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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.
f there’s one thing everyone on the escapism team has in common – apart from the obligatory matching hats our boss forces us all to wear – it’s a love of music that borders on the obsessional in some cases. Since that’s pretty much exactly how we feel about travel, you might imagine that sometimes the two things might meet. And you’d be right. In fact, right at this very moment one of our number is following some ageing rocker (Bryan Adams, I think) around Australia. Admittedly, that kind of intensely music-focused travel is a relative rarity for most of us – more often than not, if you love music and travel, the relationship between the two is simply a case of listening to stuff when you’re on holiday. I compulsively pipe music into my ears, whether I’m in that half-awake-on-a-budget-airline, red-eyed state of wooziness or half-buried in the sand on a beach. I’m a magpie; I listen to a bit of anything and everything, though I’m also a horrible music snob so you can add the caveat ‘except most things’ to that description. This issue, we speak to Pixie Lott about her love of travel [p32], and it turns out she’s a lot like us (except for the whole ‘number ones, doubleplatinum and gold albums, marrying a model’ thing). She uses her incessant globetrotting to check out new music; her latest find is grizzled soul man Charles Bradley). Sound familiar? Get in touch with us @escapismmag and tell us what you’ve been listening to on your travels. We’re all ears. e @escapismmag escapismmagazine
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What's happening in travel, from sailing in Indonesia to chic Greek hotels, and why you need to visit Hull, right now
We've hit the hills and highways of the USA for the greatest breaks in the States, and much, much more besides
Looking good takes some serious hard work. Luckily we've put in the effort for you. Plus: The Intrepid Series
12 . Photography 18 . Just Landed 23 . Tried & Tested 26 . Short Stay 28 . In Focus: Hull 32 . Pixie Lott
46 . The best US getaways Your guide to the best stateside escapes 58 . Northern Colorado, USA Brews and views in the centennial state 65 . Rome, Italy Eat your way around the city in a Fiat 500 72 . Gstaad, Switzerland Glitz and glamour at the iconic ski resort 78 . Kobe, Japan A beefy look at one of Japan's hidden gems 85 . Málaga, Spain Blending city and ski on the Spanish coast 90 . Bordeaux, France Bike France's most famous wine region 97 . All-action adventures Active escapes to make Bruce Willis proud
105 . Top new gear 115 . The Intrepid Series: Grand Canyon Going Rim to Rim in under 24 hours
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Every special edition watch generates ÂŁ36 for the volunteer teams who keep us safe on hills and trails. For authorised stockists, visit www.elliotbrownwatches.com Model shown: Canford 202-012 Mountain Rescue Special Edition on black NATO webbing strap; ÂŁ360. Boxed set also includes fitted black leather deployant strap, two screwdrivers, and commemorative insert.
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HULL OR HIGH WATER: It may not be top of many people’s must-see lists, but the Northeast city of Hull is undergoing something of a renaissance. We find out where to go and what to do in the 2017 UK Capital of Culture. Spoiler: beer features heavily. [p28]
12 PHOTOGRAPHY 18 JUST LANDED 23 ON LOCATION 25 WORLD NEWS 26 SHORT STAY 28 UK FOCUS: HULL 32 PIXIE LOTT
Photograph by ###
FRAMED IN THE PICTURE The winners of this yearâ€™s Outdoor Photographer of the Year are in and, as usual, the shots showcase the most outrageous adventurers in the world
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STALAG-MIGHTY: Never mind just trying to survive the chillier-than-chilly winters of Alberta, Canada, photographer Kirsten Quist decided the -30ยบC backcountry was perfect for a quick pic of her mate maxing in the coldest fire pit on Earth. After using her own body heat to get a malfunctioning camera working, the award winner managed to snap this.
Photograph by ###
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GODLY VIEWS: On the final night of the religious festival of Qoyllur Ritiâ€™i in Peru, huge bands of Ukuku pilgrims head up to the 5,600m summit of the nearby glaciers for initiation rituals. Night owl Christopher Roche joined them on their daring dawn descent.
