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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


K I L L A R N E Y, O N TA R I O , CA N A D A - P H O T O G R A P H B Y J E F F R E Y D . WA LT E R . P 3 2


M TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND WIN NICE THINGS! We want to learn all about you, so we’ve created a reader survey to help us do just that. Fill in the answers and you’ll get the chance to win a night away from the city at the Dundas Arms in Berkshire. Plus, one lucky runner up will win a case of delicious Whitley Neill gin, worth £198. To complete the survey and be in with a chance of winning these great prizes, head to













Jon Hawkins

Matthew Hasteley

Hannah Summers

Lucy Javanshir

Tom Powell

Abigail Robinson

Victoria Smith

y birthday’s in September (FYI), so I’ve spent a lifetime convincing myself the early days of autumn are the best of the year. That light, those leaves, all the… argh, who am I kidding? The end of summer’s a dream-shattering hammer blow I’m not at all equipped to handle. Shorter nights, plummeting temperatures, packed Tubes, mass leaf death – these aren’t things I get excited about. There’s a very good reason they call it the fall in the US. That being said, there’s a positive in there if you look hard enough: my universal equation of travel happiness (which I just made up) dictates that the lower your level of satisfaction with things like the state of the weather, trees and public transport, the better your holiday’s likely to be. Convinced? Good – now go and read our guide to the best autumn escapes on page 32 and find out where to go and what to do, from surf rafting in Cornwall to getting the hell outta Dodge and flying to Fiji. Elsewhere in an issue that’s packed with great trip ideas, discover what to do in Oxford [p24], take a trip to Norway’s Arctic coast [p72] and find out how to be a winner in Puerto Rico [p64]. The answer to the latter, apparently, is to sit next to Ricky Martin on the plane, find a beach next to an old naval base and drink rum out of coconuts. So now you know… e

Bianca Stewart

Christopher Beanland, Victoria Bushell, Ed Cooper, Safi Thind

Annie Brooks

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Editor Jon Hawkins won Travel Feature of the Year (regional publication) and associate editor Hannah Summers won Young Travel Writer of the Year at the 2015 Travel Media Awards.

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DEPARTURES What’s new in travel, including the world’s cutest travel presenter, a pug on holiday and love apps 08 . Photography 14. Just Landed 19. Tried & Tested 19. On Location 23. Short Stay 24 . In Focus: Oxford 26. Christmas Markets

EXPERIENCES We’ve found the hottest (yet coolest) trips on the planet 32 .  Autumn Breaks Autumn doesn’t have to mean sludgy leaves and rain. These trips are sure to inspire your next adventure 44 . Berlin, Germany Exploring the lush open spaces of Berlin (and we don’t mean the clubs) 51 . Essential Guide: Dubai Hankering after some sunshine? Here’s our guide for your trip to Dubai 59 . Everest, Nepal A life-changing trek to Everest’s Base Camp through post-earthquake Nepal 64 . Puerto Rico Gambling and empty beaches are a winning combination in Puerto Rico 72 . Arctic Norway Our writer heads north and sails along the remote Arctic coast of Norway

CHECKLIST Looking good takes work, so we’ve put in the effort for you. You’re welcome 84 . Girls 86 . Guys 88 . Gear




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COMPETITIONS In need of a break? Here’s your chance to get away for nothing 77 . Win a Thailand trekking trip 94 . Win an adventure in Costa Rica

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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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To secure your reservation at Belmond La Samanna, please call 800 957 6128, visit or contact your travel professional.





PhotographPhotograph by Charles by Everitt ###

FLOCK MY LIFE: Photographer Charlie Everitt won the Habitat prize at the 2016 British Wildlife Photography Awards with this shot of 150,000 gannets nesting at Bass Rock, East Lothian, Scotland. We won’t blame you if don’t count them all, though.



CHUMDOG MILLIONAIRE: A trail of rotting fish particles known by those in the trade as ‘chum’ was used to attract this peckish blue shark to photographer Will Clark just off the coast of Cornwall last summer. With a top speed of 24 mph he had to think fast as the plucky predator darted past the shutter. Luckily he nailed it and received a commendation for his trusty trigger finger’s trouble.



OH BABY IT’S A WILD WOOD: This gnarly old pair of pedunculate oaks that Steve Palmer found in Padley Gorge, Derbyshire intrigued judges with their symmetrical shapes and cool contrasting colours, winning him the Wild Woods award. Both pictures can be found in the brand new book, British Wildlife Photography Awards Collection 7 (AA Publishing; £25;




WILD AT HEART Arranging a safari off your own back may sound like a logistical nightmare, and you know what? It probably is. Step forward new travel company Timbuktu, an Africa-focused website that allows you to build your own safari depending on your needs and budget. Once you make your selection (country, camps, fave animals), it’ll go through to Timbuktu’s team who will finalise the painful logistical arrangements.



WINE AND DINE Think Portugal and the Algarve, Lisbon or – if you’re anything like us – custard tarts might spring to mind. What you probably don’t think of is Minho – a wine region 50-odd miles north of Porto. There you’ll find the latest addition to the Sawday’s website – Quinta da Cancela, a 300-yearold wine property and now B&B, complete with granite pool filled with natural water, gorge airy bedrooms and hearty home cooking.

Photograph by (Sussex guide) James Ratchford

If you’re looking to escape the city and go on one massive pub crawl of Sussex, this is the book you’ll want to have in hand. The Best in Sussex 2016 Pub Guide does what it says on the tin: great pubs to sink decent pints in. In Sussex. In 2016. Expect more regions to follow. pub-guide

Whatever type of watering hole you’re seeking, this handy guide has it covered: from historical coaching inns to luxury spots, as well as reliable choices for a decent pint.


G LO R I O U S? 7 H O U R D I R E C T F L I G H T F R O M L O N D O N T O T H E P R I VA T E B E A C H C L U B A T H A M I LT O N P R I N C E S S , B E R M U D A .

O F F I C I A L H O T E L O F T H E 3 5 T H A M E R I C A’ S C U P


DOG TALES Sonoma County is a short drive north from San Francisco, and a perfect place to twin with a San Fran city break. It’s also the largest wine-producing region in California.

Why read us banging on about the delights of Yorkshire when you could watch a cute little Yorkie scooting about the place instead? Visit York’s latest ambassador is a russet-haired Yorkshire terrier, who has produced a series of dog’s-eye You Tube videos showing you the best of the city and its countryside. If the trailer’s anything to go by, the three-part short film series, out now, is going to be a blockbuster hit (in the escapism office, at least). #FanGirling #YorkAdventure #Yorkie.

If the word ‘glamping’ has you rolling your eyes and running for the next damp, collapsing two-man tent, maybe, just maybe, the new Autocamp Russian River glamping site in sunny Sonoma County, California, will convert you. The 23 silver Airstreams and ten luxe tents are kitted out with fancy-pants bed linen and plonked right between the epic Cali coast and redwood forests, meaning you can take in the best of the surrounding area. And did we mention the vineyards? Hello, tasting rooms. From £135.

ON YOUR BIKE(S) NEW WAY TO USA Already planning next year’s big US trip? Liking your style. If not, why not? Virgin Atlantic has just announced its newest flight route, meaning you can head to Seattle for just £550 return. What’s going on in Seattle then? Well, there’s a new floating sauna on Lake Union, eerie underground tours of the city’s sub-sidewalk network and loads of indie stores to browse in Fremont. Yep, we’re sold.


You know what’s fun? Mountain biking. You know what’s also fun? Whisky. You know what’s more fun than either of those things? A mountain biking and whisky adventure in Scotland. H+I Adventures has launched a range of two-wheel expeditions that take in the best of the country’s dramatic scenery and the cream of its whisky. Obviously you won’t be boozing and cycling at the same time, though. Best leave that to the professionals – like us, naturally.

Photographs by (Visit York) Dominic Martin; (Scotland) Andrew McCandlish (Seattle) Stefano Politi Markovina/Alamy


So much more to explore in Thailand – the Land of the Smiles... B ANG KOK, CHIANG MAI & KH A O LAK



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Including Etihad flights, 3 to 3+ hotels with breakfast & transfers Enjoy Thailand's must see sights... Discover the contrast between vibrant Bangkok and the quiet calm of the temples in Chiang Mai, before jetting to the south to spend time in stunning Khao Lak. This beach area is just an hour north of Phuket and boasts miles of beautiful white sand beaches with a quieter, slower pace of life.

Including Etihad flights & 3+ to 4 beach resorts with breakfast & transfers Krabi is becoming increasingly popular as more people discover its dramatic limestone cliffs and crystal clear waters. Enjoy some time on its stunning coastline before heading to Koh Phi Phi - a destination you simply cannot afford to miss. The island is home to beautiful beaches, spectacular coral reefs, jaw-dropping rock formations and lush rainforest.

Including Etihad flights, private driver & guides and 3 hotels with breakfast On this memorable private tour around the Mae Hong Son loop and the Golden Triangle, discover authentic hill tribe culture and explore spectacular mountain landscapes. • Fascinating Chiang Mai • Local markets • Famous Golden Triangle • Ancient temples

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Located on 44th Street, The Chatwal Hotel is steps from the Broadway theatres and the city’s media and financial giants. Designed by Stanford White, its 1930s Empire Art Deco look has been re-imagined by Thierry Despont. The

Chatwal has 76 guest rooms with a selection of suites with seating and greenery on a landscaped terrace. The hotels Red Door Spa at The Chatwal covers 2,400 square feet and has treatment rooms, fitness pool and gym. The gem within The Chatwal is the hotels

mezzanine bar which serves a selection of 1930’s inspired cocktails whilst guests listen to live jazz music. On the lobby level at The Lambs Club Restaurant celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian presides over a modern grill.


TRIED & TESTED Post-summer rescue remedies for skin and hair



HYLAMIDE BOOSTER GLOW, £20 (30ML) Extend your summer glow with this face serum, which is packed with antiaging benefits. The result is a natural, gradual golden tan.

Jason Bourne may be set in Athens, but the squares and streets you’ll see on screen were actually filmed in Tenerife #01 SANTA CRUZ, TENERIFE

Low cameras and action-packed jump cuts will do nothing to fool keen-eyed Greek architecture buffs as Bourne evades assassins in a protest-ridden Syntagma Square, because all of the action actually takes place in Santa Cruz, Tenerife. We guess by now you’ll be wanting to know the reason for all this – Athens is pretty famous for its squares after all, so why not just do it there? The answer is protestors: an increasingly bureaucratic approach to crowd control after the actual Photograph by (top) SuperStock/Alamy Stock Photo

ABOVE: Matt Damon on location in Santa Cruz, Tenerife during filming of Jason Bourne, out now

Syntagma Square protests in 2010 means you can’t even film your own one these days. Luckily, that’s nothing a few national flags and some Greek graffiti can’t fix. The criss-crossing alleyways and warren-like streets of Santa Cruz districts Salamanca and La Salud might usually offer the kind of roof-terraced tenement that was made for an Airbnb stay, but for Jason Bourne it’s all about freerunning, bullet-dodging and dropping molotovs. Amble down the hillside into the city centre and you’ll find yourself in the heart of Santa Cruz, home to those wide boulevards that are perfect for a late-night car chase – or if you’re less adventureinclined, an upmarket restaurant or two. Good for you, but not for the filming team, is the striking Adán Martín auditorium – which sits like a giant concrete wave on the waterfront at Los Llanos. And no, it’s not a nightmare because Bourne hates opera, it’s because it’s the most recognisable piece of architecture on the sun-soaked isle. Oh, and the city of Athens isn’t next to the sea. e

PHILIP KINGSLEY ELASTICIZER, £32 (150ML) Before you even think about washing your hair, slather this on first. The neroliand geranium-scented mask treats damaged hair.

CLINIQUE PEP-START FACE WASH, £16.50 (125ML) Gently cleanse and exfoliate in one product with teeny tiny grains that will scrub away city dirt and dull dead skin cells.





Love is in the air, quite literally, thanks to dating app Happn and its newly compiled list of the top European airports to find a romantic match in. Flying solo never seemed so good…

S Photograph by @thedogsofcuba

ingle this summer? Don’t despair in the departure lounge: we’ve got just the trick to help you put the ‘lust’ back into wanderlust. Always dedicated to your dating delectation, the cherub-faced data delvers at mobile lovefinder app Happn have discovered the top ten airports in Europe for tender-hearted tourists looking to find a romantic match. And the winner? Hot damn, it’s Amsterdam! So if you’re tired of flying solo, glide in like Cupid’s arrow and cruise the departures lounge for a catch – just be very careful where you choose for that first coffee date. Weirdly enough, singletons flying from the Dutch capital are two times more likely

to find romance than those flying from the city of love itself (that’s Paris, mon amour). After all, who needs France when you can speak the language of love? What’s also clear is that those who’ve got it Happn-ing have been heading to the Turkish baths in Istanbul, because the city sits at a steamy second place (we were wondering why we felt so hot under the collar). Meanwhile, Scandi-chic is all the rage, with carnal Copenhagen and amorous Oslo both in the top five, and Stockholm saucing it up in ninth position. Bachelors and bachelorettes in London, don’t fear. You’ll be weak at the knees to hear that Heathrow ranks third in Europe for finding a suitor. See ya later, we’re off to the arrivals hall to hook up. e


JET BUSY: Europe’s best airports for finding a love match. Who says a holiday romance can’t last?


For a dose of daily travel inspiration, these are the Instagram accounts worth your attention (and a double tap or two…)



Crumbling buildings, cobbled streets and vintage cars with a side of sleeping and playing dogs. It’s all our #Instadog wishes come true, but with a cool insight into this fast-changing country. @thedogsofcuba

If you think that beach looks nice from the sand, try gramming it from a chopper. That’s what self-taught Brixton-based photographer Tommy Clarke does, and the results are iiiiinsane. @tommy.clarke

We’ve teamed up with Continental Tyres to give you the chance to join the Continental Black Chili Driving Experience. Taking place in Andalucia, Spain, the trip includes three days of driving luxury vehicles equipped with Continental’s ultra-high-performance tyres and the company’s innovative rubber compound, Black Chili. Three readers will win entry into the qualifier stage at MercedesBenz World, Weybridge, on 25 September. Drivers will take on a series of tests, with the best then taking on the five-day Black Chili event in Spain from 12-16 October, including driving, travel, accommodation and meals. Visit competition to enter.









