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ISSUE.31

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

B H U TA N

PA R O TA K T S A N G I N T H E K I N G D O M O F B H U TA N B Y N A R V I K K . P 6 2


EDITOR’S WORD FOOD ON THE FAROE ISLANDS IS A REFLECTION OF THE HARSH ENVIRONMENT AND RESTLESSLY CREATIVE PEOPLE ED ITO RIA L

DES IG N

EDITOR

ART DIRECTOR

ASSOCIATE EDITOR

DEPUTY ART DIRECTOR

SUB EDITOR

SENIOR DESIGNER

CONTRIBUTORS

DESIGNER

Jon Hawkins

Matthew Hasteley

Hannah Summers

Lucy Phillips

Victoria Smith

Abigail Robinson

Graeme Green, David Harrison, Lucy McGuire, George Norris, Jake Taylor, Claire Vooght PRINTING BY alternativeprint.co.uk

I

’ve never been to to the Faroe Islands, and chances are neither have you. While I appreciate that’s not the most useful opening statement you’ll ever read in a magazine, there is a point here, I promise, and I’ll get to it shortly. A couple of weeks ago I went to a dinner that showcased food from the Faroes, which, in case its very existence is news to you, is a volcanic archipelago that sits in the sea between Scotland, Norway and Iceland. The food was extraordinary – in a good way, mostly – with flavours, textures and techniques that are basically alien to us. The Faroese dry and ferment meat and fish to preserve it, by hanging it in wooden sheds, open to the cold, salty air. They eat lots of potatoes, rhubarb and angelica (a herb), because that’s about all you can grow in the exposed, treeless landscape. So while I’ve never been to the Faroes (yet), a taste of the cuisine has given me a brief glimpse into what it’s like. Its food is a reflection of the harsh environment, the isolation and the restlessly creative people. That’s why there are few better ways to discover a country than by eating its food. If you fancy doing just that, check out the guide to our favourite foodie destinations on page 32, from shovelling down dulce de leche in Argentina to glugging biodynamic wine in Western Australia. Bon appetit – and bon voyage. e

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What’s happening in travel, including cheap flights to Sin City and weird competitions 08 . Photography 12 . Just Landed 16 . Means of Escape 19 . Instant Anorak 22 . UK City Focus 25 . Short Stay 27 . Mark Beaumont

EXPERIENCES We’ve found the hottest (yet coolest) trips on the planet 32 . Foodie Traveller Sightseeing is nice, but let’s face it, the fastest way to understand a new place is via its food. Tuck in to this 42 .  Northern Thailand Exploring the hillside tribal villages of Pang Mapha, Northern Thailand 48 .  Alternative Spain Looking for inspiration for your next European break? Try these for size 56 . Negril, Jamaica Taking it easy (and jumping off cliffs) on the Caribbean island 62 . Bhutan A country that measures its prosperity in gross national happiness? Yes please 68 . Boston, US New cheap flights to Boston make breweries and baseball more accessible

CHECKLIST Looking good takes work, so we’ve put in the effort for you. You’re welcome 86 . Girls 88 . Guys 90 . Gear

COVER PHOTOGRAPH

Editor Jon Hawkins won Regional Travel Feature of the Year and associate editor Hannah Summers won Young Travel Writer of the Year at the 2015 Travel Media Awards. Hannah was also shortlisted in the Best Print Writer category at the 2016 BSME Rising Stars Awards.

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© 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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D E PA R T U R E S 12  16  19  20  22  25  27 

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JUST LANDED MEANS OF ESCAPE INSTANT ANORAK HEAD TO HEAD CITY FOCUS: YORK SHORT STAY MARK BEAUMONT


D E PA R T U R E S

WHAT THE BUTLER SAW: Nominated for the 2016 World Surf League Barrel of the Year award, this shot was taken in Mullaghmore, Ireland in October 2015 by Ian Mitchinson. The man in the middle is Cornish surfer Tom Butler, who, having made it out of that monster barrel, is aiming to qualify for the World Surf League Big Wave Tour later this year. tbsurfing.com

Photograph by ###

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D E PA R T U R E S

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Photograph by Chris Garrison/Red Bull Content Pool

LIGHT FANTASTIC: What’s better than a wakeboarding competition in Orlando, Florida? How about a wakeboarding competition in Florida, at night, with flashing neon lights? Yep, that should do it. Here’s Orlando resident (and pro wakeboarder) Meagan Ethell ripping it up, towed in with a cable rather than behind a boat. redbull.com


Come over and play at my place!

Tamarit Beach – Costa Daurada


D E PA R T U R E S

JUST LANDED WHAT’S NEW IN TRAVEL If you’re looking for accommodation that’s guaranteed to make you say “wow” , Cool Stays Deluxe range will deliver, without compromising on traditional charm.

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For a close-to-home jaunt, try the newly refurbished Pheasant Inn, a pretty pub-with-rooms that sits on the edge of the picturesque Berkshire village of Shefford Woodlands. More than 450 years ago it sheltered people herding livestock between Wales and London, and nowadays it’s a nice place to gorge on stellar pub grub, sink some pints and then clamber up the stairs to catch some kip in one of the 11 cosy en-suite rooms. Nightly rates start from £90 for bed and breakfast. thepheasant-inn.co.uk

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Don’t just stand gawping at the wonder of Niagara – get involved, by taking a turn on the brand-new zipline. Better buy a waterproof case for your camera though...

Photographs by (Kaplankaya) Joan Guillamat; (Pheasant Inn) Helen Cathcart

FLYING HIGH

You could see Canada’s Niagara Falls by standing behind a barrier in an anorak. Or you could see it while hurtling along a thin wire while screaming your head off. As much as we love anoraks, we much prefer the latter. Lucky, then, that the new Niagara zipline has just opened, taking you on a 300-ft journey towards a wall of water. Because everyone needs a blurry selfie with a big tap running behind them. nfadventurepark.com

The Cool Stays website should come with a disclaimer: ‘Log on and lose an entire day lusting over really sexy holidays’. The latest collection, Cool Stays Deluxe, is an even more droolworthy range of properties around the world, like this one-bedroom restored farmhouse on the Greek island of Corfu. Expect Spanish fincas, French châteaux and Scottish eco hideaways. And with a website like that, you won’t get much work done, either. coolstays.com/deluxe


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D E PA R T U R E S

SUNSHINE SPA If you’re anything like us you’ll be longing for a week in the sun, complete with Aegean Sea views, a 10,000sqmetre spa, delicious Mediterranean nosh and a big old bed. Oh, wait, this is convenient: Canyon Ranch Kaplankaya is a new hotel opening in July close to Bodrum on the scenic Turkish Riviera. It has all these things, plus summer temps in the mid 30s. Laters, London. canyonranchdestinations.com

Las Vegas was given its name back in 1829 by a Mexican scout who stopped in this part of the Nevada desert for water, of all things. Now it’s just vodka, vodka, vodka.

VEGAS, BABY One of two things happen in Las Vegas: a) you win loads of money b) you lose loads of money. OK look, those aren’t the only things, but we reckon you should experience the rest for yourself. And now you can do that while also saving some dollar: Norwegian Air has launched new direct flights from London Gatwick to Sin City from £179 one way. The route starts on 31 October – just enough time to plan that casino heist. norwegian.com

CYCLE SURFARI Why safari when you can surfari? Ticket to Ride’s latest launch at its schools in Perranporth and Newquay is a combination of sand cycling (hard) and tailored surf coaching (eeeeasy). It’s the best and most time-efficient way to experience Cornwall’s beaches while also mastering the art of catching a wave. Or just falling in the sea, loads. The sessions last 2.5hrs and cost from £45pp, tickettoridegroup.com

SOCKET SCIENCE

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If a couple of hours’ surfing and cycling in England won’t cut it, check out Ticket To Ride’s other surf adventures in Spain, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Bali, South Africa and more.

Photograph by ###

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WEIRD WORLD If you can charm a worm, spit longdistance or attract bees, look no further WILLASTON, ENGLAND

MEANS OF ESCAPE

Grab your bike and head for the nearest hot-air balloon. Yes, you read right. Only in America... #30 BALLOON BIKE RACE

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bungee cord. Then they’re flown away for a specific time period and are deposited in a random field in the state. Cyclists then have to find their way back to the start line (they are allowed to use GPS, which sounds a little like cheating if you ask us), where they’re rewarded with candy floss, popcorn and multiple goes on the fairground rides. if you fancy joining in, it costs $200 to enter, and last year only 20 people took part. Yep, we’re pretty certain we’ll be winning this one. e

EAU CLAIRE, USA The last time we spat something at someone we had the police called on us. If you’re in the same (phlegmfilled) boat, head to Michigan for the International Cherry Pit Spitting competition. It’s self-explanatory stuff – spit your cherry stone as far as possible (the record’s currently 100ft) and win a not-so-epic prize. Apparently the secret to success is all in the tongue. Not the first time we’ve heard that.

SHAOYANG, CHINA A classic case of ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’. Or mental enough. China’s bee-attracting competition involves trying to draw as many bees to your body in 30 minutes as you can (presumably by flapping and swearing). You’re then weighed to see how many you’ve taken on. The record is 350,000 bees, or approximately 39.5kg; almost 40kg of glorious idiocy.

Photograph by (Eau Claire, USA) Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images

Hey you, in your colourful lycra. Think a 100 mile cycle around London is a fun two-wheel race? Or bouncing over cobbles in Flanders? Nah, you really ain’t seen nothing yet. The Balloon Bike Race is an annual event in Warren, New Jersey (that’s the USA), and takes cycling challenges to all-new heights. On 3 August, dozens of competitors will team up with balloon-flying enthusiasts, with their multithousand-dollar carbon road bikes attached to the outside of hot-air balloon baskets with a

Here’s a reason to visit Willaston (as if you needed another). For 36 years this Cheshire village has hosted the World Worm Charming Championships, a 30-minute event that has you luring as many worms as poss from the earth. How do you charm worms, then? Not by playing a fiddle, and not with sexy dancing either. You need to twang – going 15cm deep with your fork and vibrating it in the ground. Cool.


South Tyrol seeks explorers who like to discover new terrain. South Tyrol seeks you.

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Between Mediterranean landscapes and the impressive Dolomite Alps – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – lies Italy’s best-kept secret: South Tyrol. Explore this stunning mix of nature and culture, and revel in an experience beyond the usual. Bike and hike, and then wine and dine. Only in South Tyrol. www.suedtirol.info/summer


INSTANT ANORAK What do you get when you mix vodka, volcanic pools, icecold water and bonfires all together on a remote Icelandic island? The People’s Festival (or Þjóðhátíð) on Heimaey…

0 0 0 , ,0

00

10

1874

was the year the People’s Festival was founded on Heimaey island. 142 years later and still going strong, it’s Iceland’s oldest festival

29 SEE MORE AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM

The festival’s official start date in 2016

1973

was the last year that Eldfell (one of the island’s volcanoes) erupted. The eruption lasted five months. What a drag

is the time liquor stores usually close in Iceland, giving festival-goers plenty of time to stock up on their favourite poison: vodka

18 HOURS

of daylight illuminate Iceland in early August. That’s one way to pull an all-nighter…

3- 4 DAYS are spent celebrating Þjóðhátíð (though it doesn’t have an official end)

16,000

puffins are resident on the island, making Heimaey home to 1/5th of the world’s puffin population

D E PA R T U R E S

people attend Þjóðhátíð each year, 13,000 of whom travel from the mainland

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HEAD TO HEAD

BROCKENHURST, NEW FOREST

KENDAL, LAKE DISTRICT Population: 28,000

DISAGREE? HAVE YOUR SAY AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM

Nickname: Auld Grey Town

Nickname: Brock

Population: 3,450

INHABITANTS

INHABITANTS

John Cunliffe (the creator of Postman Pat and Rosie and Jim, silly), tourists, castle fanatics, walkers, stressed-out Londoners. 9/10

Descendants of William the Conquerer (maybe?), Londoners trying to escape the rat race, ponies, ponies and more ponies. 8/10

WHAT TO SAY

WHAT NOT TO SAY

WHAT TO SAY

WHAT NOT TO SAY

“Kendal mint cake blows After Eights out the water.”

“Too much grey stone here. Fret not, I have my spray paint.”

“I can’t get enough of these ponies. Give me more!”

“I was expecting something a bit, er, newer?”

DO

STAY

EAT & DRINK

DO

STAY

EAT & DRINK

Walk up Scout Scar on a two-hour circuit that takes in great views and pubs. Four miles south of town, Sizergh Castle is a pretty and pretty impressive medieval castle with a crazy furniture collection. 8/10

The Villa Levens is a grand Victorian house that operated as a convent until 2012. Today it’s a grand bolthole set in a load of fields, with freestanding baths in the 22 bedrooms and heavy curtains lining huge bay windows. 8/10

The Strickland Arms is a pub with big portions of hearty food – including Lancashire hotpot and pies. The Brewery Arts Centre is great for indy theatre shows, comedy nights, gin and a big range of cask beers. 10/10

Car fanatics should head down the road to the National Motoring Museum. Otherwise hire a bike – countrylanes.co.uk runs self-guided routes with tea, cake or cider themes. Try all three. 8/10

The Pig is a 30-bedroom country house hotel, all flowery wallpaper, cushions and armchairs, delivered in a cool way. Old shepherds’ huts have been converted into little wooden treatment rooms – go on, treat yo’self. 10/10

The Fallen Tree is a cute restaurant that goes big on local and seasonal food. Don’t miss the sausage, chips and beans. Oh wait, that’s the children’s menu. It’s pigeon, lamb rump, seabass or duck breast for you, big guy. 9/10

9/10

AND THE WINNER IS… There isn’t one. Both do it for us.