Photograph by ###
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HOLM SWEET HOLM: Having driven miles and miles of Norwegian back roads in search of the perfect shot, photographer Pete Hyde finally settled on this serene fjord scene in Holm. Check out more shots by the rest of the winners at escmag.co/opoty or pick up a copy of the book, Outdoor Photographer of the Year: Portfolio II , published by Ammonite Press, for ÂŁ25 from 7 March 2017. opoty.co.uk
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JUST LANDED WHAT’S NEW IN TRAVEL
TIME TO FLY SOUTH FOR THE WINTER For a gritty seaside city, complete with a side of bouillabaisse, make the most of Easyjet’s newly launched flights to the French city of Marseille. Cram your weekend with an 8am visit to the port to jostle with the fishermen, and sample the region’s best craft beers at Fietje Cave à Bières, home to ten draft choices and loadsa bottles. The city is famous for its savon de Marseille soap, but make sure you get the real deal from the vendors on the edge of the cool, Panier old town district. From £22.99 one way, easyjet.com
THOUGHTFUL TRAVEL If you’re anything like us, you’ve added a vague ‘charity work’ note to your list of 2017 goals (what? You don’t have one?). Step forward sustainable development charity Raleigh International, which has added environmental projects to its Tanzania programme. So along
with trekking through the staggeringly beautiful Southern Highlands of Tanzania, you’ll get a chance to play your part in the country’s reforestation programme, creating tree nurseries, planting trees and working with local communities to raise awareness of the issue of deforestation. Targets for eight-week expeditions are £2,100, raleighinternational.org
Photograph (Marseille) by Steve Lorillere
Looking for a weekend escape without spending hours in grid-locked motorway traffic? Us too. So check out boutique inn the Shepherd House, Kent, which has just unveiled a new suite to add to its three existing bedrooms, all of which sit in a restored Georgian townhouse in Faversham, a quaint market town near Whitstable. From £140 a night. shepherdhouse-faversham.com
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
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GREEK BOUTIQUE Trend-conscious travellers don’t have to splash thousands on the latest design hotel. In fact, they – or you – can laze on pristine beaches, surrounded by some pretty cool laid-back interiors, thanks to Thomas Cook, who are unveiling a second hotel in their Casa Cook portfolio on the Greek island of Kos. This isn’t budget-looking stuff, there’s more rattan, crumpled linen and stripped wood than you can possibly handle, but it combines to create a really quite lovely boutique feel for a very reasonable price. From £525pp per week on a B&B basis, departing from London Stansted. casacook.com
DIP INTO JAPAN Japan is famous for its sushi, its sake and its… er… robots, but how much do your know about its onsens? A new six-day onsen tour from Walk Japan will help you explore the Oita Prefecture, taking in the best of the region’s hot springs – the highest concentration in the country – by walking forest paths, countryside lanes and remote gravel tracks. Your reward is a soothing bath in warm waters, which range from fizzy and clear to pungent and murky. And relax… £2,350pp for six days. More info at walkjapan.com
Photographs by (Japan) Sean Pavone/Alamy; (Casa Cook) Georg Roske
Ready for festival season? Nor are we. But this year we do know we won’t be making the same mistake as Glasto ‘08 (flooded tent, you know the deal). Instead, we’re enlisting the help of Quirky Campers and its fleet of converted vans, which have been transformed from white-van-manmobiles into cosy, hippie rides. See the new additions at quirkycampers.co.uk
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TRIED & TESTED Still on the gym train? Chuck these into your bag
AVEDA SHAMPURE DRY SHAMPOO, £22.50 (56G)
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Guy Ritchie adds yet another twist to Arthurian legend by filming ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ in north Wales #05 SNOWDONIA, WALES
Photographs by (Tryfan) James Osmond/Alamy; (Jude Law) Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy
Forget Glastonbury and Tintagel – everyone knows that if you’re searching for the real heartland of the legendary King Arthur, you’ll find it hiding in the misty mountains of north Wales – at least that’s what Guy Ritchie’s new addition to English folklore (of the Arthurian variety, that is) would have you believe. Admittedly, when you explore the
LEGEND HAS IT: [top] The terrain of Tryfan provides a rugged backdrop for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword; [above] Jude Law as Vortigern
