive show kitchen, the Park Bar & Grill for chargrilled meats, or Beach House for relaxed, beachside dining. And if you’re looking for the ultimate Arabian escape, the twoand three-bedroom waterfront villas offer the luxury of an island sanctuary, with a unique style that blends seamlessly into the natural environment. The state-of-theart Atarmia Spa is another oasis, featuring nine treatment rooms, a relaxation zone and an outdoor pool. Golfers will find their own form of bliss, thanks to the adjacent Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, designed by Gary Player. This is Abu Dhabi at its best, without worries or compromise. ba.com/parkhyatt

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Beachfront Luxury A stylish and sophisticated sanctuary located on Abu Dhabi’s exclusive Saadiyat Island, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas is surrounded by wide expanses of prime sandy shores and championship fairways. Feel at home in the luxurious guest rooms where floor to ceiling windows overlook the Arabian Gulf.

you don’t have to fret about which islands to include on your 2016 holiday itinerary (you have one of those, right?). The tour includes oceanside camping under the stars, snorkelling and visiting one of the most active volcanoes in the world at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, as well as exploring the dark caves of the Thurston Lava Tube – equally thrilling for geographers and geography haters, trust us. The trip includes all camp equipment and you’ll be travelling around with like-minded 18-35 year olds. Aloha! HOW: The eight-day tour starts from £859 including equipment and transport. Delta offers return flights from £1,000, delta.com, or use kayak.com to find the best deal.

Created when a river of lava gradually builds walls and a ceiling, lava tubes can be tiny and claustrophobic or, like the Thurston Lava Tube, vast and easy to explore.

6

STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK CITY

It only takes 25 minutes to get from Manhattan to Staten Island on the famous (and free) ferry, but there are more and more reasons to make your stay in New York City’s southernmost borough a long one. For starters (if you can wait until 2017), there’s the building of the 192m-high New York Wheel, with $7m of LED lights and staggering views of the city. It’s part of a wider project to revitalise the historic area around the St George’s ferry terminal. For now, soak up the old-school seaside vibe at South Beach, visit historic streets that gaze across at Manhattan and wander the 12,300 acres of parkland (it’s the greenest of the five boroughs). There’s good food to be had, too, from pizza (try Denino’s on Port Richmond Avenue) to Creole food and New Orleans spirit at Bayou on Bay Street. HOW: British Airways offers return flights to New York’s JFK from £400, ba.com; find an apartment on Airbnb and live like a real Staten Islander, airbnb.co.uk

FROM ABOVE: The Halemaumau crater in the Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, at sunset; Staten Island, just 25 minutes from Manhattan, offers seaside vibes and rides

7

CUSTER STATE PARK, SOUTH DAKOTA

When London Zoo just won’t cut it, we suggest you head into South Dakota’s big outdoors, more specifically Custer State Park. For one day every September it’s the site of a 1,300-strong bison round-up – an event that includes watching cowboys and cowgirls herding the bisons to be checked, sorted and branded – essential work for maintaining a healthy herd, and one that’ll give you an insight into the traditions of this community. Get 30 September in your diary, in pen. HOW: Audley Travel offers a 10-night Real America trip covering the best of South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming from £2,875pp. Includes international flights, accommodation and car hire, audleytravel.com


Enjoy the roof top bar of The Beach House, relax at the Atarmia Spa or the head to the 18 hole championship golf course at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club before enjoying lunch at The Park Bar & Grill and an afternoon on the white sands of Saadiyat Beach. Three-night stays on a Bed & Breakfast basis at Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi start from £759pp. To book please visit ba.com/parkhyatt Price includes return British Airways flights from London Heathrow. Subject to availability. Select 2016 departures. Book by 29 February. T’s&C’s apply.

8

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY

Bourbon drinker? You’ll want to check out Louisville at some point this year before everyone cottons on. Kentucky’s biggest and most important city has a thriving food and

Photograph (Haiwaii) by Darren Woolridge/Getty; (Louisville) Daniel Dempster/Alamy

ASBURY PARK IS A COOL, RETRO SEASIDE TOWN JUST AN HOUR FROM MANHATTAN

Traditional dishes in Louisville include the Hot Brown – a turkey and bacon sandwich, topped with cheese sauce – and the chocolate and walnut-filled Derby Pie. Yum.

drink scene, a likely result of its location next to the rolling hills and historic whiskey distilleries of bourbon country. Most are within an hour’s drive of Louisville, and they love to show off, so expect a warm, whiskey-laden welcome. Closer to the centre, there are some exquisite cocktail bars, a fun and eclectic pub and club scene, restaurants that serve up artful, impressive and creative dishes from the surrounding area’s natural larder, and some great hotels. If you’re road tripping or making a long weekend of it, three or four days should be enough to discover most of the things to see and do in the beating heart of the Bluegrass State. HOW: American Airlines offers return flights to Louisville via Charlotte from £542, aa.com; the Hilton Garden Inn Louisville Downtown has an unmissable rooftop bar and double rooms from £82, hilton.com

9

ASBURY PARK, NEW JERSEY

Forget everything you think you know about the Jersey Shore. Forget the TV programme, forget the insults from too-cool New Yorkers, and instead go and check it out yourself. Asbury Park is an old-school seaside town that’s just an hour’s train ride from


EXPERIENCES

it’s streamside camping only, but don’t fret – after your epic hike you can return to laidback Scottsdale, Arizona’s answer to Miami’s South Beach (albeit in the desert). HOW: Arizona Outback Adventures offers five-day Havasupai Adventure trips from £987 including permits, gear, and camps; head to aoa-adventures.com, visitarizona.com and experiencescottsdale.com; British Airways offers return flights to Phoenix from £736, ba.com

12 ABOVE: Sunset over Lake Superior in Duluth looks even better when you’re exploring on two wheels; BELOW: Craving culture? Explore Houston’s booming arts scene

Manhattan. The boardwalk is lined with food trucks, pinball machines and a fortune teller – look the other way and there’s golden, sunglazed sand backed by waves. The town, which inspired much of Bruce Springsteen’s early output in the 1970s, is undergoing an epic revival – the first new hotel in the town in 50 years opens this year, while retro music venues continue to thrive; check out Asbury Lanes, where local bands play on a small stage set in the middle of bowling alleys. Escape Manhattan for a day on the beach before everyone else hears about it. HOW: Norwegian Air offers return flights to NYC from £310, norwegeianair.com, then take the train from Penn station to Asbury Park. Book accommodation via airbnb.com

10

NORTHWEST PARKS AND SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

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11

HAVASU FALLS, GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA

Longing to see the big American sights but without the loud crowds of tourists? Try the Havasu Canyon, one of 600 side gorges forming the Grand Canyon. The trip will have you hiking vertiginous mule-trodden paths (the mules are carrying your gear, no worries), and taking in stonking scenery consisting of layers of sun-scorched rock and turquoise waterfalls (Havasupai translates to ‘the land of the blue-green waters’). Forget hotels, because

SEATTLE HAS OFF-THECHART FOOD AND NATURAL BEAUTY ON ITS DOORSTEP

13

DULUTH, MINNESOTA

You may not have heard of Duluth (it’s a port city on the banks The Grand Canyon of Lake Superior, welcomes close to where Bob Dylan was five million visitors a year. It’s spectacular, born 75 years ago), but can get busy, but it’s kind of a big so why not try the deal if you’re into Havasu Falls for the outdoors, and dramatic scenery minus the throngs? mountain biking

Photograph by ###

We’ve been banging the drum for Seattle for years – not only is this city in the Pacific Northwest the birthplace of grunge, Starbucks and Amazon, but it’s got an off-the-chart food and drink scene and jaw-dropping natural beauty on its doorstep. If you’ve got the time, hop on one of Grand American Adventures’ tours of the Northwest parks, which uses Seattle as a jumping-off point for a 13-day who’s-who of the region’s blockbuster sights. That means the wilderness of Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier and its glaciers, the 55 lakes of Coeur D’Alene, plus Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. This is a big year for US national parks (the National Park Service turns 100 in August),

and these are some of the biggest and best. HOW: The Grand American Adventures Northwest Parks and Lodges tour costs from £2,619 per person, including transport and accommodation, grandamericanadventures.com. British Airways offers return flights to Seattle from £571, britishairways.com

Photograph by (top) Hansi Johnson; (bottom) Witold Skrypczak/Getty Images

As it’s the area’s first new hotel since the 1960s, The Asbury needs to make a statement, and with the Ace Hotel New York’s design team on board, we’re pretty sure it will...

HOUSTON, TEXAS

If art, galleries and museums are at the forefront of your holiday-making decisions, prep yourself for these next few sentences, because Houston’s visual arts scene is exploding. Our favourites include Inman Gallery, which was originally designed as a space for the city’s emerging artists in the upand-coming Midtown district, while the artist-owned Archway Gallery showcases sculptures, pottery and mixed media paintings. Then there’s the entire Museum District. This year also sees the opening of Independence Plaza, where you can enter a replica of the shuttle Independence, mounted on top of an original NASA 905 aircraft. Along with that, you’ll find dazzling exhibitions offering a glimpse into the shuttle era. HOW: British Airways offers return flights from £800, ba.com; Hotel Zaza is a glammed-up, bold Texan hotel with nightly rates from £300 per room, hotelzaza.com


Arts, food, shopping, entertainment, outdoors and more — Houston has it all! Planning the perfect getaway is easier than ever! Learn about this world-class city and create your inspired Houston itinerary at VisitHOUSTON.com. #MyHouston

Visit Houston Texas

@VisitHouston


EXPERIENCES

of new startups run by young, hopeful residents, including Beard Balm (“Good for your face, and your marriage,” they claim), and Astro Coffee, a hipster coffee bar with killer macchiatos. It’s not all shiny new stuff though – across the road is the shell of the formerly elegant Michigan Central Station, a sign of what once was. If you’re fascinated by urban regeneration, underdog cities, Motown (the city’s home to surely the best museum in the world), craft beer and art (of the graffiti and museum variety), get your ass to D-town. HOW: Virgin Atlantic offers return flights from £489, virgin-atlantic.com; embrace the city’s history as a factory town and stay in a converted warehouse with airbnb.com

ABOVE: Detroit is on the up, and it’s now home to exciting startups and plenty of street art; BELOW: Beer and beaches combine to make St Pete a fun, sun-drenched trip

in particular. The city is in the middle of a huge project to create a 100-mile connected network of off-road bike trails – all within the city’s limits – spearheaded by local group the Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores. “Our vision is to become the premier in-city mountain-bike system in the world,” Duluth’s mayor, Don Ness, told Bike magazine last year. And if cycling’s not your thing, head here for snow sports in winter, watersports on Lake Superior and the near 300-mile hiking trail that leads from Duluth to the Canadian border. HOW: Delta offers return flights to Duluth via

Photograph by (Detroit) Hannah Summers; (Florida) Nicholas A Collura-Gehrt

IF YOU’RE FASCINATED BY URBAN REGENERATION AND CRAFT BEER, GET TO DETROIT

Minneapolis from £570, delta.com; Dodge’s Log Lodges has lakeside cabins just outside the city. From £104 per night, dodgeslog.com