9/10

HANNAH SUMMERS IS…

THE TOURIST ROLE REVERSAL

I recently went for a weekend away with my dad, a trip that was arranged entirely by

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quite so inspired on the destination front, see our guide to family travelling with a twist on p75.

ceilinged apartment, the local feeling and riding the rickety lift up and down ten flights of stairs. Then there’s the food. I took him into dank little coffee shops, tapas joints and bars he wouldn’t have even noticed, let alone considered, if he’d been travelling without me. And finally, the sightseeing. I’m trying to ease him into this travel thing, so instead of walking for miles getting lost in dodgy parts of town, I thought I’d keep it simple with an open-top bus tour, something my dad loved so much that he made us go on both routes around the city. That’s five hours of my dad trying to take selfies of us (but mostly of the balding bloke sitting behind us). Back in the bars, Dad tried to order a beer. In French (reminder: we are in Barcelona). “Dad, you’re soooooo embarrassing,” I told him. Some things, apparently, never change. e

Illustration by Mark Boardman

There are several stages to holidaying with your parents, and I’m on the third. The first is childlike enthusiasm, because you are in fact a child. Days are filled with lilo wars, collapsing tents, crazy golf and “Are we there yet?”. The second is the stroppy teenager phase. I did that one well – “Dad! You’re sooo embarrassing,” (cue eye rolling and trying to look cool in front of other teens going through the same on-holiday-withparent angst). Then If your children are there’s the stage I’m bursting with holiday at now, when I get to enthusiasm but call the holiday shots. you’re not feeling

me. For two days in Barcelona I was in charge. In a role reversal I’m not familiar with, I booked the flights, the accommodation and made all the logistical arrangements. I carried the passports, the boarding cards and made sure we actually caught the flight. (We did, just.) You might imagine that my obsession with seeing the world would have been passed on to me by my dad, but no. While I love exploring new places, getting lost walking the streets, booking at the very last minute, my dad is the complete opposite. I didn’t want to scare him with impromptu plans, but felt he needed to experience the way I now travel. That started with the accommodation. “Airbnb? We’re staying in someone’s home? Oh.” Turns out he quite liked the traditional high-


IN FOCUS As well as being one of Yorkshire’s prettiest cities, York reputedly has a different pub for every day of the year. And if you don’t like pubs, there’s plenty more to see and do, says George Norris

SHOP First mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book, The Shambles holds the title of the UK’s most picturesque street. The name derives from the shelves the butchers on the street hung their meat from. Today, there’s only one butchers left; The Ye Olde Sausage & Pie Shoppe is revered by hungry locals for their pork pies (a Yorkshire staple). The rest of the street is made up of unique boutique shops. For antiques, look no further than The Flax and Twine, while Little Saffrons sells all sorts of knick knacks including bespoke cards and scented candles.

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Adjacent to the famous cobbled street sits The Shambles Market, one of the largest outdoor markets in the North. Over 80 stalls sell anything from vintage jewellery to artisan breads. Make sure you track down That Fudge Guy, a stall run by local Roy Dean. If you’re happy to risk spending all your cash, Bishopthorpe Road (known to locals as Bishy Road), just outside the city walls, has a selection of excellent independent shops and cafés. For all your vintage clothes needs, check out York Does Vintage, a day-long gathering of traders with dates in September, October and November.

Until recently, visitors could see the preserved houses, artefacts and streets of York as it was in Viking days, when it was known as Jorvik. Sadly, last year’s floods have devastated the Jorvik Centre (which aims to reopen by spring 2017). However, there are plenty of other ways to get your history fix. Pass an afternoon by walking the 3.4km around the city wall and view York in all its medieval glory. From there head to the imposing York Minster and take in Europe’s largest gothic cathedral (entrance is £10). The truth is, York simply doesn’t have an unflattering angle, but make sure you see the city from the river Ouse as well. Yorkboat runs four cruises a day with prices at £8 for adults and £4 for children. Still not ready for the pub? Climb Clifford’s Tower, the last remaining remnant of York Castle, for more views.

SLEEP Try the Guy Fawkes Inn; nowhere promises a peaceful night’s sleep like a hotel inspired by a dynamite enthusiast, and this treasonous little inn enables you to sleep in the shadow of York Minster, or plot against the state over a pint in the candle-lit pub downstairs. For those loyal to the crown there is The Royal York Hotel. Originally opened in 1878 to serve those in the North with a bit of brass, the Royal York recently underwent a multi-million pound refurbishment so now even us paupers can enjoy the Victorian grandeur of old. For something more modern, try Hotel Indigo – rooms feature bare-brick walls, free mini bars and a cool urban vibe. Alternatively, if you’d rather save your pennies for the pub you can book yourself in to one of the cool and colourful dorms at the Fort Boutique Hostel. YHA York is another option for the budget traveller, based just a short riverside walk from the city centre.

Photograph by (background) Clare Jackson/EyeEm/Getty Images; (small eat) Whippet Inn/Facebook; (see) GR8escape/Facebook; (drink) Betty’s Tea Room/Facebook

YORK

DO


D E PA R T U R E S

EAT

SEE

The Yorkshire Meatball Co is a local institution that knows its way around a piece of meat – choose your balls (beef, veggie, fish etc), your blanket (sauces include gravy and mushroom pesto) and your bed (mash, linguine or a sub, etc). Continuing the meaty theme, head to the Whippet Inn for Yorkshire steak with a side of ale or gin or for something lighter, try Khao San Road for great fragrant curries in a warm setting.

York is officially the most haunted city in Europe, so what better way to get to know the place than by acquainting yourself with its ghosts. The Original Ghost Walk of York claims to be the world’s first guided ghost tour and excellently combines history with myth. Tickets are just £5 for adults and £3 for children. Not completely terrified yet? Then contemplate spending one whole hour locked inside a room with your nearest and dearest. Think your way to freedom by solving puzzles and codes at GR8escape, perfect for anyone who watched too much Crystal Maze as a kid (or was that just us?). If you get time, visit the National Railway Museum, the largest of its kind in the world. Get there before 19 June and catch the world famous Flying Scotsman exhibition.

Elsewhere, Le Cochon Aveugle is a French-style brasserie – if you have room, the nine-course menu is £60 and worth the spends. Or you may prefer the fine-dining experience at the Blue Bicycle, with views over the River Foss (check the website, as it’s currently closed due to the recent flood). Finally, for fast food without the self-loathing, try Shambles Kitchen, where they use fresh, seasonal ingredients to create delicious, healthy meals.

GETTING THERE Virgin East Coast offers direct trains to York from King’s Cross Station from £12.50 one-way; book through trainline.com. Travel via coach from Victoria for as little as £12. For information and advice for your trip to York see visityork.org

DRINK

Photograph by ###

Bad luck, coffee drinkers – in York you’ll be dunked right into the depths of tea country. And nobody does tea like Betty’s. The flagship Betty’s Tea Room sits 20 miles away in the Spa Town of Harrogate, but worry not, as the York branch is just as unmissable. If, like us, you prefer your refreshments a little stronger, York is said to have a pub for every day of the year. Throw a stick and you’ll hit a good one, however the

House of the Trembling Madness on Stonegate takes some beating. This quirky boozer is found above a spirit shop and decorated with peculiar taxidermy. Space is at a premium so arrive early and stay there; an expansive selection of ales will keep you company. Later, stumble the short distance to Evil Eye. Walk through the spirit shop (there’s a theme here) and sip cocktails in what is apparently Johnny Depp’s favourite haunt in York.

If Captain Jack Sparrow has captured your imagination, head to the bank of the Ouse and drink at the ‘Pub that Floods’. The King’s Arms is one of a number of Sam Smith’s (not that Sam Smith) pubs in York, but don’t feel bad about drinking at a chain as the brewery is local, based just ten miles away in Tadcaster. The location is pretty fantastic (most of the time) and the beer is cheap, just be prepared to bring your wellies along!

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D E PA R T U R E S

SHORT STAY IN AT THE DEEP END ‘Do as the Romans do’ and indulge in some serious pampering at the Gainsborough Bath Spa, suggests Hannah Summers What’s the score? Lie back, relax and float around in warm water. The UK’s first and only hotel with access to healing thermal baths is located, of all places, in Bath city centre. This is pretty exclusive stuff – the mineral-rich water is only available to Gainsborough Bath Spa guests, meaning you get a full-on luxurious stay and a massive bath virtually all to yourself.

The rooms The hotel was built in the 1800s and occupies two Georgian buildings, so if you’re into period properties and features you’ll get your fill here. Bedrooms come with huge bay windows, big, tall beds and ceilings so high I couldn’t even see the top. Maybe. Opt for a spa suite and your bath will have three taps – hot, cold and mineral water.

The spa Visit the Bath House and you’ll be taken on a bathing journey reminiscent of the ones taken by the city’s residents in Roman times. Three pools are filled with water

that’s around 40°C, and you move between them on a circuit that will also see you sweating it out in the sauna and steam room (before you start you’ll be asked to smell a range of essential oils which will be packed up into a little salt pouch to take with you into the rooms). The Bath House is huge and flooded with natural light, with restored mosaics and pillars inspired by the historic Roman ruins nearby. The hotel group’s roots lie in Malaysia, so if you’re in for a treatment then try the traditional Malaysian therapy – a spiced oil blend will be distributed over your body in a deep, kneading massage that’ll have you staggering out of your treatment room (in a very good way).

Nearby The big sights of Bath are on the doorstep – pop into the ruins of the Roman baths, which is definitely worth a look. For a beer and some hearty, To add authenticity to the well-preserved traditional food, ruins, actors dressed head to the Raven in traditional Roman pub, with its locally get-up stroll around brewed beer and piethe baths, to the intrigue of tourists. only menu. e

GAINSBOROUGH BATH SPA ADDRESS BEAU ST, BATH BA1 1QY PRICE FROM £285 ROOM ONLY

GETTING THERE BATH SPA IS REACHED FROM LONDON PADDINGTON IN 1H30, FROM £12

FROM TOP: The Georgian façade; the hotel’s warm bathing pools; the Gainsborough’s bar area

Lie back, relax and float around in Gainsborough Bath Spa’s exclusive mineralrich water

INFO THEGAINSBOROUGHBATHSPA.CO.UK

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D E PA R T U R E S

FREEWHEELER THE MAN WHO CYCLES THE WORLD CAIRO

EGYPT

SUDAN

ETHIOPIA

KENYA

TANZANIA

ZAMBIA

BOTSWANA

SOUTH AFRICA

ABOVE: Intrepid cyclist Mark Beaumont leaves Cairo to start his epic bike ride all the way from Egypt down to Cape Town in South Africa

CAPE TOWN

WORDS BY JAKE TAYLOR

W Photograph by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

hen Mark Beaumont was 12 years old, he rode his bike across the width of Scotland; at 15 he’d ridden solo from John O’Groats to Land’s End. His life ever since these youthful feats of endurance has been dedicated to pushing himself, and his bike, to the very limits. In 2008, he cycled around the world in 194 days and 17 hours – a whole 81 days faster than the previous world record – before going on to conquer the length of the Americas, from Alaska to Argentina. The shortest route A brief hiatus from from John O’Groats the world of cycling to Land’s End via saw him become part road is 847 miles. Not an insignificant of a crew attempting distance, until you to row across the compare it to the Atlantic; with 27 days 6,500 Beaumont cycled in Africa. and almost 2,000 miles gone, the boat capsized and the crew nearly died. After an event like this it would have been easy for Beaumont to hang up his adventuring gear

and settle back into the life of broadcasting he’d made for himself, but it wasn’t to be. Last year, he broke the record for cycling the length of Africa, from Cairo to Cape Town, spending more than 600 hours in the saddle to cross over 6,500 miles in just 42 days. He’s crossed mountains and deserts, traversed areas of the globe that some can only dream about. He tells escapism about his new account of that epic last trip, Africa Solo: My World Record Race from Cairo to Cape Town, his many adventures, and what drives him to achieve his goals… Was it good to be back on dry land after that accident in the Atlantic? And how did it affect your Africa ride? As you’ll read in the book, after that fright, after nearly dying, I was more than happy to draw a line under my athletic career and become a TV presenter. I wasn’t looking back with regret though; I’d had all my twenties as an athlete. I learnt a huge amount about myself and what motivates me out in the Atlantic, but it wasn’t a sure thing at all that I’d come

back to being an athlete. Last year and in 2014 it kind of came back full cycle, back to the bike and trying to take it to the next level. I’m not done yet, I hope in a few years’ time I can look back and see Africa as a training ride for what comes next, because I see that as updating my profile as a bike rider and pushing my ability.

I hope in a few years’ time I can look back and see Africa as a training ride for what comes next 27


D E PA R T U R E S

I’m massively driven by the fear of failure. If I’m having a particularly bad day it fuels me welcoming and interesting people and discover a real depth of culture. Are they the best places in the world? No, but they’re certainly the ones that have surprised me the most.

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Mark Beaumont sets off from Cairo, flanked by fellow cyclists; on route in Kenya; the last stretch – cycling through South Africa

Where are your favourite places that you’ve visited on your adventures across the globe?

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In the last decade I’ve been to about 130 countries; I’ve cycled border-to-border across over 60 countries so I guess I know more than most about what it’s like to cycle across the world and across continents at the speed of a bike. Off the top of my head, the top three I’d love to spend a tonne more time in are: the Cook Islands in the Pacific, down by Tonga; it’s pretty amazing. As well as cycling The Yukon Territory, thousands of miles, northwest Canada – Beaumont has the land of billions raised thousands of pounds for charities of trees and millions (including £100,000 of bears, that’s pretty by running and swimming across his awesome. And the native Scotland). Alcan Highway, which is a 600 mile road from Alaska through British Columbia – I’d really love to spend more time up there. Iran and Sudan would stand out as the two countries that are most different to how I expected them to be. We hear about these places being difficult – international sanctions and all that stuff – but once you get inside you just meet phenomenally

What’s next for you? I’m firmly back on two wheels; I’m absolutely pushing my ability as a bike rider. I’ve already said that Africa was basically part of a much bigger plan for me, and Africa was a training ride for what happens next. I’ve got a lot of work on this year, doing bits of broadcasting, but I’m also firmly in the planning stage for a very, very big expedition in 2017. By that point I’ll be 34, so as an endurance athlete the next couple of years have to really count. e Africa Solo: My World Record Race from Cairo to Cape Town by Mark Beaumont, published by Bantam Press, is available to buy now.

DISCOVER MORE ADVENTURES AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM

Photograph by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

Right at the start of the Africa trip you had some problems. When it’s day one and you’ve already stabbed yourself in the eye and got a puncture, and you still have thousands of miles to go, how do you pick yourself up? I got through a lot of stupid stuff on the first day – the nerves at the start, all the press, ripping the sidewall off my tyre after 100 miles – and then seriously hurting my eye, as stupid an accident as it was. Then later that day I had to go back on myself, because the police need to know exactly where I was and I’d gone to the wrong place. I’m massively driven by the fear of failure. If I’m having a particularly bad day, like I did in southern Ethiopia – which were the hardest miles by far – what happens if I don’t carry on is what fuels my miles. I’m just one of those people – if things are going wrong, don’t give me some Muhammad Ali quote, just tell me the consequences of failure!

What part of the Africa Solo ride are you most proud of? The funny thing is, if you look at any of the coverage of Africa Solo last year, what is talked about a lot is the final three countries – Zambia, Botswana, South Africa – where I was averaging well over 200 miles a day. However, the week I’m actually most proud of is that week in southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya, where my worst day was 80 miles. It doesn’t look good, no one else sees it as a success, but trust me that’s where I dug deepest. They were the hardest miles, even if on paper they weren’t the big miles.