peaks and lowlands of Snowdonia National Park, you’re not exactly likely to get yourself embroiled in a backstabbing saga to rival Shakespeare, Tolstoy or, er, Stewie Griffin, but they save that stuff for the movies anyway. What you’ll probably find is tons of rugged country, scenic coastline and quaint mountain villages. Take yourself on a hiking tour around Nant Gwynant and you won’t find the decrepit ruins of a towering medieval city – they were added with CGI and sleight of hand in the film’s swanky studios in Watford, but that doesn’t mean the astounding vistas of the movie’s set are any less gorgeous in real life. Standing atop the cannon of Tryfan with the wind blowing back your hair, you’ll have likely never felt so regal (or taken in views so princely). Just don’t get Ritchie to cut your holiday film unless you fancy watching MORE TRAVEL STORIES AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM it in gritty HD. e
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Long, lazy days spent quaffing rum cocktails are a quintessential part of many a Caribbean holiday, but if you can’t quite fund a trip all the way to Barbados, recreate the scene at home
on’t have the funds to take a holiday to the Caribbean this year? Don’t worry, sunshine, because luckily, we have just the tipple to drown your sorrows and recreate that chilled-out reggae beach bar vibe from the comfort of your living room sofa. The Virgin Holiday Spirit is a new rum blend created by, you guessed it, Virgin Holidays. It’s not a case of lobbing any old flavours into a bottle, though – oh no. The holiday company enlisted the help of IBM’s Watson, the world’s most intelligent supercomputer, to analyse the emotions of 15 million joyous holidaymakers via the posts on their social media accounts while they were on holiday. The emotions were then matched to thousands of flavour
profile descriptions often used in rum to determine the key ingredients of the new blend. Following all of this, a rum expert then came on board to create a recipe that captures both our happy holiday emotions and the spirit of the Caribbean. Confused? Well there isn’t a flavour associated with that. But there is one for curious (that’s cinnamon), happy (vanilla), excited (sugarcane), adventurous (all spice) and relaxed (coconut). No flavour mixes for #horny, #harassed or #runoutofbooks have been included in the mix. Shame, that. The Virgin Holiday Spirit is available to buy from V-Room retail stores nationwide at £59 a bottle. We’ve had a swig and it’s 500% better than real-life Barbados. Maybe. Either way, it’s certainly a lot cheaper. e
IN THE MIX: The Virgin Holiday Spirit is a clever blend that’s inspired by holidaymakers’ emotions
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Next best thing to seeing street art from around the world for real? When it’s turned into pretty Instagram posts of course
There’s more paint used in Detroit per square metre than any other city in the US – fact. Follow this account for some of the city’s best hidden murals, and take a graf tour if you ever visit (which you def should).
The word graffiti actually comes from the Greek work graphi, meaning ‘to write’. Messages and pictures have been carved onto walls for centuries – now graffiti is a vehicle for political expression via art.
Banksy may just be the most famous person to emerge from Bristol. Well, in street-art terms, at least. The city’s art scene continues to evolve – check it out on this account, or you could head down the M4 instead.
SHORT STAY BARSHAM BARNS, NORFOLK
For a few days exploring the sights and seaside of North Norfolk, the self-catering Barsham Barns make the perfect base. Jon Hawkins hires the Loose Box and gets ready for some serious loafing What's the score?
Smack-bang in the middle of North Norfolk, you'll find Barsham Barns – a collection of beautiful self-catering (you guessed it) barns, each restored and architectpolished to create an ideal haven for small to big groups. We stayed in the Loose Box, which sleeps four in comfort, space and style (whoever designed it clearly knows their way around a Farrow & Ball colour chart), and used it as a leaping-off point for a weekend exploring this stunning (and underrated) part of the world. That being said, we'd forgive you if you decided to kick back and relax – the well-equipped barns share a small spa, and the surrounding fields and farms are great for short strolls.
Unless you've got very specific needs, it's hard to imagine there's much you'd want that the Loose Box doesn't have. Formerly a smithy and a stable, this L-shaped little outhouse has an open-plan main living room-diner-kitchen at its centre, with a room (plus bathroom) at either end. There's a small utility room with washer/dryer, too, ideal for longer stays (or after muddy walks). In its decent-sized courtyard there's a BBQ and outdoor furniture, perfect for a lazy cook-up on a balmy summer day. Though it looks authentically ancient with its pastel shutters and exposed beams, don't expect throwback creature comforts – there's free wifi, underfloor heating and a TV and entertainment system that'll keep everyone happy when you just fancy loafing.