7 nights hotel + flights

7 nights hotel + flights

7 nights hotel + flights


£475 pp


Call 020


£589 pp



£689 pp


7749 9240 or visit Terms & Conditions Apply. Book by 30 September.


SHORT STAY IT'S A DOG'S LIFE The Cary Arms in Devon is tailor-made for a beach-side break, finds Hannah Summers (and her canine companion, Welly) What's the score? Husbands, wives, girlfriends and boyfriends are all overrated. For a romantic break minus the squabbles, take a pooch to the Cary Arms near Torquay in Devon. The dog-friendly gastropub-comeboutique hotel is located at the foot of a gearcrunching hill which leads down to a sheltered cove on Babbacombe beach. The bay at the bottom is gorgeous, and can be admired from virtually every room and terrace in the hotel.

The beach huts The latest additions are the six Cary Arms beach huts, which are perched on the hillside in prime sea view-appreciating position. The nautical-inspired interiors are combined with vibrant splashes of colour – on the Babbacombe has one sofas, the throws, of Britain's highest clifftop promenades. the artwork – while It's steep in parts but the mezzanine level, you can avoid those where your bed’s bits by riding the funicular railway. located, comes with

more views through a thoughtfully placed porthole window. Downstairs, there are floor-to-ceiling glass doors, while the deck outside your hut comes kitted out with two wooden sunchairs, perfect for appreciating the peaceful bay. It’s not just blue water either – the hotel’s shoreline is home to several friendly seals, who cruise along the coast and down to the dock, ready for you to snap some pics. Dogs are catered for, too, with a big dog bed, bowl and treats.

Food and drink Expect poshed-up pub grub. Breakfast could be a bacon sarnie or huge portion of eggs benedict, while lunch makes the most of the local crab and crayfish. Evening meals consist of lemon sole, steak, or Devon beef and mushroom pie. And your dog won’t be forgotten either: during the stay, the chef whipped up a bowl of quinoa, steak and gravy for Welly the pug. If the weather’s good, you could be eating all your meals outside; there’s even a bell to ring if you see dolphins pass by.

Nearby You’ll struggle to leave, but there are several walking routes along the coast. e



FROM TOP: The view from the Cary Arms; the brand-new beach huts; interiors are bright and breezy

The hotel's shoreline is home to several friendly seals, and you can sometimes see dolphins pass by



IN FOCUS OXFORD Think Oxford is just a city for buttonedup boozing students? Think again. Victoria Bushnell gives us the lowdown on where to eat, drink and sleep



Make your first stop Truck Store – part retro record shop, part coffee shop, it’s one of those places you’ll want to visit with a friend who knows all the latest artists, and just nod your head as they comment on the quirky selection. Even more unusual is Alice’s Shop, a tiny village-like store selling a host of memorabilia relating to Lewis Carroll’s most famous story. Moving to the High Street, you’ll come across Oxford’s Covered Market, with its artisan food shops, quirky clothing and jewellery – it’s a great place to browse for stuff you probably don’t need.

The perfect hangover or lazy breakfast meet-up spot is Heroes Sandwich Bar. Tucked away on Ship Street, this place is a favourite of students, so get there early to beat them to a table. If you’re a lover of all things green-fingered and organic then head down to the Vaults and Garden Cafe. With outdoor seating that overlooks the iconic domes of Radcliffe Square, they serve daily specials from Moroccan tagine through to melt-in-your-mouth Oxford blue cheese tart. Those in search of a more high-flying dining experience should scale their way to the top of the Ashmolean Museum and step outdoors to its rooftop dining room. Expect views over the city spires and haute European cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients. Elsewhere, on the first Saturday of every month the Bitten Street Food Market takes place – the city’s best foodie event, it features a roster of tempting food stalls, from Bill or Beak through to Dosa Deli. Lastly, Turl Street Kitchen (TSK), serves up hearty, wholesome food (braised pork, risotto and potato gratin to name a few), with a different menu every day.


STAY Positioned in the heart of the city, the Old Bank Hotel (named because the hotel sits on the site of an old Barclays) offers modern grandeur, stunning views and plenty of style. Looking for more bang for your buck? Take a look at the Remont Oxford Hotel. A little further north of the city centre, this cosy little bed and breakfast offers a comfortable stay and easy access to sites beyond the city, such as Blenheim Palace (the birthplace of Winston Churchill and historic home of Princess Diana’s family). Boutique style comes easily to Oxford, showcased by the Vanbrugh House Hotel. A typical Headington stone (Oxford’s limestone) townhouse with individually decorated rooms, it makes for the perfect city break stay. Finally, tucked away on Banbury Road is The Old Parsonage. Set in an ivy-covered, 17th-century building, its rooms are surprisingly modern, light and spacious, and they famously serve one of the best afternoon teas in town.


DRINK Tired of being dragged around the same old sights? Don’t panic – Oxford is king of the British pub. Speaking of kings, grab a pint at the centrally located King’s Arms (aka the KA). Known for its selection of daily pies and local cask ales, it’s the oldest pub in town and is said

to have a resident ghost. For the best plonk around, head to 1855 Wine Bar in the Oxford Castle Quarter – the modernised castle setting provides the perfect atmosphere for an evening drink. Freud sits in what was previously St Paul’s Church, complete with fairy lights, stained-glass windows and grown-up cocktails – it’s hard to think of a better mix. Bright lights and episcopal

Punts were originally used by fishermen as a platform on the water, but now they are strictly for recreational use, and one of the city’s most popular activities.

Photograph (main) by Joe Cornish/Getty (King’s Arms) David Goodwin/Alamy; (deck chairs) Gerry Walden/Alamy; Photograph(high by ### street) Mark Bassett/Alamy; (theatre) Geraint Lewis/Alamy; (punting) LOOK Die Bildagentur der Fotografen GmbH/Alamy

DO St Mary the Virgin’s church tower offers one of the best bird’s-eye views over the city centre – just give it a miss if heights aren’t your thing. Skip the queues getting in to view Christ Church College and head down to Worcester College – one of the university’s lesser known but most beautiful colleges, it’s a mustsee for classic quads, architecture and gardens. On a summer’s day, nothing beats a good ol’ punt on the River Cherwell. Punts can be rented from the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse for an amenable fee, but get there early on weekends to avoid disappointment. Highly recommended – both in Oxford and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – are The Oxford Imps. They’re the university’s best improv comedy group and each of their shows is entirely unscripted and hilarious. If music is more your thing, check out Out of the Blue, the university’s premiere all-male a capella group, who cover The Who and Lady Gaga.

influences not for you? Try the adorably quaint Turf Tavern. If pubs had personalities, this would be the friendly recluse – hidden away but always reliable. For a cocktail, try Raoul’s Bar, which majors on homemade ingredients and where there are no shortcuts with the tiki drinks – the Donn Beach Zombie is not for the faint-hearted (there’s even a drink quantity restriction on the menu).

LATE NIGHT Popular hangouts include the stylish Varsity Club, which comes with some killer views courtesy of its rooftop bar. Reminiscent of Saturday Night Fever, Atik (aka ‘Park End’) offers groovy tunes, a retro light-up dance floor and moderately priced drinks. For die-hard music fans and lovers of rising comic stars, skip on down to the O2 Academy Oxford. The music is on the whole quite niche, but they do get some big acts – upcoming performers include The Buzzcocks.

GETTING THERE Great Western Railway offers single fairs to Oxford from London Paddington from £5. See for more information and to book tickets.


CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: If you don’t hit the glühwein hard, you’re not doing Christmas markets right; Innsbruck’s weihnachtsmarkt; get in the holiday spirit in NYC; Christmas in Krakow



You’d better believe it. If you want to hit the Christmas markets you need to get planning now. Here are five of the best, from Germany to NYC










Slotted in the middle of the Inn valley, with mountains rising up on either side, Innsbruck is a looker at any time of year, but never more so than at Christmas. The cute old town, with the famous Goldenes Dachl (golden roof), hosts one of the city’s best Christmas markets, with 70 stalls where you can buy everything from traditional Austrian handicrafts to glühwein – which you’ll need lots of, obviously. A short walk away, MariaTheresien Strasse has a smaller but no less atmospheric market, while the Markplatz, down by the river, is the place to take the kids – check out the traditional carousel and 14m-high tree. If you have a head for heights, take the Nordkettenbahnen funicular up to the Panorama Christmas market at Hungerburg, where the views are as heady as the hot punch.

The Germans invented Christmas markets in the Middle Ages, so you’d hope they might know a thing or two about how to do them properly. Fortunately, they do, and Hamburg’s (there are several) are some of the best. The city’s main shopping street, Mönckebergstrasse, is the access point for some of the biggest and most spectacular, and there’s a chance to see craftsmen creating artisan toys and gifts under shimmering, wintry illuminations – with plenty of food and drink, too. For a taste of the past, check out the heaving Historic Christmas Market at the Rathausmarkt, or try the St Pauli/ Kiez district – known as the ‘sinful mile’ – for Christmas with an edge. The boutique-filled Jungfernstieg is the place to head for a bit of artisan luxe to go with your roasted nuts.

With more than 300 stalls in 12 different locations, Strasbourg’s Christmas markets are among Europe’s biggest. They’re also some of the oldest – the very first Christkindelsmärik (market of the Infant Jesus) took place in 1570 and the tradition is maintained today at the market of the same name on the Place Broglie, and also in the shadow of the spectacular cathedral. The Alsace region of France, of which Strasbourg is capital, is absolutely awash with brilliant food and drink, so head to the Place d’Austerlitz for a taste of locally brewed beers, world-class wines and (if that’s your bag) foie gras. If you get bored of all that, there’s a 30m-high illuminated Christmas tree in the central Place Kléber to gaze at and an ice rink outside the Rivetoile shopping centre, where you can work off the Bredele Christmas biscuits you’ve just scoffed. Yep, we saw you.


Photograph by ###

We love Eastern-Central Europe for its arresting architecture, down-to-earth people and rapidly developing food and drink culture, but we’d be lying if we said that good old-fashioned value wasn’t also a reason we keep scoping out cities in Poland and beyond. Go to Krakow at winter-time and you’ll see evidence of all the above: walking into the Market Square – a huge Christmas tree bedecked with decorations and countless horses and carriages

swinging into view as you do so – is just as gloriously festive as it sounds. A walk around the outdoor market (open from late November until just after Christmas) and the adjacent Cloth Hall will give you some serious Christmas shopping options on a budget, too. Stocking fillers like massive chocolate tools, glassware and loads of other craft products are available for next to nothing, plus you can keep yourself fed and hydrated with grilled meats, sausages and potatoes (we are in Eastern Europe, after all), and plenty of gloopy, rich hot chocolate. Winner.

NEW YORK CITY USA It may not have a centuries-old tradition of festive markets, but nowhere else on earth does Christmas like NYC. Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan is a good place to start, with its central ice rink and small but choice selection of vendors and food stalls. If it’s US-made food and gifts you’re looking for, Union Square has a huge selection of stalls from late November to Christmas Eve, plus live music and loads going on to keep the kids entertained. Baby, it’s cold outside (it really is, trust us), so head to one of the city’s longest-running indoor holiday markets – the Grand Central Holiday Fair in the iconic station’s Vanderbilt Hall.


Feel The Spirit If eating and drinking your way through a traditional Christmas market sounds like fun, you’re in the right place. Here’s where to get the festive season started in Germany


here’s no better way to get into the festive spirit than by visiting a Christmas market. Plan a city break to Germany in the four weeks running up to Christmas Eve, and you’ll experience the country’s centuries-old market traditions while eating authentic seasonal food, strolling through snowy streets and soaking up the best of Europe in the winter. The choices are endless. In the quaint medieval town of Bautzen, just east of Dresden, you’ll find the open-air stalls of Wenzelsmarkt, the oldest Christmas market in Germany. Surrounded by colourful houses, the lamp-lit


main square is an incredible space to appreciate traditions that were established in the 19th century. In Dresden itself, and other cities such as Frankfurt and Nürnberg, you’ll find spectacular stalls of local produce and food – these markets originated as farmers markets where families would get their winter provisions before the colder months set in. Today, you could experience age-old customs and hearty German cuisine. Elsewhere, in Munich, you can combine a pretty, laid-back city break with evenings spent enjoying the market’s programme of outdoor concerts, while also

perusing the colourful stalls. Foodies will be in their element at the markets, whether it’s trying authentic Dresden stollen cake, gingerbread or German sausage. To warm up, why not sip a few mulled wines, known as Glühwein. The famous festive drink is best enjoyed with the backdrop of a huge Christmas tree and a medieval square setting. Of course, there’s shopping, too: markets are crammed with wooden toys, tree decorations and traditional figurines. Forget Christmas stress, start the celebrations early this year in Germany. ◆


There’s more to see and do COMBINE THESE CITIES WITH YOUR CHRISTMAS MARKET TRIP CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Erfurt Christmas market and cathedral; Dresden’s Semper Opera House; an art nouveau building in Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt; Frankfurt Christmas market and town hall at dusk


Photographs by Barbara Neumann; Design & Systemtechnik; Andreas Antoni; Andrew Cowin; Jochen Keute

Check out the pretty Palmengarten Botanical Gardens or try the local grog of apple wine, or ebbelwei, in the suburb of Sachsenhausen. Weimar

Stroll through more than 200 incredible art and design exhibitions at the Bauhaus Museum in a city that’s famous for classical literature. Damstadt

See textiles, jewellery, furniture and ceramics in the Künstlerkolonie museum, and stroll streets of beautiful Jugendstil (art nouveau) architecture. Dresden

Get tickets for the Semper Opera, one of the world’s most beautiful opera houses, which was built in 1841. Leipzig

Visit the up-and-coming city of Leipzig for cool coffee shops and the Stasi Museum, filled with exhibits about the former East German secret police.



EXPERIENCES Photograph by Tim Graham/Alamy Photograph Stockby Photo ###


THE LIGHT FANTASTIC: The Norwegian city of Tromsø, which sits inside the Arctic Circle, is a prime spot for catching the Aurora Borealis.



ooking to plan a getaway? We don’t blame you. Summer’s over and winter, well… let’s not talk about that. Instead, let’s discuss autumn: a time of stunning apricot hues, cool and crowd-free city breaks, and warm weather. Yes, somewhere in the world the sun’s still shining. Whatever your holiday style and budget, we’ve got your back.