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EXPERIENCES

EXPERIENCES

Photograph by Allen D. Walker

32  FOODIE TRAVEL 42  THAILAND TREKKING 48  SPAIN IN PICTURES 56  NEGRIL, JAMAICA 62 BHUTAN 68  BOSTON, USA 75  FAMILY TRIPS

Photograph by ###

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MORE TRAVEL IDEAS AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM

THE BITE STUFF 32


EXPERIENCES

E Photograph by JM Travel Photography/Shutterstock Photograph by ###

Like eating as much as sightseeing? Us too. Here’s where to head to if food is top of your holiday agenda... 33


CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Try open sandwiches in Sweden; when is a croissant not a croissant? When it’s crossed with a Greek custard tart and called bougatsa; head to Maribor for Slovenian wine; Argentina’s answer to the Cornish pasty – empanadas

Buenos Aires, Argentina Here’s a pub fact for you: Argentinians apparently consume 70kg of meat per head per year. Nope, we’re not exaggerating. You’ll want to witness this in person, of course, and for that you need to head to the city of Buenos Aires, home to thousands of parrillas – traditional steak restaurants with charcoal grills. One of the best in the city is La Cabrera, where your plate will be heaped with pink-on-the-inside, dark-on-the-

IN BUENOS AIRES, WAITERS CAN CUT YOUR STEAK WITH A SPOON 34

outside hunks of meat, with dozens of sides including buttery, salty, whipped potato. The following night try La Brigada – a footballthemed parrilla where waiters cut your steak with a spoon (don’t try that at home). For dessert head to the supermarket and buy a tub of dulce de leche – a thick, rich caramel spread-sauce that’s fantastic with bread or ice cream. Or just a spoon. MUST EAT: Empanadas are the go-to snack. These pasty-esque pies are stuffed with spiced egg and beef, or cheese and onion. Best enjoyed dribbled with hot sauce. HOW: Airbnb is chocka with high-ceilinged old flats, airbnb.com; British Airways offers return flights from £750, ba.com

Thessaloniki, Greece If easygoing bars are as high on your agenda as cheap plates of delicious food, head to Greece’s gourmet capital of Thessaloniki. The university city is crammed with traditional ouzeries where you can go big on the orders (we mean BIG), even bigger on the wine and you still won’t spend more than £12 per person on your meal. Mental. Try Tsinari, a colourful wooden-chaired option, or Gourounakia, in a cool part of town that’s heaving with little bars. Check them all out – but be sure to leave time for ΣΤΗ ΣΤΟΑ (Soul Bar), with its reggae soundtrack and strong cocktails. You’ll need to eat souvlaki, natch –

get the best at Derlicatessan Souvlaki, where you’ll queue for a few minutes trying to work out the Greek menu before emerging with plates heaving with chicken wraps, halloumi, potatoes topped with cream, and chips sprinkled with cheese. And pints of Mythos, obviously. The oldest vine in MUST EAT: The the world that still bougatsa at Estrella produces grapes has become an – cunningly named ‘Old Vine’ – is over Instagram sensation 400 years old. It – it’s a cross between grows enough fruit the traditional Greek to make 100 bottles per year. custard pastry and a croissant. Order with chocolate cream and prepare for thousands of #likes. HOW: Makendonia Palace is located on the waterfront, nightly rates from £80, makedoniapalace.com; Ryanair flies to Thessaloniki from £60 return, ryanair.com

Maribor, Slovenia If you were to guess where the oldest grape vine in the world is located, you probably wouldn’t put Slovenia at number one. Well, it is – and there are tons of vineyards to visit, too (hire a bike and cycle around, they love you popping in for tours). The locals in Maribor – a city set in the wine region’s hills – are extremely proud of their produce, the majority of which comes


EXPERIENCES

Carib is brewed in from farms in the Trinidad, and the area. Expect rustic light, golden lager is platters of cheese quaffed throughout the Caribbean. and charcuterie, Perfect for washing but also high-end down pholourie or dining – ultramodern deep-fried shark in restaurant Rožmarin fresh dough. strikes the balance between fine and casual dining, with a café and wine cellar onsite, too. MUST EAT: Get to Restavracija Mak – a slowfood restaurant with an impressive wine cellar and tasting menu that’ll knock your socks off – think several rounds of amuse bouches followed by sous-vide veal chops.

esque discs that are heaped with curried chickpeas, chutney and chilli, then move onto some pholourie – a savoury donut that’s served with tamarind and mango chutneys. After a few days liming in Port of Spain hop across the water to Tobago, a sleepy Caribbean island where you’ll find empty stretches of beach and locals keen to get you sampling the local Carib beer. MUST EAT: Head to Maracas Bay in Trinidad for the bake and shark shacks, which serve dough stuffed with deep-fried shark, topped with salad and sauces. Richard’s Stall, sat right on the beach, is a good choice for the freshest and most authentic bake and shark.

HOW: Check out Airbnb for cute and local stays,

HOW: In Tobago, stay at the hillside Castara Retreats, nightly rates from £80, castararetreats.com; Virgin Atlantic offers return flights to Trinidad from £550, virginatlantic.com

aribnb.com; Adria Airways flies to Maribor from

£120 return, adria.si/en

Milan, Italy

Photograph by (left) Apeloga AB / Alamy; (bottom right) Henryk Sadura/Getty Images

Big cities don’t have to be overwhelming if you know where to get your grub. Start your evening in the Navigli area, where the canals are, for aperitivo – essentially a predinner ritual when your Aperol spritz will come with a selection of tasty snacks. It’s a cheap way of eating and a cool part of town to hang out in. You’ll find amazing gelato everywhere, but the shop on Via Cesare Lombroso is our fave. Whatever you do, get to Luini for panzerotti. An institution since 1888, it’s a bakery churning out secretrecipe versions of these doughy parcels, packed with mozzarella and tomato (if you’re going for the timeless classic) or mozzarella, tomato, anchovies and black olives. Find it near the Duomo and expect to queue. For something entirely different, log on to gnammo.com. This social eating site (think Airbnb for dining) will give you a really local dinner party experience for a maximum of €30 each. MUST EAT: Saffron risotto – go to Masuelli Trattoria for the original recipe.

Malmö, Sweden Malmö is a city of artisans with a vibrant start-up culture, so you’ll find innovative food producers and restaurants all over the city. For a casual bite, Scandwich – a low-key joint set up by ex-restaurant chefs in a mall food court in the multicultural Möllevången neighbourhood – serves

EAT OPENFACED SCANDI SANDWICHES PACKED WITH PICKLED VEG AND MEAT open-faced Scandi sandwiches (hence the name) loaded up with pickled veg, meats and sauces. It’s like a kebab, but prettier and less guilt-inducing. There’s a thriving restaurant culture, too – more casual than Michelin, but with plenty of chefs taking traditional Swedish food and giving it a shake-up in approachable

HOW: Room Mate Milan offers nightly rates from £200, roommate.com; EasyJet offers return flights to Milan from £40, easyjet.com

Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean If you’re looking for idyllic Caribbean beaches but some banging street food too, then the sister islands of Trinidad and Tobago will deliver. Start in Trinidad, which sits just off the coast of Venezuela. Trinis are famed for their love of food, and at night you’ll find them chillaxing next to their souped-up cars at the Queen’s Park Savannah – a giant grassy roundabout that’s filled with street stalls come dusk. Tuck into doubles – squidgy pancake-

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QUOTE TOTAT ESTIBUS DOLU TEM PORUP TATQUI TO TEM ID QUI ATINIS

restaurants and cafés around the city. For coffee, Lilla Kafferosteriat has you covered – owner Filip Akerblom, a big player in Sweden’s up-and-coming coffee culture and a judge at its Barista Championships, is all about farm-to-cup coffee, working with producers and sourcing diverse beans. MUST EAT: Far i Hatten, a courtyard hangout and restaurant in the centre of the city’s Folkets Park, is a must-visit destination for food lovers. If you’ve got time, book yourself in for chef Simon Lennblad’s New Nordic-style tasting menu. HOW: The More Hotel, housed in a former chocolate factory, offers apartment-style rooms from £73 per night, themorehotel.com; Ryanair offers return flights from £40, ryanair.com

San Antonio/Houston, Texas, US Houston may conjure up images of space centres and shuttle launches, but we’re more excited about the city’s other claim to fame. Yep, Houston, Texas is where the first fajita was invented. Try them today at Ninfa’s, which boasts the slogan “The best Mexican food in Texas since Texas was in Mexico” – and the drinks, especially the margaritas, are great, too. Twin Houston with the city of San Antonio, where you’ll pick up some classic Texas BBQ. The emerging Pearl District is home to warehouse-style joints and cocktail bars.

WHEN YOU’RE IN GLASGOW, IT’S YOUR TOURISTY OBLIGATION TO TRY A DEEP-FRIED MARS BAR

Get to Granary ’Cue and Brew for slowcooked beef brisket and ribs. MUST EAT: Houston is America’s pho capital. Try Thien An Sandwiches for excellent beef pho and the best banh mi in town. HOW: Hayes and Jarvis offers trips taking in both cities from £1,199pp including flights and accommodation, hayesandjarvis.co.uk

Marseille, France Paris and Lyon can move over: for traditional French fare with a touch of grit, try Marseille. The unglamourous Toinou, near the old port, is a haven for cheap but delicious platters of oysters, lobsters, crabs and virtually every other seafood going (expect to pay around €10 for 20 or so oysters). Bouillabaisse is the dish of the day here This fish stew was – ask locals for their originally made favourite. Georges by fishermen in Bistro is a great Marseille to use up the fish they couldn’t locals’ lunch spot, sell to restaurants where 1960s-style or in the market. interiors are paired It’s now the city’s with big-portioned signature dish.


with bikes hanging from the ceiling, and coffees you’ll want to flood Instagram with. HOW: Unité d’habitation has its own hotel, nightly rates from £55, hotellecorbusier.com; Eurostar offers return fares from £80, eurostar.com

Glasgow, Scotland

FROM TOP: Marseille is known for its excellent seafood; for proper fish and chips and no-nonsense food, head to Glasgow

For proper, straight-up grub without the fancy flourishes, head up north to Glasgow. First, check out Old Salty’s, where you’ll find huge portions of fried-to-order fish, homemade pies and sauces. Proper chipshop chips come as standard – crunchy bite and almost roast potatoey inside. Carnivores should head to Meat Bar. Pork, beef, chicken and chorizo are stuffed inside warm brioche buns (not together!) with pickles, slaws and Old Salty’s is more sauces. The express than just a fish and menu is just a tenner chip shop – with for two courses. exposed brickwork and quirky pieces Good, because you’ll of art, it’s a stylish want to save your hangout that serves cash for your big a killer Scottish breakfast too. beer tour: Blackfriars serves ales from Scottish craft breweries, while Drygate is a huge space with 24 draught beers and 200 bottles. It tags itself as an experiential brewery – so you can be tutored on brewing sessions, create your own beer and attend meet-the-brewer and beer appreciation events. Although we don’t necessarily need a specific evening for the latter. MUST EAT: The locals may not eat it, but it’s your touristy obligation to try a deep-fried Mars bar. Or better yet, a Galaxy Caramel. HOW: Modern rooms and boutique prices can be found at Citizen M. Nightly rates from £80, citizenm.com; Virgin Trains offers return tickets from £135, virgintrains.co.uk

Skopje and Ohrid, Macedonia

Photograph by (main) Hemis / Alamy

salads, meat and coffee. For something entirely different, check out the restaurant at the Unité d’habitation; perhaps one of the most important examples of Brutalist architecture, the quirky concrete block is the work of the celebrated Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, and the restaurant serves food as good as the views. MUST EAT: Coogee is an eclectic coffee shop

Macedonia may not be the most obvious choice for a food-focused trip, but the Balkans are the next big thing in food. Sometimes it helps to be guided, and with Intrepid Travels’ new Real Food Adventure through Macedonia and Montenegro, you’ll munch through the best of the country on a food-packed ten-day itinerary. There’ll be eating, obviously – think burek (puff pastry stuffed with spinach, feta or minced meat), tavche gravche (a slow-cooked creamy bean stew) and kachcamak (a polenta-like cornmeal dish which is particularly addictive with sour cream and cheese). Then there’s drinking – boza (a fermented liquid), rajkija and wine (it’s also one of the newest players on the wine scene).


EXPERIENCES

FROM TOP: A comforting bowl of pho is the perfect culinary antidote to the chaos of Hanoi; vineyards in Margaret River

Photograph by Tim Draper/Getty Images; Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo

AT PHO GIA TRUYEN YOUR BEEF PORTION IS WEIGHED IN FRONT OF YOU AND CHUCKED IN THE STOCK You’ll meet local experts in ham, cheese and wine, make regional pastries, and also enjoy a side-serving of epic scenery – breakfast on the banks of the Treska Riva, waterfalls, church-filled villages and national parks. MUST EAT: Ajvar is easy to find – it’s a brightorange relish of bell peppers, eggplant, garlic and chilli. Slather it on everything. HOW: Intrepid Travel offers ten-night trips from £1,260pp including all meals and accommodation, intrepidtravel.com

Hanoi, Vietnam Hanoi can be an overwhelming city to visit – crossing the road is a dice with death thanks to the countless mopeds that pack the roads. Helpfully, you can find plenty of comfort in the food. Pho is the nation’s signature dish, and some of the best in town is at Pho Gia Truyen at 49 Bat Dan. Even at 7am there’ll be a line down the street, but stick it out. Beef is weighed in front of you and chucked into a bowl with soft noodles and stock – and the result is fragrant and heart-warming. If the street food scene is a bit overwhelming, try a food tour with blogger Mark Lowerson. Try bang tom (shrimp-fried pancakes) and banh mi (baguettes with pate, cucumber, herbs and chilli) from the best stalls in the city. MUST EAT: Iced coffee with condensed milk. You’ll find it absolutely everywhere.

planted in 1978 that are now farmed along organic and biodynamic lines, and Ashbrook Estate, with its husband-andwife reisling-producing duo. After a day strolling around the This phenomenally vines and sampling popular noodle the area’s best, drop soup is eaten into Swings – the for breakfast in southern Vietnam, taproom of a local but all throughout vineyard (with a the day in the north. huge selection of We know where we’re heading... wine on tap). MUST DRINK: Continue the booze theme at Morries – the Bunny Boiler cocktail is American-style whiskey, honey liqueur, rhubarb bitters and beer. Oof. That’ll do it. HOW: Llewelins is a cute guesthouse with spot-on food and breakfast, with nightly

HOW: Maison D’Orient is a boutique hotel in the Old Quarter, nightly rates from £20, maison-orient.com; Flights from £650 return with Trailfinders, trailfinders.com

Margaret River, Western Australia Pristine beaches and cheap-but-excellent wine? Yes, it’s true, and it’s worth schlepping across the world for. Three hours south of Perth you’ll find Margaret River – a town, a river and one of Australia’s most successful wine making regions (cab sauv and chardonnay are particularly prevalent). When you’re not surfing in the Indian Ocean, a round of vineyard tours in the 100km-long area here is a must. Try Si Vintners, with vines