All the barns have decent-sized kitchens, which makes them ideal for families or big groups (not to mention big groups of families). All the big supermarkets will deliver there if you don't have time (or
The Loose Box was formerly a smithy and a stable
THE LOOSE BOX ADDRESS LOWER FARM BARNS, NORTH BARSHAM, WALSINGHAM, NORFOLK
PRICE 3 NIGHTS IN LOOSE BOX FROM £455 GETTING THERE IT'S EASIEST TO DRIVE –
ALLOW AT LEAST 3 HOURS FROM LONDON INFO BARSHAMBARNS.CO.UK; 013 2882 1744
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HOMES AWAY FROM HOME If there’s a roof and walls, you can pretty much stay in it… Here’s some of the UK’s best alternative self-catered stays
TROSSACHS YURTS, STIRLING
BARN TO RUN: (clockwise from main) The roomy living, dining and cooking area; one of the two rooms in the Loose Box; the BBQ-ready courtyard
can't be bothered) to bring your own food and drink, and the Loose Box has a BBQ in the courtyard if the weather's playing ball. If you'd rather get someone else to do the hard work, the owners of the barns have teamed up with a We recommend local chef to offer checking out the catering services. Victoria Inn – a When you're out and smart but ancient pub located right about you'll have opposite the no trouble finding entrance to stunning decent pubs to eat in, Holkham Beach and its nature reserve. and you'll be supplied with a list of the best of them (along with local delis, butchers, fishmongers, farm shops and supermarkets) in your accommodation.
Photograph by Andy Scott Photography
This is Alan Partridge country ("I can't give you the Spice Girls, but why don't you take the afternoon off and go to Hunstanton Spice Museum?"), which is either going to make you laugh, make you expect the worst from the area, or make you go 'Who? What?' Either way, it's hard not to be charmed by North Norfolk, from its wild and windswept beaches (like Holkham and Cromer) to its quaint – and achingly-middle-class – villages and towns (Burnham Market; Wellsnext-the-Sea). Norwich, the county town, is packed with shops, restaurants and pubs, and it's also home to Colman's (of mustard fame). If that weren't reason enough to hit the sausage rolls hard (and load them up with the hot and yellow stuff), we don't know what is. e
Made from local materials and located on an organic farm, these mega-tents allow you to get back to nature without getting, ya know, muddy and stuff. Each has a wood-burning oven and a barbecue, and accommodates up to four. From £98 per night canopyandstars.com
SEABANK RAILWAY CARRIAGES, SELSEY Stay in these four converted 19th century railway carriages, and you and seven others can basically take over an entire train for the weekend. Even better, you’ll be staying right on the beach. First class. From £425 per week; oneoffplaces.co.uk
THE GOTHIC CHURCH, SOMERSET From the outside, this church looks pretty standard, but step inside and you'll find a supersleek space that sleeps up to 21 people. There‘s even a hot tub (though not for all 21 of you). That‘s some Sunday service… From £1,080 per night; airbnb.co.uk
FIND MORE PLACES TO STAY AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM
IN FOCUS HULL
HULLRAISER It may have had a bad rep in the past, but – having been awarded City of Culture status for 2017 – there’s never been a better time to visit Hull. Tom Powell rounds up its best bits Do Get your bearings by moseying around the Larkin Trail to explore the favourite haunts of Hull’s most famous export, Philip Larkin. You’ll take in the pubs, the pier and, bizarrely, the poet’s oft-frequented Marks & Spencer on Whitefriargate – the perfect way to see the new City of Culture in a swoop. Next, spend an evening at the Hull Truck Theatre, whose award-winning company
Eat If there’s one thing we know about east Yorkshire, it’s that you’re never far from
CENTRE STAGE: [clockwise from here] Freedom Festival is one of Hull’s many cultural attractions; Furley & Co; head for dinner at Shoot the Bull
flock-filled fields and fresh fish, so when you go out fine dining you’re pretty much guaranteed to chow down on unique British fare. Make your number one stop off 1884 Dock Street Kitchen, where you can start with goat’s cheese from the Dales or crab from the North Sea, then go on with Yorkshire-bred beef or Hartlepool monkfish served with fancy little piles of seasonal veg grown in the fields nearby. For similar ideas and exquisitely executed pub grub, try out the year-long pop-up Shoot the Bull at The Old House, where chef Chris Harrison has set-up shop for 2017, serving grub with a level of culinary expertise that he picked up while working at The Fat Duck. His speciality? Yorkshire-reared wagyu beef pies, burgers, steaks and stews. Yep, we’re sold.
