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ISSN 2397-3404

ISSUE.36

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

WILDLIFE

P H O T O G R A P H B Y P H I L I P P E - A L E X A N D R E C H E VA L L I E R . P 9 7


To be the best requires creativity, commitment, and constant innovation— all things we do very well at Sandals Resorts. And one of the reasons we keep getting voted the best all-inclusive resorts in the world is because only Sandals Resorts includes the best of everything. The Caribbean’s most spectacular beaches and decadently romantic suites with private plunge pools. English Guild-trained butlers and world-class service. Premium brand drinks at up to eleven bars, and delectable 5-star global gourmet™ dining at up to 16 restaurants per resort. More land and water sports than anyone, including golf, waterskiing, and unlimited scuba diving. Best of all, book by 31 January and you can Save up to 60%.

MORE QUALITY INCLUSIONS THAN ANY OTHER RESORTS ON THE PLANET. CALL 0800 742 742 VISIT SANDALS.CO.UK COME IN STORE SEE YOUR LOCAL TRAVEL AGENT Terms & conditions apply. Book by 31st January. Visit sandals.co.uk for full details.


JAMAICA

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V I S I T O U R L U X U R Y T R AV E L S T O R E A T 1 3 5 F U L H A M R O A D , S W 3 6 R T Behind the doors of this one-of-a-kind store in the heart of London is a multi-sensory experience waiting to be explored. Immerse yourself in a range of our engaging and interactive experiences and either make an appointment with one of our expert travel advisors, or simply stop by for a refreshment in our Research Lounge.

TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH A SANDALS SPECIALIST, VISIT SANDALS.CO.UK/STORE


Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage

Make a break for JERUSALEM

Jerusalem is rapidly establishing itself as a must-see modern tourist destination.

Less than a four and a half hour flight from London lies a city which has plenty to offer to discerning travellers in search of a truly unique city break experience. Alongside its marvelous historic and archaeological sites, Jerusalem has become in recent years a modern city of international tourism and culture, offering visitors a variety of festivals, cultural happenings and international sports events. A dream destination for foodies, Jerusalem offers everything from cafes and lively restaurants to creative fine-dining, each providing a unique mix of international, Middle Eastern, traditional and modern flavours.

Come and explore the vibrant and picturesque neighborhoods where food, market life and nightlife rub shoulders with centuries-old traditions.

For more information, visit

citybreak.itraveljerusalem.com or call the Jerusalem Development Authority on +44 (0)20 7593 1714


EDITOR’S WORD

T Winner!

For the second successive year, associate editor Hannah Summers has been named Young Travel Writer of the Year at the Travel Media Awards. Head to escmag.co/hannah to check out more of Hannah's work.

his time last year, as you may remember, we devoted a whole issue of escapism to the refugee crisis. We spoke to refugees, we heard their stories, and we spoke to those both here and overseas involved in efforts to aid refugees in a huge variety of ways. It was eye-opening, distressing, heart-wrenching and inspiring stuff. A lot has happened in a year – and you’d have to say things have not improved for the overwhelming majority of new and existing refugees. For those of us who are lucky enough to travel because we want to – not because dire circumstances demand it – it’s worth bearing in mind what a luxury it is to be in that position. So when we talk about luxury travel, I suppose we might as well be talking about any kind of travelling for pleasure at all, let alone boutique hotels and first-class lounges. Luckily, the concept of what luxury travel actually is has moved on a bit from a straightforward more-is-more mentality, towards a greater appreciation of what people actually want most from our valuable time off. We’ve tried to get to the heart of this in escapism’s first guide to luxury travel (pXX), with a hotlist of trips and experiences that each offer a different idea of what luxury travel means today – from skiing with the sunrise in Austria to seaplane surfing in the Maldives, via an all-natural spa in a cave. Bon voyage! e @escapismmag escapismmagazine

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ISSUE.36

CONTENTS 16

119

44

DEPARTURES

EXPERIENCES

70

CHECKLIST

What's happening in travel, from cool new hotels and apps, to sailing holidays and good-looking sheds. Obviously

Hey, big spender! We've scoured the globe to find you the coolest luxury travel experiences on the planet, and more

Looking good takes some serious hard work. Luckily we've put in the effort for you. You're welcome

12 . Photography 16 . Just Landed 23  . Tried & Tested 27 . Short Stay 28 . In Focus: Nottingham

44 . All-out luxury adventures Your guide to doing luxury travel right 54 . Alaska Highway One hell of a road trip through Alaska 61 . Amsterdam city guide Where to find your bitterballen and booze 70 . Chilean Patagonia Head south for a fix of glaciers and fjords 79 . Triathlon in Sardinia Swim, bike and run on the Italian island 84 . Iran A fresh look at a remarkable country 92 . Aberdeen, Scotland Experiencing the Scottish Dubai 97  . Wildlife adventures Planet Earth II ain't got nothing on this

114 . Guys 116 . Girls 119 . Gear

WIN GREAT ESCAPES AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM

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COMPETITIONS Holidays are great, but let's face it, they're even better when you don't have to pay for them. Head to our website – escmag.co/comps – for your chance to win city breaks, beach escapes, intrepid adventures and more besides.


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*All*All offers *All offers must offers must be must booked be booked be booked before before before 23:59 23:59 on 23:59 31 onJanuary 31 onJanuary 31 January 2017 2017 and 2017 and areand are subject are subject subject to availability. to availability. to availability. Saving Saving Saving of up of to up of£1,700 to up£1,700 to £1,700 applies applies applies to two to two to adults two adults sharing adults sharing sharing at the at the Daios at the Daios Cove Daios Cove Cove Luxury Luxury Luxury Resort Resort Resort & Villas, &be Villas, &booked Crete Villas, Crete for Crete departures for departures for23:59 departures dates dates May in May in2017. May 2017. Specialist 2017. Specialist Specialist Holidays Holidays Holidays (Travel) (Travel) LTDLTD T/A LTD T/A Sovereign. T/A Sovereign. ATOL ATOL ATOL protected. protected. protected. =Calls =Calls from =Calls from UK from UK landlines UK landlines landlines cost cost the cost thethe *All offers must before on dates 31 in January 2017 and are subject to(Travel) availability. Saving of upSovereign. to £1,700 applies to two adults sharing at the Daios Cove standard standard rate,rate, but rate, but calls but calls from calls from mobiles from mobiles mobiles maymay bemay higher. be higher. be higher. Check Check Check withwith your with your network your network network provider. provider. provider. Image Image Image shown shown shown forATOL illustrative for illustrative forprotected. illustrative purposes purposes purposes only:only: ME only: ME Ibiza. ME Ibiza. Ibiza. cost the Luxury Resort &standard Villas, Crete for departures dates in May 2017. Specialist Holidays (Travel) LTD T/A Sovereign. =Calls from UK landlines standard rate, but calls from mobiles may be higher. Check with your network provider. Image shown for illustrative purposes only: ME Ibiza.


D E PA R T U R E S 12 PHOTOGRAPHY 16  JUST LANDED 23  ON LOCATION 25  WORLD NEWS 27  SHORT STAY 28  UK: NOTTINGHAM

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D E PA R T U R E S

SMILE AND WAVE: This snap of the dawn sun glowing through a roaring ripcurler off the coast of Ulladulla in New South Wales in Australia might be the best iPhone photo you’ll see this year. For more of the same, check out Ryan Pernofski’s photojournal, Salt & Light, published by Harbour Publishing House, £20. saltandlightbook.com

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D E PA R T U R E S

TRUNK AND CENTRE: There’s only one way to capture the towering beauty of the oldest Giant Sequoias on the planet, and according to photographer Beth Moon, it’s by setting these Californian icons against even older night skies. Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees is published by Abbeville Press, £25. abbeville.com

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D E PA R T U R E S

JUST LANDED WHAT’S HOT FOR 2017

Rishikesh is considered to be holy, and known as the ‘Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas’. As well as a yoga haven, it’s a popular destination for meditation.

YOGIC FLYING For a yoga- and Bollywood-infused tour of India, check out the new group trip from Intrepid Travel. The 12-day tour, which launches in April this year, takes in sights including the Taj Mahal and Amber Fort, while also giving you the chance to take dance lessons in Delhi and head to a local Bollywood film screening. The city section is followed by a few days in Rishikesh, the ‘yoga capital’ of the world, where you’ll practice new moves at the foothills of the Himalayas and on the banks of the river Ganges. Beats doing downwardfacing dog at the local leisure centre. From £795pp. intrepidtravel.com

LIVIN’ IN A BOX

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JANUARY SAILS Of all our adventures it’s that half-day boat trip around the Greek island of Ithaca that’s really stuck in our mind. Imagine, then, a one-week version, exploring the tiny coves of the South Ionian islands on a yacht. New from Sailing Holidays, the trip takes you around the secluded bays of Ithaca, before going to the less-explored islands of Kioni, Kastos and Kalamos From £495pp. sailingholidays.com

Photograph (India) by Purepix /Alamy

You may not have realised it yet, but you’re desperate to spend the night in a National Nature Reserve. Specifically, you want to spend a night in Elmley, Kent, the only National Nature Reserve in England you can stay in. Thanks to Canopy and Stars, you can stay in Saltbox – a quaint but modern little cabin with windows for walls and wild views over meadows when you wake up. We’ve done our fair share of staycations, but this is one we can’t wait to try out. canopyandstars.co.uk


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D E PA R T U R E S

THE BIG 375 We love a good birthday, especially when there are 375 candles on the cake. That’s right, Canada’s coolest city, Montreal, will be celebrating its 375th anniversary this year, meaning that along with the regular gritty bars, food scene and art, the city will be treated to a stellar programme of cultural events. Our pick, though, is an exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal in honour of the city’s most famous son – Leonard Cohen. It’ll include brand-new works from local and international artists who were inspired by Lenny’s work, and will run from 9 November 2017-1 April 2018. 375mtl.com

THE TELEGRAPH TRAVEL SHOW If you fancy exploring the world without ever leaving London, make sure you pack your passport and get down to The Telegraph Travel Show. Back at the ExCel Centre from 13-15 January, the annual show goes beyond the brochure, showcasing the most incredible experiences, offers and travel tips. TALKS & TIPS Whether you’re looking for some trip inspiration for 2017 or fancy unearthing hidden gems on a break you’ve already booked, The Telegraph Travel Show has you covered. Head to the Travel Genius Bar for advice from the best experts in the business, or try the Destinations Theatre for talks from speakers like Michael Portillo, Ronan Keating and Gunnar Garfors – the youngest person to visit every country in the world. FOOD & DRINK Meanwhile, if you’re a traveller who likes to follow their belly, you’ll love the Food & Wine Theatre, where you can learn how to cook some of the world’s best dishes. As well as expert chef demos, you’ll be able to pair your grub with sommelier sessions from the world’s most presitigious vineyards. Day tickets £15. For more information, see travelshow.telegraph.co.uk

We’re big fans of Memmo Alfama, one of the Memmo hotel group’s cool little boutique hotels set in the backstreets of Lisbon (that croissant loaf, oh that croissant loaf!). It’s with huge, croissantlusting joy, then, that we welcome the group’s new Lisbon hotel, a swanky design-led 41-bedroom property with slick surfaces and punchy cocktails. It’s located in the swanky Principe Real part of the city, a short tram rattle or wander from the best parts of town. From £174 per room per night. memmohotels.com

If you’ve never visited Portugal’s coastal capital city, then put it on your 2017 to-do list – the hilly, cobbled streets are full of beautiful architecture and plenty of culture.

VOLCANO GO Imagine sleeping in the amphitheatre of an eroded volcanic cone. We know – sounds pretty crazy. Well, it’s the setting of Wilderness Safaris’ Bistate Lodge, which is set to open close to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda this June. The six forest villas are set to be the area’s most luxurious base for gorilla conservation sessions, and exploring the plentiful natural beauty of this part of the world. Prices TBC. For more info, see wilderness-safaris.com

Photograph by Bigstock; Alireza Teimoury / Alamy Stock Photo; Culbert

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GET THE MEMMO


D E PA R T U R E S

THE BIG EASY, NOW EVEN EASIER Exciting news in the world of, er, aviation: BA has announced new direct flights to New Orleans. Launching in March of this year, the flight will drop you in the uber-cool southern US town that’s saturated with African, American and French flavours. Don’t get us started on the ass-shakin’ live music and drinking sessions that take place in those local bars. We’re shimmying in our seats just writing about it. From £585 return. ba.com

RAISING HULL Hull has taken its fair share of flack over the years – including being named the least romantic city in the UK in 2015 (as discovered by a hotels.com poll). But now it seems the city’s fortunes are set to turn with its newest accolade – in 2017 it’s the UK City of Culture. This year will see new restaurants and hotels flooding into the city (thanks to £25m investment), not to mention the hosting of the Turner Prize. We’re still fans of the historic boozers and cobbled streets of the old town. hull2017.co.uk

City of Culture UK is an award given to a city that demonstrates belief in the transformational power of culture. Hull’s set to welcome a raft of cultural events in 2017.

FRESH AND WILD

SNOW MATES

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Photograph by (Hull) Lee Beel/Alamy; (New Orleans) Gala Images/Alamy; (Slovenia) Adrian/Fotolia

If you’re hitting the slopes this winter you may want to check out new matchmaking website, Ongosa. No, it’s not Tinder for snow lovers (although that does sound fun), but a genuinely helpful site that’ll match budding beginner skiers or advanced snow plowers with the best in-resort instructors and guides. Outline your dates and requirements and the Ongosa team will hook you up with the best in-the-know person who can show you the ropes on the slopes. From £40 per hour. ongosa.com

London’s great for many things, but fresh, clean air probably isn’t one of them. For a break that’s as good for your head as your lungs, try The Flash Pack’s new four-night summer adventure in Slovenia. You’ll be travelling with like-minded folk, and taking in the best of the country’s wild beauty – paddle boarding across Lake Bled, canyoning through the Bohinj Valley and glamping in a hut with its own hot tub. From £745pp, flashpack.com


LEGENDARY PACIFIC COAST

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A motorhome holiday is a wonderful way to explore the beautiful beaches, national parks & world-class wineries of New South Wales, all in the comfort of your home away from home • Sydney Harbour Bridge • Port Stephens’ beaches • Hunter Valley’s fine wine & gourmet food • Blue Mountains dramatic scenery Return flights, 2 nights Sydney hotel & 8 days motorhome hire

Hug the coast and ride the waves on this classic road trip along Australia’s legendary Pacific Coast • Sydney’s iconic attractions • Hunter Valley wineries • Beautiful beaches of Port Stephens, Port Macquarie & Coffs Harbour • Laid back Byron Bay Return flights, car hire with a FREE upgrade & 13 nights 3 to 4 hotels

2 hours from Sydney, Lord Howe Island feels like stepping into a different world. It’s famous twin peaks, breath-taking views & crystal clear waters makes it an idyllic escape • Sydney Harbour Bridge & Sydney Opera House • World Heritage Site, Lord Howe Island • Blue Mountains’ exciting activities All flights, 3 days car hire & 9 nights 3 to 5 hotels in Sydney, Lord Howe Island & Blue Mountains

Tailormade Travel Worldwide 020 7408 9014 First & Business Class Travel 020 7408 9011 trailfinders.com Prices are per person, based on double share & subject to availability for selected May departures.

Sailing on Sydney Harbour

S Y D N E Y & S UR R O U N D S


Rendezvous in St. Lucia An intimate haven along the pearlescent sands of St Lucia, Rendezvous promises couples quality time together that can be so rare in a busy, modern world. With their extensive All-Inclusive offering, this family-run, couples-only resort is set on a two-mile stretch of Caribbean beach, encouraging busy couples to use their precious holiday time to relax more, discover more and explore more – together. Steal your moment by the winding waterways of the lazy river, with Champagne tasting in the elegant Piano Bar and delectable dining, or by teaming up and enjoying the complimentary water sports and diving programmes.

Let Destinology help plan your perfect intimate escape 01204 867208 www.destinology.co.uk/rendezvous


D E PA R T U R E S

TRIED & TESTED Hand-luggage essentials

OLVERUM BATH OIL, £16 (FOR THREE 15ML BOTTLES)

ON LOCATION

Forget raiding your hotel’s tiny toiletries, these natural bath oils are all you’ll need to relax after a flight or days of sightseeing. olverum.com

When filming Star Wars spinoff ‘Rogue One’, cast and crew took to real-life paradise the Laamu atoll in the Maldives #04 LAAMU, MALDIVES

Just because you aren’t a planethopping commander serving a despotic intergalactic empire (are you?), doesn’t mean you can’t lap up a little white sand, luxury and turquoise sea every now and then. That’s probably what went through the minds of the team behind new Star Wars box office smasher Rogue One, when they scouted a real-life tropical

Photograph (Stormtroopers) by Atlaspix Alamy

OUT OF THIS WORLD: [TOP] Laamu in the Maldives, backdrop for the new Star Wars spinoff; [ABOVE] Stormtroopers need holidays too…

paradise for the sci-fi imperial outpost of Scarif for the saga’s first spinoff. Sure, the paradise atolls of the Maldives might seem like they’re in a galaxy far, far away when you’re getting on the Tube in dark, dank, wintry London, but they’re actually only ten hours nonstop from Heathrow if you play your cards right – and you won’t be needing no Millennium Falcon to get you there. On arrival in Laamu, you’ll be thankful that there aren’t any spaceships, and no shadow of the Death Star, either. What you’ll actually find is the luxurious Six Senses Laamu resort, a unique blend of beachside and over-water villas where you can catch some serious chill among the palms, dive with dolphins and tropical fis,h or chow down on fusion food without skirmishing Stormtroopers blasting away at your blissful break. After all, who needs a pair of friendly MORE TRAVEL STORIES AT droids with service ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM that good? e

AVEDA DAMAGE REMEDY SPLIT END REPAIR, £25 (30ML) Just because you’re on holiday it doesn’t mean you can let your hair go to pot. Try treating split ends with this travel-size formula. aveda.co.uk

JACK BLACK EPIC MOISTURE MP 10 OIL, £27.50 (60ML) Guys, if you’re going to take one thing on your trips, consider this lightweight, nourishing oil that’ll soothe and moisturise. amazon.co.uk

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thehamiltonprincess.com

H OW LO N G D O E S I T TA K E T O

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


D E PA R T U R E S

MORE TRAVEL NEWS AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM

MAKE A MARK

Want a souvenir that really lasts? What better than a tattoo… Choose your destination wisely, however: prices for ink vary wildly all over the world. Oh, and choose your design wisely too…

P

lanning a trip to Norwich this year? Course you ain’t. Although let’s not speak too soon, because if you’re in the market to get inked, you’ll find yourself in the right place. That’s right, a recent survey conducted by the video retail app Yeay has consulted 5,000 participants on the general topic ‘tattoo’ and found that Norwich is the most accessible city in the UK to get inky. Yep, there are 11.82 parlours for every 100,000 people, and you’ll be handing over around £53.70 an hour for the pleasure (ok, pain). That accessibility is all very well, but what if you’re looking to get tatted on your travels? No, we’re not talking about that Tinkerbell on our bum cheek (hello

Magaluf 2005 – and the other 9.3% of you who regret getting your tat), but somewhere more exotic – Colombo, Sri Lanka, perhaps, where there are only 1.08 parlours per 100,000 citizens, but the average cost is just £17 an hour – the cheapest in the world. That’s in contrast to San Francisco, which comes in at a whopping £224.70 an hour. But where are you most likely to bow to the pressure of a tat in the first place? That’ll be Denpasar, Indonesia – where 99% of the people who visit are likely to get a tattoo, apparently. Oh mum, you rebel. And when you’re not buying a tattoo you’re probably being gifted one. According to the survey, Bristol and Aberdeen parents were a joint second most likely to buy their child a tattoo. Happy Birthday, kiddo! e

STAMP OF APPROVAL: If you’re after a tat, head to Sri Lanka, the cheapest place in the world to get inked

FOLLOW THIS @ESCAPISMMAG

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

Photograph (tattoo) by Marco Piunti/iStock

@PIE_AERTS

@BUCHOWSKI

@FRANVENTER

Yep, his name’s Pie, but his Insta ain’t got anything to do with apples. Hiking his way around Europe and snapping sunlight and cityscapes along the way, he’s well worth a follow for supreme road trip inspiration.