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EXPERIENCES

rates from £105, llewellinsguesthouse.com.au; Qantas offers return flights to Perth from £800, qantas.com

Alicante, Spain Foodies may think to head further up the coast to Barcelona or Girona, but for a different food scene try Alicante. We’re not the only ones championing this coastal city – El Bulli’s Ferran Adria has also stated that the region is Saffron, olive oil and the best place to eat rice dishes – as well in Spain. There’s an as an emphasis on seasonal ingredients interesting movement – form the core of going on here, too. the cooking at this Of the 174 Michelinmuch-celebrated star restaurants in contemporary restaurant. the country, only 22 are run by women. In Alicante there’s not only a strong female presence in the kitchen, but grandmas are running the behind-the-scenes show as opposed to young feisty male chefs. In Ondara, one hour north east of the city, you’ll find Casa Pepe – a bright, unpretentious, garden-view restaurant with one Michelin star and seventysomething granny Pepa Romans at the helm. In the city you’ll find Monastrell, a Michelinstarred waterside restaurant flooded with natural light, and the brainchild of grandma María José San Román (one of her daughters also runs a sister tapas restaurant – Taberna del Gourmet – in the city). Cuisine in the Alicante region is big on the reinvented mama’s classics, and light, too – expect vegetables, fish and rice as opposed to rich meaty dishes. MUST EAT: Try El Rebujito for crispy but sticky fried aubergines in honey and megacheap tapas with beer. HOW: Find cheap but pretty city appartments on Airbnb, airbnb.com; EasyJet offers return flights from £50, easyjet.com

FROM TOP: You’ll find some superb Michelinstarred restaurants in Alicante; Vancouver’s street food scene is mighty impressive

Vancouver, Canada If you think London’s street food scene is decent, we’re put to shame by Vancouver. Here, food trucks line the streets not for social reasons but functional – at lunch time you’ll see office workers queueing for tacos, toasties and hotdogs while limp supermarket salads don’t get a look-in. There’s an app detailing locations, but our faves are Mom’s Grilled Cheese, Japadog (for unusual Asian twists on hotdogs) and Soho Road for naan kebabs. If all that’s making you thirsty (and you’re into beer), then head to emerging neighbourhood East Van. Formerly a grey industrial area, cheap rents mean lots of budding local craft breweries are opening there. Better yet, about eight are within stumbling distance of each other. Try Storm Brewing for its quirky staff and brews (pineapple pilsner anyone?). MUST EAT: Get to Floata – it’s on the upper floor of an unassuming mall and looks like a giant conference room full of dim sum trolleys. Cheap, filling and delicious. HOW: Opus Hotel offers nightly rates from £220,

vancouver.opushotel.com; WestJet offers return

flights from £450, westjet.com

Bruges, Belgium

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with canal views all over the city, where you can graze on moules marinières while watching the world go by (likely a little slower than you’re used to). Or, after a night on the trappist beers, swing by the little green trucks parked in the main square for the ultimate Belgian snack – frites with a huge dollop of mayonnaise, and burst your hangover before it’s even started. MUST EAT: If you’re going for the top end, try Hertog Jan, one of Bruges’ two restaurants with three Michelin stars, set up by chef Gert De Mangeleer and super sommelier Joachim Boudens. It won its third star in 2011. e HOW: Logis Hostellerie Pannenhuis is a short walk from the centre, with doubles from £73 a night; pannenhuis.com; Eurostar offers one-way fares from £34.50, eurostar.com

Photograph by StudioM.fr/Shutterstock

Many people will extoll the virtues of Brussels as a food destination, but neighbour Bruges isn’t just pretty canals and lonely monks – it boasts some great food and drink, too. In fact, it’s known as ‘Belgium’s capital of fine dining’, and not for nothing: if you’re a die-hard food lover, you should know that it has one of the highest concentrations of Michelin-starred restaurants per capita anywhere in the world. That means a). you’ve got loads of options and b). you won’t have to book years in advance. For something a bit more approachable, there are cosy cafés

IF YOU THINK LONDON’S STREET FOOD SCENE IS DECENT, YOU SHOULD SEE VANCOUVER’S


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SIMPLE PLEASU 42


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RES Photographs by Graeme Green

In search of serenity and the simple life, Graeme Green heads for the hills to meet the tribes of northern Thailand 43


W

e live a simple life,” says Yajoe Sankampoe, a trekking guide and member of the White Karen tribe, as we hike through a thick forest. “We live together. We live with nature.” The simple life and nature are both a big part of the draw on a new ‘hilltribes trek’ through the remote, forested hills of northern Thailand, not far from the border with Myanmar (Burma). In a modern world of constantly buzzing smartphones and email inboxes that refuse to empty, it feels good to get back to basics, which is what we do here, staying with local people in homestays in small, agricultural villages along the trekking route. There are no Wi-Fi connections – this is a chance to ‘disconnect’. Accommodation is basic, with bed mattresses on the floors of wooden houses, but the welcome is warm, far warmer than the ‘showers’, which involve pouring cold water over yourself with a saucepan. The new trek and homestays have been created, in part, to help bring money and development to these rural communities. Before the trek, I spent time in Chiang Mai, the ‘capital of the north’. It’s a far

HIKING THROUGH THE FOREST IS INSTANTLY CALMING, WITH NO NOISE AT ALL ASIDE FROM BIRDSONG 44

mellower city than Bangkok, but there are still the extremes of Thailand on show, from the massage parlours and girly bars along Loi Kroh Road to peaceful golden temples where monks in saffron robes stroll around and chimes Buddhist monks gently clang. I spend wear robes that are a day exploring the colour of saffron the Old Town’s because that’s what was traditionally temples, including used to dye the my favourite, 14thfabric, alongside century Wat Phan other pigments such as turmeric. Tao, one of the oldest in Chiang Mai. Inside and outside the temples, I check out golden statues of Buddha and intricate carvings of dragons and serpents. After teaming up with my group, we drive out of Chiang Mai, the road twisting, winding (we were warned of “2,000 bends”) and gradually climbing higher into lush, green hills. Most ‘hilltribes’ treks start around two hours outside of Chiang Mai, but these easy-to-access areas have grown popular over the last 20 to 30 years, with some trails reported to be overrun with backpackers. The busy routes also have a reputation for being too commercialised, with persistent local hawkers putting the hard sell on hikers to buy handmade crafts and jewellery. I was happy to travel further afield, our group driving four and a half hours northwest from Chiang Mai to start our trek at the roadside Pa Mai Daeng (Red Wood Forest) trailhead in the Pang Mapha district of rarely visited Mae Hong Son province. Our guide, Aviruth Meesupa (who goes by the nickname Ball), introduces us to the locals who’ll be leading us through the forest, including shy Yajoe Sankampoe from the White Karen tribe and the more outgoing Rang-sri Prasopturm The term ‘Karen’ is from the Red Lahu, an umbrella term and we set off. for a diverse lot of Hiking through ethnic groups who do not share the shade of the a common language, forest is instantly culture, religion calming, with no or material characteristics. noise at all from cars or machines, just birdsong and our footsteps. Through gaps in the trees, I see limestone peaks towering above us. Rang-sri points to plants used by locals: a tree’s bark is stripped and twisted into a thread to make rope; another plant’s leaves are used to treat wounds. After lunch in a bamboo shelter (rice, fried cabbage and egg, plus grilled snakehead fish), prepared by women from the Red Lahu tribe, we complete a few


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CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: The mountain villages in northern Thailand offer an insight into a traditional way of life; fishing for dinner; beautiful temples can also be found in this part of the country; as can wildlife...

short climbs – hot work in the afternoon sun – before making our way across a green valley and up to the village of Pha Mon. Roosters, pigs and dogs amble through the streets, but the village is more developed than I expected, with motorbikes and trucks parked outside large wooden and concrete houses. I spot satellite dishes around the village. Many villagers own smartphones or iPads. This isn’t the picture of traditional ‘tribal’ life travellers might expect on a ‘hilltribes trek’; local people wear jeans, T-shirts and sweatshirts, rather than traditional costumes, ornate jewellery or make-up and tattoos. This idyllic little What we’re getting village that overlooks paddy instead is a slice of fields is known for peaceful, rural life. its flower production Yajoe welcomes – look out for locals two hikers and I carrying brightly coloured blooms into this home. “I down the mountain. like to live here,” Yajoe tells us (with Ball translating), as we settle down to eat our dinner, daylight slowly fading over the cornfields. “I feel free here. I can eat what I want to eat. I can go where I want to go. I feel safe and comfortable. We have little money, but it’s good here.” Villagers hope the community’s tourism project can help to bring money into the area, which was previously dominated by opium production. “Many villages in the past developed with the ‘black business’,” Yajoe explains. “Now, we can grow anything we like: rice, corn… It’s better money. And we feel less scared of soldiers coming because opium was illegal.” I wake to a chorus of roosters and pigs grunting in the yard. Smoke from kitchen fires drifts across the village as we set off, hiking through a wide valley and up steep forest trails on our way from Pha Mon to the White Karen village of Muang Pam. Rang-sri sings and whistles as we follow the course of a river, stepping in and out of the shallow water. Poisonous but non-deadly spiders sit in webs above our heads. Rang-sri spots a crab climbing the riverbank. “They taste very good”, he says. “I eat all animals in the forest: crabs, cicadas, spiders, worms, wasps, bees… And beer and whisky,” he jokes. In the afternoon, we pass buffalo lazing by a river, then climb a ladder to a cave where Rang-sri shows us the Saedi pagoda (shrine). “This is 600 years old, maybe built by the Chan people,” he says. Muang Pam village is larger than Pha Mon, with a population of 600. In

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FIVE MORE PLACES TO ADD TO YOUR THAILAND ITINERARY BANGKOK Many trips to Thailand will start and end in Bangkok. The city can be overwhelming, but the good news is that air-conditioned taxis are really cheap, making getting around easy. Chatuchak market, selling vintage gear and food, has to be seen to be believed. It’s massive.

CHIANG MAI Chiang Mai is a cooler and leafier alternative to Bangkok. The ancient capital is a short scooter ride from rainforests and waterfalls, while the city streets are seeing a flurry of new galleries as well as old-school eateries. Head to Chang Khlan Road in the evenings for street food.

KO PHA-NGAN This island can appeal to two types of travellers: firstly the full-moon revellers – all 30,000 of them – who descend on the pristine shores for a night of whisky-fuelled dancing. When they leave, visitors are left with peaceful, pristine beaches and the island to themselves. Win win.

PHUKET If it’s all-out luxury you’re after, then Phuket will deliver. This big island has seen a wave of new hotel openings over the last few years, and the shore is now dotted with some of the best hotels in the country. Head to the Blue Elephant in Phuket Town for a slap-up Thai meal.

GOLDEN TRIANGLE

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DINNER INCLUDES A BOWL OF FERNS PICKED FROM THE FOREST ON OUR HIKE the evening, a small group of us relax by the kitchen fire in Rang-sri’s home. Dinner includes a bowl of ferns and tasty mushrooms that Rang-sri picked from the forest during our hike. Whisky’s passed around to everyone, except Yajoe, whose wife, he explains, can communicate with spirits (villagers call themselves Buddhist, but believe in spirits and other elements of Animism) that say that she’ll become sick if her husband drinks. He hasn’t touched a drop in three years. After another rooster alarm call, our morning hike involves crossing back and forth across a winding river, wading through knee-deep water. “This is the Lang River,” Rang-sri tells me. “It comes in here from Myanmar. The border’s just 20km away.” We cut through small farms, coming out at a river where teenage boys are casting out fishing nets. Our van’s waiting at the

trek’s end to carry us to nearby Tham Nam Lod, a vast cave system containing columns, stalactites, stalagmites and a rock formation shaped like a crocodile. It’s our final stop before our group loads up into the van to return to Chiang Mai via those “2,000 bends” again. On the way, we drop off Rang-sri and Yajoe by the roadside, and they disappear into the forest, making their way back home to These caves are their villages and the thousands of years sometimes enviable old, and ancient ‘simple life’. e artifacts carved by tribespeople have Graeme travelled been discovered with G Adventures within. Nowadays, (gadventures.co.uk; 0344 they’re home to bats and birds. 272 2040), whose new five-day Northern Thailand Hilltribes Trek costs from £229 per person, including two nights at a hotel in Chiang Mai with breakfast, all meals during the trek, van transport and guides. In Chiang Mai, he stayed at 137 Pillars House hotel (137pillarshouse.com), which costs from £246 per night. Thai Airways (thaiairways.co.uk; 0330 400 4022) offers return flights from London Heathrow to Chiang Mai, via Bangkok, starting from £530. For more on Thailand, see tourismthailand.org

Photograph by ###

The Golden Triangle – where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Burma meet – is perhaps best known for its opium-producing history (the House of Opium museum is definitely worth a visit). It’s also a great base for cruising the calm Mekong river, visiting remote hillside villages and slowing the pace for a few days. By Hannah Summers

FROM TOP: A monk strolls through the countryside of northern Thailand; staying in a local village is a great opportunity to integrate with the community


THE NEW WAVE From human pyramids to secret surf beaches and flea markets, these pictures show Spain at its most beautiful, fun and dramatic 48


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FUERTEVENTURA Canary Islands GO FOR: Watersports Just south of Corralejo, on the northern tip of the island of Fuerteventura, is a long and beautiful stretch of otherworldly sand dunes and immaculate beach. If you’re into surfing, kite surfing or wind surfing you’ll be in heaven here, thanks to plenty of wind, year-round warm temperatures and reliable waves. The island has more than 150km of beaches in total, so there’s more than enough to go round, whether you’re in the north or the south.

Photograph by Karolis Janulis/Shutterstock

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TARRAGONA Catalonia

Photograph by Tom Stahl/Shutterstock

GO FOR: Human Pyramid Festival If you can think of anything more worthy of celebration than the human pyramid, we want to hear about it. Head to Tarragona in Spain for a masterclass in the art of balancing people on top of lots of other people – a tradition that dates back to the 18th century. Castells can reach ten storeys high, and celebrations pop up all over Catalonia. Tarragona’s celebrations take place in the Tàrraco Arena Plaza on 1-2 October this year.

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BARCELONA Catalonia GO FOR: Els Encants If you’re heading to Barcelona this summer, your first port of call might well be the beach. But fans of bargain hunting should also make time for the city’s biggest flea market – Els Encants in the El Clot neighbourhood. Public auctions take place first thing in the morning on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and it’s open on Saturdays too. The mirrored canopy – you can see its abstract lines in this picture – is worth a visit on its own.