Max your time off

Cagliari, Sardinia Can’t choose between beach and city? Don’t fret, sunshine – just do both. Fly into Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital, and you can spend five days (that’s three of your annual leave if you’re smart with your flights) exploring the city’s pleasing muddle of alleyways, churches, antique stalls and, of course, cafés and nearby beaches. Island temperatures can still reach a balmy 20ºC in October – perfect for a shortish cycle to the 8km-long Poetto beach, a glorious stretch of calm water and white sand. Chill out on your towel or sip a glass or two of prosecco in one of (correction: all of) the beachside bars. HOW: Stay in a B&B on a sailing boat from £66 per room per night,; EasyJet offers return fares from £60,

Muscat, Oman Strict building policies in Muscat, Oman have resulted in a pretty, low-rise port city that’s big on grand architecture and intricate design detail. Head to This ancient – think this sun-scorched city around 8th century and you can easily BC – Maltese city combine sunbathing, is nicknamed the ‘Silent City’, but as shopping and desert one of the island’s adventures. The most popular tourist narrow alleys of sites, it doesn’t quite live up to it. the Muttrah Souq


are great for finding shops crammed with precious stones, gold and silver set in unusually designed jewellery, plus at 200 years old it’s the oldest market in Oman. Base yourself in a hotel with a pool – the Chedi Muscat is a luxe option – to combine the city sights with some rays. We’re not done yet. Head into the desert for some mountain/sand in your pants action. If glam surroundings are your thing, then the imaginatively named Desert Sand Camp in the Wahabi Sands will be a great choice for two nights against a backdrop of burnt orange and golden dunes. The permanent camp comes with Bedouin-style tents (complete with air-con), plus proper beds and en-suite bathrooms. HOW: Western & Oriental offers a four-night break (with two nights at the above hotels) from £1,305 per person, see

Malta For a long time, the island of Malta was somewhere only our nan would recommend to go on holiday. Then an influx of cool new festivals brought in younger travellers in their droves, and now, finally, Malta is cool. A September trip here will see you lounging on empty beaches, cycling along quiet country lanes and touring the historic alleys without another tourist in site. You can see a lot of it in five days, too: stroll the elegant, narrow streets of Mdina, one of Europe’s most underrated ancientwalled cities, before grabbing some pastizz – cheesy pastry puffs from the Crystal Palace bakery (it’s worth the queue). For some adventure, take a short boat ride to Gozo for beach hopping and church touring by bike. If you’re just looking to lay flat on some sand and churn through books you can do that, too. Our pick is Golden Bay. No explanation necessary. HOW: Trabuxu Boutique Living offers nightly rates from £80,; Ryanair

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Set your sights on Sardinia; Alentejo is a pretty alternative to the Algarve; the luxurious Chedi Muscat

offers direct flights to Malta from £45 return,

Squeeze the last out of the summer

Alentejo, Portugal We’re big fans of Portugal. Not because we like playing golf (we’re more about crazy golf than 18-hole fairways) and not because we like holidaying with footballers (although if Olivier Giroud’s asking…) but because of


Photographs by (Sardinia) Sean Pavone/Alamy; (Alentejo) photolocation 2/Alamy (Oman) John Warburton-Lee Photography / Alamy;


those beaches. And that food. Head north from the classic golf resort holiday in the Algarve and try Alentejo, a region of remote coves, sand dunes, wine and cheese. Take the short flight from the UK into Lisbon, then hire a car and pootle south along the coastline – the distances are small and you’ll find cute guesthouses in vineyards and miles of empty beach en route. For a refreshing bev along the way, try a white port and tonic, stuffed with fresh mint. The end of summer never felt so good. HOW: Try the Sawday’s website for great B&B accomodation,; EasyJet offers flights to Lisbon from £50 return,

Kalkan, Turkey We may have said goodbye to summer back at the end of July, but on Turkey’s southern coast, the temps are still in their high 20s – sometimes 30s – through to the end of October. Perfect weather, then, for lazing around in an infinity pool doing sweet FA. Kalkan is a pretty, chi-chi option on the coast; book into one of the apartments

or villas dotting the hillside – split the cost between a few people and you’ll nab yourself some cushy digs with stellar views for a fraction of the price of a glitzy hotel on another part of this dramatic coastline. When you’re not Stock up on fresh looking out over local honey, white Kalkan bay or taking cheese, tomatoes, on another portion of cucumber and bread to make a fresh Turkish meze, traditional Turkish spend some time breakfast in the exploring the local comfort of your holiday kitchen. area. Our pick is the Saklikent Gorge, at 18km long and 300m deep, it’s one of the biggest canyons in Europe. You can book a day bed by the gorge, walk through the water (jelly shoes necessary) or, if you’re a big kid like us, float along it in a big rubber ring. A natural waterpark? Yes please. HOW: Visit the Turquoise Collection for a range of villa and apartment options,; Thomas Cook offers return flights to Antalya from £84,


Photograph by [Venice] Sergey Borisov / Alamy; [Valencia] Sean Pavone / Alamy; [Budapest] George Oze / Alamy

San Diego, California There’s food, there’s beaches, there’s sunshine ALL. YEAR. ROUND. Head to La Jolla Shores for excellent swimming, surfing and stand-up paddleboarding. It’s protected from the prevailing southwesterly wind, and is a safe and gentle spot to learn to surf for the first time. Kayak among the seals, or travel south to the less pristine but very cool Mission Bay, a boardwalk-backed beach with food huts, rides and an infectious slacker vibe. Rent a bike to see it all. San Diego goes crazy for a fish taco – try some at Oscar’s Mexican Seafood (with various locations This buzzy around the city), neighbourhood was then swing by the developed in the Gaslamp quarter for 1860s with the hope it would become a glimpse of the city’s a new city centre. rejuvenation – it Nowadays, it’s where used to be a dodgy many of the city’s festivals are held. red light district,

but now it’s an area teeming with polished bars and restaurants. For something edgier, try the old-school indie restaurants of Little Italy. Coffee snobs should then park up at Heartwork Coffee for macchiatos. HOW: Tower 23 is a modern beachfront hotel, and it’s not really a tower, either. Nightly rates from £300,; British Airways offers return flights from £750,

Cities without the crowds

Budapest, Hungary Visit Budapest, Hungary, and you can take on a city of two characters. Back in 1873, Buda and Pest were two cities separated by the Danube. Now they’re one, but they still retain their separate identities. So visit the Buda side for royal palaces and Ottoman-era spas, and Pest for museums and art nouveau architecture. Throw some clattering trams, al fresco dining and open-air bars into the mix and you have yourself a fine city break,


minus those pesky city-break hordes. But before you start tramping the streets, relax. Take a chill. Visit one of the city’s famous thermal baths and swirl yourself around some warm water, with a backdrop of Roman columns (our pick is the Gellért Baths). Next up: a drink. Hungary does a decent line in wines, so unsurprisingly you’ll find plenty of good wine bars – try sipping some against the bare-brick walls of Doblo. If all that’s too refined, you’re in the right place. Ruin bars are a big deal here, and you can drink beers and cocktails within reimagined delipidated buildings. We’d be here days if we started listing them. HOW: Brody House is a very cool 11-bedroom hotel with distressed walls and freestanding baths. Nightly rates from £60,; Wizz Air offers return flights from £60,

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Beat the crowds by visiting Venice in the autumn; Valencia’s sunny skyline; bars are big in Budapest

Venice, Italy If you’re the type to get aggro on the Tube/ London streets Of the Venetian then you’ll have an lagoon islands, absolute ‘mare in the best known is Venice during the probably Murano. You know, where the summer months. In glass comes from… autumn, though, the You should also visit Burano and its pretty cruise crowds don’t clog up the city as painted houses. much as normal, meaning you can stroll the narrow streets in relative peace and quiet. For some local vibes, try staying on ‘native Venice’ – that’s the little islands in the city’s lagoon. To really get off the beaten track you need to take to the water. No, not a cringy gondola ride (oh, please!) but a kayak around the city’s narrow, hard-to-access waterways and underneath the bridges of the famous Grand Canal. Back on dry land, it’s worth buying a church pass for access to 18 churches in the city, including San Pietro and Basilica dei Frari. Amen to that.

IN AUTUMN, THE CRUISE CROWDS DON’T CLOG UP VENICE our food and drink pick is Casa Montana, a laid-back bar with service that verges on the aloof – it’s been knocking about since 1836. Swing by for wine from the barrel and jamón dangling from the ceiling. If architecture’s your bag, get snaphappy at Veles e Vents, a design icon in the city from prestigious architects David Chipperfield and Fermín Vázquez. For something older, try the 13th-century cathedral – a mishmash of Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque architecture. Laze on the beach for an afternoon, then head back to the bars – Ciutat Vella is great for bar hopping. Knock back a few glasses of Agua de Valencia, a lethal concoction of cava, orange juice, sugar and several spirits. It was invented in the 1920s and it’s still going strong – very strong – today. HOW: Rent a high-ceilinged apartment for next to nothing on; EasyJet offers return flights from £70,

Get some autumn colour in your life

Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada If you’re looking to take a trip that’s heavy on the wine, then Bordeaux, Tuscany or

HOW: Oltre Il Giardino will make you feel like you’re staying in a country villa in the city, plus the converted mansion (which is now a B&B) is just a ten-minute water taxi from the big sites. Nightly rates from £150,; Monarch offers return flights from £70,

Photograph by ###

Valencia, Spain Tourists flock to Spain’s coast over the summer, but head to beachside Valencia, the country’s third-biggest city, over a weekend in late summer and you’ll have the pretty side streets and stretch of sand all to yourself (plus a few Spaniards). There’s plenty to fill a weekend: Valencia is the home of paella, but



Napa might spring to mind first. But over on the north shore of Lake Ontario, Canada, you’ll find Prince Edward County – one of Canada’s youngest wine-producing regions, and a place where enotourism (that’s travelling to drink wine) is on the up. There are a number of tours around the region – the 60km Prince Edward County cycling route is a vista- and winery-packed trail. We could bombard you with facts for days, but here’s an interesting one: to protect vines from the cold winter temperatures, farmers in the region ‘up hill’ vines after harvesting grapes in the autumn, by burying them under the soil to provide winter-time insulation. No other wine region in Canada does this. And here’s another first: the area is home to the Karlo Estate – the world’s first certified-vegan winery. To get that full-on orange autumn colour, drive through the maple hills of Algonquin provincial park. HOW: Angeline’s Inn is a quirky inn, nightly rates from £200,; Air Canada offers return flights from £550,

New Delhi and more, India To experience the cultural diversity of India in one easy trip, look to Intrepid Travel’s 15-day Classic Rajasthan tour. Your tour will include hot air ballooning over Jaipur, the pink city, at sunrise, strolling the markets of Bundi and driving through the dusty yellow grounds of Ranthambhore National Park, home to tigers and more. All your travel and accommodation is taken care of by the group leader, so you can focus on absorbing your surroundings instead of trying to find that bus (which will inevitably be the wrong one). And speaking of accommodation, how does a night in old fort or camping under the stars sound? Expect that, and more. Photograph by LOOK Die Bildagentur der Fotografen GmbH/Alamy

HOW: Intrepid Travel offers 15-day trips from

ABOVE: Morocco’s Atlas Mountains provide a suitably spectacular backdrop for some serious hiking, climbing and exploring

through to mid-November. By the end of autumn it’ll be you, your wetsuit and the full force of the Atlantic blowing in from the west. For those who are new to riding breakers and don’t fancy going it alone, Bo and Co Surf School offers single lessons and full time courses from €30 to €240 until 15 November. HOW: Homeaway has villas and apartments on the beach from £60 a night,; Ryanair flies to Bordeaux from £50 return,

Mount Toubkal, Atlas Mountains, Morocco Why see one part of Morocco when you can see it all? That’s what you’ll be saying when you reach the summit of Mount Toubkal. OK, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration – you can’t see the whole country from up there, but when you’re standing atop the highest peak in North Africa it’s probably as

The Atlas Mountains are home to several Berber villages, and it’s only when you trek to them in person that you realise how remote and self-sufficient they are.

close as you’re ever going to get. As well as an unreasonable number of panoramic photo opportunities, a week’s tour with Exodus Travel takes in Berber villages with terraced farmland carving up the side of foothills and a trek through the rugged Azzaden Valley, complete with gnarled juniper trees and walnut groves of yellow ochre. If 23 hours of marching, scrambling and climbing through dirt, rock and scree isn’t quite enough in a week, a more demanding trek to the summit of the 3.2km-high Hadjj is a must to sate the adventurer in you. HOW: Exodus Travel offers tours until 2 October at £629 including flights,

£668pp including meals and accommodation,

Active breaks

Lacanau, France If you’re looking for big swells and barrels but your budget won’t stretch to Cali, maybe you should try Lacanau. It’s famous for its miles of golden sand and pro surf event in late August, and the most consistent waves start to roll in towards the end of summer. After months spent avoiding bronzed bathers you can’t blame French boarders for saving the best surf till after the tourists have gone home. You’ll enjoy less crowded waves and a relatively warm-feeling sea as temperatures drop from late September


Mallorca, Spain Hear Mallorca and you probably think of gently ebbing yachts and turquoise bays. Wrong. For mountain bikers it’s all about bombing down dirt trails without stopping to smell the oak and pine trees. Sound good? Head inland from Palma to Sa Comuna or Bunyola where you’ll find a variety of routes, from technical trails gripping gravelly hills and shallow brooks to 4x4 forest tracks to get the whole family out. October isn’t exactly beach season, but that’s no reason not to head out on one of the mountainous paths in search of an untouched cove that’s as satisfying as nailing the perilous descent that got you there.




ABOVE: Autumnal colours at River Brathay in the Lake District; BELOW: brave the chilly Cornish coast for a spot of surf rafting

coast’s considerable waves while you panic – sorry, paddle – like a maniac and do your best to stay on board. You’ll be kitted out in helmets, wetsuits and lifejackets and get lessons on how to ride those swells. HOW: Book a full day of surf rafting from £69 pp,; Stay in Cornwall has rounded up the best of the region’s accommodation – from B&Bs to cottages,

HOW: Robinson offers six nights on a full-board

basis from £1,717 per couple,; Rock and Ride Mallorca offers a handy mountain bike guidebook for riders going solo.