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PORTLAND, MAINE

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CORKTOWN, DETROIT, MICHIGAN

No, not that Portland (in Oregon) – the other one, where it’s more about lobsters than hipsters. Maine’s coast is a mixture of tall pines and cold, windy waters, conditions that make the big and tasty crustaceans so abundant that they’re available to Superior by name, buy for around a fiver superior by nature, straight off a boat – no this vast freshwater kidding. Here, you’ll lake is the largest in North America: get your fill of lobster it’s 31,700sq miles in rolls and deep-fried total, and its deepest belly clams, but there point is 1,300ft below the surface. are plenty of other incredible dishes too, from pizza to breakfast sandwiches. Check out fromaway.com for in-depth reviews of the city’s best dishes with plenty of personality. And don’t get us started on the craft beer, or that lighthouse. HOW: Norwegian Air is launching budget return flights to Boston (around 90 minutes away) from £270, norwegian.com. Base yourself at the charming Pomegranate Inn, where nightly rates start at £100 per room, pomegranateinn.com

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ST PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER, FLORIDA

HOLD. UP. White-sand beaches, turquoise sea and 20 independent breweries to try? Count us in. DesNot only is Clearwaignate a non-drinking ter home to beautiful driver (unlucky) and beaches with lots explore the beer trail of, er, clear water, but it also holds the between St Pete and record for the most Clearwater in Florida. consecutive days of Along the way you can sunshine in a single year (361 btw). try a couple of beer flights at Green Bench Brewing Co, an earthy-looking bar, while the fifth-generation Austrian brewer at Lagerhaus Brewery also offers a 22% brew for the brave. When you’re not sampling the nectar of the oldest craft breweries in the Sunshine State, you can check out St Pete’s psychedelic murals. And that beach. HOW: British Airways offers return flights to Tampa (a 30-minute drive) from £550, ba.com; base yourself by the beach at the very chilled, very cool Postcard Inn, with nightly rates from £90 per room, postcardinn.com

A few years back, Detroit’s future was looking bleak – so much so that with $18m of debt, the city filed for bankruptcy. But for the first time in 56 years, after decades of residents abandoning the city, the population is rising again, and Corktown is the incubator

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EXPERIENCES

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SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO

Santa Fe is one of the oldest cities in the US, but an injection of cash and love from an unlikely double act is giving it a fresh new face. First, local resident George RR Martin (yes, that one) felt there should be more to do at night in the city, so in 2013 he bought an abandoned cinema and gave it a new lease of life. And next month, an old bowling lane purchased by the Game of Thrones author in 2008 will reopen as a trippy arts-space-comemulti-use-venue called the House of Eternal Return, created by Such is the level of freewheeling local arts creativity in collective Meow Wolf. Santa Fe, it’s been As Martin himself designated as a UNESCO Creative says: “One thing’s for City in Design, Crafts sure, it will be much and Folk Art. So go more exciting than expecting to soak up a big dose of culture. bowling.” This, added to the chilled-out city’s existing status as a hub for artists and art fans, makes it a destination that’s rising, fast. HOW: American Airlines offers return flights to Santa Fe via Dallas from £555, aa.com. The Silver Saddle motel is kitsch, fun and great value, with doubles from £33 a night, santafesilversaddlemotel.com

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ROUTE 66, ILLINOIS TO CALIFORNIA

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FAIRBANKS, ALASKA

If seeing the Northern Lights has been on your life to-do list for a while, cross it off this year with a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska – one of the best places on earth to catch them, with around 200 spectacles per year. During the day you can try traditional winter pursuits

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such as snowmobiling, dog mushing, skiing or slopping around the warm water of the Chena Hot Springs, and at night, cross your fingers and hope to see the colourful bands of light shimmering in the sky. HOW: Tour operator Discover the World offers an eight-night trip combining the northern

ON ROUTE 66 YOU WILL EXPERIENCE QUIRKY MOTELS, STICKY DINERS AND SMALLTOWN BARS

lights (hopefully), springs and other activities from £1,352pp, excluding international flights, discover-the-world.co.uk

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

You’ve probably seen cult movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, in which a trio of students bunk off school and hit Chicago. If not, why not? Though stats geeks have revealed the ‘day off’ in the film to be 5 June 1985 (they used the date of a baseball game featured to work it out), this year marks A big part of Chicago 30 years since Ferris was destroyed by the arrived in cinemas – Great Chicago Fire in and that’s as good a 1871, so much of the architecture is noted reason as any to visit for its originality. Chi-Town. There are Some of the first plenty of others, too skyscrapers were built here. – the architecture (it has some of the most important buildings in the US), the food (the deep-dish pizza pie was invented here) and the music (it birthed house music in the 1980s, and played a huge role in the growth of jazz and blues). It also has more than 580 public parks, and the city has 26 public beaches on the shores of Lake Michigan. As Ferris himself says: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.” e HOW: Virgin Atlantic offers return flights from £575, virgin-atlantic.com. The Freehand hostel and hotel opened last year. Bunks from £27, rooms from £111, thefreehand.com

Photograph by Chris McLennan

You’ll most likely have heard of Route 66, but how many towns along the 2,448-mile road can you actually name? OK there are the big ones, like Chicago and Las Vegas, but Gallup (New Mexico) or Chandler (Oklahoma) may need some introduction to even the biggest Americophile. You’d need your entire year’s annual leave to cover the eight-state, three-timezone route, so how about taking a leisurely, week-long trip from St Louis (Missouri) to Amarillo (Texas), via Tulsa (Oklahoma) instead? This part will have you experiencing the real middle-America – quirky motels, sticky diners and small-town bars. It’s the route’s 90th anniversary this year (the highway was given its Route 66 designation in April 1926) – so when better to cruise this epic stretch of tarmac? HOW: Virgin Atlantic partners with Delta to offer the best flight routes in and out of the route, with return flights from £645, landing in St Louis. Use visittheusa.com to help plan your trip.

ABOVE: Fairbanks in Alaska is one of the best places to see the trippy Northern Lights, and although it’s not exactly boiling hot, it’s one of the warmest places to watch them from, too


Discover Alaska with the experts Travel off the beaten track experiencing wild beauty, abundant wildlife and colourful culture. Hike rugged mountains, witness glaciers calving, encounter wildliferich waters and marvel at endless tundra. Choose a fly drive, rail journey, winter break or scenic cruise guided by our 30+ years of experience. Request your brochure or view our full collection online.

01737 218 803


FIELD TRIPPIN 46


EXPERIENCES

Photograph by Karen Desjardin/Getty Images

NG Sonoma County in California is best known for its wine, but on a recent visit Victoria Stewart discovers the region has a lot more to offer than grapes. As well as eating and drinking its impressive array of produce, you can help harvest it, too 47


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t is a breezy autumn evening and I am in Sonoma County, California. But I’m not contemplating wine, which is what everyone expects of someone visiting this area. Sure, the wine is excellent, but it’s currently a pumpkin I’ve got my eye on. You see, I’ve discovered that there’s a side of California – another story of farming, passion and exquisite produce – that doesn’t get nearly the same attention that its wine gets, and which makes an equally brilliant basis for a road trip. Planning to visit a friend in San Francisco, I came across farmtrails.org which suggested we could explore nearby Sonoma County’s agricultural and artisanal producers and family farms. I discovered

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that here was a celebration organised every month around the region’s local food specialities – a tomato harvest festival in September, or fields of Halloween pumpkins in October. Come late October, having ticked off the tourist trail in The City of Fog, Becca and I were ready to retreat to greener pastures. We jumped into the Smart Car we’d rented on the vehicle equivalent of Airbnb (relayrides.com) and were soon zooming over the Golden Gate bridge at sunset, laughing at selfie stick-ers. Two hours later, we’d checked in to Sonoma Orchid Inn near Guerneville, and were settling into dinner at an excellent local restaurant, Boon. Now if your priorities are to eat lots, see lots, and take lots home, there are a few ways to do this trip. You could base yourself in a B&B Guerneville is a good like this one, offering base for exploring hosts with excellent Sonoma County: local knowledge, it’s close to several areas of natural glorious breakfasts beauty including the – think homemade Russian River, where oatmeal souffle or people head to swim in the summer. quiche – and rooms with fridges so that you can temporarily store your delicious purchases; or you could hire a self-catering apartment somewhere and cook your own food using produce you’ve bought from farms, which are plentiful. Alternatively you could do a combination, as we did: buy as you go, cram what you haven’t scoffed into a fridge and, finally, lug as much of it as you can back to town. It’s also worth planning the route carefully to make sure that most of your stop-offs are in clusters – that way the driving becomes less chore-like, and more road trip. Finding things to bring back to Blighty is easy. On the first morning I whizz off to Santa Rosa’s weekly Wednesday market – not quite the rural idyll I’d imagined, being set in a car park next to the freeway, but boy is there some good stuff among the 20-odd vendors (70 on Saturdays). “I always say that the local food should get the real excitement going around here,” explains Desmond Kelly, who started his Wine Country Chocolates business after his wife began making chocolates to relax. At their tasting room in nearby Sonoma, anyone can turn up to sample the various chocolates that they produce. I test run some intense blueberry chocolate ‘bark’, then pray that my purchase won’t melt in the hot car. (It does. Note to self: bring cool bags on future trips.)

FROM ABOVE: The sun-baked fields of Sonoma grow a bounty of ingredients, while coastal areas provide beautiful views; produce ranges from honey and bee pollen from Hector’s to small-batch ciders and home-cured bacon. Cool bags recommended


EXPERIENCES

Photograph (main) by Christopher Kimmel/Getty; Images County tourist board with sonomacounty.com

I buy a suitcase-friendly sized pouch of toasted local fennel dust from Berkman’s Spices stall, and afterwards meet Hector Alvaraz and his daughter Cynthia, who together run Hector’s Honey, selling deliciously light and fragrant honeys, bee pollen, flowers and vegetables. Alvaraz’s father taught him how to make honey when he was 16, and he has since been in the business for 25 years. Today, he says it is changing: “There’s a younger crowd that uses the market. We also let people come and visit our farm – but we have to be there,” he explains. I’m content with buying a pot in the shape of a teddy bear, hoping it lasts inside my bag Sustainable farming (it does – and turns is a key part of out to be great on Tierra’s ethos, and porridge in London). the techniques they use are much kinder Driving around I to the environment spot a sign saying: than conventional methods. Clever AND ‘Shiloh Gardens: delicious. pumpkins this way’ and stop to choose one; it’ll be ideal for the following weekend’s Halloween carving party. Its manager also points me in the direction of a sustainable farm shop, Tierra Vegetables. “You really can’t come to Sonoma without paying it a visit,” he insists. I duly do, and minutes later step out

of the intense sun into a dark shop. Dusty underfoot, it is crammed with huge green leaves, muddy potatoes, tomatoes, more pumpkins and ripe Olives are big news in fruits. I catch a word Sonoma, so much so with co-owner of ten that every January years, Lee James: (official ‘olive season’) is given over “Well I’ve always to events celebrating said there’s a good the county’s harvest farming story to of our favourite martini garnish. be told about this area. We have ladies coming here who ate our produce when they were babies, and now bring their own babies; we have all sorts. And we also make things that are small enough for people to take home on a plane, like hot sauces and jams.” A pile of bright red baby strawberries winks at me from the counter, so I scoop some up; minutes later sticky juices are running off my chin and onto the car seat. My next appointment is a highlight – a trip to the tasting room of Tilted Shed Ciderworks, Windsor. Here I meet Ellen Cavalli who shows me the small range of ciders that she produces with her partner Scott Heath, tells stories of how they came to own orchards, and gives me a peek at the bottling process next door. My favourite is a smoked cider they collaborated on with a local restaurant, Zazu, and even this makes

it back to London in one piece. I try samples of local olive oils, jams, chutneys, syrups and vinegars at the Kozlowski Farm Shop, and leave with