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Photograph by Tom Stahl=

MORE TRAVEL INSPIRATION AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM


BARRIKA BEACH Basque Country GO FOR: Adventure The Basque Country, which straddles the border with France in the north west of Spain, is rich in cultural tradition, natural beauty and outrageously good food. Barrika sits north of Bilbao – the de facto Basque capital – and reveals these ridges of rock at low tide. At high tide the 600m-long beach disappears, making it better for surfing than sunbathing – unless you and your towel fancy a race against the tide… e

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Photograph by David Santiago Garcia//Shutterstock

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ONE GIANT LEAP Photograph by MoMo Productions/Getty Images

From daredevil divers to rural beauty, everyone can get their high in Jamaica says Lucy McGuire 57


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crane my neck towards the wooden ledge – a makeshift diving board that sits at least 70ft high on top of a wooden pole. A Jamaican man stands with his feet touching the edge. He’s getting himself ready to jump, backwards. As the suspense builds, Rihanna’s gravelly tones slip away from the speakers and the crowds are silenced. I glance from the limestone cliffs to the shadows of deeplying rocks peppering the sea below, and back again, waiting for the jump. He springs up and his feet leave the board. We gasp as he lands shakily back on the board, laughing. These daredevil divers know how to hold a bunch of rum-swilling spectators in suspense. Leaping off Rum is massive Negril’s cliffs comes news in Jamaica. at a risk. But at Appleton is one of Rick’s Café – a highly the island’s most popular brands, or commercialised try Wray & Nephew’s and well-known Overproof that’s institution in the West a whopping 63% volume. Bracing. End – it’s become

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something of a tradition. The café has been rebuilt twice since 1974 after bearing the brunt of hurricanes Gilbert and Ivan. Those too chicken, or sensible, to dive hand their GoPros to the locals, then sit back and enjoy the entertainment, knowing that they’ll definitely have a click-worthy YouTube video to upload later. Our plucky diver teases us with some muscle flexing before he finally takes the plunge. Flipping in the air like an acrobat, he lands in the jade-hued water feet first and toes pointed, with Tom Daley-like finesse. As the sun melts into the horizon, there’s a final Café Del Mar-style standing ovation. Until tomorrow, when the ritual starts again. An online search of Jamaica’s sunset ‘mecca’ returns swoon-worthy Instagram shots and blogs placing it in the ‘top places to see before you die’. The seemingly neverending Seven Mile Beach and staggering sunsets all help. But there’s a vibe about Negril that you only ‘get’ once you’re there. Until the mid-20th century, the area largely consisted of swampland until a road


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Photographs by(Rick’s sunset) Westend61 GmbH/Alamy; (swimming) Andria Patino/Alamy; (Seven Mile Beach) Richard Broadwell / Alamy

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Watching the sunset from Rick’s Café is a popular pastime for both tourists and locals; visitors at Rick’s take a dip; Negril’s famous Seven Mile Beach

Photograph by ###

was built between here and Montego Bay. After Negril Beach Village – one of the first resorts – opened in the 1970s, the influx of American hippies began. The resort, aptly named Hedonism II, became known for its naked volleyball games and nudist beach. Vietnam War soldiers looking for escapism joined them, and Negril’s metamorphosis from sleepy fishing community to offbeat traveller’s utopia began. As my husband and I take a calvethrobbing three-mile hike across Seven Mile Beach’s sand (which, despite its name, is five-and-a-half miles long) we enter a marijuana ‘fog’. Grinning near-naked men and women sway to reggae beats and we begin to get an understanding of the ‘flower children’ who are still here. At the opposite end to the American old-timers you’ll find the fly-and-flop travellers with all-you-caneat wristbands. It’s not quite the glossy images you see in the brochures, but you can find your own personal paradise here. For the first few days, ours is Somewhere West, an Airbnb Blue Mountain has guesthouse run by become one of the New Yorker Angi most sought-after Eastwick and her coffees in the world. Renowned for its Jamaican partner lack of bitterness Jermelee. It’s around and mild flavour, it’s five miles from also one of the most Downtown Negril in expensive... an area known as the Deep West End, and the potholes multiply the nearer we get to the grounds. Some taxi drivers won’t even take us there. “No one stays out here, mon,” one driver whines, as he twists and turns around the craters, the car suspension squeaking desperately. “One day, the government will fix these roads.” He gets so impatient that we decide to pay our fare and get out, walking the remaining mile or so back to Somewhere West in the dark. Setting off to explore, we brave the West End Road, where drivers pass us at an unnerving speed. The only reprieve is that they honk their horns so much, you always know they’re coming. But there’s an upside to playing Russian roulette with our lives. Here, things start to look more ‘real’. We pass rum shacks, roadside fruit stands and wooden gates leading to overgrown gardens. We stop by the peaceful Negril Lighthouse, where waves crash and fizz against the cliffs. In between signs for magic mushrooms, we’re offered ganja and all sorts of wares a dozen times in one morning. But hawkers are a small price to pay. Life here is relaxed.

NEGRIL IS A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN FREE YOURSELF FROM WORK AND STORE YOUR SECRETS “Negril stole my heart,” says Angi. “Here, you can count on every passerby to bid you a genuine good morning. Like in Las Vegas, eccentricity and vice are alive and well and you can let your metaphoric and literal hair down. It’s a place where you can free yourself from your stuffy 9am to 5pm job and store all your dirty little secrets. There’s a sense of freedom that everyone here feels.” I might not be here to store any dirty little secrets, but our serene oceanfront apartment is the ideal place to surrender to the free, relaxed island vibe. At night, we fall asleep to the sound of the ocean and spend our mornings devouring pancakes and big mugs of Blue Mountain Coffee as pelicans dip out of the blue sky. Before long, we’re tapping into Angi’s local knowledge and visiting Just Natural – a roadside restaurant she’s recommended.

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NEED TO KNOW Book Somewhere West guest house via Airbnb for £356 per night (the property has six bedrooms and sleeps 16), airbnb. co.uk; Rockhouse hotel offers double rooms from £65 in low season, rockhouse.com; for more information on the island head to visitjamaica.com

ABOVE: The Rockhouse Hotel in Negril, which has hosted the likes of Bob Marley and Bob Dylan. You don’t have to be called Bob to stay there, though. RIGHT: Lover’s Leap

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taking a terrifying but liberating hop off a 15ft bridge into the sea where newlyweds mark their ‘leap’ into marriage. Our travels head south to the tranquil region of Treasure Beach, where we dodge cows in the street and follow winding roads to the 1,700-ft summit of Lover’s Leap. Named after two African lovers who leapt to their deaths Ackee and saltfish is off the edge of Jamaica’s national the cliff to escape dish, comprising punishment from salted cod and boiled ackee – a type their slave masters, of fruit that was it’s a reminder of the first introduced to Jamaica from Ghana Caribbean’s dark past. in the early 1700s. I look out across the staggering stretch of ocean and once I’ve exhausted all possible camera shots, I stand and take it all in, feeling an overwhelming sense of calm. If Negril seems unhurried, time at Lover’s Leap seems to stand still. There’s no big entertainment, no daredevil divers, just a raw natural beauty that’s best enjoyed through your own eyes. Natural high guaranteed. e

Photographs by (Rockhouse) WorldFoto/Alamy; (Lover’s Leap) Danita Delimont Creative/Alamy

I FIND MYSELF TAKING A TERRIFYING BUT VERY LIBERATING HOP OFF A 15FT BRIDGE INTO THE SEA

“Choose your food, order here, then sit down,” booms the waitress. She’s direct but I kind of like it. We explore a treasure trove of tables hidden around an untamed garden. Each table is topped with draughts boards with Red Stripe bottle tops as the pieces. Crickets chirp loudly and insects crawl from every gnarling branch above us. I tuck into a plate of mahi-mahi that tastes like proper home cooking. Another night, we drop into Sips and Bites, a no-frills joint where a plate of ackee and saltfish takes me to heaven. I can see why people come here and then never leave again. After a few days, it’s time to explore the boutique side of Negril at The Rockhouse, where the likes of Bob Marley and Bob Dylan have stayed. We revel in sundeck yoga, outdoor showers where lizards watch you wash and an adult’s playground of rocky platforms that stretch across Pristine Cove. We watch a man jump from the cliffs of Pirate’s Cave where Steve McQueen leapt off in the 1950s classic 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Spurred on, I find myself


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Myths, legends and religion: Claire Vooght finds that in Bhutan, there’s a surprising tale behind everything

Photograph by ###

AL NING

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n Bhutan, everything has a story. The guru who established the Tiger’s Nest monastery on 3,120m-high cliffs was said to have flown up to the site in the 8th century on the back of a tigress. Dogs sleep all day because they’re busy barking all night – chasing away evil spirits to keep people safe. And, so the story goes, when a group of villagers asked a crazy monk called Drukpa Kunley (more on him later) to perform a miracle – he combined the body of a cow with the head of a goat and gave them the Bhutanese national animal, the takin. Bhutan is also the Paro airport is only country in the 2,500m above sea world with a national level, and some of park dedicated the cliffs surrounding it are 5,500m to preserving the high. It’s said only habitat of the yeti… eight pilots in the Everything in this world are qualified to land there. magical land-locked

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Buddhist Himalayan kingdom – nicknamed ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ for its epic storms – is driven by belief and folklore. Even landing in Bhutan is dramatic: forget soulless stretches of tarmac and space-age air traffic control towers. After the pilot – one of only a few qualified to land here – executes the notoriously difficult manoeuvre between two mountains to get to the runway, we touch down in the tiny Paro airport. It’s made up of a few traditionally painted buildings with pagoda-style roofs. Travelling east from the airport to Punakha, via winding mountain roads with my guide KP and driver Karma, there are road signs, playfully warning, ‘If you are married, divorce speed’, ‘Eager to last, why so fast?’, and ‘Be gentle on my curves’. Other jewels of wisdom say: ‘Don’t litter, it will make your life bitter’, and ‘Self-trust is the essence of heroism’. Strings of prayer flags in red, white,

BHUTAN HAS A FASCINATING MIX OF STRONG BELIEF AND MODERN TECHNOLOGY


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with bright woven fabrics, overlooked by portraits of the fourth and fifth kings. We follow the sound of drumming into the dzong’s temple where there are rows of red-robed monks, whose progressively louder chanting – in Dzongkha, the national language – is flanked by long brass trumpets and crashing cymbals. The drums we heard from outside are painted in blue, turquoise and green, with faces on their sides. And the walls around us are intricately painted with scenes of Buddhist legends, while huge gold pillars hold up the roof. More monks arrive carrying watercolour-painted torma – ritual cakes made from flour and butter – towards the huge gold buddha statue that has the effect of shrinking everything else in the room. There’s a fascinating mix in Bhutan, of strong belief and modern technology. Monks walk around outside texting from largescreened smartphones, and an app called Zakar tells you which days in the Bhutanese lunar year are best to hang prayer flags, get married or start a business.

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Taktsang Dzong, aka the Tiger’s Nest; Punakha Dzong; a performer at Tshechu Festival, Thimphu Dzong.

Photographs by (Takstang) Peter Adams Photography Ltd / Alamy; (festival) Keren Su/ Getty s/Lonely Planet Images

green, yellow and blue hang between trees along the roads, against a clear, blue backdrop of sky – each inscribed with mantras that, Buddhists believe, are released when the wind blows. Four hours and a “Bhutanese massage” later – Karma’s forgiving name for the bumpy ride on the dirt roads that are still in some parts being constructed – we reach the rural Punakha valley. Women in full-length woven silk skirts or kira (see ‘bhutanstreetfashion’ on Instagram) roast corn on the roadside; red chillies sun-dry on the tin rooftops of farmhouses between terraced rice fields. Punakha Dzong, aka ‘the palace of great happiness’, can be found deep in the valley where two unpolluted, bright blue-green rivers meet. Like most dzongs, it houses government offices and monks in training. We trundle up its steep whitewashed steps and through a huge entrance draped

Built in 1499, the Chimi Lhakhang is visited by women seeking fertility blessings – they are hit on the head with a ten-inch wooden phallus as part of the process.

We walk to a narrow suspension bridge, laden with prayer flags – some new, others white and wind-worn. KP starts whistling to “make the wind blow”, and release those good mantras. By this point, it’s safe to say my mind has been blown wide open and I’m ready for anything. Which is just as well, because next we’re off to Chimi Lhakhang Fertility Temple, where tourist groups are being anointed by a monk with a phallus relic, attached to a bow and arrow. It’s said to promote fertility and good luck, and is the work of the aforementioned crazy monk Drukpa Kunley, who it turns out was less of a virtuous spiritual leader, and more of a heavy-drinking lothario. Nonetheless, his influence extends far and wide, and people visit the temple from surrounding countries such as Japan. Throughout Punakha valley, five-

BHUTAN’S MOST INCREDIBLE FESTIVALS HAA SUMMER FESTIVAL, JULY Head to the remote Haa valley to witness how nomadic herders live. Expect yak riding, singing and dancing to folk songs, home-cooked food and potent local ara liquor. Hike it off the next morning around the area’s pristine lakes and poppy fields.

MATSUTAKE MUSHROOM FESTIVAL, AUGUST Learn to identify and harvest wild matsutake mushrooms, native to Bhutan and prized by culinary types in Japan, in the forests and hills of Bumthang (pronounced boom-tang).

JAMBAY LHAKHANG DRUP, OCTOBER The fire ceremony, in which people sprint under a burning gate made from dry grass, is the biggest draw to this monastery for its festival. A ritualistic naked dance, which happens later, also pulls in the crowds.

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foot phalluses are painted on the fronts of people’s houses as a symbol of fertility. And visitors’ reactions are a constant source of amusement to locals. I explain that at home people would be offended if you drew a penis on your house. KP looks puzzled and laughs. We spend a night on the sauce (locally brewed Bhutanese Druk Supreme beer and Bhutan Highland Grain Whisky), starting in a surprisingly fun bar with peeling pink walls, where we take turns to pick a song to dance to on stage. It ends with some provincial Punakha clubbing, soundtracked by Bollywood dance music, Dzongkha pop and western mixes featuring Macklemore’s ‘Thrift Shop’. Then we hit the road for Thimphu. En route, Karma plays a mantra song “to alleviate suffering” (our sore heads). And when we get to Bhutan’s capital, I take a walk around. Some delicately painted graffiti – ‘different is beautiful’ – on a wall in the Clock Tower Square sums up Thimphu,

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and in fact the whole country, which is most famous for ditching GDP in favour of gross national happiness. Thimphu is utterly relaxed. There’s no Starbucks, no McDonald’s and no Colonel. Most people in the capital still wear national dress, and the younger generation linger in coffee shops that have escaped identikit global hipsterisation, fostering their own kind of Bhutanese cool. (Check out Ambient Cafe and Roastery, with its bamboo lampshades and traditional design hints.) Pine-carpeted hills above the capital are home to one of the biggest Buddhas in the world – a 169ft-tall At 2,240-2,648m gold statue – the above sea level, construction of which Bhutan’s capital is has been taking the third highest capital city in the place over the past whole world. It’s few years. And then home to around 91,000 people, and is there’s the National still growing. Memorial Chorten,

NEED TO KNOW Tourists have to pay a tariff of $200-250USD per day to be in the country. This covers food, a guide, transport, entry fees and 3* accommodation. ABC offers tours all year round, abc.com.bt. Return flights with Drukair from Delhi to Paro start from £394, drukair. com.bt. For more information on Bhutan, visit tourism.gov.bt.