Photographs by (Freedom) Thomas Arran; (Furley) Tom Adamson
is probably the city’s best known cultural export after Larkin himself. The speciality is on-point contemporary theatre, but it’s also a must for niche cinema and kids’ stuff, too. Similarly arty is Früit, a converted warehouse venue down by the riverside in the old fruit market (hence the name). They play host to regular music, comedy, cinema, monthly street food markets and Hull’s huge quarterly record fair. For even more artiness, head to the recently renovated Hull’s record fair is Ferens Art Gallery one of the largest on the city’s fancy in the North, and if central square near you’re a fan of vinyl, try and combine Princes Quay and your trip with when the city hall. The it’s on – there are nine-gallery artspace usually thousands of records to browse. spans European art from the 15th century to the present day, taking in the likes of Canaletto, Francis Bacon and David Hockney. Opposite, there’s the tridentrailinged Hull Maritime Museum – perfect for a fix of the city’s fish-filled history. Meanwhile, if you’re more theatre of dreams than studio theatre you can take advantage of the cheapest ticket price in top-flight football at the KCOM Stadium, which is about 20 minutes’ walk out of town to the west of the station. Some fixtures offer prices as low as £9 (and there’ll probably be some goals, too).
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Alternatively – for a final dish of farmto-table cooking with some bonus spice, try the newly opened Tapasya @ Marina (hint: it’s located by the marina) for high-end Indian cuisine, East-meets-West afternoon teas and next-level chef’s table tuck. On the other hand, if you’re the sort to spend an afternoon in one of the city’s many classic boozers (there are absolutely loads of ancient alehouses dotted throughout Hull’s bustling Old Town), you might just fancy a carb Hull’s Old Town isn’t overload to redress just a pretty maze of the balance. Rest cobbled lanes – it’s assured – you’re in apparently where the English Civil War the right place. Pretty was plotted. You can much all the chippies also visit the former will serve up the city home of William Wilberforce. speciality, the Hull
Seek out a fish and chip shop and order the city’s speciality, the Hull Pattie – discs of deep-fried mashed potato
Pattie (that’s fluffy mash deep-fried and often served with chips, by the way), but we’d particularly recommend Bob Carver’s in Trinity Wharf for classic, no-frills frying.
Drink The city’s quaint yet bustling old town is full of incredible antique pubs. While The George Hotel is the oldest and The Minerva boasts the smallest pub room in the country, the punters love WM Hawkes, an unassuming two-room Dickensian watering hole opposite Shoot the Bull on Scale Lane. With ten real ales available and cricket ballsized scotch eggs on sale at the bar for a couple of quid, we love it too. If you don’t fancy the dimly lit charm of a classic Northern boozer, make your way to Head of Steam. About five minutes’
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walk away by the church, this place specialises in beer and cocktails – hell it even does beer cocktails (we’re talking Chambord and Erdinger) – making it the perfect place for liquid lunches, nightcaps and big evening sessions. And with more than 40 different varieties of the hoppy stuff on the menu, There’s actually an you’re bound to love official ‘Ale Trail’ at least one of them. that you can follow If your old around the old town, which takes in all of town pub hop fast the best of the area’s turns into a bit of pubs. Some date a crawl (and we back as far as 1337. See hullaletrail.co.uk don’t blame you,
Vintage outfitters Poorboy will sort you out for shabby chic garms from flannel shirts and cord skirts to sheepskin overcoats that’ll have you looking like a hipster John Motson (perfect for that afternoon up at the KCOM). Also ideal for thrift drifters are Beasleys and Chinese Laundry, where you can sate your every urge for a retro splurge in a single amble across old town. Crate diggers, meanwhile, will delight in Hull’s record scene – the stalwart is Funkywormhole, which takes charge of the city’s funk, soul and dance scene (they even serve coffee in-store to help you browse), but other shops like nearby Spin It and Disc Discovery on Spring Bank are packed to the gunwales with gems to put on your slab, if you’re prepared to delve through their extensive collections a little.