I STEP OUT OF THE INTENSE SUN INTO A DARK SHOP CRAMMED WITH MUDDY POTATOES AND RIPE FRUITS 49


a jar of pumpkin butter, which sounds intriguing. At Zazu Kitchen in Sebastopol, Becca and I share beautiful greens and crunchy house-cured bacon, made using meat from their own pigs. Afterwards, the inimitable owner/chef/farmer Duskie Estes sends us off with bags full of piggy popcorn and pork salted caramels from her shop, and we munch them all the way home. Something else that Sonoma County does well is cheese, but with tons of dairies to visit, we settle on two. The first, though

SOMETHING FROM A GROCERY STORE IS DAYS OLD. HERE, YOU CAN PICK A TOMATO STRAIGHT OFF THE PLANT

ABOVE: The Sonoma Baylands restoration project will ensure the county’s precious landscape is maintained in best possible condition. Locals are fiercely proud not only of the countryside, but what they grow there

are made weekly and sold locally. Distinct in flavour, being slightly creamy, nutty and tangy at the same time, it’s so good we have to buy some. Our final meeting is with one of the founders of Greenstrings Farm, Bob Canard, whose natural approach to farming has made him possibly the most influential farmer in the area; his produce is also on the menu at the world-famous San Francisco restaurant, Chez Panisse. Embarrassingly when he greets us we have pink pomegranate juices all over our fingers. “We grow pretty much anything here that you could find in a supermarket,” he says. “It’s not organic... We’re self-certified so it’s based on our integrity... But it’s all in the taste and how it makes you feel. It’s about physical completeness, and people can tell whether it’s real or not,” he argues. Keen to test his theory we purchase some greens and head home. The next day we rip open our packages. Dinner that evening is Joe Motos cheese, biscuits and steamed A trip to Chez Greenstrings kale Panisse is highly doused in butter, recommended – the and it is the ripest, restaurant is known as one of the inspidensest, greenest rations of ‘Califonia most flavoursome cuisine’, and focuses kale I’ve eaten. We’ve on ingredients that are grown locally. gone full circle. e

Photograph by [main] Aerial Archives / Alamy Stock Photo

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not strictly a dairy farm, is Full House Farm, billed as ‘sustainable living from the inside out’ and an incredibly mellow, simple set-up run by Christine Cole and her family. Here you can stay in a basic cottage overlooking the fields, pick vegetables from their kitchen garden, or do the full farm experience, which can involve feeding the animals. Cole firmly believes that we’ve “lost track of where our food comes from. We need to get back to that. Something from a grocery store is – at Santa Rosa is the best – days old, and largest city in has lost its nutrients. California’s North Coast, Wine Country Here you can pick a and the North Bay. tomato off the plant, It boasts an urban ripe and still warm blend of art, culture, from the sun.” food and, of course, really good wine. Indeed, a couple staying there are full of it: “I’ve never harvested potatoes before and these were like little fluffy nuggets of gold. We sauteed some greens, too. This has been just what we wanted.” Charming too is ‘the shop box’, a wooden hut housing a fridge stuffed with things like freshly made yoghurt and mini goat’s cheesecakes, plus a cupboard full of local soaps and jams. We drop some change into the honesty box and walk away with yet more goodies to try. The second is Joe Matos Cheese Factory near Santa Rosa. Not knowing what to expect, as we pull into the yard we see no sign of life other than some flies buzzing around, and cows, and wonder whether we’ve walked onto the set of a murder mystery film. Eventually we ring a bell and a quiet girl appears from nowhere to explain how the rounds of cheese behind her came to be there; it is a native variety brought over by Joe and Mary Matos who grew up in the Portuguese Azores and small numbers


EXPERIENCES

TRAVEL DETAILS Rooms at the Sonoma Orchid Inn start from ÂŁ105 per night. sonomaorchidinn.com For more information on what to do and see in Sonoma and beyond, go to sonomacounty.com and visittheusa.com Fly to San Francisco with Virgin Atlantic, from ÂŁ625 return. virgin-atlantic.com


ALL ROADS LEAD TO AMALFI 52


Photograph by ###

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EXPERIENCES

Travelling in a battered Fiat Panda and armed with the humble contents of her purse, Aby Dunsby discovers that you don’t need to be an A-lister to soak up the beauty of Italy’s Amalfi Coast 53


EXPERIENCES

ABOVE: Positano is one of the Amafi Coast’s most picturesque towns, and despite its exclusive feel, you can explore it on a budget

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he blazing languor of the afternoon is broken by a chorus of tooting cars. A leathery arm emerges from a lorry’s open window, gesticulating angrily. My boyfriend Joe grips tighter on the gear stick as he clunks our little one-litre Fiat Panda into reverse and tries to make the vertiginous hairpin bend one last time. The car splutters up it – just – I offer an apologetic grin to the trail of cars behind us, and we’re off on our way again. These regular ‘pit stops’ along the weaving corniche of the Amalfi Coast are raising our pulses, and we’re not complaining one bit. With every blind turn and precipitous incline the road takes, we’re also given an extra slice of sparkling, film-worthy southern Italian coastline to gawp at. While the aviator-wearing Italian coach

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WHERE TO STAY MONASTERO SANTA ROSA This boutique converted monastery is located up in the hills near Amalfi. The 20 rooms boast traditional features such as mahogany church pews (sounds creepy – it isn’t) and bath salts from Santa Maria Novella. Features include a cavernous spa and infinity pool. Rooms from £300; monasterosantarosa.com

Photograph by Francesco Pascale

WE ZIGZAG PAST SILVERY OLIVE TREES AND VILLAS THAT CLING TO THE SLOPES

drivers manoeuvre their giant steeds nonchalantly up the verges of the cliffside with a foot firmly pressed down on the accelerator, we’re in less of a hurry to take in this view. The narrow road is fringed with lemon terraces and lavender, and we zigzag past silvery, sun-scorched olive trees and tumbling creamy villas which cling to the slopes of the craggy rock faces, while below us little pockets of cobalt blue water lap against the rocks. The Italians aren’t ones to do things by halves – countless holidays with my Milanese mother Jackie O visited the have taken me from Amalfi Coast in 1962, the country’s snowinstantly propelling capped mountains to the already fashionable destination its vineyard-strewn up the popularity countryside. If it’s charts. She recieved jaw-dropping drama honoarary citizenship in Ravello. you’re after, though, the natural beauty of the Amalfi Coast can’t be beaten. That’s not just my Tricolore-toting pride talking, either. The allure of this UNESCO World Heritage Site was first eulogised in The Iliad, while everyone from D.H. Lawrence to Wagner has counted the rugged peninsula south of Naples as a source of inspiration. The Amalfi Coast’s glamourous heydey was in the 1960s, when it acted as a tranquil refuge from the paparazzi for the likes of Greta Garbo and Jackie O, and A-listers including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Reese Witherspoon continue to flock here. It’s an impressive feat for a stretch of Italian coast that’s only 20 miles long. There wasn’t even a road connecting the coastal neighbourhoods until 1852, when the Strada Statale 163 was carved out of the Lattari mountains, joining Meta near Sorrento with Vietri sul Mare in the east. Now, this ‘road of

1,000 bends’ offers a magnificent, heart-inthe-mouth scenic drive along the coast, and that bayside panorama just gets better and better with every turn. Our purse strings are somewhat tighter than Angelina’s but that’s not about to put us off. The region is just as renowned for its glittering, infinity pool-laden hotels as it is for its cinematic vistas and beaches, yet a more rural Amalfi also exists, and it’s just as easy to nab yourself a cute B&B and eat dinner at cheap trattorias with the locals. We visit at the start of the season in early June when there’s plenty of cheap accommodation, plus we avoid the fleets of selfie stick swinging tourists that clog the coastal villages’ cobbled streets from July. It’s beaches we’re seeking, and we’re not disappointed. From tiny, secret coves to private stretches filled with perfect rows of loungers, the Costiera Amalfitana is dedicated to our quest for a sunbathing spot. We find out on our first day that sashaying along endless swathes of sand isn’t how it’s done – lots of the beaches are mere patches of pebbles or wide rocky platforms from which you jump into the electric blue. Most of the area’s towns are high up in the hills, so getting to the water means parking up and plodding down long flights of steps or spiralling coastal paths. It’s worth it – the reward comes in the form of gorgeous bays with water so bright, you need a pair of sunglasses to look at it. To really understand the personality of this coastline and seek out the best beaches, you’ll need a boat. We park our trusty Panda and hire a speedboat from the sleepy, sun-kissed village of Praiano, chugging off eastwards towards Amalfi in search of a prime tanning spot. We find it at Marina di Praia, a cute batch of cottages


Explore the Amalfi Coast with Citalia

Pastel-painted villages, dramatic scenery and spectacular drives along cliff-hugging roads – there’s nowhere quite like the Amalfi Coast. From glamorous Positano and picture-perfect Amalfi, to clifftop Ravello and off-the-beaten-track Minori, there’s plenty to discover along this stunning stretch of coastline. And if you fancy adding a bit of city sightseeing into the mix, you can easily combine your stay with a few days exploring Naples or Rome. Our travel experts can put together a bespoke itinerary for you, and recommend some of their favourite local spots at the same time.

3Hplus Neapolitan Riviera Hotel Bonadies, Ravello 7 nights B&B From only £579*per person Includes 1 free night & £100 sale discount

Now’s a great time to book, too – until the end of the month, you can save up to £800= per booking and take advantage of exclusive offers in our February Sale.

Visit citalia.com or call our experts on 01293 765075^ =Savings of up to £800 apply to two adults sharing at the Residenza La Bisaccia Sardinia for selected departures dates in May 2016. All February sale offers must be booked before 23:59 on 29 February 2016. *Price is based on 2 adults travelling from London Gatwick on the 7th May 2016 staying at the Hotel Bonadies, Ravello for 7 nights on a bed & breakfast board basis and includes return economy flights and private resort transfers. Price is correct at time of print and is subject to change and availability. £100 sale discount ends 29 February 2016. Normal booking terms and conditions apply. ^Calls from UK landlines cost the standard rate, but calls from mobiles may be higher. Check with your network provider. Normal booking conditions apply. Specialist Holidays (Travel) LTD T/A Citalia. ATOL protected.