Photographs by (Thimphu) robertharding / Alamy; (clock) Jason Edwards/Getty Images/National Geographic Creative; (Punakha) Getty/National Geographic Creative

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: The National Memorial Chorten in Thimphu; the city’s clock tower; paddy fields in the Punakha valley

a big whitewashed religious structure built to honour the Third King of Bhutan – where scores of monks and locals keep the prayer wheels turning almost constantly. But the city can only tell you so much about Bhutan – so I head to a farmstead in Paro valley to experience a hot stone bath, which people had in the old days after working in the fields. It’s pretty, er, rustic (a wood-lined hole dug in the ground, inside a tin-roofed shack) About 20,000 people but the minerals in live in the Paro the stones, from the district, which river nearby, are includes a valley, river and town. The supposedly good for valley extends west your skin, and it’s a all the way to the good way to warm up. peaks on the Tibetan border. Choden is the grandmother in the family who own the farm – a tiny lady who reminds me of a Bhutanese version of my own gran – and she cooks us a fiery dinner, lovingly delivered by two of her endearingly shy granddaughters. It’s red rice, chilli pork with egg plant, spinach and eggs with hot chilli sauce, and the national dish – chilli cheese. “We say if it doesn’t have chilli in it, it’s not proper food,” says KP. Over dinner, Choden’s husband is talking to Karma in Dzongkha, with KP translating: “He’s talking about how to do black magic. How to rid yourself of bad things you did in a previous life.” When I don’t think the conversation can surprise me any more, I ask, “Do you meditate?” given the trend sweeping the west. “No,” chuckles KP. “That’s just for monks.” I can’t say coming to Bhutan has made this 21st-century agnostic believe any more in religion, but for the first time ever I’m in awe of it. I find it baffling that such a beautiful, unique, and frankly life-changing place to visit still exists in today’s world. e


Return with us to Nature’s perfect playground

Set on 11, 000 hectares, Gondwana is the only Fynbos reserve in the world with free roaming big 5 species. Luxury accommodation in Kwena Lodge suites or private bush villas ideal for families. Enjoy exhilarating game drives in a spectacular landscape. Ideally located only 4 hours from Cape Town and 45 Minutes from George Airport. Fun Junior Ranger Experience for Kids.

Contact Details: Tel: +27 (00 21 555 0807 Email: reservations@gondwanagr.co.za Website: www.gondwanagamereserve.com GARDEN ROUTE -SOUTH AFRICA


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WALK THE WALK Photograph by Boston Globe/Getty

Planning your next US city break? Check out the burgers, beers and baseball in Boston, says Hannah Summers

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uperb historical sights, rich Irish heritage, brainbox universities… if this is starting to sound like a holiday checklist for your parents, then think again. Once famed as a haunt for academics, Boston, Massachusetts has now evolved into a major city-break destination, with slick new hotels, mounds of seafood and cheap new flight routes all present. This is a city that lacks the grit that I’ve come to love in American cities, and the brashness of others. It’s understated, yet at the same time grand. Old (in relative terms), architecturally rich buildings line the streets; students throng the pavements; locals approach you in the coffee shops, restaurants and pubs, desperate to talk to you about baseball, beer and even algorithms. Yes, really. That happened. It doesn’t need the fast-paced schedule of New York, the pockets of cash like Vegas or the ruin-porn obsession that’s necessary for a trip to Detroit. It doesn’t need much of your time, either. For an American city break that feels refreshingly un-American, here’s how to spend 48 hours in Boston.

Day one: Brookline, Fenway Park, Somerville and central Boston

Morning Boston’s a walkable city, but you’ll need some fuel. Jump on the T train and head west to Brookline, a wealthy neighbourhood where pretty houses are home to bornand-raised Bostonians and students from nearby Boston University. A local favourite hangout is Zaftigs – a quirky and colourful diner with leather booths, a menu scrawled on a blackboard and walls adorned with abstract works by a local artist (paintings of the owner’s hatOfficially Brookline wearing pugs line is part of Greater the perimeter of the Boston, and can bright room). be reached easily via the T train. Grab a stool at Check out the Art the bar to chat with Deco exterior of the the friendly staff, Coolidge Corner who are on hand for Theatre. recommendations. Mine was an egg, cheese and apple omelette (don’t knock it) with a cinnamon and raisin bagel, but the signature dish is probably the pastrami and sauerkraut sarnie, a monster of a meal that a few oldies were enjoying next to me. Save your caffeine fix for coffee shop 4a down the road; it’s run by a husband-and-wife team, who seemed to be mid-argument when I wandered in, which

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FROM ABOVE: Take a tour around Fenway Park stadium, home to the Red Sox baseball team; craft beer at Night Shift Brewing

only added to my macchiato’s flavour. I’m not usually one for tours, especially of empty sports stadiums, but the behindthe-scenes walk through Fenway Park – home of the Red Sox and the oldest baseball stadium in the US – is a must if you want to understand what makes Bostonians tick. Our guide strolled with us around the ball park, talking us through its significance in times past (when families would disown you if you went on to support a team other than the Red Sox) to today (when families would probably do the same). The tour takes you through the press room, the big Green Monster (the nickname of the lefthand wall with the scoreboard) and the wall of fame – with pictures of bands that have played at the stadium. It sounds odd, but there was something quite beautiful about the empty stadium, with its grass being prepped and original metal chairs waiting for groups of eager sports fans.

Afternoon When you’re not talking about the Red Sox in Boston, you’re probably chatting about beer. The Boston Brewing Company runs awesome tours taking in some of the best

WHERE TO STAY

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Evening There’s platters and platters of sushi at Fuji Restaurant in Somerville (to the north of the city). Try some, but save room for the salt-fried pork belly and Sichuan beans and beef. For something less formal (although Fuji is hardly formal, just a tad smarter)

Day two: Harvard University, central Boston and Seaport

Morning A tour of a university sounds mega dull, but bear with me. Each tour of historic Harvard in the suburb of Cambridge is led by a student at the uni – guys and girls who excel at pretty much everything in life, if my guide Ben Kelly is anything to go by. He’s the sweetest, most enthusiastic guide you

SHORTPATH IS A NEW, INDY GIN AND VODKADISTILLING SPACE

Photographs by Hannah Summers

The Aloft Seaport is a functional yet funky hotel in the emerging Seaport district. Rooms aren’t fancy, but they are spacious, with some decent city views, too. Nightly rates from £195 per room, starwoodhotels.com. The Godfrey Hotel is a city centre option with pretty, bright rooms and nightly rates from £136, godfreyhotelboston.com

local breweries in the city – even if you’re not that into beer you’re sure to find the warehouse and brewing process interesting. My first stop is Night Shift Brewing – a craft beer company with a #BeerIsArt ethos and hashtag – which was started by three mates who used to home brew as a hobby. Today there’s a big warehouse out back, where you can see beer ageing in barrels before being bottled and labeled, and you’ll get to try a few ales and lagers, too. They range from banana-scented wheat beers to one called Smells Like Weed. Afterwards, head over to Shortpath Distillery. Set up by a few friends who ditched high-flying jobs, it’s an indy gin- and vodka-distilling space Night Shift Brewing with eucalyptus- and was established in lavender-infused 2012, but the first concoctions, and a brews were created back in 2007 in a cute bar attached. kitchen. Guests can If you’re there on a visit the taproom Sunday, the owner and the huge bar out front, too. brings in his vinyl record collection. Feel free to have a rummage and pick your favourite – they’ll happily play it. The final stop – depending on the tour you take – is Down East Cider. Forget everything you know about cider, because this is the real deal. Proper appley, fruity, natural stuff made with Massachusetts apples. The team’s ciders are also far less dry than you might be used to – mainly because they use beer-brewing as opposed to champagne-making yeast (more common in cider brewing). It’s like glugging fresh apple juice, but better.

check out the Boston Burger Company and its 30-strong burger menu, including the Hot Mess – a heap of jalapeños, bacon sauces and who knows what else, piled on a bun that ends up hidden underneath. For a pretty and smart city, Boston does dive bars surprisingly well. A great in-town option is The Tam, a sticky-floored, brightly lit long bar where they spin rock tunes, packed with a young crowd of clever people (I meet some type of bearded algorithm genius, among other similar types). End the night at the Fairmont Copley Plaza’s bar with a signature martini, or three.


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15 Beacon Street Boston, MA 617.670.1500 877.XVBeacon www.XVBeacon.com


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could hope for – really smart (obviously), personable, great at singing and sport (all handy at one of America’s top universities). He takes us on a really engaging tour through various spots on campus recounting stories of each historic building. We find out that the Widener library was donated by the widow of a man who died on the Titanic, and until the 1970s Harvard had a swim test for graduates – one of the wife’s conditions when donating the library. We also meet plenty of Ben’s fellow students on the way, many of whom show their appreciation for him by running up and giving him a big hug. You’ll want to hug him, too.

Afternoon Take a wander around the Harvard Uni neighbourhood to soak up some of the student vibes before heading back into town. Depending on your interests there are a few things to tick off – I head to the library, a humongous 19th-century building that homes 23.7 million items, and plenty of students getting the hours in, too. The Isabella Steward Gardner Museum houses her eccentric art collection, from ancient to 19th-century works, but I’m distracted by cannolis on steroids in the cafes in Little Italy – one of the less manicured, but no less charming, areas of the city. For a stroll, try the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a mile-and-a-half-long stretch of contemporary parks. It’s part of a plan to ‘pretty up’ the city – Boston is one of the first US cities to move roads underground to utilise green space above, and you’ll find kooky artworks and activities along the way. My favourite stop is the carousel, which is decorated with unconventional animals –

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Dewey Square Park is one of several parks along the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and is a hangout for city workers, art fans (check out the mural) and streetfood fanatics.

the creators went to a local school and asked what native Massachusetts animals the pupils would like to see on the ride. Sit on a squirrel and go for a quick spin (they take song requests too). Further along is the Dewey Square Park, a green space scattered with deck chairs (in the summer people gather here for meetings) and one huuuuge wall that’s regularly replastered with new murals. Arrive around lunchtime and some of the city’s best food trucks will have gathered here with burgers, tacos and coffees, or head to the Greenway on Thursday evenings for sun-drenched block parties.

Evening Bostonians seem to be split when it comes to Seaport. The waterside area, which looks like a mass of car parks and empty buildings, is seen by some as a nothing town, but for others it’s an emerging district that in ten years or so will be a majorly cool hangout. My time here is largely centred around food – start early evening at Legals, a huge glass-encased restaurant on the water that serves some of the best seafood in the city – think lobster rolls, chowder and bloody marys pimped with prawns. Come nighttime, it’s a great area for drinks. Down the road in Lucky’s Lounge

there’s a live reggae band and local beers on tap. But one of my favourite bars is Drink Boston. It’s a dark, wood-filled space downstairs, all dangly lightbulbs and edgy customers, and instead of ordering your drinks from a menu, you tell the bartender what you like (mine’s tequila and citrus) and they’ll shake something up just for you. Don’t forget the famous burger. They create 15 a night and once they are gone they are gone. You smell it before you taste it: a double patty cocooned in a freshly made bun that touches your nose when you go in for your first bite. There’s slices of squidgy American cheese, a smear of sauce and a pickle lobbed on top for texture and tang. Think a grown-up Big Mac, but better. It’s a burger that’s good-looking, clever and a little bit cool – just like Boston. e

TRAVEL INFO Norwegian Air has launched direct flights to Boston from £159 one way, norwegian.com. Harvard University tours from £8pp, trademarktours.com; Fenway Park tours from £12pp, boston.redsox. mlb.com; Boston Brew tours from £40pp, bostonbrewtours.com; visit BostonUSA.com for more info.

Photographs by Hannah Summers

SIT ON A SQUIRREL AND GO FOR A QUICK SPIN ON THE CAROUSEL

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: The Boston city skyline; art on the Rose Kennedy Greenway; the interior of Boston Public Library


FAMILY FUN FOR ALL SEASONS

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F OR MORE DETA I LS V I SI T

he verc astle.co.u k/w hats on OR CA LL – 01732 865224

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FAMILY IN TOW Photograph by ###

Family holidays don’t have to mean soggy sandwiches and squabbles. Take things up a gear with a real adventure... Words by Hannah Summers 75


Freedive in Cape Town Cape Town may seem like a schlep, but the 12-hour flight south comes with zero jet lag, making it easy enough for children, and you, to get back on schedule. For an unusual twist on a family holiday, try a freediving holiday with Steppes Travel. The company has partnered with Hanli Prinsloo, founder of the I Am Water foundation, an organisation that aims to teach you the techniques of freediving while also learning about the importance of ocean conservation. Hanli teaches adults and children aged eight and above to swim and freedive with dolphins and sharks in Mozambique and Freediving relies on Cape Town, but divers being able also educates them to hold their breath on the importance until resurfacing, as opposed to relying of the underwater on scuba gear. It’s ecosystem. Each a peaceful and freediving trip helps relaxing way to generate funds for explore the ocean. Hamli to teach local children to swim in the ocean – you and your children might also get a chance to help, too. If you’re looking to go all out on the holiday, consider tagging on a safari. HOW: Steppes Travel offers nine-night free diving trips to Mozambique and Cape Town from £2,485pp full board, steppestravel.co.uk

Self-drive through Iceland Why road-trip up the M1 when you could cruise in a car along the coast of Iceland? Discover the World’s nine-night, tailor-made Family Explorer trip is the best way to get children excited by the school curriculum – by actually seeing the waterfalls, fjords and volcanoes of those dry geography lessons.

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CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Bring geography lessons liferestaurants in Iceland; self-catering in style hotels andto20 that range from in France; sunset at Sani Resort in Halkidiki

HOW: Discover the World offers nine-night fly drive trips from £1,099 based on four sharing on a self-catering basis, discover-the-world.co.uk

Take it easy in Greece Family holidays can be hard work, we get it. That is until you take a holiday at Sani Resort, a 1,000-acre eco reserve on the Halkidiki Peninsula of mainland Greece. Here you’ll find cool young couples with cute kids making the most of 9km of private beach, along with four luxurious

FIND OUT MORE AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM

Photographs by (Iceland) Ragnar Th Sigurdsson;

SWIM AND FREEDIVE WITH DOLPHINS AND SHARKS IN MOZAMBIQUE

Staying in two different summer houses along the coast, you can explore some of the country’s most dramatic scenery at your own pace, while distances between sights offer excursions including whale watching, a puffin safari boat trip, glacier hiking and caving in a lava tube.