Stay As far as city-centre boltholes go, you’ve got all of the chain stays you could ever need, but the Mercure Hull Royal offers the best stay on a budget and it’s seconds from the
station if you’re dropping in late on a Friday. Alternatively, rest your head in one of the many homestays available throughout the city on Airbnb, where you can find a little boutique elegance slap bang in the centre of all the sights and sounds of the city. Finally, if you’ve got wheels – take a half-hour’s drive and make a beeline over the Humber Bridge to the idyllic village of Great Limber, where you’ll find The New Inn – a Georgian coach house that comes complete with roll-top baths, country-house interiors and easy access to the secluded North Lincolnshire Wolds (officially an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) nearby. e
GETTING THERE Virgin trains offers tickets to Hull from £15 single. See virgintrains.co.uk for more information or to book tickets.
Photographs by (Princes Quay) SpecialistStoc/REX/Shutterstock; (aerial) Octovision Media; (marina) Neil Holmes
with pint prices close to a refreshing three quid), make your way to Furley & Co – an artisan coffee shop-cum-craft-beertap-room opposite Princes Quay. There, you’ll find an ever-rolling beer festival (involving 17 rotating guest kegs and six ciders) balanced with locally roasted joe and outrageous ice-cream-and-doughnuttopped milkshakes. Sweet.
Wound up? Wind down.
Bath. Feel Good.
*96% of visitors surveyed agreed that “Bath makes me feel more relaxed.”
INTERVIEW PIXIE LOTT
THE WORLD AT HER FEET FIND MORE TRAVEL INSPIRATION AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM
Succeeding as an international pop star isn’t just a path to fame and fortune: it’s a one-way ticket to exploring the world, and all under the guise of ‘work’. Isn’t it? Musician and presenter Pixie Lott shares her travel tales, tips and secrets…
D E PA R T U R E S
When we were in Jamaica we went rafting on the Martha Brae river on a handmade raft – it was so beautiful this year, and has recently become engaged to model Oliver Cheshire. The couple travel together regularly, and are often spotted at fashion shows all around the world – most recently in Paris and Milan. Their joint adventures see them journey further afield too, to the likes of Palm Springs, Greece and – most recently – Jamaica. It’s not all luxurious holidays, though, and many of Lott’s travels are strictly work-related, recording and writing in the US. With a broad, varied spectrum of travel experience, we thought the musician would be well positioned to offer some advice, and asked her to share some of her highlights from around the world so far. What we didn’t manage to find out is how to bag yourself a model fiancé, though. Sorry…
W Photograph (Pixie Lott) by Carsten Windhorst/ FRPAP.com; (NYC) Sean Pavone/Alamy
hen your job takes you all around the world, it goes without saying that you amass a lot of travel knowledge. Or at least, that’s true for Pixie Lott, the 26-year-old, Bromley-born pop star who first topped the UK charts at the age of 18 and has pretty much been a permanent fixture on the radio and in the press ever since. Unsurprisingly, Lott’s success since her first number one in 2009 has taken her from her roots in the outskirts of London to all corners of the globe, exploring new countries and cultures, whether it’s been for video shoots, songwriting and recording, or holidays. There’s even been the odd Monte Carlo yacht party with Justin Bieber. Closer to home, the Strictly runner-up is set to be a coach on The Voice Kids UK later
LIVING THE DREAM: [above] Pixie at Sandals Royal Caribbean Spa Resort; [below]: Lott loves NYC
I’m a sucker for a souvenir During our recent holiday in Jamaica we went rafting on the Martha Brae river on a handmade raft – it No-frills, traditional, was such a cool casual dining is the experience and so order of the day beautiful. Our guide at Scotchies. This Jamaican miniwas telling us all chain is well worth about the area and seeking out for local how he made his raft dishes gilled over pimento tree wood. himself, and I ended up buying loads of his handiwork as souvenirs. Afterwards, we checked out a really great little shack called Scotchies, which is famous for authentic jerk chicken.
The best city I’ve ever visited for nightlife has to be New York It’s the city that never sleeps, and if
ROOM SERVICE: [clockwise from main) Lott says her over-water villa at Sandals was the “best room I’ve ever stayed in”; Lott in Jamaica; visiting Rio de Janeiro is one of Pixie’s travel highlights
you want to stay out all night you can. I’ve been travelling there since I was 15 for writing and recording. I’ve also spent a lot of time in Los Angeles. I travel a lot on my own for work, so I like to go back to places that feel homely and familiar. I love the Urth Caffe on Melrose in Los Angeles – it's a really welcoming place that I always return to, and they have amazing organic food, smoothies and tea – but you absolutely have to try the carrot cake.