What do you get when you mix drones, beautiful filters and a good, old-fashioned love of the great outdoors? French lensman Julian Buchowski’s beautiful (and varied) set of snaps, that’s what.

If you fancy seeing the most remote sights of South Africa with a delightful dollop of retro haze, this account should do the trick – it’s packed with quiet coves, cool dirt tracks and quirky vintage maps.

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From sunrise to sunset, the Kentish savannah at Port Lympne Reserve is the perfect setting for your short break with a wild twist!

aspinallfoundation.org NR. ASHFORD, KENT, SAT NAV CT21 4PD CALL 01303 234112 TO BOOK STAY IN TOUCH


D E PA R T U R E S

SHORT STAY BOATEL OSBERT, HACKNEY Embrace East London – and your sea legs – with a stay at Boatel Osbert on the Regent’s Canal, says Hannah Summers What's the score? To get away from it all without having to actually get away from it all, try spending a night on Osbert, an awesome canal-side ‘boatel’ that’s located in London’s very own Haggerston Riviera. Yep, that’s actually a real thing. The barge, which is docked in Gainsborough Wharf on Regent’s Canal (a 15-minute walk from Old Street and Angel underground stations), is a cool escape in the city, and a quirky little base if you’re looking to explore that rad London life out east .

The interiors So on point. The owners have hand-picked little pieces from their adventures around the world, from South African towels, to a little bar unit from somewhere up north (it was purchased on Ebay). There’s a great sound system (with bespoke playlists created before your stay, if you fancy it), a system to play films on the wall and a ukulele, should you wish to harass your boyfriend/friend with sub-par versions

of Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark. The king-size bed is hard to leave in the morning (but do, as you won’t want to miss those early-rising ducks cruising around on the water).

The food It’s self-catering, with tea and coffee supplied, but bring your own stash of ingredients if you’re looking for more than a cuppa. Handily, Deliveroo will get food to you here, so you can dine on buffalo chicken burgers or Thai salads from the comfort of the deck. Breakfast hampers can be pre-ordered if you’d like to knock up some eggs and bacon in the morning.

Nearby A stay here will leave you in a great place to explore the parts of London you always intend to visit but never do. Try Columbia Road Market for As well as all mod flowers and Broadway cons, there's a record Market for food. Other player on board. Spin some vinyl from options are listed in a selection provided a handy little guide by the Late Night that is supplied – from Tales record label, antique shops to the and have your own boat party. best local boozers. e

BOATEL OSBERT ADDRESS BRIDGE NO 42, REGENT’S CANAL GAINSBOROUGH WHARF, N1 5EZ

PRICE FROM £180 A NIGHT GETTING THERE 15 MINS FROM ANGEL TUBE

ROCK THE BOAT: [from top] Interiors at Boatel Osbert are cool and eclectic; breakfast on deck

Boatel Osbert is a cool escape in the city, and a quirky base if you're looking to explore east London

INFO GAINSBOROUGHWHARF.COM /OSBERT

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IN FOCUS: NOTTINGHAM

QUEEN OF THE MIDLANDS

From old-school pubs and Michelin-starred restaurants to galleries, independent book shops and record stores, a break in Nottingham provides culture and class, says Tom Powell 28


D E PA R T U R E S

or pulled pork, to monthly specials like the audacious Twin Peaks – a concoction of beef, smoked pork belly and crumbly cheddar shortbread that comes complete with its very own edible coffee cup. Meanwhile, if fish is more your thing, try one of the Cod’s Scallops restaurants in Sherwood or Wollaton for award-winning, sustainable and locally sourced fish and chips. Both sites are a bit out of town, but well worth the 15-minute tram hop. Back in the centre, visit The Larder on Goosegate for perfectly executed modern British dishes and stylish regency dining rooms on the premises of the original Boots the Chemist in the heart of the Lace Market. Even more decadent is Restaurant Sat Bains, a two-Michelin-starred eatery-withrooms that sits on the outskirts of the city (more about that in the stay section).

Drink

HEART OF THE ACTION: [clockwise from here] Market Square; Annie’s Burger Shack; Junkyard

Eat

Photographs by (main) Shahid Khan/ Shutterstock; (Junkyard) Ellen Matthews

If waking up in the arty heart of the East Midlands doesn’t get you leaping out of bed in the morning, in-house roasted coffee and buttermilk and bacon muffins from the 200 Degrees coffee shop probably will. Pair your visit with a home-brewing course and a big bag of Brazilian, Colombian or Vietnamese beans so you’re never disappointed when you fancy a filter back home. If you like whopping great patties, cups of joe and gingham tablecloths, try Annie’s Burger Shack – a US-style diner with a menu of more than 30 gut-bludgeoning burgers. Here you’ll find a patty for every palate, from classics like the bacon cheddar

Now you’ve grubbed up, you’ll probably want a pint. Well then, if you’re in the centre of town, you’re going to want to head to The Malt Cross on St James’s Street. Not only do they have a list of bottled beers longer than your forearm (assuming you don’t have seriously long forearms), this converted music hall is also just about the biggest, airiest tavern in the centre of Nottingham. Expect general quirkiness, live music and big slabs of baked goods (just in case you don’t fancy a beer). If you’re looking for something cosier, take a ten-minute walk up Derby Road to The Hand and Heart. This simple and unpretentious boozer is a great blend of real ale, lively locals and characterful sandstone caves. Visit on a Thursday for the added bonus of watching house pianist Pete the Feet play the ivories with his well… you guessed it. Twinkletoes indeed. While the shop-filled streets of the Lace Market look like high street and historic quarter all rolled into one easily walkable package, when it comes to bars, the quarter’s riddled with secrets. Not many great nights start in a courtyard round the back of a budget hotel and a Tesco Express, but on the Nottingham thoroughfare of Fletcher Gate, that, my friend, is This heritage area the craic. Keep your was named when eyes peeled for an Nottingham was the archway that leads centre of the world’s lace industry. It’s to Junkyard, a craft distinctive thanks beer pouring house to its 19th-century cum wine bar that industrial architecture. offers tipples by the

schooner, bottle and 64oz flagon. A couple of minutes away on Carlton Street you’ll probably see tons of trendy punters piling into an old boiler shop – don’t be alarmed. Behind the most boring frontage in the East Midlands you’ll find Boilermaker, a secret speakeasy that puts new spins on all the old classics (or just makes a top-notch cocktail to your own personal specifications). Less of a secret is Das Kino, a German cinema-inspired Among the inventive cocktail bar that mixes available at deals in ping pong this hidden bar is the contests and artisan ‘Thai Hard: With a Kaengence’, a fiery pizza. You’ll find it blend that’s based pretty much next on a bloody mary door to Junkyard on but with Sriracha chilli and spices. Fletcher Gate.

Stay If you’re looking for a boozy break or just don’t fancy blowing your budget completely, try the Igloo Hybrid Hostel. Based on Japanese sleep boxes, the hostel is erratically adorned with quirky, cool and downright bizarre wall murals (hello, fauxmetro car hallways and Mondrian-inspired communal areas). Here you’ll be seconds

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D E PA R T U R E S

CULTURE CLUB: [clockwise from left] Nottingham Contemporary; a room at Sat Bains; Sherwood Forest

EXPLORE MORE AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM

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Shop If you like things iconic and independent, you won’t be disappointed in what Nottingham has to offer. Starting central in Hockley, head to Mimm for in-house urban essentials, as well as other cool clobber from LA’s The Quiet Life and wacky Bristolbased T-shirt printers Turbo Island. A few feet down Broad Street, you’ll find Rough Trade Nottingham. While the iconic record store should need no introduction, the recently opened premises comes complete with a café bar for live sessions, as well as guest retail pop-ups from the likes of Aesop and Universal Works. Tucked down an alleyway opposite the

If you like things iconic and independent, you won’t be disappointed

swanky vaulted Georgian Exchange on Long Row, book lovers will delight in Five Leaves, a defiantly lefty independent bookshop and publishing house that specialises in all things radical (be it political, avant garde or just plain cool). Meanwhile, those who like their books with pictures, the nearby Page 45 is one of the UK’s best places for picking up rare comics and niche graphic novels.

Do There’s Rock City, one of the only venues in the UK that’s hosted a gig basically every night for 35 years. No matter what your music taste is, you’re covered. Also good for your culture fix are the 20+ art galleries that are scattered throughout the city (check out Nottingham Art Map for ideas) – our recommendation is the double whammy of Nottingham Contemporary and the Syson Gallery that’s situated just opposite, for a perfect balance of cuttingedge global and local art right at the heart of the city’s cobbled centre. Beyond the numerous Robin Hood trails throughout the city centre, the castle and Sherwood Forest, you’ve also got the Peaks and the Vale of Belvoir a short car hop away. Both are perfect for a day of hiking in search of classic British villages and breathtaking valley views. e

Photographs by (main) Andy Taylor Smith; (Sherwood ) Kelvin Griffiths/Alamy

from the Market Square at the heart of the city with access to a shared kitchen and your very own comfy pod for kipping in. At the more luxe end of things, try the rooms at Restaurant Sat Bains which is out to the southwest of the city. You’d think lodgings would come second when a restaurant has two Michelin stars, a sommelier station and a ten-course chef’s table tasting menu – thankfully all eight rooms of this boutique joint ooze elegance and opulence, because you’ll be needing somewhere to rest up after all that grub. If you have wheels and want to escape the hectic city centre, you’ll find comfort in the country surrounding the Vale of Belvoir at Langar Near The Hall, a pretty boutique B&B located in the grounds of a Grade II-listed Georgian farmhouse. The tranquil bolthole comes complete with homemade cake and freshly laid eggs in the welcome basket, as well as the famous Melton Mowbray a short hop over the Leicestershire Nottingham’s in border (just in case good company – the you get sudden, only other Rough uncontrollable – Trade stores are located in Ladbroke and completely Grove, on Brick understandable Lane, and in – urges for Britain’s Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. best pork pies).


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Cultural Capital With year-round sun, fine Mediterranean cuisine and vibrant cultural heritage, the Maltese capital of Valletta is the perfect city for a short-haul getaway in 2017

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here aren’t many three-hour flights that take you to a place where you’re guaranteed warm weather all year round. And there aren’t many three-hour flights that take you somewhere as laid back and beautiful as Malta’s charming waterside capital, Valletta, either. Recently named the sunniest city in Europe, Valletta’s vibrant history and sumptuous English-speaking Mediterranean culture make it one of Europe’s most distinctive, compact and walkable capitals. That’s why it’s been named European Capital of Culture for 2018. From the elegant streets of the fortress city

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to the beautiful beaches further afield, Valletta is the perfect place to mix classic culture with delicious cuisine and unfettered relaxation. Whether you’re exploring the jaw-dropping baroque interiors of St John’s Co-Cathedral, walking the quaint, narrow streets of the old city, or delving into the country’s rich ancient history, in Valletta you’re sure to discover a city steeped in fascinating history and cool modern culture. Down by the harbourside, you’ll find spectacular sea views and plenty of opportunities to dive into the flavours of Malta, with some of the country’s best restaurants serving sumptuous

cuisine and wines down on the waterside. So, after spending your morning exploring the walled city and indulging in sea views over a spot of lunch, you can while away your afternoon lounging in front of the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean – perfectly balancing beach break with exciting city escape. Meanwhile, you can spend your nights sleeping in the rustic elegance of boutique hotels like Ursulino, Palazzo Consiglia and SU29 Hotel Valletta – relaxing places to kick your feet up and chill out after a long day of sightseeing. What’s more, culture lovers will delight


P ROMOTI ON

CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Valletta is European City of Culture for 2018; the city’s full of great architecture; harbourside views; Malta plays host to loads of cool events; St John’s Co-Cathedral; the beautiful Barakka Gardens

in a trip to Malta. Beyond an amazing, varied cultural calendar including wine, chocolate and art festivals, Malta is home to countless cool music festivals like Isle of MTV and Annie Mac’s Lost & Found. So why not create your perfect trip by combining a city break in Valletta with weekend listening to some of the world’s best bands and DJs while soaking up the Mediterranean sun? Whether it’s a weekend hop exploring Europe’s next Capital of Culture or a two-week stay discovering every corner of the country’s amazing isles, each visit to Malta is sure to be a sun-soaked blend of sensational sights and unadulterated relaxation. ◆ For more information, head to visitmalta.com or facebook.com/visitmalta – @visitmaltauk

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Craft Beer & Cuisine

IN SID E R ’S GUID E

PAGE 36

Make the most of Denver’s explosive craft beer scene on the Denver Beer Trail, a guide that’ll help you plan your route between brewpubs and microbreweries. There’s also an incredible forwardthinking and fresh-focused food scene, ranging from food trucks to fine dining.

D E N V E R PAGE 40

I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H

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Red Rocks

See a concert, or even practice yoga, at one of the most unique natural venues in the world. The open-air theatre is circled by ancient, red sandstone rock and has been played by the likes of The Beatles and U2. Surrounded by acres of prairies and pine forests, it’s a must see.


INSIDER’S G UIDE I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H D E N V E R PAGE 39

Arts & Culture With a varied and vibrant arts scene, Denver has something to suit every visitor. Check out the Denver Art Museum in downtown, the abstract artworks in the Clyfford Still Museum, or stroll through Lower Highlands (LoHi) and River North (RiNo) for crazy and colourful murals.

The Outdoor City

PAGE 41

It’s easy to walk and cycle around The Mile High City, but part of Denver’s beauty is the access it offers to some of the most spectacular scenery on earth. Spend a few nights checking out the food, drink and art scene, then head off to explore the famous Rocky Mountains.

For cool cuisine, chilled beers and laid-back vibes, you can’t beat the sunshine of Denver

CONTENTS

DENVER,COLORADO

36  DOWNTOWN DENVER 38  THE CREATIVE NEIGHBOURHOODS 40  THE HIDDEN GEMS

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DENVER COLORADO

Go Downtown Stroll or cycle through Denver’s downtown district and you’ll find some of the best breweries, restaurants and shops in town

Eating & Drinking

First things first: the food. Denver is a city brimming with culinary progression, top chefs and access to some of the freshest farm-to-table ingredients in the state. Start by taking the train from Denver International Airport to Denver Union Station – a gleaming 135-year-old structure that’s been transformed into an all-inone eating, drinking and shopping hotspot. Kick off the day at Snooze, a great spot for a pancake flight or breakfast burrito. For smarter dining downtown, there’s

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DENVER, COLARADO, IS A CITY BRIMMING WITH CULINARY PROGRESSION, TOP CHEFS AND ACCESS TO SOME OF THE FRESHEST FARM-TO-TABLE INGREDIENTS IN THE STATE

Rioja in Larimer Square, a restaurant focused on cuisines with twists on Mediterranean flavours from chef Jennifer Jasinski. Meanwhile, Mercantile dining & provision in Denver Union Station offers farm-fresh cuisine from chef Alex Seidel’s farm just outside of the city. And where there’s not wine, there’s beer. Hundreds of breweries full of the stuff, in fact. LoDo’s Wynkoop Brewing Company sits in 1899-built J.S. Brown Mercantile building, and it’s here you can try some of the 4,000 fresh barrels of beer that’s brewed annually, while playing a game of pool. Elsewhere, the Rock Bottom Brewery is a multi-award-winning brewery that hosts an outdoor concert series every Friday night in the summer – a great chance to catch an up-and-coming local band.

Arts, Culture & Sport

To completely reassess the way you view art and architecture, you can’t beat Denver Art Museum in the Hamilton Building. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, it’s a masterpiece in its own right. Inside it opens up to galleries showcasing art around the world, along with a

Photograph by VISIT DENVER

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ore beer is brewed in the city of Denver, Colorado, than any other US city. Of course, that’s a great reason to visit, but it’s not the only reason we love it. The Mile High City is an awesome gateway to the majestic Rocky Mountains; it boasts 300 days of sunshine a year and is the ideal place to embrace a cool city vibe while lapping up that feel-good outdoor energy. Head to downtown and its nearby neighborhoods and you’ll find a booming restaurant scene, dozens of breweries, quirky independent shops, arts and history.


INSIDER’S G UIDE

IN ASSOCIATION WITH DENVER

PICK UP THE BEST WESTERN-STYLE SHIRT IN TOWN AT ROCKMOUNT RANCH WEAR IN DOWNTOWN world-famous American Indian art collection and ever-changing exhibitions. Even around the famous landmark structure you’ll find incredible sculptures and artwork, and don’t miss the Blue Bear public art statue at the Colorado Convention Center. If that’s not enough, there are more art and history museums to explore. There’s also a fantastic sports’ scene in Denver; the city is home to seven professional sports teams, including baseball, basketball, hockey and the Denver Broncos football team. If you’re not catching a game you can try a behind-the-scenes stadium tour. CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: The exterior of the newly regenerated Union Station in downtown Denver; a bedroom at the Crawford Hotel; the 40-foot-high Blue Bear sculpture; the Victorian buildings of Larimer; Mercantile dining & provision

Shopping

HO TELS

Where to stay THE CRAWFORD HOTEL AT UNION STATION

For a city centre stay with a quirky railway theme, the Crawford Hotel is a stylish boutique choice with cosy yet modern rooms. It’s located in Denver Union Station – one of the most iconic buildings in Colorado – and has quick access to some of the city’s best restaurants.

Downtown is one of Denver’s best shopping districts, and in Larimer Square you’ll find a mix of independent jewellery, art and clothing stores. To pick up the best shirt in town, you’ll need to check out one of America’s most famous Western shirt shops, Rockmount Ranch Wear, which boasts celebrity fans including Bruce Springsteen and Jake Gyllenhaal.

THE ART HOTEL

Old Meets New

RENAISSANCE DENVER DOWNTOWN CITY CENTER

Stroll the streets of downtown Denver and you’ll find decades of history sitting alongside trendy new additions. In historic Larimer Square you’ll discover the first businesses and saloons in the city, where boutiques occupy the Victorian structures. Meanwhile, some of the city’s coolest hotels are located in its architecturally rich, history-packed buildings.

One of the newest luxury hotels in Denver, The Art Hotel is a blend of contemporary design, fun fresh furnishings and a hell of a lot of art. Expect works from the likes of Ed Ruscha, Nancy Rubins, Deborah Butterfield and Kiki Smith, plus bedrooms with mountain views.