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tavernas to intimate fine dining (use the free babysitting for that evening, yeah?). The resort even offers a babe watch programme – leave your toddlers with childcare pros on the beach while you slip off for a snooze, sunbathe or beer. If you’re really keen on abandoning the kids, book them into the football academy, baby swimming classes or send them off to the Sani wetlands – a space crammed with flouro-pink flamingos. The bulk of Sani’s restaurants and bars are located around the resort’s pretty marina, where you can watch the boats bobbing up and down while you sip sundowners.

HOW: Classic Collection offers seven nights for a family of four from £2,089 with return flights and transfers, classic-collection.co.uk

Pile into a villa in France Sometimes the best family holidays are just a load of people piling into one big house, lounging around the pool, prepping home-cooked meals and playing lilo wars. If that’s your idea of a break, check out the latest collection of French self-catering

villas and apartments from Sawday’s. La Ferme du Monteil is a particularly cushy option – located just 90 minutes from La Rochelle (not a bad drive from the UK), the four-bedroom restored farmhouse comes with fresh yet cosy interiors, lavender flower boxes, a pool and lots of pretty countryside views. In the garden you’ll also find a space for badminton, boules and a sand pit (remember those?!). Stock up on fresh baguettes, cheese and vino, and get the children on dishes duty. HOW: Sawdays offers stays at Le Ferme du Monteil from £2,300 per week, sleeping ten people, sawdays.co.uk

Scream it out in Germany Never mind the kids – if you’re anything like us you’re also desperate to ride the secondhighest rollercoaster in Europe. Theme-park focused holidays don’t have to involve long flights to Orlando – Europa Park is Europe’s biggest theme park with 13 themed areas (Russia, Greece, Ireland etc) that take families on a round-the-world tour in one handy day. Accommodation-wise,

EUROPA PARK IN GERMANY IS EUROPE’S BIGGEST THEME PARK

Boatloads of family fun this summer! Our collection of award-winning holidays is designed for families who want far more than the usual summer break. Try white water rafting in Austria, mountain biking in Tuscany or snorkelling off the Galapagos Islands. We have a range of holidays to suit all ages and abilities.

Visit www.activitiesabroad.com or call 01670 785 091 to find out more


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arrival. Sophisticated it isn’t, but seriously fun it certainly is. HOW: From £1,955 per person,

disneycruiseline.co.uk

Live on an English farm

THE FIRE PIT CAMPSITE IN NORFOLK IS AS CHILLEDOUT AS CAMPING GETS there are well-priced hotels on site, along with log cabins, covered wagons and teepee tents. Twin your fast-paced adventures with a few low-key days across the border in France. Share tyre-size tarte flambées (a sort of cheesy pastry pizza) and rent bikes for countryside jaunts along the river. HOW: Europa Park offers rooms from £70 a night, with tickets from europapark.de/en; Ryanair offers return flights to Baden Baden from £45,

Go glamping in Norfolk Like it or loathe it, at some point kids want to go camping. If a week in a collapsing tent is too much to handle, try a long weekend at

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HOW: Week-long stay based on a family of four sharing starts from £980, farmstay.co.uk

HOW: The Fire Pit campsite offers pitches from £15 per night per adult, or £400 for a weekend in the Wren’s Nest, thefirepitcamp.co.uk

Take a Disney-themed cruise Whatever you think about cruises, you’d be a nutter not to love a Disney-themed cruise in the Mediterranean. One of Disney Cruise Line’s newest cruises is a Frozeninspired, seven-night sail on Disney Magic – a ten-deck sparkle fest of waterslides, theatre shows, spas, gyms and all-youcan-feast restaurants. And it doesn’t stop with the Frozen cast either: there’s Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, an epic kids club that little ones will never want to leave (hello, time to yourself) and As you’d expect, limitless ice cream. this massive ship Oh, and that’s not all. is big enough to When you dock in house something for everyone, from port ‘When You Wish Pinocchio’s Pizzeria Upon A Star’ blares and Goofy’s Pool to out, just in case the a Chill Spa aimed at teenagers. locals missed your

Photograph by ###

ryanair.com

the Fire Pit campsite, close to the village of Wendling in Norfolk. The meadow is planted with 420 saplings planted by the Woodland Trust, and there are just 15 pitches, making your camping experience as chilled-out as it gets. Bring your own tent or go for the Wren’s Nest, a two-level glamping dome crafted with recycled materials and local hazelwood, and kitted out with warm lighting and five cosy beds. As nice as the field is, you’ll probably want to leave the site and explore a bit – try Cromer, a Victorian seaside town that’s seeing a bit of a revival.

Photograph by (top) Helen Hotson/Shutterstock

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Ilfracombe in Devon; Lower Campscott Farm is a great base from which to explore Devon’s coast; camping with a difference in Norfolk

Everyone wants to spend the weekend with Muffin, Gypsy, Tiny and Pip (they’re Shetland ponies, FYI). Their tranquil Devonshire home is Lower Campscott Farm, and now you can stay there, too. Set in 35 acres of lush Lower Campscott English countryside, Farm’s newest the farm’s lodgings residents are a are made up of seven family of very cute Kunekune pigs. The cosy self-catering small and friendly cottages, which have specimens will keep access to a games kids busy as they’re room, outdoor play always hungry. areas, farm trails and wildflower walks – perfect for kids who like to charge around and let off steam. It gets better – this is a farm after all, so expect daily animal feeding (the ponies are just the beginning), while Devon’s sandy beaches are just minutes away. If the location doesn’t suit, the Farm Stays’ website is chocca with other farm-focused holidays, with plenty of dog-friendly options, too.


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TAKE AN AIRBOAT RIDE FOR THE CHANCE TO SEE ALLIGATORS, TURTLES AND PELICANS See animals in the sunshine in Florida For year-round sunshine, beaches and wildlife, Fort Lauderdale serves up an easy family holiday. Forget the theme parks that this American state is famous for, and instead let your kids get their animal fix. Take an airboat ride through the Sawgrass Recreation Park, a great chance to see alligators, turtles and pelicans while gliding across the water, and for even more animals, take a swamp buggy eco-tour, where you’ll splash through the wilderness of Seminole Country and see native animals and possibly the elusive Florida Panther, an endangered subspecies of cougar. Back on water, book onto a catamaran cruise of the coast, with snorkelling, swimming and most

FROM TOP: The Algarve’s beaches are great for a family day out; explore Florida’s wildlife on an airboat ride in Fort Lauderdale

importantly, hurling yourself in the water from a giant blow-up water trampoline. HOW: Book into the Pelican Grand Beach Resort Hotel – it’s set right on the beach without you needing to cross a road (unusual in Florida) and has a top lazy river. Norwegian Air is the only airline flying direct to Fort Lauderdale, one-way flights from £179, norwegian.com/uk

Beach hop in the Algarve The Algarve may have a rep as a golfers’ paradise, but alongside the sun-drenched beaches and lush fairways, there are pretty mountain villages and historic coastal towns to explore, and excellent local food and wines to discover, too. Base yourself somewhere near Faro – it’s where you’ll

HOW: Various companies offer rentals in the area – try Alternative Portgual, a newly launched company specialising in beachhouses and villas, alternative-portugal.co.uk; or something like Only Apartments, only-apartments.com; EasyJet offers return flights to Faro from £50, easyjet.com

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Photograph 9Portugal) by Getty/Moment Open

be flying into (in just under three hours from London). Our pick would be Olhão, a picturesque fishing village that’s been trading since the middle ages. Spend the morning exploring the waterfront market and cobbled lanes, The Algarve is full then hit one of the of excellent places beaches that this part where you can of Portugal is famous sample some of Portugal’s tradifor. We recommend tional dishes – try a that you head for Cataplana, a stew Praia da Marinha, a containing clams Portuguese pin-up and pork. beach which ticks the ‘turquoise water’ and ‘soft sand’ boxes nicely, and is an absolutely great choice for families. For a day out, hit the Parque Natural Ria de Formosa. A cluster of idyllic islands sit offshore here – catch the boat from Tavira town to Ilha de Tavira, which has lagoon paddling for children, bars and plenty of sand to explore. The more adventurous should head due east to the border with Spain – particularly intrepid explorers can cross between the countries on a 2,363ft zipline that glides 50ft above the Guadiana River. e


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CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Natural beauty meets modern style at Belmond La Samanna; many suites have ocean views; take to the water for stellar views

One of a Kind Belmond La Samanna brings a luxurious touch to the natural beauty and charm of St Martin, with fantastic food, spacious suites and the best sunsets in the Caribbean

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t’s easy to leave your cares behind when you’re gazing out over pure-white sands, fringed with palms and lapped by the turquoise Caribbean Sea. It’s even easier when you’re doing so from your spacious ocean-view suite at Belmond La Samanna – the most exclusive resort on the beautiful island of St Martin.

AS SOON AS YOU CHECK IN TO YOUR ROOM, YOU’LL KNOW YOU’RE SOMEWHERE TRULY SPECIAL

Belmond La Samanna is an elegant contemporary resort, perched right on the soft white sands of Baie Longue and set among lush greenery, where everything is designed for pure enjoyment and relaxation. From the moment you check in to your luxuriously appointed room or suite, many with sea views and private balconies, you’ll know you’ve arrived somewhere special. That’s a feeling you’ll become familiar with at Belmond Samanna, from the year-round warm sea – where you can kick back in a cabana, or enjoy complimentary watersports – to the stellar lineup of fantastic restaurants and bars, which range from the formal to the relaxed. Begin the day with a lavish breakfast at Interlude, then head to the Beach Bar for lunch, where you can dine on grilled fish and light bites right at the foot of the ocean. Later, try Trellis for locally caught lobster in an elegant bistro setting, with wine from the private cellar – it houses more than 20,000 bottles. For a special occasion, you can even dine in the cellar’s private dining room. If laid-back dining and pristine beaches aren’t relaxing enough, the decadent Elysée Spa

will soon have you in a blissfully tranquil state. Choose from a first-class selection of massages and treatments, using products by Sisley and Pure Altitude. Or just pull up a lounger by the infinity pool and soak up the Caribbean sun – then watch the spectacular sunset at the end of the day, with a signature cocktail in your hand. Beyond Belmond La Samanna itself, there’s the whole of beautiful St Martin to explore, from the quieter French side (on which the resort sits) to the popular Dutch half. There are more than 450 restaurants to seek out, plus bars, nightclubs, casinos and outstanding beaches. But you’ll find the very best of St Martin at Belmond La Samanna. It’s paradise, with added luxury. ◆ belmond.com/la-samanna-st-martin

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The Dream Team For a holiday that keeps the entire family happy, look no further than Beaches Resorts in the Caribbean. Thrill-seeker, food-lover or sun-worshiper: there’s something for everyone

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magine a family holiday with a backdrop of crystal-white sand, gently swaying palms and dreamlike, turquoise-blue waters. That’s exactly what you’ll find at a Luxury Included® Beaches Resort – where a dream combination of Caribbean setting and a huge dose of fun adds up to the ultimate family adventure. With elegant resorts located on the north and south coasts of Jamaica, and on the pristine coast of Turks & Caicos, Beaches Resorts are ready and waiting for you and your family to check in. Voted the World’s Leading All-Inclusive Family Resorts for the past 18 years, a Beaches Luxury Included® package offers a stylish break and exciting tailor-made activities for all the family. Food lovers will adore the resorts’ Gourmet Discovery Dining options, with up to 21 unique restaurants per resort (ranging from cool steak houses to chic French bistros that will cater to all of the family’s tastes), not to mention unlimited premium alcoholic drinks for grownups – all included in the price of the holiday.

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Beaches guests will also have access to an incredible array of all-inclusive sports and entertainment. Young children and teenagers will love having the freedom to explore the resorts’ extensive recreational activities, such as Turks & Caicos’ enormous Pirates Island Waterpark, whose new 42ft SkySlide guarantees endless thrills for kids and adults alike. On dry land, Xbox Games Garages, Scratch DJ Academy, Sesame Street™ Parades and South Beachinspired teen hangout, Club Liquid (exclusive to Beaches), provide entertainment to children of all ages, from morning until night. And the fun doesn’t stop there. There’s no better way to master a new sport than with Beaches’ professional land and water sport instructors. The resorts’ unlimited and allinclusive tuition in sports including tennis, water skiing and golf will have you bragging at the dinner table (and showing off the next day). Those seeking peace quiet, on the other hand, can stroll along pristine beaches or laze

on a lounger by the pool. Parents may also drop the youngest children off with the resorts’ certified nannies and take time to relax at the Red Lane® Spas, where specially designed therapy treatments will transport you to your own tranquil haven. It’s the perfect way to wind down before rejoining the family for an evening of delicious food and exceptional entertainment. At the end of an action-packed day, nothing beats settling into your spacious sanctuary. From luxurious, elegantly-appointed rooms to cosy cottages and beachside villas, Beaches has a place that’s perfect for your family. Some say you can’t have it all. At Beaches Resorts, you can. ◆ For more information visit beaches.co.uk, call 0800 022 3233 or visit the Beaches Resorts Luxury Travel Store at 135 Fulham Road, London, SW3 6RT


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CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Beaches Resorts are located on some of the best beaches in the Caribbean; children will love the resorts’ waterparks; Xbox gaming sessions; parents can take it easy at the beach

YOUNG CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS WILL LOVE HAVING THE INDEPENDENCE TO EXPLORE THE RESORT AND TRY NEW ACTIVITIES

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Scrambler™ RT 40 OutDry® Photo: Ian Coble

Rainshadow™ 26 OutDry® Photo: Ian Coble

Scrambler™ RT 35 OutDry® Photo: Cheyne Lempe

THIS IS NO PLACE F O R A L E A K Y P A C K. With a unique waterproof liner, Mountain Hardwear OutDry® packs combine the waterproof durability of a dry bag with the comfort of a real backpack.

mountainhardwear.co.uk


CHECKLIST

CHECKLIST 86 GIRLS 88 GUYS 90 GEAR 98  REAR VIEW

Photograph by David Harrison

WRIST & REWARD: It might be inspired by vintage diver’s watches, but Filson’s new Dutch Harbour is built for trawlermen. That means it needs to be precise, easy to read and tough enough to endure a constant battering from the ocean. £645; filson.com

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CHECKLIST ★   GIR L S  ★

SUMMER LOVIN’ Rumour has it that summer’s set to be hottie. Whether you’re hitting Britain’s beaches or strolling the streets abroad, this snazzy gear will keep you looking and feeling good.