ABTA No.V4068


and a sliver of pebbled beach sandwiched between soaring cliffs, where the water is deep, calm and clear, and I spend an hour splayed out like a starfish bobbing gently along with the tide. Back on the boat, we pass empty beaches that are populated only by the occasional weather-beaten fisherman, and crumbling Saracen watchtowers that are reminders from as far back as the 11th century, when the Norman founders of the Kingdom of Sicily were subject to wars and invasions from the Saracens. We pause to explore a stalagmite-lined sea cave that’s tucked into the crease of a cliff. Our boat driver Fabio steers us inside and we dunk into the cold water and swim towards an opening on the far side of the rock, from which a fresh stream trickles out. “That water’s Summertime ‘it’ full of sulphur and drink Aperol Spritz magnesium,” Fabio tastes even better tells us. “People under the Italian sunshine, but make come to drink it sure you sample because it’s a great some ice-cold limoncello too, as it’s detox for your skin.” made in Amalfi. I take a glug hoping it will cancel out our impending Aperol-fuelled dinner before hauling myself back onto the boat and heading off towards Amalfi. Once a booming maritime republic with a population of more than 70,000, Amalfi is the eponymous coast’s busiest town, but tourists aside it’s a pretty little place laced with almond trees and lemon terraces. We stop to take snaps of its intricately designed striped Arab-Norman cathedral and to explore the town’s tangle of cobbled alleys. After gorging on mozarella-laden slices of pizza washed down with Peroni, we embark on the ritual of the passeggiata around Piazza Duomo, ogling the immaculately preened men and beautiful bejewelled women walking arm in arm, before sauntering past majestic yachts moored by the harbour and eating soft scoops of

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ABOVE: Positano has attrcated the rich and famous since the 1950s; BELOW: Incredible views over the Med from Ravello

pistachio ice cream at a nearby bar. Back in our faithful banger the next day, we weave our way along those precipitous bends once more, this time punctuated by pretty ceramic shops and stalls selling freshly made lemon granita, which we sip to clear our groggy heads. As we bounce along, rising and dipping along with the road, the impossibly photogenic Positano comes into view, with its pistachio, vanilla and peach coloured houses cascading down the mountain towards the glistening sea. John Steinbeck visited in 1953 and waxed lyrical about the town for Harper’s Bazaar, and shortly later the fashionista set moved in. The classy boutiques are still here, as are the honeymoon-worthy hotels and the swarming, bar-lined Marina Grande beach, but the real charm lies in walking through the steep streets and discovering the fading villas and cobbled alleys, draped with bougainvillea and drying laundry that arches high above our heads. I get chatting to a local ice cream seller, and when I tell him we’re on the hunt for a seafood lunch he gives me his ultimate recommendation. “It’s a secret not even the Italians know about,” he assures me.

AMALFI IS THE EPONYMOUS COAST’S BUSIEST TOWN, BUT TOURISTS ASIDE IT’S A VERY PRETTY LITTLE PLACE


EXPERIENCES

FIVE GREAT ROAD TRIPS AROUND THE WORLD WASHINGTON STATE, US THE CASCADE LOOP: SEATTLE TO PUGET SOUND Scenic is a bit of an understatement when describing this 400-mile driving tour that takes in the dramatic Cascade Mountains, Columbia River Valley and North Cascades National Park, before coming to a halt at the vast and serene Puget Sound.

SOUTH OF FRANCE: MONTPELLIER TO NICE Hug the South of France’s picturesque coastline on the 250-mile (or so) drive from port city Montpellier to ultra-chic Nice. Stop off in histroical Arles and hip Marseille overnight, or blow the budget in St Tropez and Cannes.

SCOTLAND, THE NORTH COAST 500: ROUND-TRIP FROM INVERNESS

Photographs by (Positano) Pola Damonte/Getty; (Ravello) Michele Falzone/Getty

That’s not surprising given its location, which we’re told is treacherous by car, even by Italian standards. We opt for the sea route, hiring another boat from the harbour and heading west towards Nerano, near Sorrento. La Conca del Sogno means ‘The Basin of Dreams’, and as the name suggests it’s postcard pretty: the restaurant is carved out of the rock face in a small bay, and there’s a bar and sun loungers for those who want to spend the day there. We flop out on loungers to watch the mammoth yachts pull into the harbour, filled with glamorous Italians hungry for lunch. The fishermen come and go too, hauling over their catch ready for the chefs to cook. Though the crowd is Gucci garmed, the food isn’t expensive, and the atmosphere is raucous, friendly and unpretentious – waiters dart around carrying sharing plates piled with swordfish and lobster, and most tables are filled with families spanning from pudgy babies to curly haired nonnas. Our waiter fills our table with a delicious jumble of calamari, king prawns on ice, octopus salad and sea bass. The seafood pasta is made with scialatielli, a long, square local pasta that arrives smelling of

basil and pecorino and topped with squid, mussels, langoustines and a healthy glug of olive oil. We order a second plate of the fior di zucca: lightly battered orange courgette blossoms filled with fluffy dollops of ricotta. To ease our incredibly full bellies, the waiter brings us two glasses of finocchietto, a thick syrupy liquor made from the local wild fennel branches. With incredibly If we thought fresh seafood and we’d found our sunbeautiful views, drenched haven, we’d it’s unsurprising La Conca del Sogno has saved the best for high-profile fans, last. Another perilous including Beyonce drive up the Valle and Jay Z, who dined there recently. del Dragone takes us to Ravello, a hilltop town tucked up in the mountains away from the crowds, where shady gardens look out across the Bay of Salerno and a majestic azure expanse of Mediterranean sea that takes my breath away. A silver-haired local catches me gazing wistfully and smiles, telling me in his thick southern Italian accent: “I’ve seen that view all my life but nothing can match its beauty.” Italians might be inclined to hyperbole, but that guy from Ravello had the Amalfi Coast spot on. e

Did someone say Highland fling? Explore Scotland’s wild west coast before driving back down the rugged north coast, taking in the beaches of Sutherland and exploring Caithness – mainland Britain’s most northeastern extremity – along the way.

NEW ZEALAND: AUCKLAND TO WELLINGTON From NZ’s first capital to its current one, this epic 828-mile drive takes in the Bay of Islands – 140 subtropical islands with undeveloped bays and coves.

RUSSIA, THE GOLDEN RING: ROUND-TRIP FROM MOSCOW The Golden Ring is a collection of historic towns filled with incredible Russian architecture (including buildings with roofs that look like onions, naturally), including Pereslavl-Zalessky, Sergiyev Posad, Ivanovo and Vladimir – the former capital of mediaeval Russia.

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Photograph by Graeme Green

L OF WILD RDS

Patagonia Park is a huge new space acting as home to an array of rare wildlife species, but local reaction to the project has been mixed: is it a crucial part of preserving Patagonia, or an unwanted burden on the government and local people? Graeme Green heads into its rugged heartland to report 59


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id you hear that sound?” wilderness guide Jorge Molina whispers. “That’s a bird known as the brujita, which means ‘little witch’, because it sounds like a witch laughing.” Sitting next to a crackling fire beneath the stars, I listen as the noise comes again. Zooming past, it’s more like a cartoon witch cackling from her broomstick than anything genuinely haunting. But even if it was the Blair Witch herself, she’d have her work cut out to disturb the tranquility out here in the wilderness of the Jeinimeni National Reserve in Jeinimeni National Chilean Patagonia. Reserve is named We’re camping out after its unusual on the first night of milky turquoise lake of the same name. a four-day hike into Another highlight is the new Patagonia its archaeological Park in Aysen, a site called the Cave of the Hands. major project from American billionaire Doug Tompkins (founder of The North Face and Esprit, who died from hypothermia after a kayaking accident in December of last year) and his wife Kristine Tompkins (former CEO of Patagonia Inc). The aim of the project is to create a 650,000-acre nature park by combining land in the Chacabuco Valley with neighbouring Jeinimeni and Tamango National Reserves, which they hope the Chilean government will bestow with official National Park status this year. Once all the buildings and infrastructure are completed, they plan to hand Parque

Patagonia over to the Chilean government. Their goal is to restore Patagonian grasslands that have been overgrazed during over a century of sheep- and cattle-ranching. But there’s been local opposition to the park, with complaints that the Tompkins’ money exerts too much influence on how Chile uses its land and resources. They’re

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Photograph (woopecker) by Mark Jones Roving Tortoise Photos/Getty

ANDEAN CONDORS SOAR OVERHEAD AND GAUCHOS RIDE BY THE LAKESHORE

accused of burdening the government with the future costs of running a national park, protecting pumas that kill nearby ranches’ animals and, by buying and closing the ranches and clearing out the animals, destroying local gaucho (cowboy) culture. I met Doug Tompkins before I visited the park, just a couple of months before his fatal kayaking accident. Tourism, he suggested, would provide more jobs and money to the local economy than ranching, and regardless, he argued, the planet has to come above local concerns. “The development model needs to be scrapped. We need to rethink how civilisation is going to cohabitate the planet and keep nature healthy. It just takes a while for people to catch on,” he said confidently. Anger about the project and how it’s been handled (locals complain of a lack of consultation and insensitivity about their culture) hasn’t gone away. But the Tompkins’ Conservacion Patagonia is rumbling on with the park and their project to develop infrastructure along Chile’s southern highway, the Carretera Austral, to make a 2,000km scenic highway, with access to 17 national parks, including Patagonia Park, along the way. They hope to create more new national parks in Chile and Argentina. Patagonia Park itself is an adventure just to reach. From Balmaceda airport, we


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ABOVE: Patagonia Park is a hiker’s dream, with 650,000 acres of rugged terrain to explore; BELOW: A magellanic woodpecker

drive south past the rugged peaks of Cerro Castillo and along Lago General Carrera, the second biggest lake in South America (after Titicaca), where Doug Tompkins’s accident later occurred. Andean condors soar overhead and gauchos ride along the lakeshore, before the setting sun turns the towering Andes mountains pink. It’s easy to understand why people would care about the land, wildlife and culture of this region. We make our way early the next day from the town of Chile Chico to glassy Lago Jeinimeni, spending the morning hiking up a rocky, almost dry riverbed, occasionally crossing through feet-numbingly cold, glacier-fed rivers. A steep snowy trail through a forest brings us out at a viewpoint over Lago Verde, where steamer ducks glide across the partially icy surface. Caning the pace through Valle Hermoso (‘Beautiful Valley’), we make it to the Puesto Frontera campsite inside Tompkins’s land before darkness. Once tents are up, we brew mate (local tea) and cook dinner in a forest, where the only sounds are the gurgling stream, the roaring fire and the occasional

maniacal laughter of a ‘little witch’. As we make our way through boggy swamps and into the Aviles Valley the next day, Jorge points to long, thick grasses and plants that have recovered since 2004, when the Tompkins’s project began and sheep and cattle were no longer allowed to munch everything. We pass puestos, too, little ranches and shelters Chile Chico previously used by translates to ‘Little gauchos, the fence Chile’. This town and commune has a pop- posts that previously ulation of around divided the 3,000 poeple and is properties removed located on the south by volunteers to shore of General Carrera Lake. make the land wide open and wild again. Despite the changes, Jorge doesn’t see the park as the end of gaucho culture. “There’s enough room for conserving the land and for the gauchos,” he argues. Change was already happening anyway, he suggests. “The old people here believed in local myths and legends, but young people look at their cellphones and they believe in Rihanna.” I spot a big black magellanic

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ABOVE: Unless you fancy literally taking a leap of faith, be prepared to traverse the odd wobbly bridge; BELOW: Grazing guanacos

woodpecker with a head of spiky red feathers hammering away on tree trunks as we pass through another forest. Later, the trail takes us through a beautiful gorge, with views of the fast-flowing Aviles River, and past the orangey peak of Cerro Pintura. There are six guanaco close to the river the next morning, after another night of

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wilderness camping. We cross Pasarela Los Pilcheros, a sturdy new bridge high above the Aviles, and hike through the epic grasslands of the Chacabuco Valley, down to the new Casa Piedra campground. After three peaceful, occasionally chilly nights in the great outdoors, I stay at the comfortable and expensive Tompkinsowned Lodge at Valle Chacabuco, the walls decorated with black and white photos of gauchos and local wildlife. With only six rooms, it’s quiet inside, though there’s still construction work going on nearby. The park is still a work in progress. I spend my final day exploring the valley with local vet and guide Christian Restrapo. “It’s going to be like the Torres del Paine of Aysen,” Christian says enthusiastically of the park’s future, as we pass Guanaco Valley, a breeding ground for guanacos. At the eastern edge of the park, we arrive at Puesto Nandu, a project to protect and breed large ostrich-like birds known as nandu. One of the birds ‘greets’ us inside the pen by starting to peck at Christian. “It can be hard to tell the difference between the male and female birds. But if he attacks me, it must be the alpha male,” he laughs. The nandu project’s still quite new. “Gauchos say they used to see these birds in the Chacabuco Valley,” Christian tells me.