UK Staycations

Newquay, Cornwall How’d you feel about hurling yourself in some grey, chilly English water? Even better, how do you feel about doing it from an inflatable vessel (picture a giant surfboard crossed with a lifeboat?). Newquay Watersports If you’re not quite Centre will have you sure about surf doing just that thanks rafting, Newquay to its newest activity: Watersports Centre has tons more surf rafting. Yep, activities on offer, that’s a 4.6m-long from power kiting inflatable boat that to raft building and landboarding. takes on the Cornish


Tenterden, Kent For a close-to-home stay with all the essentials (that’s good booze, good food, good views), try Kent. More specifically, visit Tenterden, where you’ll find the Chapel Down HQ – home to some of the best vineyards in the UK. Why? Well, this part of Kent effectively sits on the same band

HOW: The Milkhouse is a cute boutique hotel with a dairy theme – rooms cost from £95,; Book vineyard tours from £10pp,

Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District If you’ve kept one eye on the news and another on the, er, prize, you’ll know that, as of 1 August, England added 188 square miles of new national parkland to its area coverage. What better way to explore the Yorkshire Dales, Lake District (and new bits inbetween) than geocaching? Essentially a GPS-facilitated global treasure hunt, it’s a hobby-cum-obsession where you’ll locate and hide targets around the moors, which should, in theory, get you appreciating the area’s natural beauty and colour, too. There are more than 800,000 geocaches hidden in sandwich boxes around the world, and a fair few are buried in the area. Who needs Pokémon Go when this exists? Actually, don’t answer that.

Photographs by (Lake District) Anna Stowe Landscapes UK/Alamy; (Cornwall) Paul Martin/Alamy

If dirt trails aren’t your thing, then try an intensive road-cycling course. With Robinson Club’s Cala Serena you’ll be pushed on some challenging routes, while also enjoying more relaxing rides, over the course of six days. Pro cyclists André Greipel, Marcus Burghardt and Mario Kummer will accompany you, providing plenty of attention. Bikes and the rest of the gear you’ll need are available to hire.

of chalky limestone as north-east France, meaning the growing conditions are really similar to those in Champagne. The result is British-produced sparkling wine that’s really good. Don’t let us drone on – if you head to Chapel Down you can learn all about the wine producing yourself, take a wander around the vineyards and try some of its wines. All for a bargainous £10.


ABOVE: Swap the onset of winter for a sunsoaked paradise in Fiji; BELOW: If, however, you love the cold, set sail for Antarctica

HOW: Cool Camping has shepherds’ huts, tents and pods – go adventurous,; Virgin Trains offers single fairs to Oxenholme in the Lake District from

Get the hell outta here

Fiji, South Pacific Fiji isn’t your classic road-trip destination, but if you’re travelling all that way, you’ll want to see as much as possible. Travel Nations’ eight-day self-drive itinerary takes you on a trip around the largest and most populous of Fiji’s islands, Viti Levu. The suggested route travels along the Coral Coast, an 80km stretch of beaches and bays that acts as a jumping-off point for the Sigatoka sand dunes (650 hectares of dunes that are up to 60m tall) and the Sigatoka river safari – an action-packed jet boat trip. Further on your journey, you’ll hit up Volivoli beach, one of the best bits of


HOW: Travel Nation offers an eight-night selfdrive trip around Fiji’s mainland from £719pp including car hire, accommodation but not flights.

Antarctica For giant icebergs with bonus penguins – and the opportunity to really get away from it all – journey south to Antarctica. Quark Expeditions’ new Fly the Drake trip allows those tight on time (and admittedly, big on dollar) to take in the best of the continent on its new eight-day cruise (don’t let that word put you off). Instead of sailing the Drake Passage – a route famed for its seasickness-inducing effects – you’ll be flying down to Punta Arenas from Santiago, Chile, before a week-long voyage packed with penguin-, seal- and whale-spotting opportunities. You can even leave the ship for kayaking in the company of icebergs. HOW: Quark’s eight-day trip costs from £6,300,; BA offers return flights from £800,; return flights to Ushuaia from Buenos Aires There are seven start at £400 flying with types of penguin in LATAM, Antarctica, including emperor penguins, which are actually the only animals brave enough to inhabit Antarctica’s open ice in winter.

Tokyo, Japan You can fly a hell of a long way without feeling like you’ve

actually ended up on the other side of the planet, but head to Tokyo and you’ll be under no such illusions. So where do we start? The themed cafés, perhaps – toilets, owls, hedgehogs and more. Then there are the robots, who are running the reception desks of some hotels. Yes, really. But a trip to Japan is as much about the people as it is the craziness. Can’t read the street signs? Don’t worry – someone will see you’re struggling and help. You definitely don’t get that in the middle of Leicester Square. It’s not all tall buildings, either. Head to the Rikugien Garden and you’ll find a sanctuary in the city. Here you can stroll Japan’s scenic spots arranged into a series of ponds, trees and flower beds, with 400 maple trees – autumn leaf colour doesn’t get better than that. Back on the streets, try a Mario Kart tour – dress up as Luigi, Peach, Wario and the guys and drive a go kart around the streets, then hit up some karaoke bars and murder a few hits. Let’s-a-go! e HOW: Inside Japan Tours offers a 15-night Japan trip from £1,860pp,; book kart tours via

Photograph by (Fiji) Martin Valigursky/Alamy; (Antarctica) Arco Images GmbH /Alamy


coastline to base yourself near for a few nights, before driving on to Nadi. From here you can explore Navala, a photogenic thatched-roof village surrounded by rugged green mountains, and the Koroyanitu National Heritage Park, where you can hike and swim in waterfalls. Sublime sands and the friendliest locals you could hope to meet? That ticks our ‘get the hell outta here’ boxes.


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ABOVE: Despite its reputation as being a ‘sea of grey’, Berlin is actually one of Europe’s greenest cities, with plenty of parks to explore



misleading. Look further, and you’ll see that Berlin is actually one of the greenest cities in Europe. In between all those squat apartment blocks, gardens crouch out of sight and parks give people space to be free; there are even beaches and lakes and wild woodlands – all Every Sunday, within city limits. locals and tourists Because, when you head to the middle examine Berlin with of Mauerpark for ‘bearpit karaoke’, a microscope, you a hundreds-strong see what it really is: sing-a-long session a city of gaps. These that’s as jolly (and chaotic) as it sounds. gaps provide homes for biergartens or sunbathing spots in summer. In winter, they become vegetable gardens or wildlife havens. Berlin is even hosting its own festival of flowers next year – the International Garden Exhibition, which takes place in a huge dedicated site in the old East Berlin district of Hellersdorf between April and October ( My green Berlin adventure begins in Prenzlauer Berg, where East Berlin’s bohemians lived under the GDR regime. Here, the Berlin Wall once sliced through the city, splitting lovers and families with its horrible heft. The Mauerpark is a former stretch of wall – wide and sloping. It smells of weed, reggae blasts out, couples smooch, basketballs are bounced. There’s a more austere memorial along nearby Bernauer Street with information boards and horrifying recreations of the wall’s death strip. The most poignant part is where the wall once chopped into an old graveyard.


More to see in the city KLUNKERKRANICH Situated on the roof of a shopping centre in trendy Neukolln, this secret boho bar offers superb views over the city, cheap drinks and live music.

ASISI PANORAMA This interactive exhibition is probably the closest you’ll get to experiencing Berlin when the wall was up. Artist Yadegar Asisi has created a 1:1 scale panorama of the view from Kreuzberg to East Berlin in the 1980s which, when seen from the elevated viewing platform, comes to life in an eerily realistic way.

TEMPELHOF An old airfield which is now a huge public recreation area where you can ride your bike down the old runway, and drink beers in a vast allotment.

Photograph by Matthias Makarinus/Getty Images; Berlin-Zeitgeist / Alamy Stock Photo

tumbling south from Berlin’s centre, as many night-owls do on the way to friends, another dive bar and a frothy beer, it’s easy to believe the old cliché that Berlin is a sea of grey. As Mitte spits you out and Kreuzberg starts to devour you, similarlooking buildings encircle the nocturnal wanderer. And when you look out of the window of the S-Bahn Ring Line trains that chug round Berlin’s periphery, the sprawl of concrete is immense – plattenbau tower blocks rise like crooked teeth above Lichtenberg and Marzahn. And on any day that isn’t sunny and mild, the city can feel as if it’s enveloped by a foggy gloom that isn’t helped by the Berliner Schnauze – the famed grumpiness of the locals. But initial impressions can often be


ABOVE: Prenzlaeur Berg is a bohemian part of the city, where smart cafés open up onto wide, boulevard-like streets; the Tiergarten


called the Pallasseum, which pokes into the park, and a World War II bunker which is still intact. Teufelsberg is another strange sight in a green lung, and one of my personal favourites. The ‘Devil’s Mountain’ is all the rubble of Berlin from the war, piled high, with a former American listening station on top – hidden in the middle of the Grunewald Forest. Director One of the best ways David Lynch wanted to get around in to buy this place. It’s Berlin and make the still derelict though, most of its parks is by bike – the city is and curious sightseers pretty flat, so it’s an explore the remains easy ride, plus bike hire is good value, at of the NSA’s listening around €12 per day. domes and admin offices, which are dangerously crumbling but give a rare high lookout point in an otherwise flat city. To get in I have to break through a small hole in a barbed wire fence, pulse racing. There are so many parks in Berlin – once you’ve started seeing them, it’s hard to stop enjoying them. Treptower Park is perfect for games of softball or eating ice cream, while the huge Tiergarten at the city’s centre contains the odd war memorial on top of a huge plinth and the iconic Brandenburg Gate. It’s here that football fans gathered to watch Germany in the Euros on the city’s biggest big screen. The city’s zoo is attached to a corner of the Tiergarten and a cute canal runs through it too. On the city’s outskirts, bucolic Berlin makes its case even more strongly. Despite visiting the city many times, I’d never been down towards the Lake District around Potsdam until this year. It is a revelation. At Wannsee there’s a huge beach with sand imported from the Baltics fronting onto the Wannsee Lake. It’s like a huge holiday resort hidden in the trees. On the way back to the nearest S-Bahn station at Nikolassee,

GETTING THERE Nightly rates at Hotel Oderberge ( start from £106; Hotel Provocateur ( from £127; and Art’Otel Berlin Mitte from ( £85. Norwegian Air offers one-way flights from £29,; See

Photographs by imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo; Julie g Woodhouse / Alamy Stock Photo

Kollwitzplatz seems sunnier and friendlier – kid-friendly, with play equipment and gossiping parents drinking flat whites. At its centre stands a statue of the famous German artist Käthe Kollwitz, who was staunchly against war and violence. She would surely have approved of today’s liberal, peaceful, friendly and vibrant re-unified Berlin, a Berlin filled with Vietnamese restaurants and Turkish takeaways, with London exiles, Spaniards, American DJs and party animals from every corner of the world. Some of the city’s green spaces are outright weird. The next day I find myself by accident in the Heinrich von Kleistpark in Schöneberg, south of the city centre. It’s a spooky place, haunted by ghosts of Nazi show trials held in the court building at its centre, and by the princes who came to relax here in the 1700s. It’s been a swish botanical garden and is currently a bit grubby and full of statues and colonnades which look incongruous because they ended up here after being moved from other parts of the city. There’s even a crazy apartment block

in a forest clearing, hundreds of ageing men in leathers have gathered – this is biker country. And the place they head for when their huge bellies start rumbling is Easy Rider, opened in 1965 and the centre of West Berlin’s motorbike subculture. The freshlyfried schnitzel in a crusty roll fends off my own hunger for hours. And not too far away is Groß Glienicke, a picturesque village in another clearing in the trees with an incredible history that was documented by Thomas Harding in his book The House by the Lake. The house in question once belonged to Harding’s Jewish family, and later in its life the Berlin Wall ran down the end of the garden, separating it from the lake. The house is currently being turned into a museum. I walk past the house, along the course of the wall, looking at the ducks on the tranquil lake, and thinking about the past. This Berlin is so quiet, so still, so green. The silence is suddenly broken by a commotion – two old ladies emerge from the lake after a refreshing afternoon swim and both throw me a friendly smile. e

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BELOW: While it’s hardly a shy and retiring kind of place, there’s lots going on in Dubai that you might not know about, so we’ve handpicked some of its must-see activities and destinations.


THE SKY’S THE LIMIT Photograph Photograph by Kim Schandorff by ###

Whether it’s a return trip or you’re planning a first-time visit, consult our city guide to Dubai first. By Tom Powell 51


GETTING THERE Get to Dubai in seven hours from London; visit Virgin Atlantic (, British Airways ( and Emirates ( for flights from ÂŁ380 return. For a package, try The Holiday Place




Photograph Photograph by Charlie by Joe ###

XGrounds Kite Beach Skatepark

Wreck Diving

Quad Bike Desert Safari


you’re more about riding over pools than swimming in them, this one’s for you. Roll through the 3,100sq-m beachfront skatepark as the heat drops at 4pm and don’t stop riding the banks, runs and pipes until midnight. The park’s two profiled plazas make it perfect for newbies and seasoned shredders, and as this is Dubai, it’s obviously the largest in the UAE.


not all super-luxe resorts and iconic architecture you know – the Gulf harbours some pretty astounding secrets. Get your beginner badges then take a scuba tour and you’ll find 18 wrecks to explore. Each tour comes complete with that eerie hair-on-end feeling and all sorts of marine critters. Beginners open water course £545; wreck diving £314.


not fully experienced the UAE until you’ve razzed a quad bike over sand dunes with the Burj Khalifa sitting on the horizon – we’ll tell you that for free. Spend the afternoon revving to your heart’s content, then take a trip to a Bedoin camp for shisha, Tanoura dancing and Arabic barbecue fare while you swap tales of quad-biking prowess. From £117 per group.




EAT & DRINK Burj Al Arab Terrace



foodie with a penchant for fresh fish would likely leap at a seafood lunch prepared by an old seadog in the even older (and glitter-free) neighbourhood of Al Ras. The catch? You’ve got to deal with the heady aroma of the fish market in the morning before winding along the creek to build up an appetite before eating. The six-hour tour costs £105 per person.


be forgiven for losing yourself as you dine on a state-of-the-art new deck 100m out over the stunning blue Arabian Gulf. Thankfully you’ll be receiving one-of-a-kind service in the shadow of the most iconic landmark on the Dubai shoreline – the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel – so you won’t have to pinch yourself for too long. Just sit back and enjoy the view.