Located in the former National Colorado Bank building which was built in 1915, this hotel combines history with classic, elegant accommodation. The gleaming marble lobby is also surrounded by huge, elaborate wall-size murals painted by local artist Allen Tupper True.

Getting Around

Part of the beauty of Denver is the ease of getting from one cool place to the next. Head downtown and you’ll soon discover that this is a brilliantly walkable city, and free shuttle services along 16th Street – one of the main Downtown shopping areas – help get you from A to B. When you’re not strolling, try cycling the B-cycle, Denver’s pioneering bike-sharing programme. More than 85 miles of cycle lanes crisscross the city, with 80 stations to park at. ◆ For more information head to visitdenver.com

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DENVER COLORADO

Getting Creative Hop on a bike and go beyond downtown Denver to find the city’s quirky and colourful art-packed districts

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o experience one of America’s coolest, most creative and sun-soaked cities, look no further than Denver. The young, outdoorsy population has a median age of just 34, and the city’s cool crowd of designers and artists have transformed its neighbourhoods into buzzy hubs with independent restaurants, shops and galleries. Explore the creative districts of River North (or RiNo), Cherry Creek and Highlands, and you’ll experience a unique, art-rich side to The Mile High City. What’s more, it’s so easy to do: use B-cycle, the city’s pioneering bike share scheme, and you’ll be peddling through some of the most creative and colourful art districts in the USA.

THE CITY’S COOL CROWD OF ARTISTS AND DESIGNERS HAVE REVITALISED THE DISTRICTS INTO BUZZY HUBS OF INDEPENDENT RESTAURANTS, GALLERIES AND SHOPS 38

River North (RiNo)

RiNo – or River North if you’re being official – is one of Denver’s liveliest creative neighborhoods. The area has been an incubator for Denver’s exploding craft beer scene, and today you’ll see industrial warehouses that have been given a new lease of life and transformed into bars, restaurants and markets. That means you’ll be bombarded with awesome food and drink choices – from Central Market, which is packed with food stalls, to Infinite Monkey Theorem, an urban winery. Evenings can be spent enjoying the area’s nightlife, from live music venues like Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club to cocktail lounges and

CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Check out the colourful galleries and street art in River North, or RiNo; the Halcyon Hotel in Cherry Creek; make the most of the city’s bike share and cycle the Cherry Creek Trail


INSIDER’S G UIDE

IN ASSOCIATION WITH DENVER

HO TELS

Where to Stay THE SOURCE HOTEL

Over in RiNo, The Source Hotel, due to open this summer 2017, is going to be located in River North’s The Source, an artisan food market that occupies an 1880s brick foundry building on Brighton Boulevard. Along with an eighth-floor roof deck, the hotel will feature modern rooms with colourful, full-wall artwork, and of course quick access to The Source’s open-plan restaurants, bars and stalls. THE MAVEN HOTEL

Make the most of Denver’s bike share programme and you can cycle from this soon-to-open downtown boutique hotel to RiNo, Cherry Creek and Highlands. The hotel will be located in what was once the home of Denver’s Windsor Dairy, and the urban theme will continue to run through the space. Meanwhile, the high-ceilinged, design-focused lobby will connect to a restaurant and art-filled alley. THE HALCYON HOTEL

craft breweries that help give this part of town its laid-back identity. Art is also one of RiNo’s biggest draws, and innovative murals line the alleyways and buildings, while the creative community has spurred the growth of independent galleries and shops – you’ll find contemporary paintings hung in several of the area’s repurposed factories.

Cherry Creek

Just 15 minutes from downtown Denver you’ll find Cherry Creek, the place to satisfy all of your shopping needs. The area’s shopping centre is home to more than 160 big-name stores (with discount vouchers available, too), while Cherry Creek North is a great spot for independent boutiques and galleries. Soak up the charming vibes and grab an outside table at a coffee shop on the tree-lined street. For something more active, try cycling the Cherry Creek Trail, a pretty 11.2 mile path that stretches from Confluence Park downtown to Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Highlands

Just north of downtown you’ll find Highlands, an area that’s made up of three diverse districts: Highlands Square, Tennyson Street and Lower Highlands (LoHi). Highlands Square has a great local vibe and quaint architecture, with bookstores crammed with rare books and laid-back coffee shops. Meanwhile, Tennyson Street is fun for an afternoon and evening. Browse antique prints, paintings and photography from local Colorado artists, or check out the live music venues and ethnic food scene. For some of the most innovative cooking in the city, though, you need to head to LoHi. Whether it’s rooftop bars, craft breweries or crazy creative menus that you’re after, this is the place for it. Enjoy city views and unique spins on global street food from the rooftop of Linger, a former mortuary or try the famous Graham Cracker Porter on the sunny patio at Denver Beer Co.◆

For a stay in the neighbourhood of Cherry Creek, the Halcyon Hotel is a great little find. Rooms are chic and sophisticated with a slight urban edge, while some rooms feature large outdoor terraces allowing you to soak in Colorado’s 300 days of sunshine. The rooftop pool deck is a great spot for a coffee, cocktail or dip.

For more information head to visitdenver.com

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DENVER COLORADO

UNC O V ERING THE C I TY’S H IDDEN GEM S Get beneath the surface of the city and explore Denver’s coolest music venues, brewpubs, markets and vibrant arts scene

Live Music

1

TOUR THE UNUSUAL VENUES

Whether you love seeing bands in tiny 50-person underground clubs, or huge open-air amphitheatres built with natural rock, Denver has it all. Red Rocks Amphitheatre is an iconic 9,450-strong venue, and big-name bands grace its stage every summer. For something a little more intimate, Denver’s neighbourhoods are packed with venues that’ll suit all musical tastes. There’s the Gothic Theatre that was built back in the 1920s in an art deco style that can still be appreciated today, along with some folk, electronica or rock. El Chapultepec is Denver’s oldest blues and jazz club, and a great place for a drink and live music on every night of the week, while Beta ticks the dubstep and house boxes. Hi-Dive, just south of downtown is a great small venue to mingle with those clued into the Denver music scene, while the Marquis Theatre is great for rock and metal.

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Markets EXPLORE THE STALLS

One of the city’s coolest new hangouts has to be the Denver Central Market, located in the trendy neighbourhood of RiNo. The light and airy 14,000 square feet space is a former 1920s industrial building, and now it’s filled with some of the best local food purveyors in the city, from cider stalls to chocolate producers. Elsewhere, Avanti Food and Beverage in Highlands neighborhood brings together several different restaurant concepts, each housed in a modified shipping container. It’s here you can tuck into tasty arepas, sushi and more.

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INSIDER’S G UIDE

IN ASSOCIATION WITH DENVER

Street Art

4

STROLL RINO AND SANTA FE

Denver’s talented street artists continue to brighten and lighten the streets of the city. RiNo’s former industrial buildings have been revitalised and can be appreciated with a stroll all year round, or during the amazing annual mural event called the Colorado Crush Street Art Festival in September. Elsewhere, the streets of Santa Fe are crammed with more than 60 art galleries, and the neighbourhood’s hispanic roots can be appreciated on every corner.

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Food & Drink DRINK BEER AND EAT WELL

CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Red Rocks Amphitheatre, one of the world’s most iconic music venues; street art on the buildings of RiNo; the Denver Beer Co; just one of the views at Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park; Acorn restaurant at The Source

The Outdoors

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Cool off in the city at Little Man Ice Cream store, a Denver institution. To quench the thirst, the Denver Beer Trail is your best bet. The options are endless, from tiny tasting rooms where you can try craft beer flights, to bigger venues with live music and food. Distilleries and wineries also make up a huge part of the drink scene, while coffee shops such as Novo Coffee, a born-and-bred in Denver shop, line the streets. Meanwhile, the city’s progressive food scene is booming.

HEAD TO THE MOUNTAINS

Just a 90-minute drive from Denver you’ll find the Rocky Mountain National Park, an exhilarating wilderness combining 359 miles of hiking trails,150 lakes and an endless list of mountains. It’s also home to elk, bighorn sheep and moose – all of which you’re likely to spot during your time here. Head to Breckenridge for incredible skiing, or take a longer trip from the city to explore the towering canyons, dramatic sand dunes and tiny mountain towns in the state of Colorado.

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EXPERIENCES

EXPERIENCES

For the world’s most luxurious trips – including this hot beach in Bermuda – check out our guide on page 44.

Photograph by ###

44  LUXURY TRAVEL 54  ALASKA, US 61  AMSTERDAM, NL 70  PATAGONIA, CHILE 79  SARDINIA, ITALY 84 IRAN 92  ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND 97 WILDLIFE

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THE HIG 44


EXPERIENCES

GH LIFE Photograph by ###

Planning your next trip? Take things to the next level on a luxury travel adventure, and go see the world in style… Words by Hannah Summers 45


W

hat does luxury mean to you? Ok, look, let’s not go too deep here. But for many, a luxury trip is about an incredible experience – not just throwing money at a hotel, but creating lasting memories from whatever you’ve decided to do there. Of course, a bit of cash comes in handy, too. That’s why we’ve gathered together some of our favourite once-in-a-lifetime trips, from drinking the finest plonk in New York state, to accessing the best surf spots in the Maldives via private If you like your sea plane. We’ve adventures with a also asked some key side-order of adrenfigures in the travel aline, then this is for you. The fun starts industry to tell us in the helicopter, what luxury means when you can eye-up to them. Because the routes you’ll then be cycling down. everyone’s different.

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Heli-bike in Nepal We all know the most boring part of a cycling trip is the quad-burning schlep uphill. The cyclists in the office might disagree, but wouldn’t it be better if a chopper just whisked you to the top of that mountain, saving you energy so you can come back down really, really fast? Lost Earth Adventures can sort that for you, with an epic, exhilarating seven-night heli-biking trip in the Nepalese Himalayas. The overthe-mountain flights will bring you faceto-face with the giants of the Himalayas, including eight of the world’s 14 8,000m peaks. Trails will be suited to your riding ability, but expect steep chutes, sharp turns and a flipping quick descent. When you hit the bottom you’ll be deposited at the top of yet another mountain, while evenings will be spent in a combination of Nepalese teahouses and cool hotels. And there we were thinking that a helicopter ride over the

TAKE AN EPIC, EXHILARATING SEVEN-NIGHT HELI-BIKING TRIP IN THE NEPALESE HIMALAYAS


EXPERIENCES

Isle of Wight was pretty decent fun. HOW: Lost Earth Adventures offers trips from

£12,500pp, lostearthadventures.co.uk

Taste Bowmore whisky on Islay, Scotland

Hannah Summers, associate editor, Escapism “I love to travel, of course, but the nature of my work and, er, my impatient personality mean that I often feel like I’m rushing through destinations, cramming so much into my day that sometimes I don’t get to just sit back and enjoy the moment. My luxury, then, is time: time to do everything I want to do. And more.”

Some people travel for food, some for music, and some for the finest, most expensive whisky on the planet. For that you need to head north to the rugged Scottish island of Islay (aka the ‘whisky isle’), and make straight for the Bowmore distillery, home to a £16,000-a-bottle malt. If you don’t have the spare change to stick that in next Christmas’s stocking, try the Craftsman’s Tour, where you’ll have the chance to try the Bowmore 23-Year-Old Port Cask Matured (£379 a bottle), along with an in-depth tour specially crafted for single malt know-it-alls. Continue the luxury mission at Islay Woollen Mill, where fine fabrics are produced for Savile Row and Hollywood hotshots. Your crash pad – dare we call it that – should be Islay House, a mansion that’s been converted into a grand boutique hotel, with four-poster beds, free-standing baths and mega views over Loch Indaal. HOW: Islay House offers nightly rates from £170,

islayhouse.co.uk; tours from £55pp, bowmore.com;

BA fly to Islay via Glasgow from £176 return. See ba.com for more information

Drone the world with Black Tomato Photography holidays are so not hot right

REACH NEW HEIGHTS: (above) Try heli-biking in the Nepalese Himalayas; (below) use a drone to really elevate your holiday snap game

now. Ditch the chunky SLR and check out Black Tomato’s new Drone the World trips, which are about as epic as they sound. Book your regular Black Tomato adventure (in countries where drone use is permitted) and you’ll Only 800 tourists be hooked up with a per year are allowed professional drone to visit the Skeleton photographer who’ll Coast, and if you’re one of the lucky help you explore and few to get to see its document some of deserted stretches of the most untouched, sand, you’ll want to document it properly. unseen scenery on earth. You’ll leave with a video of your trip, while also having had the chance to use a Phantom 2 drone yourself. Destinations include the Jokulsarlon Ice Lagoon in Iceland, the dramatic peaks of the Lofoten Archipelago in Norway and Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. And you thought those sea-level iPhone snaps were great – your Instagram feed’s about to get a whole lot more likes. HOW: Black Tomato offers trips from £4,000pp including flights, accommodation and drone experience/photographer, blacktomato.com

Surf via a seaplane in the Maldives Turns out the words ‘luxury’ and ‘scruffy surf dude’ can go hand in hand, particularly in a place like the Maldives. These idyllic islands have some pretty decent breaks, but accessing 90,000sq km of seas on your own isn’t so easy. Step up Tropicsurf, an

Corinne Evans, professional surfer “For me, the term ‘luxury’ means waking up to the sound of perfect uncrowded waves rolling in across a coral reef and being able to walk straight from my room out to the ocean. Every surfer dreams of finding untouched waves to ride alone or with little crowds. Glassy waves that break in crystal clear water which glisten in the sunlight. Luxury is being able to sip on an icecold beer after a hard day surfing; indulging in delicious local foods that leave you feeling nourished and totally rejuvenated. That feeling that I am escaping the real world and immersing myself in a surf paradise, that’s what luxury means to me.”

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The best time to visit the Maldives for surfing is between March and April, where there is usually consistent surf of up to 12ft. It’s also dry season so the sun should be out!

Australian luxury surf company that specialises in combining the best waves, top-draw accommodation and your own personal sea plane to deposit you at the very best surf spots situated around the 1,200ish low-lying islands. That means you’ll find yourself 100 miles from other surfers, and you’ll get to experience the Maldives’ best waves all to yourself. Lovely. HOW: Tropicsurf offers trips from £1,700 per hour with seven-day options available, tropicsurf.net; to continue the luxe experience, try Huvafen Fushi with its underwater spa. Standard stuff in the Maldives… Nightly rates from £60, minorhotels.com; Emirates offers return flights from £450, emirates.com

Charter a phinisi in Indonesia Fancy a honeymoon at sea? Are you a hopeless romantic? Or do you just really hate sharing your space with other holidaymakers? We know that feeling. Whatever your holiday preferences, spending three nights sailing around the islands of Indonesia on a giant, crisp-white phinisi (that’s a boat) doesn’t sound too shabby. With Alexa Private Cruises you can do just that, on one very special billowingsailed ship (formerly used to carry spices between the islands) fully kitted out with some of the best fabrics and furniture on the planet. You’ll be joined by seven crew who’ll take you to all of the best spots in Flores and Komodo National Park (home to the komodo dragon), and you’ll also spend pretty substantial amounts of time snorkelling among brightly coloured fish in turquoise water and lounging on a giant boat deck which you’ll have all to yourself. For three whole nights. And don’t get us started on the on-board dive master and masseuse.

trailfinders.com

Go fine dining in Rome, Italy We can’t think of too many better reasons to travel than to eat yourself silly. For one of the most luxurious dining experiences in Europe, and the only three-Michelin-star restaurant in Rome, try La Pergola at the super-swish Rome Cavalieri hotel. It’s about as good as fine dining gets, with sweeping views over the Eternal City, a glitzy setting and a whole chair provided just for your handbag (handbags on the floor is a big no-no here). And the food? How about fagotottelli ‘La Pergola’ (chef Heinz Beck’s signature dish that’s a quirky reinvention of carbonara) followed by ‘venison on an autumn field’. In fact, you’d be absolutely crazy not to try the whole ten-course menu. HOW: Nightly rates from £220 and tencourse tasting menus from €230pp, romecavalieri.com/la-pergola; Norwegian offers one-way flights from £34.90, norwegian.com

Take it easy in Bermuda If chilling out on Insta-worthy beaches, snorkelling, diving and lolling around in one of the world’s only natural spas are

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Photograph by (Kasbah Tamadot) Matt Livey

VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY: )clockwise from here) An Indonesian phinisi; Kasbah Tamadot; beach life in Bermuda; Huvafen Fushi, Maldives

AT LA PERGOLA IN ROME YOU GET A CHAIR FOR YOUR HANDBAG

HOW: Three-night charters in the Komodo Islands cost from £9,550 for two people, alexaprivatecruises.com; book flights via


EXPERIENCES

Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder “Everyone’s perception of luxury is completely personal and individual. My ultimate luxury experience has and always will be spending quality time with my loved ones somewhere beautiful and for me that’s always Necker Island, my home.”

ExplorE

JApAN Take one of our suggested itineraries, or we can help you tailor-make your own. From a Sumo tournament to scuba diving, from the fashion spots of Tokyo to a stay in a Buddhist temple on Mt Koya, JTB can help you explore Japan.

JTB Europe Ltd. Tel. 020 8237 1605 info@japanspecialist.co.uk

www.japanspecialist.co.uk

important factors on your holiday agenda, then try Bermuda. The tiny island – just 20 miles long and two wide – is home to a diverse range of cultures, including British, North American, African and Portuguese, while stately mansions dot the lush green landscape. For full-on relaxation, try the Natura Spa at Grotto Bay, where you’ll be massaged in a stalactite-heavy cave while floating on a pontoon. Next up: beaches. Visit the south of the island for those famous blush-coloured swathes of sand, and Parson’s Bay, which has a hidden beach vibe. Don’t forget your digs – this is a luxury holiday after all – and try the 88-bedroom Rosewood Tucker’s Point for some of the best rooms on the entire island. HOW: British Airways Holidays offers seven nights from £2,049pp including flights,

ba.com/bermuda

Hike the Atlas mountains in Morocco Hiking isn’t necessarily a luxury experience. Well,

Morocco’s Atlas Mountain region is one of North Africa’s premier trekking destinations, with terrain that’s fairly easy to traverse, as well as more challenging routes.

wearing hiking boots certainly isn’t. But if you find yourself some spectacular views and some even more snazzy accommodation, you’re onto a pretty great thing. Case in point: Kasbah Tamadot, Richard Branson’s Moroccan hotel venture, set in the country’s Atlas Mountains. Guests here are encouraged to switch off by lounging around the hotel’s pool, sweating it out in the hammam and flopping into the poofy-cushioned beds. But when all that chillin’ gets a bit too taxing, there’s majestic mountain scenery to explore. Use the hotel as a base and head out with a berber guide to explore the Atlas Mountains and rugged landscape of the Toubkal National Park, checking in to local villages for mint tea along the way. From here you can also visit the intricately designed, 12th-century Tin Mal Mosque, one of the only two mosques in the country that is open to non-Muslims, or take the picnic of a lifetime on the side of a mountain. The hotel arranges it all, so you don’t even need to carry the picnic basket. Or make anyone else carry it. Winner. HOW: From £426 a night, virginlimitededition.com; Returns with easyjet from £60, easyjet.com


YO U M AY NEVER M A K E I T BA C K H O ME T H E SA M E.