“This project is testing that they can survive a winter, then that they can reproduce. Then, when there are new families, maybe they can be reintroduced into the park.” If the plan works, they’re going to have one hell of a piece of land to call home. e The writer travelled with Pura Aventura (pura-aventura.com), whose eight-night trip includes a four-day Jeinimeni-Chacabuco hike with guides, camping and all meals, one night at the Lodge at Valle Chacabuco and transfers from Balmaceda airport, and costs from £1,362pp based on a group of four. Accommodation at the Lodge at Valle Chacabuco was provided by Patagonia Park (patagoniapark.org) and costs around £166pp per night. British Airways (ba.com) offers return flights from London to Buenos Aires from £709. Onward flights with Sky Airlines (skyairline.cl) from Buenos Aires to Balmaceda, via Puerto Montt, start from £328. For more info on Chile, visit chile.travel/en

Photograph by ###

THE TRAIL TAKES US THROUGH A BEAUTIFUL GORGE, WITH VIEWS OF THE FAST-FLOWING AVILES RIVER

Guanacos are native to South America, and the largest wild mammal species found there. If you spot some keep a reasonable distance, as they often spit when threatened.


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LITTLE TEASE Photograph by Lenise Zerafa/Alamy Photograph Stockby Photo ###

Forget what you think you know about Malta, says Hannah Summers. This island’s going places fast 65


H

ave you ever taken travel advice from your nan? Probably not. Nans are, well, nans. And they are also persistent. “Go to Malta,” my nan enthused – for 15 years. The thing is, I trust my nan. She has excellent taste in biscuits, she knows that L’Oreal Elnett hairspray is the best on the market and she makes a killer cuppa. But travel advice? No thanks, G’ma. But then something unexpected happened. Malta – that compact 27km by 14km island off the southwest coast of Italy – started to get, dare I say it, cool. First there was the work of Renzo Piano, the world-acclaimed architect of the Shard, who was flown in to totally redesign the capital’s city wall, and more, in a controversially modern style. Then Brangelina chose the archipelago for their honeymoon. Soon after, in spring 2015, EDM DJ Annie Mac debuted a dance festival on the island. Named Lost & Found, it takes in Malta’s prime sea-view spots with a line-up of bigname DJs who, for four days at the end of March, will fuel a 72-hour party for Mark Ronson and Groove Armada fans. And so, finally, I went to Malta – and I’m still talking about it. This four-day breakdown shows you how to cover the best of the island – from empty beaches, to traditional Maltese snacks. The best bit? It won’t break the bank. Thanks, Nan.

Day one – see the capital Valletta is the island’s capital city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the concentration of historic monuments. The city, which according to its founder was ‘built by gentlemen, for gentlemen’, is a grid of elegant 16th-century streets, steep steps and baroque architecture that’ll rival the prettiest European towns. In terms of

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MALTA – THAT COMPACT ISLAND OFF SICILY – HAS STARTED TO GET COOL sites, the plain-on-the-outside, ornate-onthe-inside St John’s Co-Cathedral is the most majestic church on the island, the type you’d wander around stroking the walls, because it’s that sumptuous (even my partner, the most reluctant church-goer, admitted he was impressed). For something more modern, architect Renzo Piano’s redesign of many city buildings has seen the first new additions to Valletta for hundreds of years; it includes a towering, modern city gate, a reworked parliament building and an open-air theatre in the ruins of the Second World Warbombed Royal Opera House (the island holds the record for the heaviest, sustained bombing attack during the war). The work has been controversially received, but for me at least, it’s well worth strolling by, not least to see the refreshing blend of old and new in a city that’s so steeped in history – so much so that UNESCO has described it as ‘one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world’. Like I said – cool.

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Comino Island’s Blue Lagoon: does what it says on the tin; Malta is full of pretty harbours, like this one in Vittoriosa; Lost & Found festival has attratced a new kind of holidaymaker; port city Valletta

Ftira is essentially Then, of course, bread with a hole there’s food. Try a in it, and a staple coffee from Cafe of Maltese cuisine. Make sure you Prego, a timewarp also try timpana, café with the same a macaroni and tiles from the 1960s bolognese bake encased in pastry. and – judging by the speed I received my drink – the same waiters, too. For an island classic, ftira is a Maltese take on pizza (in the sense that it’s dough with more food on top) – although it irks the locals if you start calling it pizza. Served without cheese and tomato, typical toppings include a salt-fest of fennel, capers and anchovies – the best we had was at Nenu the Artisan Baker, a backstreet bakery that’s convenient for sightseeing-induced hunger pangs. You’ll want a drink, or two, obviously. Back in the 19th century, Strait Street was the hangout of American and British sailors calling in the port of Valletta. The street, which at the time was named ‘The Gut’, featured a handy collection of brothels, bars and restaurants. Now the far-from-gritty


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Photographs by (Comino and Vittoriosa) Christian Kober/ John Warburton-Lee; (Lost & Found) Luke Dyson; (Valletta) Frank Bach/Alamy

area is seeing a new wave of sophisticated wine bars and al fresco restaurants (for drinks, try Trabuxu, set in a 350-year-old wine cellar). For late-night eating, Badass Burgers serves beers alongside the best patties on the island, and the biggest I’ve seen, well, ever. Try one before or after a few vodka and Kinnies – Kinnie is the local, neon-orange fizzy drink, with a sweet and bitter Tango-meets-Aperol flavour.

Day two – tour the island The good thing about Malta is that its small size means you can drive across to the other side of the island in no more than an hour, while car hire is crazy cheap (I’m talking around £10 a day). If you plan well, that means you can take in the best of the island’s villages and sights, while leaving the remainder of your trip to lap up the beaches. Start with a morning in Marsaxlokk, which every Sunday hosts Malta’s biggest fish market. At other times of the day you can find candy-hued fishing boats bobbing around the harbour, or watch the fishermen

WATCH CANDYCOLOURED FISHING BOATS BOBBING, AND FISHERMEN HAULING IN THEIR CATCH

hauling in their morning’s catch from the comfort of a harbourside cafe. For a mid-morning snack, make your way to the city of Rabat, and visit Crystal Palace, a bakery with a line down the street where locals leave with greasy paper bags full of cheese and pastry puffs – another Maltese delicacy known as pastizz. Fill up on cheesy pies before a walk through the adjoining hilltop city of Mdina, an elegant, golden-walled citadel with pricey mansions and narrow streets, whose history traces back 4,000 years. It’s one of Europe’s best, if somewhat overlooked, ancient walled cities, which balances an extraordinary mix of medieval and baroque architecture with mega views over the countryside. Hopping in the car again, St Julian’s, on the north coast of the island, is a good place for an evening hang, and here you can try some of the heartiest food on the island (with mammoth portions). It’s not for everyone, but cooking with rabbit is a big deal in Malta, and one of the best local food experiences is at Gululu, a harbourside

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skirting along clifftops (stopping at the limestone arch of the Azure Window) and admiring a skyline dominated by 46 grand churches that tower over sleepy villages. The neo-romantic Ta’Pinu basilica, which juts out from acres of green fields and is visible from several points on the island, is without question Prioritise a trip to one of the most Ta’Pinu basilica: not spectacular church only is it structurally impressive, the story façades I’ve seen. behind it is interestRound off your ing too, and records day with a beachside suggest it’s stood in meal in one of the its position since at least 1575. tranquil coves dotting the island – in Mgarr ix-Xini, the restaurants serve well-priced fresh octopus salad and rabbit ravioli.

Day four – flop on the beaches

ABOVE: Malta is home to several truly impressive churches, such as this one – St Joseph Church in Kalkara Creek

restaurant with Gozo pizza (different to Maltese ‘pizza’, it’s more doughy and has a hole in the centre). Try it, but make sure you leave room for the dish of the trip, al dente spaghetti tossed with generous chunks of seared rabbit and a garlicinfused, gravy-like sauce – a simple way to try the island’s most popular meat.

Day three – get active on Gozo

Photograph by Christian Kober/John Warburton-Lee

Eating your way around the cities is grand and all, but flying to Malta and not taking the short ferry ride over to Gozo would be mistake. The little sister island moves at a more leisurely pace and seems to step back in time, largely thanks to the heavy farming focus. Ideal, then, that the best way to see it is on a chilled bike ride; we toured the island on two wheels in the capable hands of Walter, the guide from Gozo Adventures, who tells us how he’s seen the island’s visitors shift from ageing package holiday guests (my nan) to a younger, cooler crowd (us) looking for a mix of culture, activity, and beach which, crucially, won’t make your bank balance weep. His half-day route bike tour has you climbing hills in lush, green countryside,

COMINO’S BLUE LAGOON HAS VODKACLEAR WATER WITH A DAZZLING TURQUIOSE HUE. NO FILTER NECESSARY

Malta’s beaches don’t get the attention they deserve – visit in June or September and you’ll have empty stretches of coastline all to yourself. If you really want to work for it, Formm i-Rin is one of the most remote, and located on the northwestern Maltese coast. Our visit included a 20-minute schlep down a heather-heavy path, but the reward is peace and quiet and clear, gentle waves. The tiny island of Comino – population, one – is a must for the too-good-to-betrue beaches. Speedboats ferry locals and tourists over, whizzing into a cove of highlighter-blue water. Walk across the island (ten minutes max) and you’ll arrive at the Blue Lagoon – vodka-clear sea that takes on a dazzling turquoise hue in all your pictures (no filter necessary). You could easily spend the day lapping up the sunshine here, but you’d be missing the main island of Malta’s own impressive offerings – including Golden Bay, a wide stretch of butterscotchcoloured sand with a few casual beach bars serving chilled Cisk, Malta’s local brew. e

GETTING THERE Air Malta offers flights from £75 one way, airmalta.com; Palazzo Prince D’Orange is a 17th-century boutique hotel in Valletta with nightly rates from £80 per room, palazzoprincemalta. com; use Airbnb for the rest of the island, airbnb.com; head to visitmalta.com for information.