BURGER FIX: So we’re not expecting prizes for finding a food truck with game – they’re part of the furniture these days. But we do expect you to head down to this fixture on all-action Kite Beach (that’s between the Palm and the World Islands) if you’re after unpretentious sliders and loaded fries. This summer’s menu trend? Cheetos in everything – cheesy chips were never so good.


Photograph by Iain Masterton

Frying Pan Adventures

In the heart of Beaune The hotel Le Cep is a famous icon for all epicureans 65 rooms, of which 29 suites, all very different 24/7 room service A gastronomic and Michelin star restaurant **** Loiseau des Vignes managed by the group Bernard Loiseau Organization of seminars and meetings in one of the 5 lounges and meeting rooms of the hotel Organisation of receptions, cocktails, business breakfast Spa Marie de Bourgogne with 12 sensorial experiences A small fitness center on the top of our panoramical tower Two XVIth century courtyards and garden Private parking and garage Free wifi in the entire hotel Animals admitted 3 handicap accessible rooms

Hôtel Le Cep 27 rue Maufoux-21200 Beaune +33380223548 -



STAY W Al Habtoor City

Fairmont The Palm


As far as desert resorts go (yes, desert resorts) this one’s a game changer. Set in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, you can spot oryxes from your suite’s private pool, or watch gazelles graze while you fine dine on a deck between the dunes and Arabian night sky under a blanket of stars. No, that’s not a mirage – it’s bliss. From £378 per night.


big, boldly designed and brand-spanking new – so it’s pretty much everything we’ve come to expect from W. You’ll get signature service, inside scoops on the city’s sights and an on-the-pulse place to relax and revel. With a 30th floor panoramic view from the welcome desk, you’ll be weak at the knees from the offset for all the right reasons. From £147 per night.



what will it be? A morning stretching out on Fairmont The Palm’s manicured beach, or lounger hopping between four swimming pools? We’ll do both thanks, with a session in the splash park while we’re at it. When you’re not enjoying the guaranteed sun, check out the Willow Stream Spa, where you can be buffed for hours. From £200 per night.

Photograph by Harith Samarawickrama

Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa

The Pavilions Himalayas PO. Box 309, Pumdi-Bhumdi-25, Chisapani, Pokhara, Nepal Resort: T +977 975600 8117 / 8118, +977 61 69 4379 E



NEW HIGH More than a year after a huge earthquake hit Nepal, Safi Thind finds beauty and resilience at the foot of Mount Everest

Photograph by Christian Photograph Kober 1/Alamy by ###


The small village of Phakding has suffered since the earthquake in 2015: many can’t afford to rebuild their homes, and the reduced number of tourists has impacted, too.


’m sitting in the back of a battered twin-engine swaying and lurching through the Himalayan skies, feeling like I’m in a scene from Indiana Jones. One eye is fixed on the cool white fangs of stone outside and the other on the pilots in the open cockpit ahead, who’ve been engaged in a rather long, animated dialogue for the last ten minutes. Jeevan, my impish Nepali guide, all of 23, is for once very quiet. It’s a bad sign. The plane suddenly drops into a steepling dive and there’s a juddering bump underfoot. “Brace, brace, brace!” I cry wildly. There’s no need. We’ve just landed at Lukla airport. Perched 2,860m up on the edge of Nepal’s Himalayan trail, this is the first outpost on the route to Base Camp. After that terrifying journey I exit into a perfectly


clear blue sky. It all looks rather pleasant. I’m embarking on a ten-day trek to reach the foot of Mount Everest, at some 5,500m above sea level, and the first scene that greets me is a picturesque one. Gently undulating valleys mingle with farm fields. Milk-coloured rivers churn under swaying steel bridges. The sun shines above mountains. It all seems pretty spectacularly normal. There are, however, a few telltale signs of change. For one, there’s very few tourists around. Being February, crowds are usually thin at this time of year but trekker volumes have plummeted since the devastating earthquake that hit the country in April 2015. Walking in Kathmandu’s tourist zone, Thamel, the day before I noticed the empty streets and shops where vendors sat wistfully waiting for customers. From my perspective,



CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Phakding, where the main trail to Everest Base Camp starts; Thamel in Kathmandu; a Himalayan monal

Photograph by (clockwise from main) Peter Sumner/Alamy; Marina Pissarova/Alamy; Arco Images GmbH/Alamy

the fewer crowds the better. However, I don’t have to live here or derive my main income from tourism. The trekking trails and teashops have been open for months but not many are coming. At least I’m determined to help matters as best I can. The trail out of Lukla is very reasonable. As we reach the small village of Phakding for lunch, where I try my first dal bhat – the ubiquitous Nepali dish of lentils, rice and vegetables – I’m barely breaking a sweat. We’re greeted by Pari Sherpa – or ‘Aunty’ as Jeevan calls her – a charming lady who runs this guesthouse. “It looks as if none of these places suffered very much,” I say. She tells me otherwise. Her own house nearby was knocked down and she’s currently living with her brother. I ask her when she’ll get her own place. She has no

idea, she doesn’t have the money to rebuild. Government assistance hasn’t been great and a lot of the foreign aid was scooped up by others. The region depends more than ever on outside visitors, which makes the drop-off in tourism all the more galling. I also speak to an NGO from South Korea who tells me that problems are still rife. The government’s a pretty venal lot and aid has been poorly dispersed. It’s a shame considering the tough lot of the average Nepali at the best of times. But still they persevere. Leaving Aunty, we continue up increasingly steep mountain paths. We’re passed by very young and very old men lugging unfeasibly heavy 50kg loads on their backs springing up the paths like bucks. It looks inhuman to me, grappling with As a major stop-off my own 20kg pack point for those and now starting to trekking the feel something of a Himalayas, you can seek sustenance burning sensation in this mountain creep into my legs. village – it’s Sagarmatha (the particularly known for its bakeries. Nepali name for Everest, meaning ‘forehead in the sky’) National Park is entered through a high wooden gate and contains three of the ten highest peaks in the world, including the big one itself. Our journey takes us through babbling brooks, cedar forests and creamy cliffs into the heart of the mountains. Along the way we pass some of the local wildlife including Nepal’s national bird, the Himalayan monal, which looks a lot like a technicolour pheasant. I feel rather full of myself for getting here. Even more so when I get my first look at Everest, glimmering shyly in the distance. If I knew half of what was ahead of me I wouldn’t be so cocky. That evening we reach Namche Bazaar, the stepped mountain village and Sherpa capital at 3,440m. The clouds roll in like a giant exhalation of smoke and the temperature plunges to -15ºC. It’s my first taste of proper cold. My clothing, bought in a cheap sports warehouse back in Blighty, is simply inadequate and the dining hall fanheater raises a mere whimper of warmth. Still, though I’ve got a dull thud in my brain, I’m thankful for no major altitude sickness. I’ve already seen two red rescue choppers whizzing down from the heights filled with faint trekkers and I hope I won’t be in one. Dreams are weird, however. I get strange montages of spinning wheels, footballs, YouTube videos, condensed milk. We continue uphill through snow-flecked woods towards the large yellow monastery

of Tengboche. As we hit 4,000m I suddenly find myself very fatigued. The way is littered with warning signs – ‘If you start to feel dizzy, descend now.’ On top of this is the nightly cold. It really is pitiless. Chills start to hit you the moment you leave the fireplace. Going to the toilet becomes an act of insanity. Over in the Gorkha region, some 150 miles to the west near the epicenter of the quake, hundreds of people have had to brave a freezing winter in makeshift tents. I wonder how they cope. Day seven and it’s the final stretch. By the time I’m at Gorak Shep, the last stopping point before Base Camp, I’m bedraggled and wilting. I have a manly tomato soup and a word with myself. I can do this. Fixing myself with all my macho bravado, I puff out my chest and start walking like I mean it. We go hard for four hours. The paths are rocky and uneven passing under craning cliffs laced with teetering boulders. This is the very road that Sir Edmund Hillary took, that George Malory may have walked on his way to tackle the North Face and others of heroic mien who did things to make the world stand up and go “wow!” Sadly, none of these things are passing through my mind as I traverse the last section to Base Camp, stumbling round




ABOVE: Tents pitched on gravelly ground at Everest Base Camp; night falls over Kongde Ri mountain and Namche Bazaar village


like a professional ice skater. I look around and realise I’m under the shadow of the tallest mountain in the world. We skate on ice by the glacier. I’m revived. It’s wonderful. There’s one final task next morning. Kala Patthar (Black Rock) is a rocky peak that offers the best view of Everest (and is also the location of the world’s highest webcam, just in case you’re wondering…).

GETTING THERE Tara Air operates two daily flights from Kathmandu to Lukla Airport for £100. Trekking agencies in Kathmandu offer all-inclusive packages with guide, food and stay at tea houses and trekking equipment from £700 to £1,500. Remember to tip your guide.

Photographs by (main) robertharding/Alamy Stock Photo; Artem Povarov/Alamyfrom

like a drunk with energy levels at an alltime low. When we reach it, at 5,364m above sea level, I’m drained of power, doubled over like a wizened hag. My first thought is that the place resembles a rock-festooned construction site. There’s the Base Camp monument here, a pile of stones decorated with colourful flags, but not much else. Then I look up and see her – boom! Up ahead, a massive slate-grey triangle dominating two other massive mountains. I gasp again, but this time it’s from awe. Jeevan beckons me to the Khumbu glacier at the foot of the mountain – we haven’t much time before dusk. I follow gingerly. Down below is like a frozen sculpture park. Tall, While they look like glimmering walls strings of bunting, of ice tower over a these are actually frozen lake. I take a prayer flags. Each one represents a few tentative steps prayer, and the but the ice doesn’t colours symbolise crack. Jeevan’s different elements, such as red for fire. already there circling

You have to be there for sunrise, they say. But when I’m woken at 3am after a couple of fitful hours of sleep, the temperature -20ºC outside, the water bottle I left by my bed entirely frozen again, I’m in a funk. I grasp around for my boots, put on the head torch and ever so slowly begin to walk. The moon offers very little light. The winds are howling, legs step barely two paces before I need to rest. But with Jeevan’s help, I scrabble up the steep ascent. When we finally reach the top it’s still only 5.30am – it’s pitch black and freezing and there’s no trace of sun. Somehow I find it ridiculously funny; I feel exhilarated, like from some kind of mad torture. Jeevan promises that sunrise should be any second now. An hour passes and the sky, like our faces, turns from purple to aquamarine to blue to lilac, yet no sun rises over the mountain. I’m in a hurricane and yet I’m on top of the world, and I can see everything ahead and above me. At last there is a trickle of sun; I look to my right and Jeevan’s there grinning wildly and I feel my whole being touched. I’ll take the aching bones, gasping lungs and bedragglement if it means returning again one day. e



UCKY EAK Photograph by ###

From spotting Ricky Martin to gambling with locals, Hannah Summers finds fame and fortune in Puerto Rico 65


’ve hit the jackpot. Maybe. Beside me an old fella wearing a ghetto gold medallion and an oversized trucker cap smiles at the table. Next to him a teenager in a garish floral dress eyes up the spinning collection of small wooden horses. Then there’s me, throwing crumpled notes at a game called pica, apparently. I don’t know any of the rules, and I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. But I’m feeling lucky. Another old chap sidles up to me. “Pica is our version of roulette, but with horses,” he explains. He signals for another rum from the battered wooden shack. “You’ll lose all your money here,” he adds knowledgeably. “Here” is the Puerto Rico I never knew existed. Although the Caribbean island’s been a favourite of Much like its name American sunseekers suggests, Old San for decades, the Juan is the oldest exotic blend of settlement in Puerto Rico, originally Spanish and US founded in 1508. culture rarely Expect pretty features on British cobblestone streets and painted houses. travellers’ radars. And with new direct flights from Norwegian Air, you can now reach the undiscovered curves of this peachy plot of land for just £270 return. If that sounds too good to be true, take note from Ricky Martin – Puerto Rico’s most famous export (sorry, J-Lo) – who sits next to me on the flight over, churning through films. Martin’s big-bucks cashflow may be healthier than the bank balance of most visitors, but that’s not going to stop the budget traveller livin’ la vida loca (sorry) here. Dodge the glitzy mega-resorts and golf courses that litter the north coast of the island, and you could cram a trip to Puerto Rico with lazy strolls through the salsa-soundtracked cobbled streets of Old San Juan. Or hike through the El Yunque rainforest – all 44 square miles of it – where waterfalls and wilderness command full-on adventurer get up. Or bathe in the thermal waters of the island’s oldest colonial town, Coamo, just like Juan Ponce de León, the 15th-century Spanish explorer who was on a mission to discover the elusive Fountain of Youth. And the even-more-elusive cure for sexual impotence. Ponce de León was left disappointed (as, presumably, were his lovers), but luckily I’m here with an easier agenda. Beaches. Miles of them. My pica gambling session in the colourful wooden-shack town of Esperanza is just one part of my


stay on Vieques, a small island that sits a 30-minute hop by six-seater propeller plane from mainland Puerto Rico. For decades, the land acted as a target practice playground for the US Navy, while local residents were clustered into a precarious semi-safe strip down the middle. After years of local protests, the Navy finally withdrew in 2003, leaving turf that was quickly eyed up for bulldozers and redevelopment. Not so fast: the environmental authorities soon swept in, declaring the former military area (around 70% of the island) a US Fish and Wildlife Refuge. What’s left is a low-key home


ABOVE: The Los Morrillos lighthouse, which is located on the southwestern tip of Puerto Rico. BELOW: Sun Bay in Vieques, one of the island’s numerous unspoilt beaches


Photographs by (Los Morrillos) George Oze/Alamy; (Vieques) Hannah Summers

to small guesthouses, wild horses and glorious sweeps of remote beach. And oh boy, about those beaches. I hire a jeep and bump my way deep into the refuge, escorted by frisky chestnut mares and swooping white butterflies. Although much of the land is still off-limits (defunct bullets and bombs still exist in these parts unfortunately), the protected park reveals dozens of bays along its shores – from tiny, private smidges of sand barely big enough for my sarong and the occasional spying horse, to wide, long, wind-whipped bays strewn with pebbles, bruised coconut shells and more Vieques’s wildlife perving ponies. refuge is made up Shops don’t exist of beaches, coastal in this protected lagoons, mangrove wetlands and upland plot of land, which forested areas. Rare leaves room for the species such as the finest of American Antillean manatee call it home. exports: food trucks.