Book your holiday online at prestigeholidays.co.uk/bermuda or call 01425 480400.


EXPERIENCES

Laura Bingham, adventurer “Luxury to me is being able to choose what I would like to eat. Having spent 164 days cycling through the Andes, across deserts, large cities and desolate areas all without money, I missed being able to choose what I wanted to eat. The entirety of the journey was spent begging for leftovers, finding food by the side of the road, working in exchange for food and a place to sleep. When arriving in Asunsión in Paraguay, a Mennonite Christian took me in and then took me to a supermarket. When we walked into the supermarket, she said ‘What would you like? Take anything you want.’ I was so shocked, after four months of eating whatever I could find or was put in front of me, to have this option was absolutely unbelievable. I stood there and cried. I just couldn’t stop crying.” Laura is speaking at the Adventure Travel Show on Saturday 21 January 2017. Visit adventureshow.com

Stay in a fort in Rajasthan, India

Photograph (elephants) by Nick Fox

If you’re the sort who shuns modern technology for history, then a stay in a 230-year-old fortress hidden in the Aravalli hills in Rajasthan, India, may be just your bag. Opening in spring this year, the Alila Fort Bishangarh has been through a sevenyear makeover to whip it into its current state of luxe, with 59 swanky suites set in the imposing, turreted structure. Expect 360-degree views over the surrounding Rajasthani villages and temples, which you can admire from your arched bedroom window, or do the sensible thing and take one of the hotel’s hot air balloon tours. If that’s a bit slow-paced, then there’s horse riding, quad biking, and a cooking school – no, perhaps not traditionally thrilling, but definitely a fun way to learn about the heady flavours of the region’s local dishes.

GUIDED TOUR: (this pic) A mother and baby elephant in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya; (below) Alila Fort Bishangarh

winning holiday combo. Try basing yourself for four nights at Sanctuary Olonana, set on the Mara river in the heart of Kenya’s most famous game reserve. Game drives will be a big part of your trip, but your wildlife spotting can begin from the camp itself – a pod of hippos live in the river directly below the balcony of your canvas tent (complete with four-poster bed, obviously). Then it’s onto the Saruni Ocean, where you can lap up Kenya’s secluded south coast and 4km of pristine white-sand beach around Msambweni, while staying in one of 14 verrrry sophisticated suites. HOW: Abercrombie & Kent offers four nights at both properties on a full-board basis from £4,779pp including flights and transfers,

abercrombiekent.co.uk

Taste great wine in New York State, US

HOW: Nightly rates from £323 per room.

alilahotels.com; Oman Air offers return flights to

Jaipur via Muscat from £606, omanair.com

Twin a safari with the beach in Kenya A luxe safari is a pretty sweet break, but lob a couple of nights on the beaches of Kenya’s coast on the end and you’re onto a

up since then. Well, grown up enough. Nowadays our tastes are for the slightly more sophisticated, and that’s why we’re into central New York state, specifically the Finger Lakes area, which is the largest wine-growing area in this US region. Try a private tasting at one of the wineries (there are 120 to choose from), cruise the wine trails or just check out the beer scene, which is also pretty decent. If you’re making the pilgrimage for the best of the region’s produce, don’t leave without delving into the food scene. Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Clue’s in the name… Finger Lakes is so-called because the area is home to 11 long, narrow lakes. When you’ve finished drinking all the wine, they’re worth a visit too.

Once upon a time, drinking wine on holiday meant guzzling cheap stuff from a battered box on a beach in Australia. Luckily we’ve grown

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EXPERIENCES

Jon Hawkins, editor, Escapism “You’ll find plenty of definitions for luxury in the dictionary, but the one I like the most is this: ‘a pleasure out of the ordinary allowed to oneself’. Put like that, any holiday’s a luxury – before you’ve even added the seven-star hotel, RollsRoyce chauffeur, beach butler and gold-plated private jet into the mix. Personally, though, the pleasure that I look forward to more than any other is that of just completely switching off from the real world for a bit, whether it’s just for a couple of days or for a couple of weeks. No emails, no TV, no commute, no worries – that sounds pretty luxurious to me.”

from chef Dan Barber was a pioneer in the farm-to-table food culture, and is listed as one of the world’s top 50 restaurants. It’s located in Pocantico Hills, which is around a four-hour drive – fine if you’re road tripping the area (and we suggest you do). HOW: Work a couple of nights at The Point into your itinerary – it has lodges next to a lake and comes in at £1,310 a night based on two sharing, thepointsaranac.com. Virgin Atlantic offers return flights to New York from £450, virginatlantic.com

Ski at sunrise in Arosa, Switzerland If you’re going to have a 4am wake-up call, you want to make sure it’s worth your while. And this probably will be. Head to the Tschuggen Grand Hotel in Arosa in the Swiss Alps over 23 February or 9 March this year, and you’ll have the chance to take an in-the-dark cable car to the summit of the Grison Alps before watching the sun rise over the mountains while tucking into a fullon breakfast. Obviously you’ll need to come back down, and you’ll be the first to make trails in the mountain on your descent.

side of the mountain.

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swiss.com

Island hop the Cook Islands To get away – and we’re talking about as far as you can travel away – try the Cook Islands. Located off northeast New Zealand, in the South Pacific Ocean, the 15 splodges of land are marooned in some of the finest turquoise water you’ll ever lay your eyes on. There’s plenty of French Polynesian culture to embrace, but a big draw is the organic and artisan food scene, and the café culture. Base yourself on the biggest island– Rarotonga – but be sure to visit Aitutaki, the prettiest lagoon we ever did see, and try to get to Mitiaro to swim in underground caves and see the islands’ only fort. e HOW: Travel Nation will help make your islandhopping dreams a reality and book flights from £900 return, travelnation.co.uk

PEAK PERFORMANCE: (from top) Sunrise on the Parpaner Rothorn; Buttermilk Falls State Park in the Finger Lakes, New York State

Photograph by ###

HOW: Sunrise skiing is available from £86 a day including breakfast and a day’s ski pass. Tschuggen Grand This distinctive hotel Hotel has nightly rates features large glass from £485 per room. ‘fins’ that, from a tschuggen.ch; Swiss distance, appear to stick out of the Airlines offers flights snow. There’s also a to Zurich from £67 stand-out spa that’s built directly into the one way. To book, see

FRENCH POLYNESIA’S ARTISAN FOOD SCENE AND CAFÉ CULTURE IS A BIG DRAW


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T +41 81 836 80 00 · info@kulm.com · www.kulm.com


THIS IS N PICNIC 54


EXPERIENCES

Kluane National Park in the Yukon

NO Photograph by ###

To mark the 75th anniversary of the epic Alaska Highway, Graeme Green embarks upon a road trip to rival all others

T

his is no picnic. Men hired for this job will be required to work and live under the most extreme conditions imaginable.” The job advert calling for construction workers, posted across the US and Canada in 1942, pulled no punches. Crew for the Alaska Highway, a massive second world war engineering project that celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, were promised temperatures ranging from “90 degrees above zero to 70 below zero”, “swamps, rivers, ice and cold,” and mosquitoes and other bugs that “will cause bodily harm. If you are not prepared to work under these conditions, DO NOT APPLY.” The Alaska Highway is one of the world’s great road trips, starting from Dawson Creek in British Columbia across the Yukon to the official end at milepost 1,422 at Delta Junction in Alaska and continuing onto the city of Fairbanks. Originally, though, it was built to transport troops, weapons and supplies. “The defence of Alaska was critical in the second world war,” says Kim Maillet at Dawson Creek Highway House, just before I start my own 1,500-mile road trip from the official Milepost Zero marker. “The US and Canada suffered Pearl Harbour in 1941. The northwest The largest and most was vulnerable to sparsely populated invasion. If Japan US state, Alaska invaded Alaska, it’s has a total area of 663,268sq miles, tough to know what and population of could’ve happened.” around 738,432. A total of 11,000 Perfect if you’re not feeling too chatty. American soldiers arrived almost overnight, building the 1,422-mile road across remote, unforgiving wilderness with up to 7,000 Canadian and First Nations guides and workers. Such was the urgency, construction began in March 1942 and the road opened on 20 November 1942, just eight-and-a-half months later. I drive out of Dawson Creek, sharing the highway – also known as the AlCan (Alaska Canada) Highway – not only with RVs, cars, cyclists and giant trucks, but also one man on foot, dragging a hefty trailer by hand, his dog bounding along beside him. Fir, pine and birch trees stretch mile after mile to the horizon, the same forests construction crews would have cut through – no mean feat. There’s a sense of humour in the ‘frontier’ country. A notice in a roadside café instructs travellers not to feed the Sasquatch (Bigfoot). Further along, a poster warns drivers to beware of hairy, 900-kilo

55


FIND MORE TRAVEL INSPIRATION AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM

BRIDGING THE GAP: (clockwise from this pic) A narrow bridge en route; Liard River Hotsprings; Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake

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AS I CROSS THE STATE BORDER INTO YUKON I’M GREETED BY A FAT, WADDLING PORCUPINE

water. I notice two black bears by the quiet roadside in the afternoon’s drive, the male attempting to get it on with an uninterested female mate. Then, shortly after passing a ‘Welcome to Yukon’ sign and crossing the state border, I’m greeted by a fat porcupine waddling across the road. In the town of Watson Lake, where I stay overnight, I explore the Sign Post Forest, a collection of 77,000 street signs apparently started by a homesick soldier in 1942. Travellers post signposts from their hometowns here with details of their highway journeys, including one of questionable authorship, signed “Tucker W, the most interesting cat in the world.” Apart from the highway itself and the odd petrol station, there are few marks of civilisation on Yukon’s roads the next day. The land grows wilder, with fast-running rivers, deep-blue lakes and mountains, the road passing by dark pyramids, ridges and giant shark fins caked with snow. I stop at Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre to check out wooden masks, clothing, totem

Photographs by Graeme Green

‘speed bumps’ on the road, also known as bison. I don’t spot any, but I do see three black bears meandering along the roadside. I stop the next morning at Fort Nelson Heritage Museum,which is filled with stuffed bears and old tools, while the car shed houses motorbikes and cars, including a Ford Model T (1926) and a couple of 1950s Studebakers. “They all run, but this is the oldest one,” white-bearded curator Marl Brown tells me, patting a 1908 McLaughlin Buick. “In 2008, when it turned 100, my wife and I drove it on the Alaska Highway.” The drama of the Rocky Mountains’ landscape of granite peaks, racing rivers and endless forests ramps up a level as I drive through the second day. I stop for lunch at Toad River Lodge, looking up to see the café’s ‘world famous collection of hats’ nailed to the roof. “There were 10,180 at the last count,” the waitress tells me. After a night on Muncho Lake, I drive on, stopping at Liard River Hotsprings for a soak in a natural geothermal pool, sulphurous-smelling steam rising off the hot


EXPERIENCES

poles and dugout canoes from the region’s First Nations. The Alaska Highway was not necessarily good news for everybody. “Literally overnight, their (First Nations) world changed,” says Tip Evans, executive director. “In 1940, an average family spent their year trapping, hunting, fishing and gathering. By the end of 1942, bulldozers, trucks, construction camps, thousands of strangers, aircraft, wage labour and new food were part of their environment.” At Whitehorse, the Yukon’s state capital, I visit the Yukon Transportation Museum, where there’s a hangar filled with old bi-planes, police cars and Canadian military trucks used to maintain the Alaska Highway after the war. “Pretty much all the original road had to be rebuilt after the war,” says Murray Biggin, who works at the museum. “They The largest city in had problems with northern Canada, ice and permafrost. Whitehorse has A lot of it turned a milder climate than surrounding into bog.” Almost all communities, and the highway’s now gets a whopping 19 tarmacked, with a hours of daylight during the summer. few gravel sections.

The road’s also much straighter now, which means it’s also shorter than it was. The original drive between Dawson Creek and Fairbanks was 1,523m. Today, it’s thought to be nearly 100 miles shorter, the historic mileposts now out of sync. I reach Haines Junction the next day and park at Kluane National Park, home to 13 of Canada’s highest mountains. “This is a true wilderness park,” hiking guide Brent Liddle

tells me as we climb the Cottonwood Trail through spruce trees, high above Kathleen Lake. “This area’s always been wild and remote. Before the Alaska Highway, no one came here, only the First Nations.” We’re in bear country, Liddle pointing at scratched-up trees that bears have used as rubbing posts. The peak looming above us has a name, King’s Throne, but many don’t. “There’s a land where the mountains are

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EXPERIENCES

FLYING HIGH: A Helio Courier plane lands at 3,000 metres on the Hubbard Glacier, where the ice can be up to one kilometre thick.

nameless, and the rivers all run God knows where…” Liddle recites, quoting from Robert Service’s poem The Spell Of The Yukon. I go deeper into Kluane the next morning, flying in a tiny Helio Courier plane above the St Elias Mountains and the vast Kaskawulsh Glacier, before looking down, from 3,050m, on snow-blanketed peaks that stretch across the border into Alaska. “It’s the world’s largest icefield outside of the Arctic and Antarctica,” pilot Tom Bradley tells me. “In the glaciers and icefields up here, there’s enough water to fill every single lake and river in Canada.” The plane’s wheel-skis slide over a field of snow as we land on the Hubbard Glacier, at around 3,000m. “We’re the only people up here,” Tom Bradley points out, as we get out of the plane and take in the otherworldy

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marker, pour myself a cup of free coffee and pick up my certificate, which says I’ve gone “through the trials and tribulations to reach mile 1,422, the end of the Alaska Highway.” Delta Junction’s the official end, but the connected Richardson Highway, built before the Alaska Highway, continues on to Fairbanks. As I drive, I see a brown horsesized shape by the roadside ahead, which turns out to be a female moose and her calf. Crossing the Tanana River, I drive by a section of the 800 mile-long Trans-Alaska Pipeline, then, approaching Fairbanks, a 25ft-high statue of Santa Claus. I stop in the city of North Pole, Once a year, “where every day is Alaskans bet on Christmas” and street when the Tanana lamps are shaped like River will melt and flow into the striped candy canes. Nenana River. The They’re doing brisk record jackpot of the business in the kitsch ‘Nenana Ice Classic’ is $350,000. Santa Claus House, which feels surreal in June, filled with glittery decorations and gifts, many of them featuring moose and bears. A ho-ho-ho-ing Santa Claus sits travellers, young and old, on his knee. With the completion of my Alaska Highway road trip, the highway’s 75th birthday and now Christmas arriving early, it feels like there’s a lot to celebrate. e Frontier Canada (frontier-canada.co.uk) offers tailor-made, 20-night Alaska Highway trips from £4,399 per person, including return flights from London to Vancouver (returning via Fairbanks, Alaska), car hire (including one-way drop-off fees) and 20 nights’ accommodation. Icefield Discovery Tours’ (icefielddiscovery.com) 1.5-hour flightseeing tour, including icefield landing, costs $325 CDN (£193). For more information, see Destination British Columbia (hellobc.com), Travel Yukon (travelyukon.com) and Travel Alaska (travelalaska.com).

Photograph by Graeme Green

THE GLACIERS AND ICEFIELDS CONTAIN ENOUGH WATER TO FILL EVERY LAKE IN CANADA

white wilderness. “The ice here where we landed is 700m thick. Elsewhere on the icefield, the ice is one kilometre thick.” We take a stroll around, Tom picking out the high peaks surrounding us. “Up ahead is Mount Logan,” he says, “the tallest mountain in Canada, 5,959m high, and the largest mountain in the world by girth.” I drive up Kluane Lake, the largest in the Yukon, in the afternoon and take a short hike up to Soldier’s Summit, where the highway’s opening ceremony took place on 20 November 1942 in temperatures of -30°F, with a dinner for dignitaries that included moose steak and champagne soup. Next morning, I cross from the Yukon into Alaska, the border between Canada and the United States marked with a dividing line of felled trees, American and Canadian flags flapping in the wind. Near-suicidal Arctic ground squirrels scurry across the highway. I stop at Tetlin National Wildlife Reserve, an important spot for migrating birds, with views across lakes and wetlands to the jagged line of the Wrangell-St Elias mountains on the horizon. Further down the road, I hike through spruce forest down to Hidden Lake, where a couple sit patiently, watching optimistically for signs of a moose. Clouds cast dramatic shadows over the Alaska mountain range as I set out next morning from the town of Tok. I cross the Gerstle River at mile 1,392 on the Black Veterans Memorial Bridge. One of the lesser-told aspects of the highway’s story is that 3,695 of the 10,607 US soldiers who built the highway were black, around 35%. Black soldiers often did the hardest jobs, were given the shoddiest gear, and were mistreated by officers. The highway couldn’t have been built without them. Finally, I pull in at the Delta Junction visitor centre, where I photograph the


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EXPERIENCES

Photograph by NielsVK/Alamy

ESSENTIALS

DAM GOOD

Barge-lined canals run through the city

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Don’t visit Amsterdam without consulting our guide to the best places to eat, sleep and shop Words by Hannah Summers 61


ESSENTIALS

Photograph by Peter Horree/Alamy

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EXPERIENCES

EAT Foodhallen If you’re the all-or-nothing type of city breaker, then Foodhallen is just the place for you. The urban-vibe, high-ceilinged indoor food market is fully stocked with stalls serving every single kind of cuisine that you could possibly hope for – from oysters and Korean wings (not together, jeez), to simple yet sensational patties from the city’s most famous burger outpost, The Butcher. There’s also a big old bar and loads of seating, making it especially great for bigger groups, and people who really, really need to eat something right now for some reason. ON THE MARKET:

foodhallen.nl

Winkel Need coffee? Need cake? Need to just sit down and do some people

CAFÉ CULTURE:

watching for a little while? Head to Winkel 43 on Prinsengracht for huge portions of warm apple cake, served with even bigger dollops of whipped cream. The café’s coffee is strong and good, but the big glasses of hot water rammed with mint leaves and honey are spot on next to the pie. There’s indoor and outdoor seating, and it’s open from 7am until 1am, so works just as well for morning munchies, as, erm, late-night munchies. winkel43.nl

Cannibale Royale A FEAST FIT FOR A KING: Meat lovers with hefty appetites should book a table at Cannibale Royale, a cosy, dimly lit restaurant where wooden tables struggle under the weight of steaks, burgers, wings, ribs, big old platters of everything and nachos (with cheese

on every layer! Because no one likes tight sprinklings of cheese). Miniature grandfather clocks line the walls – book ahead to make sure you get a table at this hotspot. cannibaleroyale.nl

NEED TO KNOW British Airways operates flights to Amsterdam from three London airports (Gatwick, Heahthrow, City), with fares starting from £69 return. Visit britishairways.com to find the best prices. See iamsterdam.com for more information on the city.

CITY CANAL CRUISE

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Departures from Stadhouderskade

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EXPERIENCES

ESSENTIALS

DRINK Pacific Parc

The Vault Bar, Waldorf Astoria

Gambrinus

ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK: If

you’re taking on the bars in Westerpark be sure to check out Pacific Parc, a big rockabilly-infused after-party venue. It’s housed in a cluster of red brick, Victorian-style industrial buildings, and the inside is vaguely modern with moody red lighting and high ceilings. There’s a great outdoor seating area for smokers and long summer evenings (which will surely come back to us one day).