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1. ANGEL EYE, Daffodil Fantasy shorts, £27. Highwaisted shorts with serious flower power. Also available in cream. angeleyefashion.com 2. FRESCOBOL CARIOCA, Striped linen beach towel, £95. Lightweight towel available in every colour you can

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imagine – we love the stripes. frescobolcarioca.com 3. KUTULA, Struggle For Peace crop top, £25. The struggle is real – wear this to prove you’re on board. kutula-army.com 4. SOMEDAYS LOVIN’, Laceup tunic dress, £80.

For boho vibes on the beach or the street, this floaty dress has you covered. urbanoutfitters.com 5. FRESCOBOL CARIOCA, beach bag, £295. Italian linen and leather combine to create a sturdy yet pretty bag. frescobolcarioca.com


CHECKLIST MORE TRAVEL INSPIRATION AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM 6. OBEY, Ruckus dress, £50. Looking to cause a scene this summer? This punky striped dress should do it. shop.obeyclothing.co.uk

Photograph by David Harrison

Take your sunbathing kit to the beach in style with this sturdy-but-trendy Frescobol Carioca tote. The linen body ensures it’s light, while its leather handles are tough.

7. JUJU, Erin sandals, £26. Comfy rubber sandals made with 100% recyclable materials. Go plain or go glitter. jujufootwear.com 8. HER CURIOUS NATURE, Summer Rose crown, £38. Give your festival hair a hippie floral revamp. hercuriousnature.com

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9. KOMONO, Stella Black sunglasses, £69.95. People watching? Us? Keep it stealthy behind these shades. shop.komono.com

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10. TIMEX, Weekender Fairfield watch, £54.95. This colourful watch from Timex will perk up your wrist in no time. timex.co.uk 11. TOPSHOP, Shell and abalone Turquise necklace, £14. Sass up your summer wardrobe with this jangly statement necklace. topshop.com

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★  G UYS ★

The Forbes & Lewis Arnold takes its design cues from old army duffels, with modern luxurious touches like leather trim, an internal valuables pocket and front zip pocket.

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CHECKLIST

THE PRODIGAL SUN RETURNS Everything’s better when the sun shines – grey London streets look suddenly idyllic, cheap beer tastes better than Dom Perignon, and we all look like David Gandy. Don’t we?

1. KUTULA, Box t-shirt, £30. Roll back the sleeves to reveal black-and-white camo print. Handy for hiding among zebras. kutula-army.com

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2. QUIKSILVER, Surf jacket in castlerock, £90. Washed-out windbreaker for keeping out the pre- post- or no-surf chill. quiksilver.co.uk

5. SPOKE, Summer chinos in coral, £89. Lightweight, light colour, heavy summer vibes. And yes, pink is your colour. spoke-london.com

3. FORBES & LEWIS, Arnold duffel in khaki, £85. Waterproof bag that’ll do for the beach, the gym or a weekend away. forbesandlewis.com

6. PASSENGER, Biarritz Turkish towel, £21.99. Picnics, beach trips and adventures all sorted with this compact towel. passenger-clothing.com

4. O’NEILL, Stringer pattern shorts, £54.99. With a subtle vintage pattern for an instant festival-veteran look, minus the mud and cider stains. oneill.com

7. FILSON, Dutch Harbour, £645. Serious wrist action from the Seattle brand, for water lovers and watch geeks alike. filson.com/london-store 8. NIKE, Flatspot in wolf grey, £71.10. With a shape inspired by the flat spots on skateboard wheels caused by skidding. Er, rad? shadestation.co.uk 9. FINISTERRE, Sparnon shirt, £75. Summer-weight shirt to wear on its own or over a T-shirt when the weather cools off. finisterre.com 10. TIMBERLAND, classic boat shoe in potting soil and tan, £105. If you’re not wearing boat shoes, it isn’t summer yet. timberlandonline.co.uk

Photograph by David Harrison

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CHECKLIST

CAM DO ATTITUDE If you’re anything like us, you’d rather be out there creating amazing footage of your adventures than spending days editing it. The TomTom Bandit action cam might just be the answer… The Bandit’s app makes it simple to edit hours of footage on your phone when you’re on the go. You don’t even have to download the footage first, saving time and memory.

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MORE TRAVEL INSPIRATION AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM

Photograph by David Harrsion

The Bandit has built-in motion sensors that pick up sudden changes in speed, rotation, acceleration and more – so when you pull a big move, it’s tagged automatically.

TOMTOM, BANDIT, £239.99. Compact, waterproof to 40m and capable of shooting three hours of non-stop HD footage, the Bandit is an action cam for the intrepid. The Adventure Pack comes with a variety of mounts and accessories, so it’s ready for action when you are. tomtom.com


COMPETITION

COASTAL CLASS Fancy a luxury escape for two to the beautiful Kent coast? We’re offering two lucky readers the chance to win just that, courtesy of Classic British Hotels

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or remarkable scenery and incredible history, look no further than the Kent Downs, the Dover-Folkestone Heritage Coast and the magnificent Leeds Castle. And you could win a trip to see it all in luxury with this very special prize, brought to you by Classic British Hotels. You’ll stay at the stunning, four-star

EACH CLASSIC BRITISH HOTEL HAS ITS OWN CHARACTER & UNIQUE STYLE 92

Hythe Imperial Hotel Golf & Spa, which is located just a pebble’s throw from Hythe Beach. With a new super suite and the Moët & Chandon Champagne Bar due to open next month, it’s the new seaside must-visit on the south coast. Your exclusive prize includes two nights’ accommodation for two in an Executive Sea View Room, with a bottle of chilled sparkling wine in your room on arrival, full English breakfast each morning, threecourse dinner in the restaurant on one night and tickets to the majestic Leeds Castle, just a short drive away, where you can journey through 900 years of captivating history. Classic British Hotels is an inspiring collection of Britain’s finest quality independent hotels, each one with its own individual character, local flavour and unique style. escapism readers can also enjoy exclusive savings on breaks across the UK, including a bottle of sparkling wine upon arrival, three-course dinner and full breakfast from just £49.50 per person. To find out more, head to classicbritishhotels.com/escapism ◆

HOW TO WIN To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize, all you have to do is answer one simple question. To enter, and for full T&Cs, go to escapismmagazine.com/ competition/classic-british-hotels


COMPETITION

GREEK RETREAT

We’ve teamed up with the luxurious Ikos Olivia in Greece to offer you and a friend the chance to win a five-night all-inclusive beach holiday worth more than £1,800

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or a luxurious holiday that combines pristine private beaches, stylish accommodation and exceptional cuisine, look no further than Ikos Olivia, part of Ikos Resorts. Located on the Mediterranean coast of the Halkidiki peninsula on mainland Greece, the hotel is set in 22 acres of ancient olive trees, with views over peaceful white-sand beaches. This month we’ve teamed up with Ikos Olivia to offer you and a guest the chance to win a five-night stay at the hotel, on an allinclusive basis. Ikos Resorts are redifining the concept of all-inclusive holidays, with a unique and flexible approach to dining. Sample exceptional cuisine from the resort’s four on-site restaurants – most with menus designed by internationally recognised Michelin-starred chefs, including Lefteris Lazarou of Varoulko restaurant in

Athens and Andrea Fusco of Guido Ballerina restaurant in Rome. You can also enjoy the unique dine-out programme, which encourages guests to eat at traditional local travernas as part of their stay, immersing them in the Greek food, culture and community that surrounds the resort. And if you’d prefer to dine in the comfort of your luxurious room, why not make use of the convenient 24-hour room service? Not only that, but you’ll find branded spirits in the room’s mini bar, and an extensive list of local and international wines throughout the resort. During your break you could be relaxing on one of the most beautiful shorelines in Greece. Here, you’ll enjoy waiter service to your lounger, beachside activities and premium wines and spirits. When you’re not swimming or sunbathing, you could visit Ikos Olivia’s tranquil spa,

with treatments from luxurious Parisian beauty brand Anne Sémonin. It’s the perfect luxury getaway, made simple. ◆ For more information, go to kosresorts.com

HOW TO WIN For your chance to win this fivenight holiday for two people at Ikos Olivia, Greece – on an all-inclusive basis – with a value of over £1,800 head to escapismmagazine. com/competition/ikosolivia and answer a simple question. Terms and conditions apply, visit the website for more information. Visit ikosresorts.com for more info.

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isle of wight

north wales

Kingswoodcamps.co.uk/festival Quote ‘ESCAPE’ and book by 30th June

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Overseer Trinity Handmade from walnut and maple wood Price: 79 €

Eldorado Handmade from genuine olive wood Price: 99 €

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COMPETITION

FLIGHT OF FANCY They may just be 30 miles from the Cornish coast, but the Isles of Scilly feel like another world. Here’s your chance to discover the archipelago for yourself

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urquoise water, remote beaches and delicious seafood… if you think you need to travel to the Caribbean to find them, think again. The Scilly Isles, located just 30 miles off the coast of Cornwall, are a dream escape for travellers looking for incredible, unspoiled scenery right here in the UK.

FLYING TO THE ISLES OF SCILLY IS AN INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE

Travelling to the archipelago is an experience in itself, and that’s why we’ve teamed up with the Isles of Scilly to offer you and a friend the chance to visit. Taking off in a small plane with just seven other passengers, you’ll depart from Land’s End and fly over jade-coloured water – soaking up incredible views of the Cornish coast – before touching down in St Mary’s. From here, you’re free to explore this jaw-dropping cluster of islands. Hop on a boat to Bryher for untouched beauty, head to Tresco for a relaxing spa day or visit St Martin’s and St Agnes for culture. You can even take a wildlife safari where, as well as rare seabirds, you can catch a glimpse of the adorable seals that converge on the rocky beaches. Foodies will be in their element, too – try a BBQ on the beach, or check out fresh seafood dishes at the local pubs. To see the UK in a whole new light, there’s only one place to go this summer – the incomporable Isles of Scilly. ◆

HOW TO WIN For your chance to win two flights from Land’s End to St Mary’s on the Isle of Scilly, simply head to escapismmagazine.com/ competition/islesofscillyflights and answer a simple question. Terms and conditions apply, see the website for more information.

islesofscilly-travel.co.uk

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MALAWI LAKE | CULTURE | LANDSCAPE | WILDLIFE

Ngala Beach Lodge - Lake Malawi Located on the Northern lakeshore, Ngala Beach Lodge truly boasts a “Home form home” atmosphere. Our warm and friendly staff will cater to your every need. Our restaurant provides home cooked tasty meals. Our rooms are all spacious and have en-suite bathrooms and private verandahs Please visit our website for more information.

Phone Sandi: +265 999 075 566 E-mail: info@ngalabeach.com Website: www.ngalabeach.com


ESSE NTI ALS

+ To advertise in this section please call 020 7819 9999

Creekside Cottages Creekside Cottages offer’s self-catering cottages sleeping from 2 – 8. Romantic cottages for two, waterside fisherman’s cottages and luxury holiday houses. Dogs welcome. All our cottages are situated in stunning locations on the south coast of Cornwall. Available throughout the year, just come and relax. W: www.creeksidecottages.co.uk T: 01326 375972

Chipolo Tracker Now you can travel calm, knowing that your belongings are safe. Chipolo connects your keys, wallet, luggage or anything you don’t want to lose to your phone. You can ring your items when in range of 200 feet or check the last known location on a map. Buy from £17.50. Free shipping with promo code: FREETRAVEL W: chipolo.net/travelling

Tailor Made Family Holidays

Find your piece of paradise with GIC The Villa Collection Tailor Made South Family AfricaHolidays

Maldives

Exclusive villa holidays across the Greek Islands

The Villa Collection

020 8232 9780 www.gicthevillacollection.com

Mauritius With more than 15 years’ experience in the Travel Industry and with children of my own, I specialise in creating tailor-made holidays for families in South Africa, Mauritius and the Maldives. Through personal experience I have found some fantastic ‘family friendly’ accommodation throughout these regions and would be delighted to help you plan your next holiday. For more information, please call or e-mail me:

Alison Aldred tel: 01483 762033 www.hungrylions.co.uk mob: 07754 501617 e-mail: ali@hungrylions.co.uk

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REAR VIEW

THE DARK ARTS AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW

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Utah’s Fisher Towers are one of the most remarkable rock formations in the US; twisting spires of limestone that have become a mecca for hikers and rock climbers. One of them, Ancient Art, is a corkscrewshaped summit with several different climbing routes – none of which, we’re guessing, are any easier at night, with only a head-torch and the stars to light the way. Still, the view from the summit will be worth the effort. Maybe get a mate with a helicopter to meet you there. e


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FIRST TIME IN MAURITIUS

TOP 10

THE ESSENCE OF MAURITIUS: ITS PEOPLE

The natural beauty and diversity of Mauritius is reflected in the warmth of its people. The richness of their culture and heritage binds them together.

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MINGLING IN PORT LOUIS

Experience the multicultural buzz of the capital founded in 1735, amid its historical and cultural buildings. Not to miss: the vegetable, spice and craft markets, the Government House, the Port Louis theatre and the Citadelle.

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5 SEGA DANCING The vibrant, rhythmic African dance is on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

FANTASTIC BEACHES

Beaches of white coral sand and lagoons of crystal clear water, which contrast vividly with the black volcanic rocks of the lush mountain backdrop. The best spots include Peyrébère, Flic-en-Flac, Le Morne, Belle Mare, Blue Bay and Ile aux Cerfs.

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PAMPLEMOUSSES BOTANICAL GARDEN

Created over 300 years ago, the garden is the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere with a plethora of indigenous plants.

WATER WONDERS

Water sports galore: snorkelling, pedalo, kayaking, skiing, sea karting, surfing, stand up paddle boarding, glass bottom boat, scuba diving, catamaran cruises and big game-fishing.

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THE ART OF SUGAR, RUM, TEA & VANILLA

Witness sugar cane being crushed to make sugar or distilled to make international award-winning rums. Visit traditional tea fields and learn about tea blends. Don’t forget to take home some Mauritian vanilla, amongst the best in the world.

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CULTURAL HERITAGE SITES

Aapravasi Ghat and Le Morne are an essential visit, with the Vieux Grand Port heritage route known for its fascinating historical monuments including the Dutch landing site.

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CULINARY EXPERIENCE

Mauritius is renowned for fine dining and enticing street food. Experience the vast array of restaurants and try the delicate heart of palm salad.

The unique volcanic geological phenomenon resulting in sevencoloured earth at Chamarel is a landmark not to be missed.

Start your journey now at Mauritius365.mu


Take your senses on an Amazing journey to Mauritius...

Explore its secrets with a sense of wonder. Mountains, rainforest and river gorges await, to refresh body and mind. Feed your soul with street dishes, inspired by four continents and rich with oriental spices.Immerse yourself in holistic therapies, at luxurious spas or on white coral sand.

Start your journey now at Mauritius365.mu


Escapism - 31 - Food & Travel