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FIRST   T IME LUCKY Photograph Photograph by Peteby Webb ###

Ski virgin Gavin Newsham thought he’d left it too late to take to the slopes, let alone to drag the whole family with him. So he did exactly what you’d hope – booked them all on the first plane to France’s Arc 1950 for a week on the piste 71


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t’s the Sunday morning before Christmas and I’m face down in a foot or more of snow. My limbs are splayed like the Manx flag and my goggles have been twisted and turned so that one lens now covers my ear and the other my mouth. A couple of yards away stand a group of French kids in a ski lesson. They are five years old, maybe six. One boy keeps staring as I try – and fail – to stand up again. He says nothing. But his face says everything. It’s not really how I envisaged skiing – especially on a nursery slope. Somehow I’ve got to my mid-forties without ever having had skis attached to my feet. Truth is there wasn’t really a big ski scene when I was growing up in Rochdale in the 1970s and ‘80s. Yes, I’d watch Ski Sunday with David Vine, slopeside in exotic, far-off locations like Kitzbuehel, or the dreaded Hannekahm, but it wasn’t real life. At least not in Lancashire it wasn’t. Fast forward several decades and me and my wife Ann, and my three children Betsy (13), Frank (12) and Cissy (9), are about to take our first sojourn to the slopes. It’s been something on our ‘to do’ list for a while, not least because everyone we know loves skiing and has been telling us, ad nauseam, that we simply ‘must’ go. So we’re heading to Arc 1950, a prettyas-a-picture resort in Les Arcs in the French Alps and part of the vast Paradiski, the world’s second-largest skiing area. Before we leave, though, we have a lesson at the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead. It’s a

ONE BOY STARES AS I TRY, AND FAIL, TO STAND. HE SAYS NOTHING BUT HIS FACE SAYS IT ALL 72

ABOVE: Les Arcs in the French Alps is part of Paradiski, the world’s second-largest skiing area. Its picturesque scenery and varied landscape is perfect for first-time skiers

great way of getting ahead of the game and maximising your time on the slopes when you finally arrive at your destination. For beginners like us, it’s also the perfect way to learn the ropes and not only get used to having these absurdly heavy ski boots on our feet for the first time, but also to get some idea of how alien being on the snow on skis really is. And boy is it alien. After our transfer from Geneva, it’s late when we finally get to Arc 1950 so we see little or nothing as we arrive. It’s only when you throw open the curtains the following morning to see snow-covered peaks at every turn (and Mont Blanc towering in the distance) that the excitement really kicks in. As for the kids, well it’s like I’ve fed them Red Bull and Haribo for breakfast. Once we’ve picked up our skis, poles and boots, we meet our instructor for our stay, the delightful Morane Theillet. She’s been skiing since she was three and also does speed skiing for kicks. Recently, she tells us, she reached 178 km/h (110 mph) but looks a little dejected when she adds that she’s still some way off the world record of 254 km/h (157 mph). I assume we won’t be hitting those speeds during our time here.

We venture a little way up the mountain to Arc 2000 and Morane lets us loose on the nursery slopes. It’s here where you start to realise just what’s in store. Everywhere you look there are skiers and snowboarders, weaving this way and that, often at frightening speeds. How there aren’t more accidents is baffling – especially with clueless clowns like me in the midst of it all. So we head further up the hill to quieter climes. Before we Arc 1950 is a good left, a friend – and base for families, experienced skier – with ski-in/ski-out accommodation and told me to make sure plenty of activites on I filmed the first time offer. Try snowshoemy family got off a ing to access parts of chair lift in their skis. the mountain away from the slopes. It was, he reckoned, a guaranteed £250 from You’ve Been Framed. He was right. That very first time we dismount it ends up looking like the Omaha Beach scene from Saving Private Ryan as bodies pile up one on top of another, our prostrate forms catching the next two or three cars as they follow in behind us. Oh the humanity. But it’s a rite of passage on the slopes, no matter how undignified. Besides, we have


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SKIWEAR BASICS JACKET & TROUSERS Not only do these have to keep you warm and dry, but you’ll be working hard so they need to be breathable, too. A pocket in the lower jacket sleeve will save you digging your ski pass out when you get on a lift, and a snow-skirt keeps the snow out when you fall over. Which you will – trust us.

BASE LAYERS It can turn cold fast on the mountain, so start with a good, breathable thermal next to your skin. Merino wool is light, breathes well and stays (pretty) fresh even after days of use.

HELMET & GOGGLES A must for beginners. Yes, you’ll see countless people not wearing them, but accidents happen to even the most experienced skiers. Good anti-glare, anti-fog goggles will make sure you can always see where you’re going – which helps. Photograph (main) by Andy Parant

GLOVES You’ll want them warm, of course, but waterproof, too – you’ll be begging to get off the slopes once your hands get really cold. Aldi offers great value skiwear for those just starting out or looking to keep costs down. aldi.co.uk

to learn the basics, especially the adults, and for beginners like us, it’s all about the ‘snow plough’. This is the strange, inverted ‘V’ shape you make with your skis that helps you control your descent and the position that no other skier on these slopes, other than us and extremely small children, seems to bother with. Put simply, you push your ankles out and your ski tips together. The wider the stance, the quicker you’ll stop. Just make sure you don’t cross your skis (see opening paragraph). We persevere and it transpires that Morane has the patience of a saint, not to mention the strength of an ox. Every time I tumble she not only skis back up the hill – and you’ve no idea how hard that is – to help, but she then pulls me (and my dodgy knee) back to my feet. Occasionally I’ll pick up speed, and as the control disappears, find myself hurtling down the slopes, wondering just how it’s all going to end. Mercifully, none of us hurt anything other than our pride. Well, I say none of us but the kids are naturals. It’s a fear thing. At their age they don’t look at the steep slope ahead of them and think about whether they have adequate travel insurance. All they see is fun. So off they go, meandering their carefree way all the way down the hill and then waiting for an eternity at the bottom for me and Ann to trip, slip and slide our way down, sometimes on our skis, but mostly on our backsides. Later, Morane introduces a little slalom into proceedings. Not the kind you see in the Winter Olympics, where people reach improbable speeds and/or are airlifted off the mountainside, but just a few strategically placed ski poles on the slope that we all have to navigate in turn. The kids whizz round them as though they were born to do it. I feel like I’m wearing a deep-sea diver’s outfit. But even when you feel like you’re getting the hang of it, you’re only ever a few metres away from a daredevil boy racer who takes great delight in putting the wind up you by whizzing dangerously close by. It’s like the beach bully kicking sand in your face, but colder. After our third lesson, we take an hour off and decide to take the cable car up to the top of Aiguille Rouge, all 3,226 majestic metres of it, just to see what a black run really entails. We don’t take our skis. We leave that to the scores of experts that just hurl themselves off what appears to be a sheer drop at the top, one of whom is dressed in jeans and a bomber jacket. By the time we return to neighbouring Arc 2000,

maybe 15 minutes later, he’s sitting in the café and drinking a mulled wine. For all the inevitable wipe-outs – and there are many – there are memories that will stay with us forever. It’s a bit like playing golf I guess. You may be extraordinarily average at the game, like me, but there are always those one or two shots during a round where everything just seems to click into place – and that’s what keeps you coming back for more. And so what if we never get near a red run, yet alone a black one, when there are occasions when you If it’s your first find yourself drifting time, learn the piste down the mountain classifications. on the gentlest of Generally, it’s green for beginners, blue blue runs, without for intermediate, a care in the world, red’s a bit harder, and where the sense and we won’t go into black... of complete, utter freedom is genuinely difficult to beat. With the benefit of hindsight (and checking the wipe-out countback) I can safely say I was the worst skier in our family and that’s using the loosest possible definition of the word too. Not so much Franz Klammer as Frank Spencer. But I get skiing now, I really do. It’s all about the challenge. You versus the mountain. But it’s about fun and freedom too – and the views are pretty cool. The big question, of course, is will I go skiing again? And the answer is an unequivocal yes. You never know, I might just find my dignity. e Erna Low offer seven nights in P&V Residence Le Village Arc 1950 from £324pp including flights and shared transfers (ernalow.co.uk; 020 7584 2841). For resort information visit arc1950.com and book transfers via taxi-arcs.com. Beginner family private lessons from £189 (two adults/two children) at the Snow Centre. thesnowcentre.com

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IT’S NEVER BEEN EASIER TO REACH MOROCCO FROM THE UK With direct flights from eight airports to destinations including Marrakech, Agadir, Rabat and Casablanca, you can experience the colours and flavours of Morocco in around three hours. And now EasyJet fly direct from Luton to Essaouira, British holidaymakers can discover even more Morocco.

visitmorocco.com

/muchmorocco


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A G U I D E TO MOROCCO I N A S S O C I AT I O N WITH

LEFT: For a dune with a view, look no further than Morocco’s Sahara desert. Whether you’re into food, adventure, culture, or just lounging on a quiet beach, there’s a place in Morocco just for you.

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All Time High If you’re looking for epic landscapes, fast-paced adventures, history-packed cities and delicious food, Morocco is a destination that will tick all your boxes

ABOVE: The Atlas Mountains separate the Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines from the Sahara desert. Towns scatter the base and the slopes of the mountains, which make for incredible hiking territory

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hatever your holiday style, Morocco has got it covered. From heart-racing adventures in the desert or mountains, to days of shopping, eating and strolling through cities rich in history, or just lazing on golden sand under the warm sunshine, this is a country that is sure to exceed all of your holiday expectations.

The adventurer

If action’s at the forefront of your holiday wishlist, in Morocco you’ll be spoilt for choice. The Atlas Mountain region not only offers jaw-dropping scenery but top-notch hiking, too – whether it’s conquering Toubkal mountain, the second-highest in Africa, or taking a more leisurely trek through the lush flora and fauna of the tranquil Ifrane National Park. In the middle of the Atlas Mountains you’ll find the river Ahansal, a white-water

THE ATLAS MOUNTAIN REGION OF MOROCCO OFFERS JAWDROPPING SCENERY AND GREAT HIKING

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rafting and kayaking hotspot, ideal for thrillseekers but also those looking for a slower pace. Southern Morocco makes a great winter cycling destination – with hairpin bends for road cycling and exhilarating off-road biking that will see you tearing down mountain slopes. No trip to Morocco would be complete without experiencing the incredible Sahara desert – which plays host to dune boarding and fast-paced buggying, camel trekking and even music festivals. If you’re really looking to escape the city, consider a week-long camel trekking and camping trip. You’ll be sleeping in cosy Berber-style tents and eating delicious home-cooked cuisine around a campfire, before spending an evening gazing at a sky lit up by millions of stars. By day you’ll be travelling on a camel, traversing towering dunes and seeing the undiscovered parts of the Sahara desert.