BANK ON IT:

Throw on your jewels and head on down to the Vault bar at the swanky Waldorf Astoria hotel for a smidge of sophistication on your Amsterdam trip. It’s set in the building's old banking vaults, and even features colourful lockers from the original banking days. Forget a standard menu: the cocktail list here comes in a leather wallet, with each note depicting the flavours of a different country.

DOWN THE LOCAL: When

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waldorfastoria3.hilton.com

gambrinus.nl

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the music gets too loud and the cocktails too expensive, check out the cosy cornerside bars that dot Amsterdam’s streets. Gambrinus is located in De Pijp, and this particular ‘brown bar’, as they’re called, is crammed with wooden tables, a stool-lined main counter and a mezzanine dining area. It’s a great place for hanging out with some local beers, wine and bitterballen – deep-fried Dutch snacks.


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EXPERIENCES

ESSENTIALS

Photograph by Tarek El Sombati/Getty

SHOP Sissy Boy

Episode

Oudemanhuispoort Book Market

CHAIN REACTION: For a cool chain shop (turns

GOOD AS NEW:

out such a thing does exist, and there are 30 of these stores spread across the Benelux countries), try Sissy Boy. The shop’s hung with natural-hued garments, but we’re all about the interior products in stock – think colourful rugs, big old mugs, decorative spoons and that all-important kitchen essential: a set of three cheese knives, perfect for dinner-party showing off.

Amsterdam is rammed with vintage stores, you can’t go more than half a mile without seeing one. What’s more, they’re cheap, and stocked with some of the best old-school gear going – from mad synthetic '80s jumpers to leather accessories. Episode (with several locations) is one of the biggest, but Bij Ons Vintage is great for quirky home stuff, while Laura Dols is big on poofy glitzy dresses – think a giant dressing up box.

SOUND AND VISION: Located in a passageway in central Amsterdam, this book market is the place to get your second-hand literature and sheet music fix. If rummaging around is your thing, also try Concerto, a music store that occupies five buildings filled with secondhand vinyl and CDs, where you’ll find rarities and big-name bands (and occasional live music sessions, too). Look for the blood-red exterior lined with battered bicycles.

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ESSENTIALS

Photograph by Dmytrii Minishev/Alamy

STAY Houseboat

The Dylan

ClinkNOORD Hostel

WATER BED: You could take a boat trip along

A TOUCH OF LUXE: Centrally located in the Nine

FRIENDLY WELCOME: If

the canals of Amsterdam, or cycle alongside them, but if you’re really into embracing the city, try sleeping in a houseboat, too. At one point, they were used to help ease the city’s housing shortage – now they’re a pretty cool place to get a whole new perspective on the city. And we’re not talking damp dingy spaces either – aptly named website Houseboat Rental lists some of the coolest going.

Streets shopping quarter, this luxed-up, 40-bedroom yet intimate hotel is a great option for those looking for something sophisticated. You’ll enter through a 17thcentury arch before it opens up into two canalside buildings complete with beams and bay windows. Try a Michelin-starred finedining session on the hotel’s boat – the chef will create a bespoke multi-course meal.

making friends is high on your Amsterdam agenda (or if budgets are tight) try a modern hostel like ClinkNoord. Located in the Overhoeks district, it combines contemporary Dutch design with history – this is a former 1920s factory after all. There are private rooms and ubermodern bunk rooms with sturdy beds and privacy screens – which ain’t no bad thing. Access is via a short ferry ride from town. e

£76 a night. houseboatrental.amsterdam

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EXPERIENCES

AL RESS

Balmaceda Glacier, Chilean Patagonia

Photograph by ###

New flights have brought Chilean Patagonia closer than ever. Hannah Summers hops on board for an icy ride‌ 71


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’m being ravaged by the wind. Not any old wind, but a 60mph, knock-youover-and-throw-you-onto-your-ass kind of breeze that’s making people around me shriek and scream. I’ve already fallen over. Twice. Here’s some friendly advice: when you visit Chilean Patagonia, come prepared. It’s a place where you’ll be subjected to four seasons in one day. In one hour, even. I’m standing on a mindblowing beach, the most beautiful I’ve seen. Not your archetypal mindblowing beach – no soft white sand, no turquoise water. Instead it’s a vast sweep of near-black stones – tiny shards of rock that needle me in the face with each violent gust. The rain comes from above, from the side, maybe even below, coating my now red-raw cheeks. But I’m addicted to this place, to this feeling, to this volatile The region of situation. Patagonia is split Patagonia’s between Chile and ethereal drama has Argentina and there are two coasts – been written about a glacier water flows lot by novelists and into the Pacific adventurers, most Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. famously 40 years ago in Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia: “It is the farthest place to which man walked from his place of origins. It is therefore a symbol of his restlessness,” he wrote. And today I am restless. Because it has taken me forever to reach here. For a long time, getting to Patagonia – the huge and varied region that spreads through Chile and Argentina and covers the southernmost section of South America – has required dedication, patience and many, many hours. I did all that so you don’t have to: new for this season, these distant landscapes can be reached easily and quickly. Flights from the Chilean capital, Santiago, will deposit you in the town of Puerto Natales, virtually on the doorstep of the famous Torres del Paine National Park and the surrounding

Discover more at www.paramo.co.uk/velez

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Photograph (top) by Martin Harvey/Getty Images

FREEDOM TO MOVE

mountains, glaciers and fjords. The beach I’m currently being blown around on is Grey Beach – bordering Grey Lake, it stretches long, far longer than you’re thinking, and wide, wider than any beach I’ve seen, until it touches a cliff at the very far end. I take the narrow, exposed path, which snakes its way around the rock face, clinging on to tufty bits of bush and precariously sidestepping my way towards what I’m looking for: icebergs. These huge, towering hunks of blue ice sit in a swirling mass of steely water. It’s cocaine for the eyes. Chen Chien, my 50-something Patagonian guide, is unfazed by the gusts. “Last time I was here the wind was so strong – maybe 80mph – that I turned around to see a whole group of people on their backs like turtles.” On a sunny day – they happen, occasionally – this 32.6sq km mass of water glints a turquoise blue, the white ice refracting glorious rafts of light. “This is


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THIS LOCAL HERO HAS LIVED IN THIS LONG, SLIM SLITHER OF CHILE HIS ENTIRE LIFE

my home,” Chen Chien says, gazing out at this tiny piece of chaos within the massive, untameable expanse of Patagonia. This local hero has lived in this part of Chile his entire life, and he spends his days guiding keeno travellers around his gigantic backyard. I love him. I love his homemade hat – a knitted, beret-type thing with a big bobble on a string that dangles down in front of his eyes, which are fringed with soft, long eyelashes and surrounded by tiny laughter lines. I love his fashion faux pas – including a 1970s-style tan leather waistcoat that’s part long-haired rock star, part Chilean gaucho getup. I love his funny Chile stretches along little drink, yerba South America’s mate, the leaves of western edge and is which he stores in one of the longest countries in the a slightly-humming world. It’s length is a old cow skin. I love staggering 4,600km, his facts, his stories but it’s average width is just 150km. about his family

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SCHOOL OF ROCK: (from top) Spot birds in Patagonia; icebergs bob in Grey Lake as snow-capped mountains loom behind

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mountains. The boat engine cuts and I gaze up at the Balmaceda glacier. The only way to get a look at its frozen face is by boat, which reveals lower ice tinged with dazzling fluro blue, and a middle stained a faded-1960scarpet brown – think Werther’s Originals. On a cliff beside The Balmaceda it the condors have Glacier is one of the made their nests. many glaciers you’ll These scavengers find in Bernardo O’Higgins National live up to 50 years, Park – it’s pop out chicks every surrounded by two, and swoop for wildlife and is only accessible by boat. miles, hunting for the leftover scraps of a puma’s latest kill. They circle above us, dipping in and out of rocky outcrops, where hypnotic jagged lines and swirls mark millions of years of history. It might just be the sexiest rock I’ve ever seen.

Photograph by ###

I WATCH BARBIE-PINK FLAMINGOS BASKING IN A RARE ONEHOUR SLOT OF SUNSHINE

a crazy collection of mountains, glaciers and lakes. Our first stop, though, is at the Mylodon Caves, about 24km north west of Puerto Natales. This 70 million-year-old rock formation is named after the now-extinct mylodon – a giant, sloth-like creature once found in the caves. Here, deep in the vanillahued sedimentary rock, stalactites the size of my thighs dangle from the ceiling, and bizarre limestone formations shaped like bulbs of garlic smother the gritty walls. Wild, blockbuster vistas may be the main draw in these parts, but wildlife’s a big deal, too. Every car journey delivers. I watch Barbie-pink flamingos basking in a rare, one-hour slot of sunshine. Ginger cows plod around the empty, barren roads, their big, rotund bellies stretching out weathered skin. Guanacos – alpaca-like animals – conga-line along the scraggy slopes, bums wiggling, loose, fluffy, butter-coloured perms ruffled by the famous Patagonian wind. A grumpy gaucho trots past on a horse, cocooned in a duvet of faded, once-neon eighties puffer jackets and perched upon what looks like a sheepskin rug. But it’s the birds that get me. Yes, birds. Condors, in fact. I obsess over them in Canal Señoret – a vast fjord that we whizz across in a speedboat, while glacial water sprays my face and dark, moody clouds drape themselves along the tops of the surrounding

Photograph (top) by WaterFrame / Alamy Stock Photo

and his occasional melancholy. “This,” he says, pointing to his hand-stitched leather waistcoat, “used to be what all the gauchos would wear.” “What do they wear now?” I ask him. “Gore-Tex anoraks,” he replies. He drives us around the sights of this little slice of Chilean Patagonia and the famous Torres del Paine National Park –


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NEED TO KNOW WHERE TO STAY

THE FALL GUYS: [left to right] Waterfalls at the Serrano glacier in Bernardo O’Higgins National Park; The Singular Hotel

It gets better. Camouflaged in a little grey crevice, I spot slippery, soft-skinned whiskered lumps – families of plump, snoozing sea lions that plop into the water every few minutes and lazily heave themselves back onto their ledges afterwards. Their home is deep in the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park – the largest and least-visited park in Chile, and the remote setting for the Serrano glacier. I clamber out of the boat, layer up, and trace the side of the water, where coloured poles mark how much the glacier has retreated,

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HOW GET THERE LATAM Airlines return fares between London and Puerto Natales (connecting in Santiago) start from £853 including taxes. latam.com Photographs by MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images; Diego Dicarlo

WE CALL THIS PRICKLY PLANT THE MOTHER-INLAW BUSH, BECAUSE IT’S SO SPIKY

and melted, over the decades. “This one,” Chen Chien tells me, pointing to a yellow stick some fifty metres from the base of the glacier, “is from 1969. The effects of Just like the Beatles.” climate change are Climate change all too clear on a woes aside, this is all visit to Patagonia – the distance the my GCSE Geography Seranno glacier has dreams come true. retreated over the Water trickles down decades is just one example of this. the milky-blue ice, which stretches far up into a cloud-shrouded mountain. It’s totally silent, aside from the distant sound of streams weaving their way down the rock, and waves sloshing at the huge chunks of ice that litter the glacier’s base. Over the next two days we tour the glacier fields – barren landscapes where high trees, low trees and prickly bushes (“We call this one the mother-in-law bush because it’s so spiky,” Chen Chien says) sit alongside deep blue lakes, grey, looming mountains and colourful, wooden bus stops. Yep, even the bus stops demand a picture. At one point we pull over for a photograph. It’s not a particularly incredible view, in comparison to what we’ve seen, but it’s a frame that sums up my time here: wild, windswept, dark and moody; low cloud and rain. Drama, drama and more drama. I watch Chen Chien as he looks out over his homeland. The bobble on his hat swings erratically in the vicious wind, and a small smile forms on his lips – it’s like he’s seeing this sight for the very first time. It makes me smile, too. e

You’ll be looking for a hotel as impressive as the surroundings – and The Singular Hotel, which sits minutes from Puerto Natales airport (gateway to this part of Patagonia), is a stellar pick, and smack-bang in the middle of the action. The now-luxe hotel once operated as a cold-storage plant in the 20th century, and nods to its history are dotted through the revamped hallways (from old factory machinery to a rickety old jetty that extends from the hotel grounds into the water). Expect James Bond vibes, minus the tux (if you’re not in hiking boots and a puffer then you’re doing Patagonia wrong). From The Singular, you can start your excursions with the brilliant Chen Chien to the glaciers of the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, to Torres del Paine, and the dramatic mountains and fjords that decorate this part of the world. Back at the hotel, warm up in the spa (you’ll be cold) or glug some Chilean wine by the huge fireplace. The best bit? The view from your bedroom. Yep, you don’t even need to leave your duvet to appreciate Patagonia. It might be a good idea if you did, though.


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EXPERIENCES

MUST TRI HARDER Looking for a beach holiday with a difference, Jon Hawkins and an unsuspecting mate take on a triathlon in Sardinia

Photograph by ###

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f I have to pinpoint the exact moment I realise things have got serious, this would be it. I’m sitting at a table in the restaurant of the Chia Laguna Resort, on the south coast of the Italian island of Sardinia, accompanied by a bottle of beer and a plate piled so high with food that it’s threatening to keel over and dispense a mixture of pasta, meat, fish, salad and more meat onto my lap. I’m quietly pleased with myself – quiet because I’m on a table for one, and pleased because I’ve just raided the buffet with all the restraint and finesse of a child let loose in the Woolworths pick-andmix section, and I’m about to shovel it all, very quickly, into my gob. But then I look up and around, and in the few minutes Positioned off the since I sat down west coast of Italy with the fruits of my – just south of the buffet raid (which island of Corsica and north of Tunisia contains no actual – Sardinia is the fruit, obviously) second largest the room has filled island in the Mediterranean Sea. with people, none of whom have beer or mountainous plates in front of them; many of whom are wearing branded sportswear and caps (indoors! imagine!); and all of whom have the wiry, muscular look of proper athletes. This is, unmistakably, a room full of function – food, clothes and bodies designed to do things (like fuel, or wick moisture, or run) rather than be things (like fashionable, lumpy or tasty). I shouldn’t be surprised, I suppose, because in two days almost everyone staying in the resort on this balmy Thursday evening in April will compete in the Chia

OTHER THAN A LONE SEAGULL, IT’S JUST ME AND A VAST SANDY BEACH 80

Laguna Half Triathlon, which is roughly twice the distance of a standard, Olympicdistance triathlon – or, to put it another way, half the distance of an Ironman. I’m racing, too, though I’ve drafted in my brother-in-law, Ross, to share the load – by which I mean he’ll take on the 1.9km sea swim, before handing over to me for the 90km bike leg, and he’ll then run the 21km half-marathon distance to the finish. As my sister put it a few weeks ago: “I can’t help thinking Ross drew the short straw here…” At this point, though, Ross is still in the UK, so it’s left for me to scope out the opposition and recce the course – and by “recce the course” I mean wander down


EXPERIENCES

Small luxury and authentic hotels THE ROAD TO RUIN: (from top) The coast road is tough but scenic; the turnaround point of the bike leg is near the dunes of Porto Pino

Photograph by Anna Tatti

to the beach and go for a quick swim, then cycle down the road for a bit to make sure I’ve managed to put my bike together properly after flying it over in bits. Chia is at the southernmost tip of the island, about an hour’s drive from the Sardinian capital, Cagliari, and it sits just back from the coast, separated from the sea by a lagoon with its own population of flamingos. It’s a short walk from my room to the beach, skirting the edge of the lagoon, and the scene that slowly emerges through the scrubby clumps of bushes is genuinely stunning. Other than a lone seagull, it’s just me, a vast stretch of white sand extending east towards a tower-topped headland, and ice-blue water lapping and fizzing gently at the shore. This isn’t the point at which Ross will start the race the following day – to get to that I follow a narrow path that winds west along the coastline past a rocky outcrop, until I’m spat out at a small beach where barriers are being put up and a few people in wetsuits are testing out the water. I have a quick dip (this is April, so it’s freezing) then head back to pick up my bike. The wind – as it’s apparently inclined to do round these parts – is whipping along the coastal road, while the mid-afternoon sun beats down on the tarmac. I follow the road west for a few winding, undulating kilometres before turning back, which is just far enough for me to get some idea of what we’ll be in for tomorrow. When Ross arrives later that afternoon, we have

just enough time to scope out the beach and drop my bike off in transition (that’s the area in a triathlon where competitors change between disciplines) so it’s ready for the start the following morning – even if the two of us aren’t.