Straddling the entrance of the island’s wildlife refuge are two island-famous snack stops, and a chef with a New York twang knocks me up the ultimate cheap beach picnic from a garish blue and white van called Sol Food. Soon, I’m sitting back on the sand and munching through spiced chicken and pineapple chutney with just the blazing sunshine and soft surf as company. While in some parts of Puerto Rico you could dance and drink in a rum-fuelled blur until dawn, here on Vieques they get to bed early. Nightlife stretches to grabbing an after-dinner ice cream from a repurposed 1980s golf cart, or heading into ‘town’, where groups of snoozing horses wait outside pool bars for their owners. Of course, I do find some action. At 10pm on a semi-cloudy moonlit evening, I join a glow-stick-festooned guide called Choco and drag a kayak down to Mosquito Bay, the world’s most intense, yet unheard



CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Flying from Puerto Rico mainland to Vieques island; pica is a fast-paced and popular local game

of, bioluminescent bay. As I glide my way through the pitch black, phosphorescent dinoflagellates – that’s tiny marine plankton that glow a psychedelic blue – spark up the water with each dunk of the paddle. It’s not just surreal otherworldly sights either. Choco, my guide, may look like a burly bouncer, but his marine biology master’s degree has come in handy, and he raps – yes, raps – a series of facts to me as I float across the breezy glittering lagoon.


Photographs by (Vieques) Aurora Photos/Alamy; (Esperanza) Efrain Padro/Alamy


Back on mainland Puerto Rico it’s time to take the quiet road along the south coast. I cruise through pastel-hued, sleepy, touristfree villages and acres of cane fields and jungle to the island’s most south-westerly point, and the simple but charming town of El Combate. It’s here that I settle in to Yaneira’s Cabins, a fairly basic, but hugely loved and inexpensive guesthouse run by local surfer Yaneira, with help from her golden labrador, Zuca. Today I’m after Other dishes typical her secrets. Two in Puerto Rico are dazzling, talc-soft asopao – a soup miles of them. Along containing rice and shellfish – and arroz the road from the con dulce, a sweet, cabins I collapse onto sticky rice pudding the most spectacular cooked in spices, coconut and rum. beach I’ve ever seen – where the sand slopes gently into a barely rippling turquoise ocean, and the beach is empty bar the occasional sunbathing dog. I could happily spend two weeks here. The mornings pass in a tropical haze of crime books, 11am Medella beers and hours taking the same idyllic picture over and over again. Who needs to use Photoshop when it looks this good already? Afternoons are spent touring the surrounding sites. There’s the Los Morrillos lighthouse, a 19th-century grey-stone building with lime-green shutters that, with its dramatic cliff-top positioning, sees the best of the island’s sunsets, every single

All that fried food night. Or there are requires something the salt flats, where to wash it down mounds of the white with, so make sure you order a piña stuff sit at the side colada while you’re of dried-up neonthere – the creamy pink ponds that cocktail was ‘born’ give the town its in Puerto Rico. name – El Combate means ‘the Battle’, and locals used to fight for rights to these once-lucrative heaps of salt crystals. Even the supermarket here’s a star attraction: veg and bread supplies come with a side serving of retro fruit machines, and an ambitious queue of eager gamblers. But no amount of lucky slot sessions can compete with a night at Annie’s Place. The open-air, beachside restaurant is crammed with fluorescent lights, sticky plastic tables, groaning fans and, well, groaning families, who huddle over towering platters of ‘medium sampler’ – that’s deep-fried goodies including cheese, mahi mahi fish and empanadas. I try it all, then wade through a giant, $5 portion of mofongo – a hodge podge of mashed plantain, prawns and garlicky tomato sauce. Dinner-time entertainment comes in generous servings too; at the end of the room, a group of grannies kill a deafening version of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ on the karaoke. Time to turn in. If El Combate is your typical local Puerto Rican seaside town, Rincón, a two-hour drive up the country’s west coast, makes for a buzzier, more alternative beach party. This is American expat territory, a place where I’m a “dude” – and not a very cool one at that. Here I find a friendly blend of Puerto Rican-American hospitality, in a town that’s dubbed the surfing capital of the island – thanks in part to the giant waves, and also due to a namecheck in

Serene Pavilions, 20 Upali Mawatha, Wadduwa, Sri Lanka +94 (0) 38 229 4444 / +94 (0) 38 229 6890

Hotel Reception:


THIS IMAGE: Rincón is one of the best places in Puerto Rico to catch a wave

the Beach Boys’ hit ‘Surfin’ Safari’. Around me, 60-something, sun-kissed and ludicrously ripped silver surfers cruise the pavements with hardened bare feet. Beers in one hand, surfboard in the other, their hippie attitude and washboard torsos hypnotise me, making me feel strangely carefree. And a tad frumpy. It’s here that I meet John and Kim, a laid-back, svelte American couple who


NEED TO KNOW HIX ISLAND HOUSE Get even more back to nature on Vieques Island with a stay at Hix Island House. The cool concrete loft-style hilltop buildings are strategically located to capture the island’s trade winds, and the rooms are fully open-air – meaning birds can fly in one door and out the other. It happens. Your kitchen is kitted out with breakfast items, so you can feast with a breezy view. From £100pn.

EL BLOK Swing by the snazzy 1950s-inspired El Blok Hotel on Vieques for cocktails and reasonably priced yet innovative local cuisine. It’s the brainchild of former music exec Simon Baeyertz, and is a very successful labour of love.

YANEIRA’S CABINS For cheap and very cheerful rooms, try this Airbnb-listed guesthouse in south-west Puerto Rico. From £65pn.

GETTING THERE Norwegian Air offers direct flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from £270 return. Book ahead for the best deals.

Photograph by Michele Falzone / Alamy Stock Photo


have escaped a brutal grey winter in New Jersey to spend six months catching waves in Puerto Rico. They have the right idea. “I used to skateboard down this road, Bummers Hill, in the 1970s,” John tells me, as he tears his jeep down the 20% incline slope. On either side, tree-veiled fields lead down to a mass of electric-blue ocean and frothy white waves. “It used to be just shacks at the bottom, now it’s boutique guesthouses.” Even if development is on the up here, I have no doubt protective expats, and born-and-bred locals will keep Rincón’s alternative spirit alive. The town of The town’s charms Boqueron is on the aren’t manufactured, south west corner and despite the more of Puerto Rico. The nearby Los Morrillos touristy vibe, it’s all lighthouse, built in very chilled. 1882, features on the No more so than Boqueron Brewing Co’s labels. at Villa Cofresi, a whitewashed piece of prime real-estate, with an on-the-sand location and blockbuster views. If its name sounds fancy, this unassuming two-star hotel is far from it. Local families crowd around the open-air bar, while the scent of twodollar cheeseburgers mingles with the salty sea air. I pull up a stool and order a locally brewed Boqueron IPA and a pirata– a heady concoction of coconut water, rum, cinnamon and more rum piled into a fresh coconut. I’m tipsy with the first sip, and rat-arsed by the second. As I gaze out to the horizon – That sky! That sand! That sea! – I realise I’ve got that lucky feeling all over again. Now where’s that pica table? 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: Website: GARDEN ROUTE -SOUTH AFRICA



Travelling north and then north some more, Ed Cooper reaches Norway’s Arctic coast, a land ruled by the weather

Photograph by ###







ABOVE: The northern lights shimmer over a fjord in Tromsø. This part of Norway is so far north that for two months the sun never sets


sail towards Stokmarknes for noon. While the arctic weather continued to play its game I decided to join a group heading for Trollfjorden, a 3 mile-long fjord between the archipelagos of Lofoten and Vesterålen. Leaving the MS Richard With behind us, we slid into immersion suits (a garment somewhere between a spacesuit and a binbag) and clambered aboard an inflatable RIB to get a little closer to Trollfjorden. We bounced across the water, heading southbound, away from the mothership. Once we arrived there were – unbelievably; disappointingly – no trolls in sight at Trollfjorden. Just a handful of dishevelled locals witnessing a group of recently sea-hardened travellers speeding around, stopping only to ogle at sea eagles and mountains. Regardless, we continued

Photograph by imageBROKER/Alamy

6°33’N may not mean much to the average traveller, so let me explain. These are the southernmost co-ordinates of the Arctic Circle in Norway. But it’s so far north that for around two months of the year the sun refuses to set. Head 217 miles further north from this point – just as I did – and you’ll find yourself in Tromsø, an understated fjord-side town. Tromsø and its midnight summer sun was the launchpad for an expedition by sea that led south along Norway’s arctic coastline – itself home to some 50,000 islands, totalling a whopping 5,200 miles – and would eventually lead to my final stop in Bergen. Tromsø itself, naturally, has that certain Scandi-panache we’ve become accustomed to. Yes, there are coffee shops, vinyl stores and craft beer breweries, but its position on the North Sea is the big draw – there’s simply no better place to begin discovering Norway’s breathtaking Arctic coastline. But if you want Tromsø is the a real taste of Arctic cultural centre of Norway, you need to the region, and some get closer to the fjords of Norway’s bestknown musicians of the North Sea, and – such as the duo there’s no better way behind Röyksopp – to do it than by kayak. grew up and started their careers there. A 15-minute drive took me to Håkøya, a wondrous stretch of water that – through the snow-capped mountains and across the navyblue water – stretched even further north as I paddled in my kayak, all making for an idyllic starting point for any would-be explorer. However, because of its size and, let’s be frank, my laughably weedy upper-body strength, this little plastic bucket wouldn’t get me to Bergen. I needed a bigger boat. Thankfully, MS Richard With, the 11,205-tonne veteran of expedition voyage operator Hurtigruten, was waiting back in Tromsø’s port, so I ditched my kayak. By this point, the clock was drawing near midnight and my departure aboard the MS Richard With edged closer, but that midnight sun continued to shine. Tempting me from sleep (it’s overrated anyway), the constant daylight drew me into Tromsø’s extraordinary arctic cathedral, where local singers and musicians played hypnotic music to help me pass the time. By the time I dozily vacated my pew, the eerie sun had transformed into a grizzly thunderstorm – not what you want to see when you’re spending the next five days at sea. We set off in the morning, heading south towards Sortland, and continued to


ABOVE: The new Highline Suites at InterContinental Malta blend luxurious interiors, excellent service and fantastic views over the Mediterranean

Suite Service For a new luxurious island getaway, InterContinental Malta’s Highline Suites blend sophisticated interiors,impeccable service and stunning Mediterranean views


Photograph by Brian Grech

or an indulgent, ultra-luxurious holiday, look no further than InterContinental Malta. Located in the exclusive harbour town of St Julian’s, on the sun-drenched Mediterranean island of Malta, the hotel offers elegant bedrooms, sensational views, excellent dining choices and a peaceful swimming pool. Accommodation at this chic hotel blends sophisticated design with state-of-the-art technology. For the ultimate room with a view, try the InterContinental Malta’s new Highline Suites. Each of the 30 suites are a masterpiece of impeccable modern design. Spread over up to 220sqm, the suites feature designer furniture from Minotti, Bang and Olufsen sound systems, huge ensuite bathrooms and luxurious linen. Located on the highest floors of the hotel, the suites enjoy incredible views, not to mention service. Dedicated butlers will be on hand to


provide you with everything you may need, whether it’s private dining or arranging a boat trip around the island’s secluded bays. Guests staying in the suites will also have access to the Club InterContinental lounge, an exclusive space that’s perfect for soaking up the Mediterranean vistas over a sumptuous breakfast or pre-dinner cocktail. For a new standard of luxury in Malta, combined with the very best service, the Highline Suites are the ideal choice. ◆ To book your stay visit



ABOVE: MS Richard With and MS Spitsbergen dock in Svolvær. BELOW: Vikingen Island, right on the Arctic Circle


EAT At Bjartmars Favorittkro, on the Atlantic Road. Grab a window seat, gawk at the fjords and order a pot of bacalao – a hearty cod-based stew and a local favourite – with a side dish of warm, crusty bread and a cup of dark ale. Congratulations – you’ve gone full-blown Norwegian.

DRINK At Mack’s Brewery, Tromsø. Once the northernmost brewery in the world – having been bumped to a humble second place by Svalbard’s Bryggeri Brewery – it still holds the largest selection of beer in Europe, with 67 brews on tap. Ed was a guest of explorer voyage operator Hurtigruten. Sail aboard the flagship MS Spitsbrtgen from Tromsø to Bergen from £373pp for three days.