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What’s on MARRAKECH BIENNALE

From February to May you’ll have the chance to experience the Marrakech Biennale, a platform for contemporary arts from across the globe. RALLYE AICHA DES GAZELLES

From 18 March - 2 April you could take part in the world’s only desertbased women-only 4x4 rally event. MARATHON DES SABLES

The arduous Sand Marathon sees runners cover 150 miles of the scorching Saharan desert of Ouarzazate over 11 days in April. MARRAKECH GRAND PRIX WTCC-

Travel in April and you could experience the world-famous FIA World Touring Car Championships. OASIS MUSIC FESTIVAL

Taking place this September in Marrakech, this music festival encourages travellers to ‘dance somewhere different’. CASABLANCA INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR

Every December local and international artists gather to exhibit their artwork – including photography, sculptures and paintings. MARRAKECH FILM FESTIVAL

For an international film festival that attracts the crowds as well as the stars, film buffs should head to Morocco in December for the world-famous event that rivals Cannes. For information about these events and more visit muchmorocco.com/events

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BOASTING A WARM CLIMATE ALL YEAR ROUND, MOROCCO’S BEACHES ARE ONE OF ITS BIGGEST DRAWS

The historian

Budding historians will revel in the ancient history of Meknes, a quieter and smaller town than its grand neighbour, Fez. The city is packed with ancient sights, including the Bab el-Mansour – a lavish, well-preserved structure that’s the grandest of all imperial Moroccan gateways. Elsewhere you’ll find the Dar Jamaï Museum, one of the country’s most celebrated museums, thanks to its exhibits ranging from jewellery to antique carpets – the extensive collection represents the various beautiful styles from different regions of this diverse country. For something entirely different, you could stroll 2km from Meknes to Heri es-Souani – acres and acres of granaries and stables that boast UNESCO World Heritage status. It’s

Photograph by Gardel Bertrand / hemis.fr/ Getty; Tim E White/Getty; muchmorocco.com

The city lover

Fez is a warren of tiny alleys and bazaars, and a city that will reward you the more you explore. Founded in the ninth century, it’s home to the oldest university in the country and the opulent 17th-century Royal Palace. Here you’ll discover outstanding architecture, ranging from quaint riads decorated with tiny colourful tiles, to mesmerising structures such as the Kairaouine mosque, the second-largest in Morocco. After a day experiencing the clamour of the medina, stroll through the peaceful Jnan Sbil Gardens – 18.5 acres of flowerbeds, palms and citrus trees. Wandering the streets of Fez you’ll soon realise why the city is considered the spiritual heart of Morocco, a place where history, delicious cuisine, architecture and culture collide.

CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Morocco boasts a range of beach scenes – Agadir, pictured here, offers calm water and golden sand; surfers head to the beaches of Essaouira and Taghazout for some of the world’s best surfing and kite-surfing; expect wildlife aplenty in Morocco, with goats, camels and more


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TRAVEL INFO PLANNING YOUR TRIP

regarded as one of the finest architectural projects of Moulay Ismail, a former Moroccan ruler who designed the stables and underground water channels for 12,000 royal horses. Plan ahead and you may have the chance to enjoy some spectacular on-site live music.

The beach bum

With a warm climate all year round, Morocco’s beaches are one of its biggest draws. In the Al Hoceima National Park you can snorkel with 86 varieties of fish – many of which you won’t find anywhere else in the Med – while remote and scenic stretches of sand are offered in abundance, too. Elsewhere on the Mediterranean coast, Tangier offers city-style beaches, and Saidia is renowned as the ‘blue

pearl’ of the region thanks to the turquoise sea. In Essaouira, a laid-back town complete with fortified city walls and quaint fishing harbour, you’ll also find a long stretch of sand, and its location on the Atlantic coast makes it prime kite-surfing and surfing territory, while the hippy fishing village of Taghazout in the southwest of the country boasts an equally epic surf scene. For lazing in the sunshine, try stretching out on the calm beach of Agadir, where the town’s kasbah also offers incredible sea views.

The culture vulture

Rabat, Morocco’s capital, is now more accessible than ever thanks to increased direct flights with Royal Air Maroc from London Gatwick. Here you’ll discover a cosmopolitan city that will

Planning your Moroccan adventure has never been more simple. British nationals do not need a visa to enter the country, and can travel as tourists for up to three months, meaning you can spend a weekend or weeks discovering the country. Not only can you fly to Morocco in just three hours, it’s hugely accessible, too. Numerous airlines fly into several city airports – Marrakech is a great launch-pad for discovering the rest of the country, but new flights have also been launched to laid-back Essaouira and the cultural city of Rabat. Flights range in price – if you’re travelling on a budget, why not opt for Ryanair, which flies to Marrakech from London for as little as £20 one-way. The national airline, Royal Air Maroc, has extended its network to offer more services to the city of Rabat, while British Airways also flies to Marrakech and Tangier, a cosmopolitan port city. EasyJet has also increased its routes to include Essaouira, Agadir and Marrakech. Morocco is just eight miles off the coast of Spain, so it’s easy to make the journey by ferry if you prefer.

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What’s new NEW HOTELS AND TOURS

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CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Morocco’s deserts offer all kinds of activities, including camel trekking, camping, dune-boarding and even music festivals; the city of Fez boasts striking architecture and a cosmopolitan city vibe; Marrakech’s Djemaa el-Fna is a huge square packed with food stalls and entertainers; the pretty village of Chefchaouen; the remote setting of Kasbah du Toubkal

charm visitors at every turn – whether it’s the stunning colonial architecture, palm-lined boulevards or peaceful, authentic medina, which is less busy than its city counterparts – perfect for discovering hidden corners at your own pace. Be sure to take a stroll around Chellah, a medieval fortified necropolis that’s now overgrown with fruit trees and flowers, perfect for a peaceful stroll. The city prides itself on its tranquility and relaxed pace – nightlife seekers should head to the streetside cafes of Casablanca, the economic and cultural capital. Towards the north of the country, close to the cosmopolitan port city of Tangier, you’ll find one of Morocco’s prettiest towns, Chefchaouen. Perched within the Rif mountains, this icompact village that achieves the perfect balance of

authenticity and ease. The medina here is also one of the most picture-worthy in Morocco, where narrow lanes combine with blue-washed buildings and terracotta red roof tiles – soak up the atmosphere in one of the many quaint outdoor cafes lining the streets.

The foodie

Marrakech is a pulsing city in Morocco’s west, and the perfect short-break destination for those seeking culture, shopping and local cuisine. The famous Djemaa el-Fna is a huge square in the city’s medina quarter, where food stalls line the perimeter (grab a seat and tuck into pastries before heading over to the stalls stacked with fresh oranges). Alternatively, the medina’s narrow cobbled alleyways are lined with quaint

Photograph by Oscar Won/Getty; Izzet Keribar/Getty

For a luxurious long weekend, the newly opened Mandarin Oriental Marrakech is a peaceful hotel set in 20 hectares of tranquil gardens. The hotel’s restaurant offers a finedining twist on Moroccan cuisine, while the spa is a calm retreat (mandarinoriental.com). Elsewhere in the city you’ll find the arty and cool Riad Farnatchi, where a new restaurant is set to open this month, if you can tear yourself from the sumptuous suites and rooftop-with-aview that is (riadfarnatchi.com). If beaches are on your Moroccan holiday wishlist, treat yourself to the Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay, a luxurious new hotel opening on the Mediterranean this spring, making the most of the country’s warm-yearround climate (banyantree.com). For a dramatic high-altitude setting, Kasbah du Toubkal is a secluded mountain hotel surrounded by hiking trails – new routes are always being discovered (kasbahdutoubkal.com). For those keen to sample the thrills of the Sahara desert, consider Fixers Travel, a new tour company offering desert-based breaks including music festivals and off-road driving adventures (fixers.travel). If you’re just keen to chill out and eat well, try a newly launched food-infused yoga break from Tonic Retreats. The company offers fourday yoga holidays that combine rooftop yoga and meditation, healthy, delicious Mediterranean cuisine and accommodation in one of Marrakech’s beautiful riads. (tonic-retreats.com).


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TRAVEL INFO TRAVELLING IN MOROCCO

Travelling by camel in Morocco is a fun way to experience the country’s culture and traditions, but public transport is a great option, too. Moving between destinations in the country is hassle-free. The bus network is extensive and easy to navigate – you’re able to turn up on the day to purchase tickets, or book ahead if you have your itinerary planned out. Train travel is an exciting, fun way to see the country – sit back and take in the dramatic landscapes that have been the backdrops of world-famous films including James Bond’s Spectre. To get further off the beaten track you may prefer to fly-drive – just pick up a car from one of the numerous rental companies with outlets at the airport. Or why not arrange for a local driver to show you the sights?

MARRAKECH IS A PULSING CITY PERFECT FOR SHOPPING, CULTURE-PACKED ALLEYS AND EXCEPTIONAL LOCAL CUISINE

restaurants serving traditional dishes and drinks, from flavour-packed tagines to fresh mint tea). If you love shopping, this is where to get your fix – the medina is crammed with stalls selling everything from leather bags to jewellery. Take a walk before relaxing in one of the city’s hammams – beautiful, tile-lined spas where you’ll be soaped and scrubbed into a state of zen. For those looking to travel on, why not sample the sights and sounds of Fez, where beautiful architecture is complimented by equally astounding food? The choices are endless but one thing’s for certain: a trip to Morocco will always be an incredible adventure. ◆

Travel advice It’s never been easier to visit Morocco – the country’s incredible culture, chilled-out beaches and buzzing, history-rich cities can be reached in just three hours from London airports, while travel within the country is very easy, too. For inspiration, suggested itineraries and logistical transport advice, head to muchmorocco.com or simply visit the Facebook page at facebook.com/MuchMorocco

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Island Bliss A blissful setting, packed schedule of watersports and top-flight restaurants make the Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa the ideal place to unwind. Book now with British Airways

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auritius needs little introduction. You’ll know the paradise island from its floury sands, clear turquoise seas and blissed-out vibe. Spending a week here is like relaxing into the arms of an old friend. With so many resorts studding its gorgeous coastline, how do you choose? Start here: the newly renovated five-star Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa. This luxurious resort is close to the whimsical-sounding Flic en Flac, in the southwest of Mauritius, known for its stellar stretches of sand and sweeping filao trees. It makes the setting of the resort a perfect one – and with a lagoon-style swimming pool and a beachfront location, the Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa is the best place to enjoy the scenic surroundings. Here’s what your agenda here looks like: check into chic, whitewashed rooms and suites with a Mauritian design twist before exploring the resort’s landscaped gardens. Then, enjoy complimentary watersports in

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the warm Indian Ocean such as daily dolphin trips (keep your eye out for bottlenose and spinner dolphins), stand-up paddleboarding and waterskiing, before visiting the decadent spa, which features a private couples’ cabin for a chance to reconnect with your significant other. Finish your day at one of the hotel’s three restaurants. Whether it’s the beautiful Les Coquillages at the edge of the beach (come to watch the pink and purple hues of the sunset), or authentic Thai cuisine at Ginger Thai, you’re guaranteed a taste of true Mauritian hospitality. Or maybe you’ve got a sunset cruise in your sights? Just get your camera ready for those beautiful sunset selfies… ◆

WITH A LAGOON-STYLE POOL AND A BEACHFRONT LOCATION, THE HILTON MAURITIUS RESORT & SPA HAS A PERFECT SETTING


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CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Relax by the infinity pool; a Grand Deluxe room; dining at night is an atmospheric experience; a pool to match the tropical surroundings; the Aquabar, just steps from the water

How To Book Seven-night holidays on a half-board basis start from just ÂŁ1,269pp. To book, and for more information, visit ba.com/hiltonmauritius

THE DEAL

DETAILS: Terms and conditions apply. Prices based on selected travel from 1 and 30 June and include return British Airways World Traveller flights from London Gatwick. Book by 29 February.