Race Day It’s an early start and, after loading up on breakfast, we wander down to the beach, where the other competitors are beginning to gather for the start of the 1.9km swim around a course marked out by buoys. There’s barely a cloud in the sky, though it’s not yet warm and the wind has now turned yesterday’s glassy The flamingos of pool into a wild and Sardinia (there are wavy mess of bluey thousands of them) green foam. are pink, due to pigments found in As the first group the crustaceans in of athletes sets off their diet. Most are – those like us who found in the lagoons of the south. are doing the race as a relay are in the last group to go – we watch as the waves and a fearsomely strong current pull them out of line on the charge to the first buoy. Ross, now wetsuited up and waiting to be called to the start line, looks back at me with the wry grin of a condemned man. I stick around for a few minutes and watch him battle through the first few sets of waves, before I squeeze through the small crowd of spectators and find my bike in the transition zone. It’s conspicuous for being a regular road bike – most others are

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Tailor-made itineraries


EXPERIENCES

BREAKING BAD: Starting a 2km swim is tough enough without having to contend with heavy waves and strong ocean currents

aero-efficient monsters that, like their owners, are purpose-built to go fast – and I loiter alongside it while the lead athletes stream out of the water, squeeze out of their wetsuits, grab their bikes from the rack and set out on the bike leg. When Ross arrives he looks remarkably fresh (which is no small piece of luck, considering he’s still got a half marathon to run). He peels off the timing chip around his ankle and I strap it onto my own leg before haring out of transition and hopping onto the bike. My route is a classic out-and-back – it snakes along the hills overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea before cutting inland, reaching the turnaround point, and then retracing the same roads back to transition. It’s not exactly a conventional or a particularly relaxing way to see this part of the island, but it’s impossible not to be seduced by the epic coastal scenery. As lush hills and cliffs rise up from the turquoise sea, the road traces it – which means steep

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TRI IT YOURSELF The 2017 Chia Sardinia Triathlon 70.3 takes place on 23 April. Citalia has a seven-night trip to Sardinia, staying at the Chia Laguna Resort on a half-board basis from £835 per person – saving £386 per couple. The price includes seven nights in a Classic Cottage at the Hotel Village, return flights from London Stansted with easyJet. Based on departures 22 April 2017. For more info or to book: 012 9376 5066; citalia.com. Early bird race entry is €195 before 26 February. followyourpassion.it/ chiasardiniatriathlon_eng

Photograph by alecani 2013

MY LEGS START FEELING WOBBLY JUST AS THE STEEP CLIMBS LOOM

climbs that etch their way up wind-battered peaks before plunging down the other side. It’s hard work – and god knows it would be harder if I’d just done a 2km sea swim – but whizzing (or wheezing) past small harbour towns, and beaches The bike route in the that look like they’ve 2016 event featured been stolen from just under 1,000m of the Caribbean and climbing, much of it on the road that dropped into the hugs the coast. The Mediterranean, route for the 2017 softens the blow. event will be held on the same course. Once the route dives away from the coast things start to flatten out, and the sun that’s been gently bathing the landscape (and me) is beginning to warm things up a bit. I’m making good progress, though – passing some, being passed by others, trying to remember to throw the odd energy bar or gel into my fuel tank/mouth – and my legs feel surprisingly good. When I reach the turnaround point at Porto Pino, a little under an hour and half in, I’m actually looking forward to the second half of the ride and start identifying ‘targets’ to overtake further up the road ahead of me, which is all well and good until my legs suddenly start feeling wobbly, just as those steep climbs from the way out begin to loom on the horizon. I’ve ridden much further than this plenty of times before, but rarely have I ridden as fast as I can for more than 50 miles without pulling over for cake and a strong coffee at least once. It hurts. A lot. Not as much, it turns out, as running a half marathon in the baking, late-morning Sardinian sun. I hand over to Ross in transition and he’s looking relaxed, having

spent the past couple of hours chilling out in the hotel. Next time I see him, he’s making a decent pace but throwing cold water over himself and puffing out his cheeks. In fairness, he’s far from alone – there are some ragged-looking bodies out there by this point – but the crowds that have assembled to cheer on the competitors are doing their best to pull people around the course. Finally – five hours and 40 minutes after we set off, and more than an hour and a half after the winner rolled in – Ross crosses the finish line and I saunter over just in time to sheepishly grab my finisher’s medal. It’s hard not to feel a little guilty – after all, not only did I share the burden with someone else, but all I had to do was ride my bike along one of the most eye-poppingly gorgeous bits of coastline in Europe. Still, you’ll have to prise that medal out of my cold, dead hands. Maybe I’ll be back this year to do the whole shebang. Or maybe I’ll find some other mug to rope into it – which shouldn’t prove too tricky: tons of Italian food, balmy spring weather, breathtakingly pretty beaches, and just a little bit of temporary pain. What’s not to like about that? e


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Iran is fast becoming a hot destination for adventurous travellers. Laura Millar finds a much-misunderstood country that’s a fascinating mix of ancient and modern 85


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t’s Thursday night in Tehran, Iran’s teeming capital, and inside the Azari teahouse, one of the oldest in the city, the weekend – literally – starts here. Garrulous groups of friends and families are sitting, cross-legged, on raised divans lined with colourful carpets, crowding around tables groaning with food: freshly baked flatbreads, bunches of herbs, skewers of grilled lamb and chicken, whole crispy fish, and massive platters of rice studded with tart, ruby-coloured barberries. In the corner, a live band are playing, one musician beating on a daf, a drum which looks like large, flat tambourine, while another plucks at a setar, a long-necked, bulbous-bodied string instrument. People at a neighbouring table see us looking blankly at the menu, written in Farsi, and offer to help me and my travel companions navigate it in their impeccable English (well, better than our Farsi, anyway). The atmosphere is lively, and wreathed in fragrant smoke; like most teahouses in the country, shisha pipes are part of the furniture, and provide the equivalent hit of an after-dinner liqueur. We end the night stuffing our faces with sticky, honeycovered pastries, downing delicate glasses of strong, sweet tea, and smoking ourselves silly with apple, orange blossom, and blueberry flavoured tobacco. With this kind of sugar high, who needs booze, anyway? It’s my first proper night in a country which, before I arrived, I had only a hazy knowledge of. In the run up to my departure for a two-week group tour of Iran, I’m torn between excitement and curiosity, but also a good deal of apprehension and nerves.

This is a must-visit for fans of diamonds – the Iranian crown jewels are included in the collection, and they’re so valuable they back the Iranian national currency as a reserve.

Even if you’re welltravelled, Iran is properly ‘other’; with a controversial, and globally worrying, nuclear programme, it’s viewed as suspicious, closed, and secretive – or at least it has been, up until recently. A theocracy, it’s currently ruled by the Supreme Leader, a powerful Muslim cleric called Ali Khamenei. He assumed the role on the death of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who founded the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 after spearheading a bloody revolution which overthrew the ruling royal family, and what the religious minority feared were their increasingly decadent, oil-funded, pro-western ways. You can kind of understand why, when you see the deposed Shah, Mohammad Pahlavi’s, White Palace in Tehran – it’s rammed to the rafters with expensive European paintings and furniture – or the ridiculously OTT, Liberace-like, diamond and ruby-encrusted Peacock Throne which now sits in the capital’s National Jewellery Museum. Prior to 1979, the Shah took a relaxed approach to his country’s Muslim beliefs; women were not compelled to wear a hijab, and could wear ordinary, fashionable clothes. People were allowed to consume alcohol, go to nightclubs, and enjoy activities like swimming in pools or at beaches without men and women having to be segregated. No more. I grew up in the 1980s, when my impressions of Iran were largely steered

by programmes like the satirical Spitting Image, which featured the Ayatollah as a bushy-eyebrowed, mad mullah, locking horns with then-US president Ronald Reagan. Funny at the time, but how much of a sense of humour did Iran actually have in the aftermath of its revolution, which was followed by a traumatic, eight-year war with Iraq? What kind of people would I find there?

NEED TO KNOW You will need a visa to visit Iran. These can be obtained from the consulate in London. The visa application will generally be made via your tour operator, and you will then be provided with an authorisation code which you can use to apply for the visa. As this has to come from the embassy in Tehran, however, it can take several weeks, so it’s wise to book your trip as far in advance as possible. It is compulsory for all women to wear a hijab in public; this means covering your hair, and wearing loose-fitting clothing which reaches your wrists and ankles. Open sandals are allowed, but closed shoes are preferable. Men should wear long trousers although they can wear short sleeved shirts. Iran is a dry country. There is nowhere to buy alcohol, and it is forbidden to bring it into the country.

Photographs by (rugs) Aleksandar Todorovic; (spices) Westend61/Getty

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STRIKE A POSE: Laura Millar stands in front of the intricate tiles at Golestan Palace, Tehran; (below) spices and rugs at an Iranian bazaar


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Repressed and unhappy, or stoically going about their business? As it turned out, the people were perhaps the most amazing part of the whole journey. Over half of the country’s population of around 80 million are under 35, and have no experience of pre-revolutionary life, unlike their parents or grandparents. They are incredibly well-educated, articulate, and many speak English. My guide, Mohammad, is no exception; a laid-back 33 year old, he is endlessly knowledgeable, and, over the fortnight, gives our group a comprehensive – and well-balanced – overview of Iran’s often complex religious and political history. During a drive through Tehran, for example, he points out the old American embassy, which was shut down in 1979 and covered in anti-US graffiti, including a picture of the Statue of Liberty with a skull for a face. “Most people do not think like that now,” he explains – which reassures the two Americans in our party no end. But it doesn’t take long to see that people here are fascinated by visitors, wherever

CONTRARY TO WHAT THE MEDIA MIGHT INSINUATE, IRAN IS MORE PROGRESSIVE THAN YOU WOULD THINK

they’re from, and go out of their way to make you feel welcome. It’s not often that I’ve been moved to tears while wandering around a market (although the sight of the freshly decapitated goat heads for sale may have contributed to my emotional state), but at the buzzing bazaar in the small, elegant desert city of Yazd, our group was so mobbed by curious, delighted citizens eager to ask us for our impressions of Iran, welcome us to the country, and thank us for being there, that it felt a bit like being hailed as some kind of saint. Because of its In a way, we might remote location be; through various in the desert, the historical city of Yazd conversations with isn’t easy to access, people, I get the and has therefore sense they hope that remained largely the more tourists immune to the destruction of war. come and visit, the greater the chance that some of the rules might eventually be relaxed. Though, contrary to what the media might insinuate, the country is more progressive than you would think.

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GATED DEVELOPMENT: The imposing Gate of All Nations in the ancient city of Persepolis, the one-time ceremonial capital of Persia

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IRAN HAS 19 UNESCO HERITAGE SITES, MANY OF WHICH HARK BACK TO THE PERSIAN EMPIRE

Photograph by Tuul and Bruno Morandi/Alamy

Women are fully entitled to education – I observe a few mixed groups of students celebrating their graduation on the steps of the tomb of the 14th-century poet Hafez, in the vibrant university city of Shiraz, and meet several who have jobs as biologists, engineers and lawyers – and they are very conscious about how they look. This goes beyond fashion, Up to 40,000 though I absolutely cosmetic surgeries loved the way take place in Iran women, particularly each year, of which 60% are nose jobs. in the larger cities, The cost starts at push the boundaries more than five times of hijab to the the minimum Iranian monthly salary. limit. Colourful silk scarves are worn right at the back of the head, designer sunglasses propped up on top, teamed with slim, cigarette-style trousers and elegant belted jackets. The ultimate accessory is a strip of bandage across the bridge of the nose: this signals its wearer has had rhinoplasty, the most popular cosmetic surgery in Iran, which itself has the highest

rate of rhinoplasty in the world. As one woman sweetly explained, “We can’t show our beauty through our hair or clothes, so we do it through our face.” I confess I am surprised; the women here are beautiful as they are, but it’s a small rebellion, and a way of trying to be more western. Despite not having access to Facebook or Twitter, people do have Instagram, and while TV is largely state controlled, you can watch international films and shows. But while Iran’s status as a modern, potential power-player on the international stage is hopefully underway, thanks to the lifting of economic sanctions in January 2016, and due to its vast oil reserves and relative political stability (compared to most of the Middle East), it’s the country’s past that most visitors will be keen to explore. Iran is Pistachios are more overflowing with than just a snack history. It has 19 in Iran – they’re an Unesco heritage important traditional crop, mentioned in sites, many of which historical literature are centuries old and an essential and hark back to the element of all origins of the Persian celebratory feasts. Empire, which was established by Cyrus the Great in 550BC. The most famous of these is Persepolis; around 560 miles south of Tehran, it’s a sprawling, ancient city complex which was largely built by Cyrus’ successor, Darius I. An impressive, large-scale citadel, with a huge entrance gate, a central palace, vast terraces, elaborate columns, and more, unfortunately most of it was burned down in 330BC by Alexander the Great – as revenge for the burning of a Greek temple in Athens by Persian king, Xerxes. Whoops. Thankfully, plenty remains, which was successfully excavated in the 1930s. Arriving on a hot, dusty morning, having travelled along sandy desert roads lined with pistachio trees, we’re faced with hordes of tourists keen to use their selfie sticks. We pass through the imposing Gate of All Nations, its huge columns carved with creatures with the bodies of winged bulls and the heads of bearded men. Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of Persia, where Darius would receive his important visitors; Mohammad points out incredible carved bas-reliefs depicting Darius receiving gifts from foreign leaders. Although I’m nearly left behind, thanks to a friendly group of Iranian schoolgirls who want me to describe life in London when I should be boarding the coach, I make it to the nearby site of Naqsh-e Rustam, where Darius and


EXPERIENCES

SOCIAL SMOKING: Ladies smoking shisha at a teahouse in Isfahan, Iran’s cultural capital; (below) the Fin gardens at Kashan in Isfahan

three of his ancestors are buried in aweinspiring giant tombs, cut high into rock. Some history is more unusual; on the outskirts of Yazd, the first town we head to after Tehran, are the Game of Thronessounding Towers of Silence. These are two wide, flat, circular structures each built on a hill in the 17th century by the followers of the Zoroastrian religion. Zoroastrians believed when one of their members died, they should not be buried in the ground, in case the decomposing bodies contaminated it, but placed high up, in the open air, so that birds and other predators could consume the corpses’ flesh. “They only stopped doing this 40 years ago,” says Mohammad blithely, which is perhaps still a bit too recent… And, of course, you can’t go anywhere without encountering a fantastically tiled mosque. Around 95% of Iran’s Muslims

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GETTING THERE A 14-day Iran – Discover Persia small group trip with G Adventures is priced from £1,699pp. This includes all accommodation and breakfasts (allow £300 for meals not included), transportation, a local chief experience officer (CEO) throughout, plus most activities. Prices do not include flights. For more information or to book, call 0344 272 2040 or visit gadventures.co.uk. BA has recently launched a direct route from London to Tehran, from £384 return; see ba.com for details.

Photograph (shisha) by Tuul and Bruno Morandi/Alamy

YOUNG PEOPLE DO FIND WAYS TO HAVE FUN, AND HOUSE PARTIES ARE COMMON

are Shi’a (who believe that the prophet Muhammad appointed his son-in-law as his successor), the rest Sunni or Sufi. Regardless, they all pray in the same mosques, which are a tribute to the craftsmen who elaborately carved the lintels above their towering, arched doors, and painted the beautiful, clay tiles which cover their exteriors and interiors with graphic designs – often including quotes from the Koran – in turquoises and blues, whites and greens, yellows and pinks. One of my favourites is located in what swiftly becomes my favourite city in Iran: the Sheikh Lotfollah mosque in Isfahan, the country’s cultural capital. Inside, on the very top of its domed roof, there is a miniscule painting of the body of a peacock. When the light streams through the latticed windows at the bottom of the dome, and hits the top, it makes the shape of a tail. Clever. Situated on one side of Isfahan’s sprawling, pedestrianised main square, Meidan Emam (claimed to be second in size only to Tiananmen, Beijing, and formerly used as a polo field by past royal families – now used as a pitch for kickabouts by Beckham-mad teens), there are equally impressive buildings to be found. These include the Ali Qapu palace, which was built by Shah Abbas I in the 17th century. On the sixth floor is a beautiful music hall, where musicians would play; the walls are carved with the shapes of instruments, which helped with acoustics, as well as providing decoration. The square is lined by the city’s bazaar, in whose cool, stone cloisters I spend several happy hours browsing the endless stores peddling saffron and other spices; elegant

miniature scenes from Persia’s past painted on camel bone with a cats’ hair paintbrush; colourful ceramic plates; silver jewellery; and, of course, the ubiquitous Persian carpets. These can cost several thousand pounds, due to the time it takes to make one (sometimes over three years) and the sheer skill involved in weaving them. That evening, we stop by one of Isfahan’s many bridges, Si-o-seh pol, which is atmospherically illuminated. Groups of people are picnicking in the heat (temperatures in May/June reach around 35°C by day, and stay at around 20°C at night), good naturedly offering to share their snacks or tea with us. As Mohammad explains, “this is what people do for recreation at night as there are no bars or clubs any more.” Despite that, young people do find ways to have fun, he confides. House parties are common, often gloriously unsupervised by parents, and, while sex before marriage is illegal, it can, and does happen, and in bigger cities, like Tehran and Shiraz, despite it being frowned upon, more and more couples The bazaar in co-habit before Isfahan is one of the marriage. oldest and largest in I really hope the Middle East, and dates back to the things do change 17th century – the here. This is a first stone was magnificent, beautiful actually laid on the site in 1603. country, a land of gardens and fountains, pomegranates and pistachios, art and artistry. It deserves to be seen, and heard. Their people are reaching out to us – and we should reach out back. e


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AFTER THE OIL Aberdeen’s oil-boom years are coming to an end. Can a new era of garden sheds, chocolate-cheese toasties and giant painted doughnuts save the day? Rob Crossan finds out 92


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knew guys who had two Aston Martins on their driveway and were earning £300,000 a year in their 20s. I guess when you see things like that, you know it can’t last forever.” So muses Allen Watson as we sit amid shelves packed high with vintage paperbacks as the watery sun bleeds in through the windows of the Books and Beans cafe in central Aberdeen. “Don’t get me wrong, the oil companies weren’t all bad,” adds Sally Reaper from SMART, a local arts agency that works with artists such as Watson on events, shows and installations all around the ‘Granite City’, which stands Expect a varied aloof and alone on selection of the broad shoulder galleries, ranging of Scotland’s rugged from the large and traditional northeast coast. Aberdeen Art Gallery “But the money’s to independents just not there like contemporary Gallery Heinzel. anymore. Oil ran this place for 40 years. Now it’s time for the cultural sector to step up to the mark. We need to show that there’s energy beyond the energy.” Aberdeen is the Gore-Tex jacket of British cities; always practical, sometimes pricey, and seemingly able to withstand punishing climates of both the economic and meteorological kind. Just as the Gulf oil-states of Dubai and Qatar have had to deal with a nose dive in oil prices, so Aberdeen’s reserves out in the turbulent North Sea have plummeted in value over the last three years. Yet it’s difficult to see any ostensible economic woes in these parts. Unlike the skeletons of unfinished building projects that litter the Gulf States, there’s a resilient calm to Aberdeen’s chocolateorange coloured sandy beaches, its retro amusement parks and the vista of silvery granite buildings which seem to have a smothering effect on noise levels. As clouds that are shaped like Zeppelins scud across the Highland skies, it can be hard to see where the pale grey of the stout buildings ends and the mackerel carpet of the endless sky begins. Noir-ish at times, with the scratchy squall of seagulls providing a constant soundtrack, the vibe at first glance on a rainy day doesn’t exactly entice. Yet, wandering the side streets away from the monochrome main drag of Union Street, vibrant colour rudely and wonderfully emerges. A giant pink grinning doughnut garishly stands, painted on top of a door in a tiny

19th-century square known as The Green. Trippy, lurid and looking like something that could grace a Funkadelic album sleeve, this is one of an ever-expanding set of painted doors that have been created by Aberdeenbased artists around the city. Mary Butterworth, the curator of the project and an artist herself, takes me on the painted door trail which takes in images including cosmic bears, baobab trees and her own Edward Hopper-esque door painting of a Hitchcock-like figure standing aloof in the shadows. “A lot of artists and creative people were leaving Aberdeen because the cost of living was so high,” she tells me. “But this is probably the only place in Britain where rents are actually going down at the moment. I would say this of course because I don’t work in the oil industry but I really do think that there’s a huge opportunity here to move beyond us being a city that’s generally only known for one thing.” Perhaps painted doors aren’t going to revive Aberdeen single-handedly. But the sheer array of small gallery spaces, cafés and bars that ooze imagination is the clearest sign possible that something beyond black gold is now being unearthed in this part of the world.

OIL RAN ABERDEEN FOR 40 YEARS. NOW IT’S TIME FOR THE CULTURAL SECTOR TO STEP UP TO THE MARK 93


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CREATIVE HUB: [left to right] One of the ramshackle sheds that Footdee is known for; the area is made up of quaint, narrow streets

I spend an entire day discovering these oft-hidden spots, such as the glass and steel perch overlooking the harbour that is Silver Darling, a temple to piscine pleasures that serves up the likes of locally sourced scallops with black pudding and chorizo and rock turbot with pine nuts. And from here to Soda and Rye, a modish steak joint with locally sourced Aberdeen Angus rib-eye steaks plus the unlikely yet utterly tremendous-tasting starter option of a haggis and goat’s cheese spring roll.