Photographs by (Svolvær) Ørjan Bertelsen; blickwinkel/Alamy

Aboard the MS Spitsbergen, Hurtigruten’s swashbuckling flagship. Explore northern Norway in the newly refurbished and luxurious vessel, stopping along some of the world’s most rugged and spectacular coastal spots.

further south for a handful of hours, speeding and spraying before docking in the port town of Svolvær, beating the MS Richard With only by minutes. While particularly secluded, Svolvær is Lofoten’s liveliest spot, where high mountains overlook the town and the peninsula on which it sits. As we docked – to our thirsty delight – the town was hosting a celebration for the christening of Hurtigruten’s new flagship, the impressive MS Spitsbergen, in perhaps the most Scandi way possible: live folk music and craft beer. Who was I to deny? After several IPAs my sea-legs were better than ever, and ready for a night at sea aboard the MS Richard With. The following morning, after a few espressos, I was (just) ready to set sail for 66°33’N. These are the coordinates for Vikingen Island, where any vessel heading south passes out of the Arctic Circle. The change, bizarrely, was almost immediately noticeable, and that unforgiving arctic weather was switched to Norwegian summer sun, thanks mostly to the flow of the Gulf Stream. To the delight of our captain and his crew, this special moment called for a glass of champagne and, er, a shot of cod liver oil. Two substances not to be mixed, take my word for it. I ventured onwards – my stomach now fully lubricated by repurposed fish remains – to Vegaøyan. An insight into a more frugal way of life and one based on fishing and harvesting, this weather-beaten island’s main show comes from the adored

population of eider ducks, which live in tiny houses to protect their valuable fur. While we’re not talking a centrallylocated two-bed maisonette here, the eider ducks’ houses show how Norway’s animal population is one of the most cherished in the world. In Kristiansund, local farmers import llamas from South America to ‘bodyguard’ livestock, while Molde’s cows are treated to a six-week holiday each year. That’s more than the average human gets – in terms of protective llamas and days off. But my journey called once again and we cruised south through the night, touching down in delightful Kristiansund in the morning to meet Norway’s Atlantic Road the following afternoon. The five-mile road runs through some of Norway’s most scenic areas and over the iconic Storseisundet Bridge, an architectural marvel that saw builders battle 12 hurricanes over a period of six years to get the job done. The road finishes near Molde, home of “roses, jazz and ship propellers”, apparently, plus some 222 snowy mountain peaks. Here, I boarded the boat for the final time and spent the night cruising to Bergen. Journey complete, This striking bridge I disembarked in has been described Bergen and walked as ‘the road to past an ominous sign nowhere’ because its steep hump in on the boat’s deck, the middle gives the warning travellers impression there’s a of a “DANGER OF sheer drop into the sea ahead. LIFE!”, (read: death) if you decide to jump off the boat into the great outdoors. Never has danger looked like so much fun. In northern Norway, the climate makes the rules – just ask the builders of Storsisundet Bridge, the fishermen of Trollfjorden, the duck farmers of Vegaøyan or the kayakers of Håkøya – and, love it or hate it, you have no say whatsoever. Your job? Set your sights to 66°33’N and get exploring, pronto. e


CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Get ready for adventure; meet the locals; hilltribe cuisine


A new trip with G Adventures breathes new life into the classic Northern Thailand hilltribe trek. For your chance to win a place on this incredible tour, read on…


he lush valleys, winding rivers and remote hilltribes of Northern Thailand offer some of the most extraordinary travel experiences in Southeast Asia, but how do you escape the tourist hordes that have flocked to the trails and villages around Chiang Mai? G Adventures’ new five-day


‘Northern Thailand Hilltribes & Villages Trek’ offers a unique insight into everything that’s great about this astonishing part of the world with none of the crowds – and you could win the chance to experience it for yourself. Not only will you and your group trek deep into teak and bamboo forests, away from the well-trodden Chiang Mai tourist trail, but you’ll visit local villages and get a taste of tribal life. Take a cooking lesson, tribal-style, in the Lahu village, then learn about medicine with a Karen shaman – you can even get a traditional massage or have a kickabout with the locals. Once you’ve bade the tribespeople goodbye, your journey into Thailand’s northern wilds finishes at Tham Lod – a spectacular 1,666m-long network of caves that you’ll explore by paddling on a bamboo raft. It’s the perfect end to a trip that will widen your eyes, expand your mind and even challenge your body. And unlike many tour operators in the area, G Adventures makes sure tourist

money finds its way to local communities, so you’ll leave with a clean conscience to go with those epic new memories and friends. For your chance to win, see below. ◆

HOW TO WIN To be in with a chance of winning a place on the G Adventures ‘Northern Thailand Hilltribes & Villages Trek’, including flights, head to competition/gadventures and answer one simple question. You’ll find full T&Cs there, too. For more information on the tour, or to book your next trip, visit


One For All

FROM LEFT: Enjoy the pristine shores of the Robinson Club Maldives; ride a Harley Davidson in Mallorca; surf at Robinson Club Agadir; relax in Mallorca

Whether you want to catch some waves in Morocco or lounge on a pristine beach in the Maldives, Robinson Club’s 24 resorts are sure to keep everyone happy on holiday


hen it comes to planning the perfect break we all have different ways we like to spend our time. Boasting 24 resorts in 12 countries, Robinson Club is sure to have something to suit you, whether you’re travelling as a family, couple or solo. What’s more, with idyllic beaches, bright, spacious accommodation and an incredible array of activities, you’re free to spend your time doing as much or as little as you like. Take the Robinson Club Maldives, which is located on a spectacular island in the Indian Ocean and surrounded by coral reef and turquoise water. Here, guests can snorkel in the calm sea, lounge on a pristine white-sand beach or make the most of the resort’s incredible facilities, from a serene spa to watersports. Dining choices are varied, and guests travelling by 31 October can enjoy a free upgrade to all-


inclusive, with food and drink included. Elsewhere, the Robinson Club Cala Serena is a laid-back choice on the sun-kissed Balearic island of Mallorca, Spain. Try your hand at beach volleyball, laze by the resort pools with a good book, or up the ante with a Harley Davidson tour: guests staying at the resort can explore the lush island on the iconic motorcycle. Watersports fanatics should try Robinson Club Agadir, set on the colourful shores of Morocco. The white-washed hotel boasts Moroccan flair, while its prime positioning on the coast makes it an incredible place to learn to surf, or stroll miles of empty sand dune-backed sand. With so much choice, the only question is: where will your holiday begin? ◆

For more information on the resorts and to book your Robinson Club stay, head to or


Seven nights start from €2,709* per couple (all-inclusive) at Robinson Club Maldives, €2,244 at Robinson Club Cala Serena, Spain (full board), and €1,357 at Robinson Club Agadir, Morocco (all-inclusive). *Price for travel by 31 October.


CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Villa Pyrgos on Skopelos, part of the GIC The Villa Collection; stunning views from Villa Georgia in Crete; Villa Milos in Lefkas

Made For You

Every GIC villa is elegantly designed and handpicked by experts, letting you luxuriate in the rich culture of the Mediterranean and swim in the bluest seas in Greece and Cyprus


t’s easy to let your cares float away as you stretch out lazily by the pool, watching olive groves give way to white sands and the gently rolling sea. It’s even easier when you’re kicking back in an effortlessly elegant villa that’s been handpicked for your stay away. Each stunning property in GIC’s villa collection is handpicked by experts who can even design an individual itinerary for you, no matter what your perfect Greek-island holiday looks like. With a wide range of villas across Greece and Cyprus, whether you’re looking for a big beach break with all the family or simply want to soak up sights on a short break with friends, GIC’s experts have got you covered. From the moment you arrive, you’ll have a luxurious place to put your feet up, and the perfect base from which to discover sun-soaked coves and mix with locals in lively tavernas. Then, when you get in from a long day of pottering around quaint narrow streets

and yacht-filled harbours, you can relax and recharge in the perfect balance of modern features and traditional Greek style. What’s more, if you’re ever in need of an insider scoop on where to find the best beaches or fattest olives, there’s always a local GIC guide on hand to make your stay effort free. Once the experts have you full up on vine leaves and brimming with the vibrant Mediterranean culture, you’ll feel totally at ease. Whether your perfect getaway to Greece or Cyprus means winding between whitewashed walls and terracotta roofs on the island of Skopelos or letting the Mediterranean lap at your toes on the beach in Crete, finding the right villa has never been easier. ◆

Quote ‘Escapism’ and save up to 35% If this sounds like your sort of holiday, there’s still plenty of availability for escapes throughout the autumn. With weather still in the balmy twenties through to late October, visit and save up to 35% on your autumn villa escape with GIC The Villa Collection. To book or to find out more, call 020 8232 9780. Follow GIC The Villa Collection on twitter @GIC_Villas for the latest deals and travel inspiration.




Arabian Sights

You’ll find luxury and elegance everywhere you turn at the five-star Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah. Get a great deal on your next stay with British Airways


tanding on the balcony of your stylish and spacious room at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, you’ll hardly know where to look first. Do you gaze at the impossibly blue Arabian Gulf stretching out in front of you, or the iconic skyline of Dubai, rising majestically out of the desert? While you’re staying at this five-star Waldorf Astoria resort on the famous Palm Jumeirah island, you’ll have plenty of decisions like this to make, from choosing where to dine to picking from 50 treatments at the Waldorf Astoria Spa.


With 200 metres of private beach, finding the perfect spot won’t be a problem – though choosing whether to relax in the sun or make use of the dedicated watersports centre, with activities for all ages, might prove trickier. There are two temperature-controlled swimming pools, including one for the whole family and one that’s just for adults – the perfect sanctuary once you’ve dropped the kids off at Coco’s Kids’ Club. When it comes to eating and drinking, you’ll find a wealth of options, from refined and indulgent Social by three-Michelin-starred chef

Heinz Beck, to Vietnamese flavours at LAO and international beachfront dining at Palm Avenue. And when you’re really ready to relax, make a beeline for the award-winning Waldorf Astoria Spa, with hydrotherapy facilities, relaxation rooms and exotic treatments from all over the world. You may find yourself spoiled for choice, but booking your next holiday at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah will feel like the easiest decision you’ve ever made. ◆


How To Book Three-night stays start from just ÂŁ609pp staying on a half board basis in a King Superior Partial Sea view room. To book, and for more information, visit THE DEAL

DETAILS: Terms and conditions apply. Availability may be limited. Prices per person, based on two adults sharing for selected travel between 1-30 June 2017 and include return British Airways World Traveller flights from London Heathrow. Book by 20 Sept 2016.



25 shops nationwide





These deck shoes can talk the talk but can they walk the, er, slippery surfaces of a wave-lashed yacht? Of course they can –the siped rubber outsole is durable and grippy.


PhotographPhotograph by David Harrison by ###

Timberland’s classic boat shoes are hand stitched and use super-soft leather from sustainable tanneries. That notfor-the-shy colour, by the way, is called Maui Blue.

JOIN THE HAVE YACHTS: You don’t need to own a boat to wear boat shoes, but it helps. And what says ‘LOOK AT ME AND MY MASSIVE YACHT’ better than a pair of turquoise classic two-eyed Timberlands? Ahoy there! £105;



COLD COMFORT Summer’s over. Forget about it. Just leave it. Move on. This gear will help the transition into chillier weather, with light layers, cool trainers and big sunglasses. See? Not so bad after all.


1. TAMARIS, Marras sneakers, £44.99. Add some glamour to your trainers with a shiny copper toe cap and heel. 2. FORBES & LEWIS, Rider backpack, £155. With waterproof canvas and leather for stylish function.


3. PENFIELD, crew-neck sweater, £65. Slouch about the city in a soft cotton, brushback fleece jumper.



Love wearing your pyjamas about town? Us too. This jumpsuit from Whistles will give you that easy, comfy feel while also making you look amazing. Win win.



Photograph by David Harrison

4. PARKA, Classic Spring parka, £195. Complete the autumn look with a jacket and a big hood. Rain? What rain? 5. ROXY, Roxy Loves Recipes long-sleeve T-shirt, £30. No tan, no bother. Cover up the forearms with a 100% cotton tee. 6. ROXY, Fall Doll sleeveless top, £42. Perfect dressed up or down, and available in inky navy or crisp white.


Roxy may be best known as a surf brand, but the range extends into bold and colourful fitness gear and everyday wear that works just as well in the city as it does on the beach.

7. HENRY LONDON, Shoreditch watch, £99.95. Subtle curves and rose hues combine for vintage style. 8. LOLA ROSE, Elemental Mini Nugget and Briana bracelets, £39 each. Jazz up your wrist with some subtle stones. 9. QUAY AUSTRALIA, Asha sunglasses, £30. Available in a range of frame colours and lenses.


10. WHISTLES, Jodie drawstring jumpsuit, £130. A lightweight all in one to take you from day to evening.



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★  G UYS ★

THE HARDER THEY FALL If you’re looking to shake those post-summer blues, booking a trip away’s a decent way to go about doing it. Here’s the gear to go with your autumn escape.

1. WESC, Race bomber jacket in navy, £115. Street meets race track in this classic bomber from the slacker-chic Swedes. 2. NUDIE, Thin Finn Black Fall, £120. Slim fit jeans with a subtle wash that’s ready to take on some rock-star character.


3. TUMI, Tahoe Barton roll-top backpack in forest print, £375. Print influenced by Japanese forests; roll-top influenced by boy scouts. 4. NUDIE, Vladimir burnt red jumper, £110. Trees know how to do autumn colour right – take an (ahem) leaf out of their book with this burnt-red knit from the cult Gothenburg denim brand.

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CHECKLIST Tumi’s Barton roll-top backpack blurs the lines between the urban environment and the great outdoors, with a retro closure, forest print and padded laptop pouch.

Photograph by David Harrison



5. SLVDR, Red pattern tee, £30. The Californian brand may be vowel shy (it’s pronounced Salvador, FYI) but its supersharp designs and patterns are bold. NC T-SHRT, DN’T Y THNK? (SRRY.)

7. CLAE, Gregory, £90. Struggling to figure out whether you’re a jock, a nerd or a fashionista (the three categories all men are divided into, obviously)? Either way, these are your kicks.

6. CAMPBELL COLE, coin pouch, £65. Can’t be trusted to keep hold of your cash? Stick your essentials in this case and hang it round your neck on the handy paracord lanyard. Just don’t lose your head.

8. SAMSØE & SAMSØE, Liam shirt in forest night, £79.95. Classic autumn style with a Scandi twist by the Danish designers. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. 9. MW X REEF, Crew fleece in heather grey, £75. Designed in collaboration with Masafumi Watanabe of Tokyo brand Bedwin and the Heartbreakers, who brings his super-clean street style to the Californian surfer-boy party.

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Campbell Cole’s small and simple leather goods are designed and made in England, taking traditional British craftsmanship and giving it a clean, modern spin.





UNDERWATER LOVE If you’re making the ultimate watch for divers, who better to pair up with than the people who train them? That’s exactly what Seiko did for the PADI Kinetic Diver’s Watch.

Seiko has partnered with PADI – the world’s leading diver training organisation – to support its Project AWARE initiative, which promotes protection of the marine environment.

Two versions of the PADI diver’s watch will be released, both in Seiko’s Prospex range. This one is powered by a Kinetic GMT movement, the other is a classic automatic.


Photograph by ###


1. SEIKO, Prospex Kinetic GMT Diver’s PADI Special Edition, £479. A diver’s watch is designed to function accurately at depths where others would (literally) crack. This is a classic example of the breed.