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CHECKLIST

CHECKLIST 86 GEAR 88 GUYS 92 GIRLS 98  REAR VIEW

PhotographPhotograph by David Harrison by ###

READY, SET, GLOW: Lumo’s Herne Hill harrington is a no-compromise jacket for urban cyclists and travellers, with smart city looks and a host of bike-friendly features, including built-in LED lights. £250; lumo.cc

The 14 LEDs are USB-rechargeable and operated with a hidden switch. A fleece-lined collar, elongated sleeves and vents on the back are all designed with cycling in mind.

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BRIGHTER DAYS Pittards started supplying leather in Somerset 190 years ago, which is plenty of time to have got pretty handy with it. If you like orange, you’ll love this leather, ventile and brass pack. And if you don’t? It’s also available in blue.

1. PITTARDS, Canvas orange backpack, £145. With waterproof Ventile canvas, Pittards’ pre-aged Krypton leather and brass fittings. The whole thing’s made in England, naturally. pittards.com

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GET IN THE GAME Planning an active break? Or just want to look like an off-duty athlete? This mid-season gear blends performance with practicality – and it’ll make you look good, too. Which helps.

3 1. FACTION, Galileo, £164.99. An asymmetrical zip prevents chin-chafe, while 700-fill goose down is light, packable and warm. factionskis.com 2. NIKE, Tech Fleece hoodie, £125. Ideal for inbetweeny Spring weather – and maxium stealth in the urban jungle. jdsports.co.uk

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3. HOY VULPINE, Randa softshell jacket, £114.99. Show wind and rain who’s boss, and look like a boss in the process. evanscycles.com 4. TRIBESPORTS, Half-zip midlayer, £52. Neatly designed technical mid-layer for active escapes and chilly runs. tribesports.com

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5. CHAPMAN, Billingsgate, £425. Your next weekend break – or overladen trip to the gym – sorted, in serious style. chapmanbags.com


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6. ON RUNNING, Cloud, £110. The perfect holiday trainer – looks good in the city, shines on those probably-didn’t-needa-second-burger, guilt-fuelled runs. on-running.com 7. NIKE, Tech Fleece camo joggers, £70. Why go to the trouble of camouflaging your top half, only to leave your bottom half vulnerable? Exactly. jdsports.co.uk 8. BJORN BORG, Pristen tights, £70. Once you’ve given in to man-tights, your life will

never be the same again. In a good way, obviously. bjornborg.com

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9. WITHINGS, Activité Pop, £119.95. Sleek activity tracker, disguised as a traditional analogue watch – if only everything this clever looked this good. withings.com

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10. MONSTER, iSport SuperSlim, £109.95. These will stay in your ears whatever you throw at them. Wireless tech means great sound with none of the tangles. johnlewis.com

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The sole of the Cloud, from innovative Swiss brand On, uses individual ‘cloud’ elements to respond to your individual gait. It’s light, comfortable and seriously fast.

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Cardiff Castle

St Fagans Castle

Llandaff Ghost Walk

GHOSTS! DISCOVER CARDIFF'S SURPRISING ANCIENT HAUNTED HISTORY! Atmospheric, authentic, acclaimed ghost walks through its castles, graveyards and wooded lanes. Places limited. Advanced booking only. For information, times, prices and bookings please contact: “Cardiff History and Hauntings” www.cardiffhistory.co.uk | 07538 878 609 Age restrictions apply. As seen on BBC, ITV, CH5, NHK (Tokyo)

Watamu, Kenya

A private luxury beach villa which combines natural beauty, priceless seclusion and unparalleled luxury into a getaway destination.

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❖ To advertise in this section please call 020 7819 9999 18/12/2015 12:03


CHECKLIST

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SHADY BUSINESS Here’s some free advice: if you’re going on an active holiday, you’ll need to see where you’re going. These shades will protect your eyes, make you look good and stay firmly on your noggin. Win, win, and indeed win.

1. DRAGON, Mountaineer X, £174.95. Clever glasses that combine classic Wayfarer form with serious mountain function, from leather sun shields to interchangeable arms and a built-in lanyard. thesnowboardshop.co.uk 2. MAUI JIM, Mavericks, £235. Polarised lenses and an ultra-light and strong titanium frame. If you’re in the market for a pair of aviators, these are as good as it gets. uk.mauijim.com

3. SUNPOCKET, Sport Crystal yellow, £53. Based on Sunpocket’s original 1970s design, these tough folders are as bright as the sun they’ll be shielding your eyes from. sunpocketoriginal.com Photograph by David Harrison

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MAKE A MOVE Very important and serious studies have found that being motivated to exercise starts with the gear. OK, maybe that’s not strictly true, but we’ll take any excuse we can get…

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1. NIKE, Miller tank, £25. Made with a Dri-FIT fabric to keep you sweat-free during workouts. jdsports.co.uk

With high-quality down fill and windproof Pertex® outer, the Odlo Cocoon will make sure cold winter weather won’t get in the way of your exercise regime.

2. ADIDAS, Sports Essentials Linear tights, £30. These formflattering tights are exclusive to JD Sports. jdsports.co.uk 3. ODLO, Cocoon X down jacket, £216. Keep toasty with a down-filled, brightly coloured puffer. odlo.com

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4. SAUCONY, Exo jacket, £95. This ultra-lightweight running jacket is fully waterproof. Rain? What rain? saucony.co.uk 5. JIM BAG, Barrel bag, £39.99. 100% cotton canvas bag – for gym gear and short breaks. jimbag.co.uk

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6. ESSENTIALS FOR ZULA, Cotton bralette, £18.30. Made with stretchy cotton for max comfort. silkfred.com


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7. LIQUORISH, print blanket wrap scarf, £24. A blanket described as a scarf, or vice versa if you prefer. silkfred.com 8. HAPPY PLUGS, UNIK in-ear headphones, £34.99. Combining camo style with function. happyplugs.com 9. ROXY, Chillen bra, £25. The clue’s in the name, sort of. Don’t push it too hard, this bra’s for chillin’. roxy-uk.co.uk

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10. SAUCONY, Triumph Iso 2, £135. Featuring EVERUN – the latest in cushioning construction and material innovation. Comfiest run EVER! saucony.com

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Stay comfortably warm in this Saucony running jacket. The taped seams keep you extra dry and the low hem ensures your tail feather’s mud-splatter free.

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CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: The beach at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa; just one of the swimming pools at Sandals Grande St Lucian; the private island hideaway of Sandals Royal Bahamian

Seeing Double Island hopping with Sandals lets you enjoy the very best of the Caribbean’s sun-kissed shores in one dream getaway. It’s time to try a beach holiday with a difference

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when you could see several? With Sandals’ new island-hopping programme, you’ll have the chance to experience a range of different cultures and settings across the islands, staying at elegant, beachside Sandals properties that scatter the pristine shores of Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas and more. That means you could spend one week with a view of the volcanic pitons of St Lucia, then the next lounging on the beautiful white sand beaches of Antigua – all without any hassle. Or how about trying the two newest Sandals properties – Sandals LaSource Grenada and Sandals Barbados? You’ll be able to soak up Grenada's natural splendor and spirit, while also making the most of the spectacular, dramatic landscape of Barbados. It’s time to create the holiday of your dreams, with Sandals. 0800 742 742; sandals.co.uk ◆ Photograph by Steve Sanacore

magine lazing on a sun-drenched beach, soaking up the warm Caribbean sunshine, drinking a delicious cocktail and swimming in calm, turquoise water. With Sandals, the World’s Leading All-Inclusive Resorts, as voted by the World Travel Awards, that’s all possible. A Sandals Luxury Included® holiday lets you combine friendly hospitality with the most luxurious resorts in the Caribbean. You’ll have the chance to experience sophisticated cafés and gourmet dining at up to 16 restaurants per resort, try tropical cocktails and premium brand drinks, and burn off energy with unlimited land sports (including golf and tennis), unlimited water sports (from standup paddleboarding to waterskiing) and even diving for certified divers – all at no extra cost. After making the most of the beautiful tropical setting, delicious range of dining and fun-packed activities, you can relax in the Caribbean’s most luxurious suites. Guests can enjoy a personal butler service, spacious, stylishly appointed bedrooms and private pools, ensuring the ultimate relaxation and romance is always close at hand. But why settle for one Caribbean island


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COMPETITION

SUITE DREAMS

Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority has teamed up with The Holiday Place and Attitude Hotels to offer one lucky winner a holiday for two to Mauritius

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one are the days when visitors to Mauritius rarely ventured more than a mile from their sun loungers. With luxury as standard, this tropical island may be small in size, but with a mix of natural, cultural and manmade attractions, there is so much more to see and do beyond the beach.

MAURITIUS COMES WITH LUXURY AS STANDARD

Many of the visitor attractions are found in the north, around lively Grand Baie, where excursions range from a solar-powered underwater walk to a tandem skydive. For a sense of Mauritius’ colonial past, along with a Creole lunch, head to the French mansions found island-wide. Eureka, for example, is a feat of engineering, with 109 doors and wrap-around balcony. A hike among soaring ebony trees in Black River Gorges National Park will take you to the sacred Grand Bassin lake, or you can travel off-road by quad bike through eco-parks Domaine De L’Etoile and Frédérica Nature Reserve. The green south is home to the curious seven coloured earths of Chamarel, one of the most visited sites on the island, with local rum tastings at Rhumerie de Chamarel nearby – a must for your Mauritian experience. Sound tempting? Check out how to win your own trip to this island paradise in the box on the right. ◆

HOW TO WIN Prize includes flights, three nights at Zilwa Attitude and four nights at The Ravenala Attitude for two, courtesy of the travel experts at The Holiday Place. To win, just answer one easy question. To enter, and for full T&Cs, head to escapismmagazine.com/ competition/mauritius.

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REAR VIEW

AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW Imagine being dropped into the snow-filled crater of a volcano (one which erupted as recently as 2011), then clambering out before downhill skiing in a race to the finish. That was exactly what competitors in the Red Bull Out Of Hell event, held on Chile’s Puyehue volcano, had to do last November. “Halfway through I realised I didn’t really know where I was heading,” says Cristián Anguita, who despite this still managed to win. “When you get lost in the mountains, you really get lost.” e

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Photograph by Jean Louis De Heeckeren / RedPhotograph Bull Content byPool ###

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Escapism - 27 - The USA Special  

Escapism Magazine - Issue 27 - The USA Special

Escapism - 27 - The USA Special  

Escapism Magazine - Issue 27 - The USA Special