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full of vegetables; come even the merest sliver of sunshine and it seems the entire community pours out of these pint-sized cottages, easels, spades and laptops in hand, to sit outside painting, typing and chatting about everything from the best cheese toastie in town (the chocolate fondue with mascarpone variety at Melt on Holburn Street is the clear winner) to the waning fortunes of the football club, which Sir Alex Ferguson managed before disappearing to obscurity somewhere in Manchester. “I prefer to think of Aberdeen as a matron with a naughty side,” concludes Mary as we stroll along the margarinecoloured sands late in the day as the sea laps and slurps onto the pillow-soft shore. “It looks very proper and prim at first. But look again and you might just see a hint of stocking and suspender underneath.” e

GETTING THERE For more info on visiting Aberdeen go to visitabdn.com. Doubles at the Carmelite Hotel (carmelitehotels.com) start from £75 including a buffet breakfast. ScotRail run sleeper trains from London Euston to Aberdeen with returns from £80. For more information, see sleeper.scot

Photographs by (main) John Eccles/Alamy; (lamps) Simon Price/Alamy

WHEN THE SUN SHINES IN FOOTDEE THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY COMES OUT TO SOCIALISE

The Carmelite Hotel is another example of how the city is fast having to evolve beyond the corporate oil dollars, which, until a couple of years ago, Footdee is an old led to the city having fishing village chain hotel rooms and a protected going for £300 plus a conservation area. The current layout night, and rental rates dates back to 1809, for flats that were however references on a par with both to the area date as London and Paris. far back as 1398. With the plush velvet aesthetics of a Malmaison but with infinitely more character plus a hint of Elvis-era ‘70s Vegas thrown in, this is a hotel that shouldn’t work but does, mainly due to its gargantuan suites, which come with extras ranging from football tables to circular baths. Downstairs hosts live jazz on weekends and a Waltzer table which revolves like a giant lazy Susan and stands next to a complimentary popcorn machine. But Aberdeen’s most alluring living art project is one that doesn’t often appear in the burgeoning tourist literature. Footdee (pronounced ‘fittie’), lying at one end of Aberdeen beach, is a quite astonishing time capsule; a network of narrow car-less streets lined with miniscule ancient stone fisherman’s bungalows, wrought iron street lamps and, standing opposite each house, a gloriously ramshackle collection of garden sheds; each one a testament to the painters and artists who have recently flocked here. Overflowing pot plants, murals of lighthouses, ceramic busts, wheelbarrows


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ANIMAL MAGIC Photograph by Philippe-Alexandre Photograph Chevallier by ###

From toucans in Costa Rica to bears in Greece, take a walk on the wild side with a wildlife-spotting adventure Words by Tom Powell 97


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iss spending your Sunday evenings lounging on the sofa in front of Planet Earth II? You’re not the only one. Luckily, we spent Christmas putting together this list of allaction wildlife adventures. From the birds of Blighty to those iguanas in the Galápagos, it’s a wild, wild world out there, folks.

Stalk snow leopards in northern India We hate to break it to you, but Himalayan blue sheep aren’t actually blue – snow leopards aren’t made of snow either (we know, it’s all a lie, right?). One thing we do know is that David Sonam and his crack team of wildlife This volcanic archiexperts had a 100% pelago is considered record of seeing both one of the world’s on tours in 2016 – and best places for wildlife watching, even if you don’t see and the Galápagos the elusive critters, marine iguana is the you’ve got the only marine lizard in the entire world. Himalayas to gawp at

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instead. That should do just nicely. Steppes Travel offers 13-day tours from £3,595pp, steppestravel.co.uk

Dive the reefs and wrecks of Palau What’s better than two weeks islandhopping on a luxurious live-aboard diving boat? We’d wager you didn’t expect us to say donning your snorkel and flippers and leaping headfirst into a lake full of jellyfish, but that’s how it goes on the Pacific island of Palau, which is home to the world’s largest population of sting-free jellyfish. Further afield in open, coral-filled waters, there are more than 1,500 species of fish, and some of the world’s spookiest second world war wrecks. Basically, it’s a diver’s paradise. Dive Worldwide offers 14-night tours from £4,825, diveworldwide.com

Keep it luxe in the Galápagos Giant tortoises… flamingos… iguanas… er, penguins? With views this varied it can only be the Galápagos. So, if you’re going to haul your guts across the planet to the

ON A TOUR OF THE ARCTIC YOU’LL SET YOUR SIGHTS ON REINDEERS, ARCTIC FOXES AND POLAR BEARS


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IN ICELAND, BE SURE TO KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED FOR HUMPBACKS, ORCAS AND DOLPHINS the world-famous volcanic isles. Jasmine Holidays offers four-night stays with flights from £1,620, jasmineholidays.co.uk

OUT IN THE COLD: Head to the Himalayas for the chance to spot a snow leopard

world’s greatest wildlife paradise, you might as well live it a little luxe, too. Iguana Crossing, a boutique eco-hotel on Isabela, the archipelago’s largest isle, brings ocean panoramas and fine dining as an added bonus to all that nature spotting you’ll be doing around the mangroves and calderas of

Chill with the animals of the Arctic

Go tropical in Costa Rica

Setting sail from the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and stopping for snowy highlights all the way to Reykjavik, on this two-week tour you’ll set your sights on reindeers, Arctic foxes and polar bears on land, before heading for the hot springs of Iceland. Eyes peeled for humpbacks, orcas and dolphins along the way – as well as the hardiest northern locals the Norwegian side of Yorkshire. Just make sure that you remember to pack your gloves.

If you’re always staring at pictures of Costa Rica’s lush greenery and turtle-filled seas and thinking toucan play at that game (sorry not sorry), it’s probably about time you hopped on this adventure. By day you’ll be throwing yourself straight into the country’s teeming rainforests and mountain paths in search of tropical birds, sloths and monkeys (loads and loads of them). Meanwhile, by night you’ll be kipping in plush hotels and eco-lodges. Absolute bliss.

G Adventures offers 15-day tours from £3,999,

Exodus Travels offers 16-day tours from £2,515 (including flights), exodus.co.uk

gadventures.co.uk

Photograph by All Canada Photos / Alamy

CREATURE COMFORTS: (clockwise from top) A hummingbird and sloth in Costa Rica; Palau is famed for its diving and jellyfish population; a polar bear in the Arctic

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THE STEAM AGE: (clockwise) Yellowstone; grand Teton; bison roam in Yellowstone; a Greek bear rides his imaginary bicycle

Walk the US west Why hike one US National Park when you can have, er, three? Skipping inland from Seattle, you’ll take in grizzly bears, wolverines and lynxes in Glacier, go hunting for wolves and buffalo in Yellowstone and, well, have to settle for elk, moose and bison in the peaks of Grand Teton. When you’re

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Grand American Adventures offers 12-day tours from £1,692, grandamericanadventures.com

Track brown bears in Greece Greece – famous for ancient history, great food, and now the highest population of bears in western and southern Europe. Just because you heard Greece’s wolf it here first doesn’t population stands mean it’s not true: on at about 700 , and this whistlestop hikethey’re legally protected. Like the tour of the country’s bears, they may not northern mountains, be easy to spot at you’ll track wolves, first but perseverance pays off. lynxes and the big, cuddly blighters using thermal imaging and motion-activated cameras. Even better, you’ll get dropped in Thessaloniki on your way back – perfect for that post-bear city fix. Responsible Travel offers five-day tours from £516, responsibletravel.com

Scour the coasts of western Ireland Rent a car at Shannon airport and bump your way along the rugged coast to the picturesque fishing village of Carrigaholt to see dolphins, seals and the occasional killer whale by boat (in Ireland?! We know). Along the way you can stop to hike the hillsides

Photograph by Hilpert Jörg; Armin Riegler

TRACK WOLVES, LYNXES AND BEARS USING THERMAL IMAGING CAMERAS

not wildlife watching, you’ll be surrounded by the best views in the US of A. Hard life.


Reef & Rainforest

Travel With The Wildlife Experts

Big Cat Encounters for over 25 Years Tailor-Made Itineraries and Small Groups JAGUAR: 100% success rate in the Brazil’s Pantanal “An amazing realisation of a dream to see a jaguar. We followed her moving along the river bank and then saw her swimming across it!”

TIGER: See the largest cat in India’s less busy tiger reserves . “There was one very up close

and personal encounter, with the tiger walking straight past us. I took a photograph of her as she passed – the full frame photograph is of one ear!”

PUMA: Track the elusive cat in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park.

LION: Encounter the last of Asia’s lions in Gujarat, India.

“Our tracker outdid himself Pumas every day from the very afternoon we arrived!”

“What a magnificent specimen, our guide was able to point out the differences compared to an African lion: a mane that grows only halfway round his head, and much paler fur.”

LEOPARD: Sri Lanka is by far the best location for the Asian leopard.

CHEETAH: A thrilling addition to any African safari.

“We watched a female leopard and three cubs for 1.5 hrs of exceptional viewing.”

“An outstanding itinerary, which delivered all we expected and more: 5 leopard, 13 cheetah, 20+ lions”

www.reefandrainforest.co.uk Tel: 01803 866965


EXPERIENCES

INTO THE WILD: (this pic) An elephant in Ngorongoro, Tanzania; (below left) Entamanu Ngorongoro; (below right) the Cliffs of Moher

for horned goats and traditional pubs with live Irish music. Alternatively, take the hour’s scenic drive to the Cliffs of Moher for Ireland’s richest array of seabirds (there’s more than 60,000 of them from May to July), including the country’s largest colony of puffins. And when you’re not busying yourself with all that, you’ll be in country pub heaven. Guinness time!

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Go on safari in Tanzania Going on safari means bouncing across the savannah with a truckload of other tourists, right? Wrong. Book in to Entamanu

These distinctive birds are recognisable thanks to their bright feet and beaks, but in winter they shed their colourful bills in favour of something more understated.

Ngorongoro for a new experience. With outrageous views of the Ngorongoro crater and the plains of the southern Serengeti, Nomad’s new lodgings in Entamanu, Tanzania, allow you to soak up the sights (that’s hundreds of flamingos, giraffes, elephants, rhinos and the world’s largest concentration of mammals, by the way) from the blissful beauty of one of the most unique, eco-friendly safari lodges in the world. One hell of a room with a view. e Rooms from £529pn, nomad-tanzania.com; Kenya Airways offers flights to Kilimanjaro from £452 return, kenya-airways.com

Photograph (top) by Alamy; (middle) by nomad-tanzania.com

SOAK UP THE SIGHTS FROM THE BLISSFUL BEAUTY OF A UNIQUE, ECO-FRIENDLY SAFARI LODGE

Dolphinwatch offers boat trips from £22, dolphinwatch.ie; Cliffs of Moher adult entry £5, cliffsofmoher.ie; Ryanair offers return flights to Shannon from £30. ryanair.com


Travel Insurance with you in mind Travel insurance designed by travellers Up to £10M medical expenses Available for UK/EU Citizens if you’re already abroad Cover for cameras and gadgets available Extreme sports and activities covered, including trekking and winter sports

Get a quote

truetraveller.com or call 0333 999 3140


IN SID E R ’S GUID E

wondertrunk & co. THE TOP 10 PLACES TO SEE IN JAPAN THIS YEAR

Travel agents and travel media who want to connect with local regions of Japan should get in touch by emailing: info@wondertrunk.co; for more information go to wondertrunk.co/en

wondertrunk & co. is a Destination Producing Company. Its mission is to turn local regions in Japan into global travel destinations, with support from travel creators all over the world.

Photograph by Ben Simmons Photography Inc/Getty Images

J A P A N

I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H

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KERAMA, Okinawa


INSIDER’S G UIDE

IN ASSOCIATION WITH WONDERTRUNK & CO

SHONAI, Yamagata

T O K YO SETOUCHI Area

KOSHU, Yamanashi

Japanese travel isn’t just about Tokyo and Kyoto, as wondertrunk & co.’s Top 10 places to visit in Japan in 2017 proves. Each one’s been selected by a local influencer, from the head of a top creative agency to a scuba diver…

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SETOUCHI AREA HAKUBA, NAGANO KERAMA, OKINAWA SHONAI, YAMAGATA KOSHU, YAMANASHI BEST OF THE REST

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JAPAN

S ETO U CHI: THE MO S T B E A U T I FU L J A PAN ESE ARC HIP EL A GO

1 RECOMMENDED BY: Taichi Sugiura, CEO and Founder of creative agency Cinra Inc

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Photograph by (TOP) METI, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License; (FAR LEFT) Hiroshima Prefecture/JNTO; (LEFT) Yayoi Kusama ‘Pumpkin’/Shigeo Anzai

“There are so many small islands in the Setouchi region, and the views of sunrise and sunset are a real Japanese treasure. The weather’s great, and these days young people and visitors from overseas are increasing. For art, Naoshima and Teshima are great, while you can touch Japanese history at the Itsukushima temple, or relax in the hot springs at Dogo – there’s an appeal you can’t find in Tokyo or Kyoto. Speaking to local elderly people is a great experience for travellers, and I’d also strongly recommend the Teshima art museum. It’s my favourite art gallery – I can stay there for many hours, and the landscapes surrounding it are so beautiful.” Getting there: Sugiura is 80 mins from Tokyo by plane or 1 hour from Osaka by Shinkansen. setouchifinder.com/en


INSIDER’S G UIDE

IN ASSOCIATION WITH WONDERTRUNK & CO

2 RECOMMENDED BY: Asami Shishido, CEO and Creative Director of entertainment website Qetic Inc “If you never got the chance to see Hakuba’s outstandingly beautiful scenery, including the stunning Northern Alps, your life would be boring. You can’t help but feel the weight of the history and culture in this mountainous region, but you’ll also find many outdoor activities to enjoy whether you visit in winter or summer. Easy to reach from both Kanto and Kansai, Hakuba’s an unmissable part of your stay in Japan.” Getting there: Hakuba is 4 hours from Tokyo Shinjyuku by Expressway Bus. hakubavalley.com

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JAPAN

K ERA MASHOTO N AT IO NAL PARK: O K INAWA’ S HIDDEN G E M

3 RECOMMENDED BY: Scuba diver Yukiko Tonai

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Photograph by (MAIN LEFT) OCVB; (TOP LEFT, FAR LEFT, LEFT) Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan

“With its beautiful emerald green oceans, I fell in love with Kerama on my first visit to its incredible coral reefs, teeming with brightly coloured fish. When I first dived at Zamami island, which is one of the Kerama Islands group, I was so excited. The stars there are also really beautiful at night – you can see the Milky Way and shooting stars so clearly.” Getting there: To get to the Kerama Islands, it’s a 3 hour flight from Tokyo to Naha, then a 1 hour ferry trip. en.okinawastory.jp


INSIDER’S G UIDE

IN ASSOCIATION WITH WONDERTRUNK & CO

S H O NAI: THE LAN D O F RE B IRTH AN D HOM E O F THE SH U GEN DO R E L I GI O N 4 RECOMMENDED BY: Kenichi Katsukawa, Editor at publishing house Shufunotomo Co “Dewa Sanzan in the Shonai area is a center for Shugendo, a religion rooted in mountain worship which blends Buddhist and Shinto traditions. Shugendo practitioners, called yamabushi, train in the mountains and waterfalls – surprisingly, anyone can experience three days of yamabushi training. Dewa Sanzan is also home to four star-rated locations in the Michelin Green Guide, including the cedar-lined path of 2,446 stone steps up Mount Haguro, and the oldest pagoda in Tohoku: the Five-Story pagoda. The area offers true ‘journeys of rebirth’, that connect you with nature and faith.” Getting there: Shonai is 1 hour from Tokyo by plane, or 4 hours from Tokyo by train. mokkedano.net/kirakira/ english/index.html

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JAPAN

K OS H U : WINE TOU R I S M I N T H E H OME OF THE K OSH U G R A P E

RECOMMENDED BY:

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Tomoyuki Iwashita, CEO and Travel Marketer at i Communicate Inc

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Photograph by (MAIN LEFT, FAR LEFT, LEFT) Takayuki Oki; (MIDDLE LEFT) Kenichi Shimura; (TOP MIDDLE RIGHT) Kanazawa City; (BOTTOM RIGHT) Wakayama Prefecture/©JNTO; (FAR BOTTOM RIGHT) Kyushu/©JNTO

“Yamanashi prefecture, located next to Tokyo, is well known as the ‘Fruit Kingdom’ of Japan. If you’re a grape lover, you’ll be astonished by the wide variation in grape varieties and the natural beauty of the scenery. These grapes are not just for eating – they’re also well known for producing high-quality wine. Yamanashi has its own variety of grape called koshu, which gives a mild sweetness to the wine. You can go to local wineries of different sizes and styles – I’d strongly recommend visiting small, local wine producers, which are the only places where you can experience rare, locally consumed wines in the area.” Getting there: Koshu is 1.5 hours from Tokyo Shinjyuku by Express Train. winetourism.jp


INSIDER’S G UIDE

IN ASSOCIATION WITH WONDERTRUNK & CO

THE B EST OF THE R ES T

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Towada-Hachimanti, Akita & Aomori

Kanazawa, Ishikawa

Go in autumn, when the colours of the forest are reflected on the surface of the mirror-like lake – you’ll forget to breathe in front of this burning red world. The best time to go is towards the end of October, and don’t forget to catch the incredible sunrises. Getting there: Towada-Hachimanti is around 3 hours from Tokyo by air or by road.

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Travellers who have already been to Tokyo and Kyoto should make Kanazawa next on their list. It’s a creative, ancient city filled with a mixture of old and new – we recommend visiting in October when the fish is particularly delicious, but there’s something to enjoy whenever you visit. Getting there: Kanazawa is around 2.5 hours from Tokyo by Shinkansen

Koyasan, Wakayama Koyasan is one of the most mysterious places in Japan, where time flows differently to the real world, and sharpens the senses of visitors. There are 117 temples in the basin of this mountainous area and you can stay overnight in half of them; it’s a place to experience both religious ceremony and great Japanese vegetarian food. Getting there: Koyasan is 1.5 hours from Osaka by train.

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Takayama & Shirakawago, Gifu Takayama is one of Japan’s most traditional cities. This photo is from Shirakawa-go, which was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995. With its traditional gasshodukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old, this historic and beautiful place will make you feel as though you’ve been transported to another age. Getting there: Takayama is 6 hours from Tokyo by train and bus.

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Northern Kyushu, Pottery Route

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Arita, Imari, Hasami, Karatsu… there are so many different kinds of ceramics in Northern Kyushu, and they’re popular not only in Asia but also Europe and the United States. It’s best to rent a car and start in Fukuoka city then drive around to see potteries, oceans and mountains. You can visit hot springs there, too. Getting there: Fukuoka is around 2 hours from Tokyo by plane.

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CHECKLIST

CHECKLIST

Check out that red hand – it turns a full circle in 58 seconds then stops at 12 o’clock for the black minute marker to move on. Just like an old clock, but on your wrist…

Photograph by David Harrison

114 GUYS 116 GIRLS 119 GEAR 130  REAR VIEW

TIME WARP: For an old-school look with some modern tech, Mondaine’s stop2go watch is our pick. Expect an easy-to-read watch (because let’s face it, that stuff’s hard), with bonus good looks and reliable Swiss efficiency. £470. mondaine.com

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CHECKLIST ★   GU YS  ★ Trimmed with hi-vis reflective piping and finished in a stretchy, water-repellent fabric, Spoke’s Bulletproof chinos perform as well on the bike as they will in the hotel bar.