Some people feel nervous travelling to countries like Brazil But I’d say not to feel worried or apprehensive, you
Pixie isn’t the only one who was keen to make sure she saw Rio’s infamous landmark – over 1,800,000 people visit the statue every single year. So plan your trip wisely…
must 100% go. We went for the first time last year and had an incredible time in Rio de Janeiro and exploring Copacabana. Even doing the little touristy things like going to see Christ the Redeemer feels like such a big moment to have in your life.
I’ll always ask cabin crew for travel tips on flights They are really great people to speak to for insider knowledge, especially if you’re travelling on your own. When I was flying to Shanghai – somewhere I really recommend visiting – the air hostesses told me to go the fabric markets, where you can take in your favourite dress, pick a fabric, and have it remade bespoke to you. They’ll design anything you want for you, and I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t asked.
Going to see Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro feels like such a big moment to have in your life
D E PA R T U R E S
On a long-haul trip, I’ll always listen to albums. I’ve found loads of cool new stuff One of the best places to discover new music is on the plane If I’m on a long-haul trip I’ll always look at the albums, and I’ve found loads of cool new stuff that way. I recently discovered a soul artist called Charles Bradley – he was an older guy but it was a new album, and I loved finding him that way, listening to his voice and the guitar he was using.
The over-water villas at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Jamaica were the best rooms I’ve ever stayed in I was there with my
There are several great dive sites accessible from Sandals Royal Caribbean, including ‘The Wreck’ – the fuselage of a DC3 plane lying at 80ft deep with soft corals.
new fiancé, Oliver, and it was so beautiful, spacious and private, with our room and hammock right over the water. The butler service, which comes with the rooms, definitely made the holiday. They were so friendly and waited on us hand and foot, bringing little snacks and whatever we needed – bug spray, you name it. There are loads of activities to keep you busy – Oliver tried the Hobie Cat sailing, and there are snorkels in your room. Certified divers can dive for free, or you can make the most of the entertainment crew, who were great fun. We played volleyball on the beach, and had a girls versus boys dance-off at the resort’s pub in the evening.
I think it’s really important to just try and squeeze in trips when you can I love getting away with my family. We used to go to Portugal every summer, and we try to go skiing once a year, too. We love Verbier in Switzerland, and went to Morzine this winter.
I think the British countryside is really underrated London is the best city in the world, and I love it, but exploring beyond the capital is really important. If I have a bit of time off I’ll try to get to the Cotswolds – it’s so pretty and quaint, and the perfect short getaway. We know we’ll always have a good time when we go. e
ISLAND ESCAPE SANDALS ROYAL CARIBBEAN With the Caribbean's first over-water villas, Sandals Royal Caribbean Spa Resort is bringing a touch of Maldivesstyle luxury to the crystal-clear waters of Montego Bay, Jamaica. The private offshore island resort features five villas, designed especially for two, with outdoor Jacuzzis, hammocks and steps into the sea. To raise the game even more, during your stay, a private butler will tend to your every need. For information, see sandals.co.uk
Photographs (Pixie Lott) by Carsten Windhorst/FRPAP.com; (Rio) Peter Adams Photography Ltd/Alamy
IN SID E R â€™S GUIDE BERMUDA
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
HIT THE BEACH
INSIDER’S G UIDE I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H B E R M U DA
GET ACTIVE PA R A D I S E I S C L O S E
To experience a unique blend of year-round sun and distinctive culture at the heart of the Atlantic, look no further than Bermuda. Just a seven-hour flight from Gatwick, the distinctive island nation is the perfect haven for foodies, explorers and beach lovers. And with the 35th America’s Cup presented by Louis Vuitton taking over the island this summer, there’s never been a more exciting time to visit. Photograph by Steven Raynor
CONTENTS 38 SIX REASONS TO VISIT 40 GETTING ACTIVE 42 UNMISSABLE EVENTS
BERMUDA INSIDER’S GUIDE
Six reasons to visit right now With vibrant culture, top-notch food and all-action adventure sports, it’s about time you got on the next flight to the sun-soaked isle of Bermuda
IT’S CLOSER THAN YOU’D IMAGINE
IT’S HEAVEN FOR FOOD LOVERS
If you think Bermuda’s 138 interconnected islands scream Caribbean sub-tropical luxury, you’d be wrong – at least about the Caribbean part, that is. Admittedly the island’s sensual spas, gorgeous resorts and rolling pink-sand beaches look pretty Caribbean, but you’ll actually find them in the middle of the Atlantic, which is pretty great for you, because that means it’s far easier to get to than its Caribbean counterparts. Just seven hours direct from Gatwick, a break to Bermuda is a great way to get that far-off feeling without spending too much of your precious holiday sitting around on the plane.