FROM TOP: Stunning, palm-fringed beaches are an undeniable highlight of any trip to Fiji – discover even more of them on an island-hopping adventure; a typically warm welcome at the Nanuya Island Resort

Isles Of Wonder For a tropical getaway filled with stunning scenery, breathtaking beaches and plenty of adventure, head to Fiji with Travel Nation. You might be surprised by what you find…


f you’re looking for the ultimate laid-back island escape, you’ll find it in Fiji – where jaw-dropping natural beauty and a unique South Pacific culture combine to dazzling effect. This sun-bathed archipelago has something for every traveller, from white-sand beaches fringed by swaying palms to local villages where you’ll find the warmest of traditional welcomes. The island nation caters to every budget, too, from couples looking for money-


no-object five-star retreats to families in search of barefoot fun and adventure in paradise. Whatever you’re looking for in a Fiji holiday, the experts at Travel Nation can make it happen. Each trip is tailor-made so you can build the itinerary of your dreams, whether it’s a standalone trip-of-a-lifetime or part of a multi-destination journey. The latter brings Fiji tantaslisingly close, not least if you add it to a New Zealand or Australia trip – it’s a mere four-hour hop from Sydney, and less than three hours from Auckland. Once you arrive, you’ll be able to experience the lush, densely forested volcanic landscape and immaculate coral-sand beaches at first hand. Trek through the rainforest with the whole family, island-hop around the archipelago aboard the Yasawa Flyer, or soar above it in a helicopter for a truly unforgettable experience. But to really get under the skin of this incredible country, meet its people. Drink Kava in a traditional ceremony, visit a local village and try the local cuisine, or just say ‘Bula!’ to everyone you see and you’ll be guaranteed a big smile. You may find yourself a long way from home in Fiji, but it sure won’t feel like it. ◆

Exclusive Offer Travel Nation is offering an exclusive £100pp off a 17-day Hong Kong and Fiji holiday for Escapism readers – was £2,349, now £2,249pp. Call them today on 01273 838 268 to speak to a Fiji expert and begin planning your trip. Or for more info, visit:



Hook LDN suggest these frames look good on those with either oblong, oval, round or square face shapes. We think that means they basically suit everyone. Brilliant.

SHADES OF COOL None of them are rose-tinted, but there’s no way you won’t view the world in a better light through the lenses of these sunglasses. And you’ll look pretty dapper as well, obviously.


These frames from Le Specs use a classic round shape layered into a cat’s-eye halo for a touch of feline femininity. Go get ‘em, tiger.




1. SUPER, Giaguaro Classic Black sunglasses, £172. Combining an oh-so-now circular frame with aviator touches, these shades sit somewhere between cutting edge and classic. Just like you.

2. HOOK LDN, Chambers frames in camo green, £165. This London-based company’s mission is to create eyewear that ‘makes a statement’. Yours is to accept it, with these statement square frames.

3. LE SPECS, Self Portrait Edition Three, £85. Matte white and blush frames with flashy gold-mirrored lenses help explain why Le Specs has a cult following that includes Kate Moss and Beyoncé.

Photograph by David Harrison



HOME FROM HOME: El Palauet combines traditional Barcelona design with contemporary style and luxury

The Good Life

El Palauet Living offers an exclusive retreat from the helter-skelter streets of Barcelona, with a rooftop spa, bespoke service and the most gracefully designed suites in Catalonia


or a unique escape in the heart of Barcelona, look no further than the luxuriously chic El Palauet Living – an art noveau palace that oozes opulence. From the moment you check in, you’ll be stunned by the townhouse’s sumptuous balance of old school Catalan modernisme and state-ofthe-art contemporary design. Each of El Palauet’s six two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites offers you a sanctuary from the pulsating streets of the city centre – all the better for your feet after a long day spent pounding pavements and seeing sights. Even though each suite comes fitted with a fully-appointed kitchen and dining room, there’s no need to lift a finger because you’ll always have a personal assistant on hand to tailor plans to your every urge – leaving you with nothing to do but relax, unwind and make yourself at home.

If you ever actually want to head out, the five-storey mansion sits elegantly on the exclusive boulevard of Passeig de Gracia, where you’re never far from the action. Surrounded by invitingly modish eateries and high-end boutiques, you’ll keep the shopper and finediner in you happy as you amble past Gaudi’s iconic architecture into the heart of the city. When you get back in, why not drop those bags and head straight up to the rooftop spa to indulge and recharge? While you’re there, you can grab a massage, book a private yoga class or simply soak up sun on the terrace with a healthy-sized glass of Spanish wine. Overlooking bustling Barcelona by night, you’ll feel blissful as you sit in a place of unadulterated relaxation and ingenious design – but more importantly, you’ll be delighted it’s a place you can call home.◆


Game Changers At last, there really is an all-inclusive resort where innovative and luxurious accommodation comes as standard. Check in to your Sandals suite and prepare to be blown away…


hether you want to be right on the water’s edge, or looking out over the ocean from the very top of the resort, you can get that and much, much more in a Sandals suite. Not only are you guaranteed a prime spot in the Caribbean’s most desirable locations, but you can look forward to a variety of innovative features to take your romantic holiday


in the sun to the next level. Fancy unbroken 180-degree views of oceans and mountains, a suite you can swim up to, or a terrace with its own Tranquility Soaking Tub®? No problem. And when that’s not enough, Sandals offers those staying in its top suites a dedicated butler service, where nothing is too much trouble and even the most discerning guests will be amazed.

Each butler is trained in partnership with the Guild of Professional English Butlers, and they’ll serve you with one thing in mind: to make sure your stay is effortless, as pleasurable and as relaxing as possible. Not that kicking back will be a problem, with extraordinary suites that’ll be a source of sanctuary as much as wonder. Here are four of Sandals’ very best…


Over The Water Villas, Sandals Royal Caribbean, Jamaica

Perched right over the water, these brand-new stilted villas have to be seen to be believed, and you won’t find them anywhere else in the Caribbean. You’ll also get a private infinity pool and jacuzzi, your own butler and glass floors with illuminated water, so you can take in views of the crystal-clear water inside or out, night or day. The only drawback? You’ll never want to leave…

Millionaire Suites of Saint Lucia, Sandals Regency La Toc, St Lucia

Few places on earth – let alone the Caribbean – can match the small island of St Lucia for blockbuster beauty, which is why the Millionaire suites at Sandals Regency La Toc make the most of the epic scenery. Retractable glass walls peel

back to reveal unobstructed views of the ocean and mountains – plus a three-storey sundeck with total privacy and a plungepool with its own waterfall and whirlpool. Inside, there’s acres of space and Sandals’ trademark modern luxury.

Skypool Suites, Sandals LaSource Grenada

With classic Italianate style and impossibly beautiful views, this lavishly and generously appointed suite is all about the romance. The solar-heated infinity plunge pool offers sunset views you’ll never forget, while a lofty position overlooking this stylish resort means you’ll be king and queen of the castle from the moment you arrive to the day you depart.

Beachfront Rondovals, Sandals Grande Antigua & St. Lucian

Short of having your own private desert-island beach, the Beachfront Butler Rondovals at Sandals Grande Antigua & Sandals Grande St. Lucian bring the ocean (almost) to your suite. With the feel of a Caribbean village, alongside all the luxury amenities you’d expect from a Sandals resort, these rustic, circular villas offer unparalleled sea views and total relaxation. ◆ To find out more about Sandals Luxury Included holidays and Butler Service, go to, call 0800 742 742, or visit the brand’s flagship Luxury Travel Store at 135 Fulham Road, London. CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: The view from a Skypool Suite at Sandals LaSource in Grenada; Beachfront Rondovals sit right at the foot of the ocean; see turquoise sea inside and out in an Over the Water Villa



Looking for your next adventure? Look no further. Here’s your chance to win an incredible eight-night stay in Costa Rica and £500-worth of gear from Berghaus


ith unspoiled and wildliferich nature reserves and nearly 1,500km of sun-drenched beaches on the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica is a vibrant nation of extraordinary beauty. Thanks to Costa Rica and groundbreaking outdoor wear brand, Berghaus we’re giving one reader and a friend the chance to win an eight-night adventure in this incredible country, and £500-worth of Berghaus gear for your trip. Whether your dream break involves seeking out incredible wildlife in national


parks, surfing and diving or taking a daring hike up one of the world’s most active volcanoes, in Costa Rica you’ll feel a supreme sense of wonder and vitality that fills your lungs with Pura Vida. During your trip, you could take a catamaran tour of the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea while sipping a cocktail or two, or clamber over boardwalks and rope bridges as you explore the rich ecosystem of birds, butterflies and tropical plants at Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Head north from the capital, San Jose, and you’ll discover the Sarapiqui river –

home to hectares of lush forest, sugarcane and cacao. Here, you’re just as likely to find yourself riding the river’s rapids on a raft as kicking back in your own lodge on a rainforest ranch. Costa Rica is the perfect escape for the adventurer in you, and with Costa Rica and Berghaus, you could win the chance to see it for yourself. ◆ See and for info; enter at


BERGHAUS Always trusted by intrepid adventurers, Berghaus has 50 years’ experience in creating cutting-edge gear for the great outdoors. In a unique partnership with GORE-TEX®, Berghaus have for the first time brought their award winning Colourkind™ fabrics into waterproof jackets. These innovative fabrics are kinder to the environment using 89% less water and 63% fewer chemicals than regular fabrics, while still remaining 100% waterproof. Keep an eye out for Colourkind™ in the new Berghaus Autumn / Winter range. See for information.

FROM MAIN: Laze on the empty beaches of Costa Rica’s coast; explore in Berghaus gear; see parrots and more; hike volcanoes and raft rivers; meet sleepy sloths

HOW TO WIN We’ve teamed up with Costa Rica and Berghaus to give one reader and a friend the chance to experience Costa Rica on a tailor-made eight-night trip. This includes all meals, flights, tours and transfers and a £500 Berghaus voucher, so all you’ll need to do is relax and pick out all the gear you need for your adventure. To enter, and for Ts&Cs, visit competition


Sweet Dreams Tired, stressed and in need of a break? The Sleep Retreat at Shanti Maurice - A Nira Resort in Mauritius will rejuvenate body and mind, with a calming blend of nature and nurture


ew things are as precious and restorative as a good night’s sleep, but slowing down and resting up can feel like an impossible task. The stunning Mauritian resort of Shanti Maurice – which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year – has the answer, with the launch of its pioneering Sleep Retreat in October. Using a combination of Ayurveda, meditation and breathing techniques – not to mention the serenely beautiful Indian Ocean scenery – the five- or seven-day Sleep Retreat will not only leave you relaxed and well-rested, but will give you the tools to unwind properly when you get home. The Sleep Retreat has been created by spa manager Deepak Rawat, whose extensive knowledge of Ayurvedic spa treatments has helped shape the package. Not only does it


make the most of the wealth of facilities and luxurious treatments available at the resort’s spa, one of the largest in the Indian Ocean, but the Sleep Retreat also incorporates Yoga Nidra (known as yogic sleep), Pranayama (the practice of controlled breathing) and guided meditation. Of course, it’s hard to imagine more tranquil surroundings than those of Shanti Maurice, where contemporary style blends seamlessly into the landscape of the island’s secluded south coast – little wonder it was the first resort to become a member of Design Hotels. What’s more, the three-hour time difference from the UK means you’ll arrive and leave unaffected by jet lag. With the Sleep Retreat you’ll discover calm and wellbeing are the greatest luxuries of all. ◆

To book, or for more information on the Sleep Retreat package, call +230 603 7200 or visit


Sleek, Stylish and Sensational Lanson Place brings a sense of luxury, harmony and tranquility to the centre of bustling Hong Kong. Its award-winning boutique bedrooms and unparalleled guest services make it a gem hidden gracefully in the thriving neighbourhood of Causeway Bay


or an escape that blends Hong Kong’s finest shopping and dining with carefree serenity, look no further than the soothing contemporary chic of Lanson Place. Set behind an elegant 19th-century French façade in the beating heart of Hong Kong, the hotel has 194 lavishly appointed bedrooms, each one sleekly designed with ultimate relaxation and tranquility in mind. Whether you’re kicking back and making tomorrow’s plans on complimentary wi-fi or cooking up a storm in your room’s fullyequipped kitchenette, you’ll feel instantly at home while tucked away from the hustle and bustle of shopper’s paradise Causeway Bay. For added luxury, indulge in the Club 133 Package for an instant room upgrade, free 4pm check out, complimentary American breakfast and evening cocktails at the elegant and


private 133 Lounge. On top of all this, guests receive a complimentary smartphone with free international calls and unlimited 3G mobile internet throughout the city: so no matter where your travels take you, you’ll stay connected. Named Hong Kong’s leading boutique hotel by World Travel Awards, Lanson Place brings peace and sanctuary to vibrant Hong Kong. ◆ For more information call +852 3477 6888, email or book directly at





Photograph by Yann Arthus-Bertrand/Getty Images

Several outlying islands, peninsulas and the richest array of seaweed in the Indian Ocean make Shark Bay, Western Australia, one of the most diverse seabeds in the world. This diver’s paradise is home to the world’s largest colony of dugongs (13,000 of the hulking herbivores), green turtles and – yes – sharks. Sure, you couldn’t even see a humpback whale from this high up, but they’re there, we promise. e

10 Top 10 Things to do in Bermuda

Bermuda is over 21 square miles

of adventure waiting to happen. Whether you’re discovering

the mystery hiding just beneath

the surface or taking in the charm of the island, here’s your guide

to some of the best things to do in Bermuda.

01. All aboard! Spend a day

learning how to sail or, better yet, let someone else do the work aboard a sunset cruise.

02. A world unto itself.

Discover an underground landscape of delicate splendor at Bermuda’s Crystal Caves.

03. Take a bike ride through 18 peaceful miles of island history and breathtaking views on the Bermuda Railway Trail.

04. Tee off with a round of championship island golf, where mystery is par for the course.

05. Shore bets. From Tobacco Bay Beach to Jobson’s Cove, Bermuda’s famous pink-sand beaches are ripe for relaxation and adventure.

06. Watch the world’s best sailors compete for the championship at the 35th America’s Cup, presented by Louis Vuitton in 2017.


07. Go jump off a cliff –

literally. Let your inhibitions give way to intrigue and cliff jump into turquoise waters.

08. See picturesque cottages and 18th century homes juxtaposed in the Town of St. George, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

09. Enjoy one of Bermuda’s signature cocktails. The only question is: Dark ’n Stormy® or Rum Swizzle? 10. Go scuba diving and discover why Bermuda is the shipwreck capital of the world. You’re encouraged to get lost in the mystery.





Escapism - 33 - Autumn Breaks Special  

Escapism Magazine - Issue 33 - Autumn Breaks Special

Escapism - 33 - Autumn Breaks Special  

Escapism Magazine - Issue 33 - Autumn Breaks Special