THE SPORTS-CASUAL VACANCY If you’re looking to do more than wander aimlessly through endless museums on your next city break, you’ll need gear that can keep pace with you. This lot should do nicely.

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2. NEW BALANCE, 580 ReEngineered in jacquard, £90. Retro kicks with a spotty twist. newbalance.co.uk

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3. KING APPAREL, Granite midline hoodie, £79.99. This tech-fleece hoodie comes with an integrated balaclava that doubles as a snood. Standard. king-apparel.com 4. FINISTERRE, Delos shirt, £110. Versatile shirt in heavyweight cotton – perfect

for adventures in both the city and the great outdoors. finisterre.com 5. HUEZ, Wink Wink T-shirt in coral, £25. Everyone’ll be tickled pink and starry eyed when you rock up in this cheeky number. Nudge nudge, wink wink. huez.co.uk

Photograph by ###

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1. POLICE, Blackbird One in grey mother of pearl, £100.95. Stop, Police! It’s an ‘80s sunglasses emergency! policelifestyle.com


CHECKLIST

6. LUMO, Herne Hill Harrington, £250. A British style icon that doubles as a city cycling jacket for twowheeled travels. lumo.cc 7. DENON, AH-GC20, £249. Block out the bore in the seat next to you with these noisecancelling cans. denon.co.uk 8. GREY HOURS, Vision Carbon, £240. A DLC coating and sapphire crystal mean this watch can take serious knocks. greyhours.com

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9 SPOKE, Bulletproof trousers in olive, £129. Water-repellent chinos for smart city cycling. spoke-london.com

4 MORE TRAVEL INSPIRATION AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM

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PhotographPhotograph by David Harrison by ###

7 Lumo’s Harrington looks like a regular jacket but packs some neat features for cyclists. There are LEDs on the front and back, a dropped hem, plus water- and stain-repellent fabric.

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1 CHEAP MONDAY, Haze Knit sweater, £45. A chunky yet stylish fit combines to create a jumper you can lob on with jeans. cheapmonday.com

★  G I RLS ★

2. HALLHUBER, Crop coat with box pleat, £199. A 1970s-inspired pea coat in ‘cognac’ shade, cos we love the stuff. hallhuber.com

CITY SLICKER If a beach break isn’t on the cards for a while, you might want to sort yourself a city jaunt instead. Of course, you’ll need some clothes, and what better than this lot of gear?

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Specilaising in watches and glasses, Komono has the cool, stylish and well-priced accessories game sorted. We’ll take one in each colour, thanks very much.

PhotographPhotograph by David Harrison by ###

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CHECKLIST

3. BELL & FOX, Bucket bag, £225. The adjustable strap means you can wear this bag any way you like. Within reason. bellandfox.com

5. OBEY WOMEN, Sundays straight leg jean, £65. Made for Sundays, apparently, although we’re into them every day. obeyclothing.com

7. ELLIOT RHODES, burgundy printed leather belt, £95. Complete with gold buckle, it’ll hold up your jeans, and then some. elliotrhodes.com

9. KONOMO, Vivien sunglasses, £69.95. Bleary eyed and hungover on your city break? Perk your face up with these. komono.com

4. ERIC BOMPARD, Bouquet square scarf, £190. 70% silk, 30% cashmere and 100% niiiiice. Flower to the people. eric-bompard.com

6. MARSHALL, Major II White headphones, £79. Looks + durability + sound quality. marshallheadphones. com

8. OBEY WOMEN, crewneck sweater, £60. A handy sweater for when you’re just a little bit cold. obeyclothing.com

10. JONES BOOTMAKER, Opinion boots, £60. Go from day to night and stomp around town in these suede boots. jonesbootmaker.com

Wool? Nah. Try a silk and cashmere number from Eric Bompard instead. And if the floral print’s not your vibe, there’s plenty more abstract designs to choose from.

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MORE TRAVEL INSPIRATION AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM

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COMPETITION

SLOPE STYLE

Heading to the mountains this season? We’ve got good news: one lucky winner will be walking away with £500 of Salomon kit courtesy of Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports

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he experts at Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports have over 80 years of experience in kitting people out for travels and adventures across the seasons and the globe. So whether you’re skiing, snowboarding, climbing, trekking, camping or backpacking, you’ll get the advice you need and the gear to help you on your way. From humble beginnings with just one shop, to a nationwide chain of 17 stores (including One New Change, Kensington High St, Covent Garden and Westfield Stratford), Ellis Brigham remains a familyowned and -run business, staffed by enthusiasts brimming with experience. So how do you know you’re getting the right advice? All staff are passionate about the outdoors – a passion that is the lifeblood of the company. This enthusiasm is developed through hands-on training, including ski testing in the Tirol, hiking, trail running and navigation in Snowdonia, and climbing and scrambling in the Cairngorms. Plus, they

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enjoy rigorous brand-led instore training which keeps everyone up to date with the latest product features and technologies. And it’s a great winter to buy in Britain, as most snow sports brands held their preBrexit UK prices so the drop in sterling has made them substantially cheaper at Ellis Brigham than from a European retailer. For this competition, Ellis Brigham has teamed up with another expert in its field – Salomon. Born in the French Alps in 1947, they continually design, test and produce clothing and equipment to help you progress in the mountains. To be in with a chance of winning £500 of Salomon gear from Ellis Brigham, simply head to escmag.co/ellisbrigham and answer this easy question: How many stores does Ellis Brigham have? ◆ ellis-brigham.com; salomon.com

SALOMON QST RANGE Salomon’s QST range is equipment and clothing designed for skiers who spend 80% or more of their time descending big lines, chasing powder and 20% of their time exploring new terrain outside lift access. The products deliver performance in every terrain, from inside the resort to deep in the backcountry, so skiers can excel no matter what playground they’re taking on.


CHECKLIST

★  G EAR ★

GET ON THE CASE

MORE TRAVEL INSPIRATION AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM

Ditch the duffel bag, it’s time to glide around the airport like the stealth machine you actually are.

This seriously durable case from Tumi comes in at just under 6kg, with a roomy 35 litres-worth of storage. Razz it around the streets, or just stroke it.

PhotographPhotograph by David Harrison by ###

1. TUMI, Continental carry-on, £795. Nothing says ‘James Bond in tour’ like a super-sexy aluminum wheelie suitcase. Maybe. uk.tumi.com

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MODERN SKIWEAR FOR THE RETRO SOUL

WWW.RETROMOUNTAIN.COM


CHECKLIST

CHECKLIST

WE GOT YOUR BACK Not all backpacks can handle the mountains – in fact, you’ll need one packed with technical features, like an avalanche safety pocket. Safe hands, indeed.

What you’re probably (definitely) looking for is a backpack that you can attach your skis too. Step up Osprey’s Kamber 32, also available in snazzy red or blue.

00 GUYS 00 GIRLS 00 GEAR 00  REAR VIEW

Photograph by David Harrison

1. OSPREY, Kamber 32, £120. GENDIPIC: torpostibus aut molut faccaeped Not idunt just any old backpack, quisti duntior atembut resciisciam enissuntinti sintia a backpack that’s been deni undes et pro to quas et voluptam del id designed to perform in the maximporia quae conestrum ut eum dolorror mod toughest mountain conditions. quiae pratae

Take it skiing, basically. ospreyeurope.com

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Down the Isle

Whether you’re looking for a beautiful beach stop off on a round-the-world tour, or fancy tying the knot in paradise, the Cook Islands is the perfect place to make great memories

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ith miles of pristine beaches, unparalleled Polynesian hospitality and authentic, locally-run resorts, the Cook Islands are a beautiful destination for a secluded escape that oozes pure relaxation. Whether you’re stopping off for a sun-filled fix, searching for a pocket of paradise on a round-the-world trip, or planning the perfect wedding, easy access from LA and Auckland means the Cook Islands have got you covered. Imagine tying the knot on a luxurious, remote island in the South Pacific, surrounded by white sand, blue sky and turquoise seas. In the Cook Islands you can, and unlike in other destinations, the entire ceremony can be completed on the beach. Beyond the carefree legalities, when you plan your wedding with Travel Nation, you won’t need to worry about a thing – with your boat

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transfers, ceremony, celebrant, bridal bouquet, string band entertainment and an all important bottle of bubbly included, all you need to do is relax, celebrate and have a day to remember. From the paradise beaches of Rarotonga to the unique One Foot Island, an uninhabited island that sits in middle of the picture-perfect Aitutaki lagoon, the Cook Islands possess some of the most amazing places for incredible weddings. And what’s even better is that you’ll already be in paradise for your honeymoon. ◆

To start planning a Cook Islands wedding or holiday, contact Travel Nation, specialists in South Pacific travel. Call today on 01273 838 268 or visit: travelnation.co.uk/cookislands

The Big Deal Travel Nation are offering a 16-day wedding holiday to the Cook Islands from just £3,285pp.


COMPETITION

KEEP IT REAL

LocalBini offers unique travel experiences that connect travellers with remarkable locals, and one lucky pair of readers will win an experience of their own in Paris

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s important as the destination may be, most seasoned travellers will tell you that it’s the people and experiences that really make a holiday special. And now there’s a smart and simple way to find amazing people and brilliant experiences on your travels in an instant. LocalBini is an Experience Marketplace that helps turn a good trip into an extraordinary one, by connecting travellers with locals offering incredible, one-of-akind experiences. Looking for a unique shopping trip? Take a tour of Paris’s secret boutiques – with a hot chocolate stop off – alongside a gemologist and designer. Want a dose of history and culture that keeps you fit at the same time? Join a career coach and serial jogger for a running tour of the sights of the French capital. Using LocalBini’s iPhone and Andriod app, you can book unique experiences that help you get away from the tourist trail and see a destination through the eyes of passionate, experienced and remarkable locals (known as BiniGuides). Starting in Paris and Zurich – and soon to extend to London and Rome – LocalBini is a refreshing

and modern antidote to the generic, standardised tours you might be used to. We’ve teamed up with LocalBini to give one pair of readers the chance to win a trip to Paris – LocalBini will get you both there, put you up for two nights and treat you to one of three amazing experiences. You’ll be able to choose from a tour of the city’s Gothic sights that finishes with a night of music at a monastery-turned-jazz-bar, led by a local jazz pianist; an Instagram-lover’s trip around edgy, bohemian North East Paris with a photographer; and a canalside walk in trendy Saint Martin, finished off with delicious cakes at the guide’s favourite gluten-free boulangerie. Whichever LocalBini experience you choose, it’s guaranteed to be unique and unforgettable – and it will open your eyes to a side of Paris you never knew existed. ◆ To find out more about LocalBini, and download the app to your device, go to localbini.com

HOW TO WIN Fancy discovering a different side to the French capital for a change? We’ve teamed up with LocalBini to offer one lucky winner and a guest a trip to Paris, including transport, accommodation and a LocalBini Experience. To enter, and for full terms and conditions, head to escmag.co/localbini.

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

One of a Kind

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

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

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

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


P ROMOTI ON

Old-school Cool Looking for a fresh take on the beaches of the Maldives? Finolhu combines fun pool parties, laid-back bar vibes and some of the coolest retro-inspired interiors going

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or a refreshing and fun break in the Maldives, Finolhu, a newly opened resort inspired by classic travel chic is just the ticket. Set within the UNESCO biosphere reserve of the Baa Atoll, Finolhu combines cool design with chilled-out ambience and adventure. With 125 villas scattered by the ocean, lagoons and beaches, Finolhu’s spectacular setting is tough to beat. Stroll the 1.8kmlong sandspit, or relax in your room – each one is kitted out with quirky, fresh interiors, vintage-style Marshall speakers and sumptuous bathrooms stocked with soothing all-natural products from Neal’s Yard Remedies. When you’re not relaxing by your private pool, or on a pristine sweep of beach, try Finolhu’s incredible restaurant selection – from the Fish and Crab Shack, the island’s laid-back beach hut, and Milk Bar, a tuck shop packed with everything from smoothies to brownies. Then there’s modern Cantonese cuisine at

Kanusan, a colourful fine-dining venue with sweeping Indian Ocean views, and the beachside North African Baahaa Grill. At Finolhu you can expect world-class entertainment and the best beach parties in the Maldives. The Baa Baa Beach Club is where it all starts, and it's here that you can try your hand at old-school arcade games, sit back with a cocktail, or make most of the weekly pool party. You can also expect Full Moon tribal sandbar parties, plus one-off events along with music and theatre performances throughout the year. Relax afterwards with a session at the Cove Club – a space for massage, medication and chilling, where each of the 10 chandelier-lit treatment rooms celebrates an iconic diva from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Elsewhere at Finolhu, there’s plenty to keep you occupied, from hardcore kickboxing sessions to fast-paced watersports. Your beach break has never looked so good. ◆

Travel Details Virgin Holidays offers seven nights at Finolhu Maldives from £2,997pp, including scheduled Qatar Airways flights from London Heathrow, ‘full board plus’ accommodation and seaplane transfers, as well US$1,800 resort credit per room per stay. Visit virginholidays.co.uk or call. 0344 557 3859. Price is based on two sharing a lagoon villa, with travel from May – September 2017 and subject to availability. Terms apply.

Visit finolhu.com; @finolhumv #MyBeachClubHaven

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COMPETITION

TO PARADISE

We’ve teamed up with Paradis Plage Surf, Yoga & Spa Resort to offer you and a friend the chance to win a relaxing, sun-drenched break in south-west Morocco

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f winter’s got you craving sunshine, surf and supreme relaxation, you’re in luck. This month we’ve teamed up with the luxurious Paradis Plage Surf Yoga & Spa Resort in Agadir, Morocco, to offer you the chance to win a four-night stay with an activity package that includes one surfing lesson, one yoga lesson and a sumptuous treatment at the resort’s spa.

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Travelling with a friend, you’ll head a long way from the tourist hotspots of Agadir to the resort’s five kilometres of undisturbed sand and turquoise sea. There, you’ll be able to balance an all-action, expertly taught watersports break with some serious chill in the unfettered bliss of a three hectare oasis on some of North Africa’s most scenic coast. Whether you’re riding Morocco’s finest surf spots, liberating your senses with a sunrise yoga session or simply pampering your tired body with a traditional hammam treatment at the resort’s luxurious spa, Paradis Plage is the perfect sanctuary for travellers looking to kick back, relax and leave all their troubles behind in the UK. ◆ For more information visit paradisplage.com, facebook.com/paradisplageagadir, @paradisplage

HOW TO WIN For your chance to win four-night stay for two at Paradis Plage Surf Yoga & Spa Resort, head to escmag.co/comps and answer a simple question. The prize also includes one surf lesson, one yoga lesson and a treatment at the resort’s Paradise spa. See the full T&Cs online.


P ROMOTI ON

First Port of Cool With fascinating culture and action-packed adventures all year round, Portimão in the Algarve is the perfect base for beach breaks and active escapes in Southern Portugal

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hink of the Algarve and beautiful whitesand beaches, sensational Portuguese cuisine and temperate year-round sun are probably the first things that spring to mind. In many ways that’s right, but with vibrant cultural history and tons of amazing activities, the seaside town of Portimão offers far more than just a sun-soaked beach break. Whether you’re a golfer, thrill seeker or nature lover, there’s always something exciting to do in Portimão. With top-class golf courses, a skydiving centre and an incredible underwater world to dive straight into, you’ll never have to just kick back and relax on the beach – not unless you want to, of course. Heading out of town, nature lovers can hike or bike around the region’s incredible nature trails, taking in the breathtaking birdlife of the gorgeous Alvor Estuary and some of the most incredible clifftop views in the Algarve. Meanwhile, if you’re more culture lover than

adrenaline junkie, you can trade in the highoctane action for the rich heritage of Southern Portugal. Starting your day in Portimão’s museums and art galleries, you can explore the town’s fascinating history before wandering among beautiful chapels and the Megalithic Monuments of Alcalar in the afternoon. When you get peckish, in the cool waterfront restaurants of Alvor and Praia Da Rocha you’ll find some of Portugal’s greatest gastronomy and finest fresh fish perfectly paired with a refreshing glass of Portimão wine. Then, when the sun sets, the city comes to life. With countless bustling bars, lively clubs and even more amazing eateries all across the city, you’re sure to have a night to remember. With fantastic food, incredible culture and amazing adventures, Portimão in the Algarve is the perfect destination all year round. ◆

GOLFER, THRILL SEEKER OR NATURE LOVER – THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING EXCITING TO DO IN PORTIMÃO

For more information, head to visitportimao.com email info@visitportimao.com or call +351 282402481

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© Pascal Tournaire

VILLARD RECULAS ALPE D’HUEZ GRAND SKI AREA, FRENCH ALPS

A successful winter holiday, only 3 hours away from London...

Visit us at www.villard-reculas.com and start booking online! In the heart of the Alpe d’Huez Grand Ski Area, Villard Reculas is a resort where you can find everything you need for a successful winter holiday. We offer a choice of ski accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes. In this ski resort, both skiers & snowboarders will appreciate the beautiful panoramic views of the summits from the Oisans. Villard Reculas is ideally situated for a quiet skiing & snowboarding holiday with fast, easy access to one of the largest and most sought after ski areas in Europe.

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ESSE NTI ALS

+ To advertise in this section please call 020 7819 9999

Maps International If your New Year resolution is to travel more, this Scratch the World Poster from Mapsinternational.co.uk is the answer. It is perfect for recording your travels around the Globe and for planning where to go next. Maps International has a great range of other travel inspired maps available; just visit our website for some inspiration. W: mapsinternational.co.uk/travel

Château Rieutort Château Rieutort – 18th century elegant wine estate situated in the south of France, in the Languedoc. 5 B&B suites, 6 self catering gites, 2 swimming pools, 2,5ha park, 30 ha of vineyards, extraordinary wines. Go alone or with a group but make your next holiday legendary!

Luxurious catered chalet holidays in exclusive St Martin de Belleville stay@whitemountain-chalets.com

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W: chateau-rieutort.fr

+44 1626 895082

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REAR VIEW

AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW The rich-blue hue of the Doublet Pool in Yellowstone National Park, US makes it a magnet for photographers. That, and the fact that it’s constantly steaming thanks to a temperature of around 90°C. While it’s clearly not one to take a dip in, then, it is certainly worth a visit – beneath the hazy surface, there’s a complex series of ledges, and occasionally the water vibrates and thumps. It’s not being temperamental – it’s thanks to collapsing gas and steam bubbles deep underground. e

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Photograph by Radius Images/Alamy

IN HOT WATER


WINTER LIKE THIS

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel


WORLD-CLASS SKIING JUST HOURS AFTER LANDING In Alberta, the slopes of the Canadian Rockies have the legendary, airy powder revered by skiers and boarders world wide. Sample four distinct mountain resorts - it’s up to you to find your favourite. Après-ski, unwind in the lodge, rejuvenate in a natural hot spring, then hit the night spots with your new best friends. Fly WestJet direct to Calgary from London Gatwick Visit westjet.com/yycwinter for details

Sunshine Village Ski & Snowboard Resort

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Escapism - 36 - Luxury Travel  

Escapism Magazine - Issue 36 - Luxury Travel

Escapism - 36 - Luxury Travel  

Escapism Magazine - Issue 36 - Luxury Travel