Thanks to its amazing Atlantic surroundings, seafood in Bermuda is a pretty big deal, which is great news if you fancy filling up on top-notch grub. There are dozens of distinctive dishes to please your palate, but locals love the fish sandwich – a no-frills feast of deepfried fillets served on raisin bread with lashings of tartare sauce. Meanwhile, finer diners should visit during spiny lobster season from September through to March to taste tender tails in chowder, tacos or simply alone with a nice brushing of butter –and a rum swizzle or dark‘n’stormy cocktail as a chaser, of course.
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Have it All IT SUITS ALL TYPES OF TRAVELLER
When you work this hard, the last thing you want is to spend ages deciding which break is the right one for you. Luckily, choosing a getaway to Bermuda is stress-free, because it’s an amazing mix of everything you’d ever want from a sun-filled trip away. In a week on these incredible Atlantic islands, you can soak up the sun on world-famous pink beaches, luxuriate in natural spas, dive eerie shipwrecks, party it up with locals and even watch the world’s best sailors in the 35th America’s Cup presented by Louis Vuitton. Athletic outdoors explorer, super-chilled beach bum, avid sports fan or all-out party animal – you’re sure to find your perfect stay in Bermuda.
IT’S GREAT FOR TWIN-CENTRE STAYS
Located just a few hundred miles off the east coast of the US, Bermuda is the perfect place to head for a healthy serving of pink-sand paradise after a hectic American city break. Flight times from New York are just over an hour and a half, so there’s no reason not to double up on the good times by turning a long weekend away into a full week’s city and beach stay. So start your week exploring the backstreets of Brooklyn, the brushedup heart of Boston, or the fine culture of Philadelphia, because you can do so knowing that you’re just a stone’s throw from a stay that balances beach relaxation, awesome action sports and sub-tropical weather all-year-round.
Explore It All
IT’S SMALL ENOUGH TO SEE THE LOT
As soon as you set foot on Bermuda’s calm, sandy shores, your entire world gets a little bit smaller – making it the perfect place to slow yourself down and escape the hectic pace of life in London. The country’s compact yet wellconnected 21-mile length is full of scenic roads, over-sea bridges and coastal trails that make it effortlessly easy to explore by foot, bike or scooter. So, whether you fancy cliff climbing at the island’s incredible East End, sipping cocktails in Somerset Village out west or watching the boats come and go in the capital city of Hamilton, in Bermuda, you can do it all in a single day.
Get the Glow IT’S A TOP WELLNESS DESTINATION
When work starts to take its toll on your tired body, a sunny stay in Bermuda is a surefire way to get yourself chilled, pampered and back to fighting fitness. From action-packed adventures like cave swimming and kayaking to simply indulging in the most luxurious spa treatments the North Atlantic has to offer, you’re sure to head back to work with a topped-up tan and a spring in your step. For unadulterated relaxation, you can even descend into the breathtaking caves of Grotto Bay, home to one of two natural spas in the world, for a candlelit massage surrounded by shimmering pools, stalagmites and supreme serenity.
BERMUDA INSIDER’S GUIDE
With stunning sea life, cool caves and a wild watersports scene, Bermuda is the perfect place for active adventures
o experience the most incredible active adventures in the Atlantic Ocean, look no further than Bermuda. Whether you’re a hiker, climber or watersports obsessive, the country’s beautiful beaches, dramatic cliffs and wildlife-filled trails will provide you with plenty of excitement if you ever get bored of the beach.
Climb and cliff jump
With tons of coastal cliffs and crags to boulder hop, it’s no real surprise that Bermuda has earned the nickname ‘the Rock’. The island’s 250 deep-water solo (DWS) climbing routes dotted around the cliffs and caves along the country’s coasts, mean you can grapple with the cliffs knowing the warm, turquoise water will always be there to catch you if you fall. The best place on the island to experience a bit of amazing DWS action is Admiralty House Park, where you can also take a running jump into the warm, turquoise sea at some of Bermuda’s most famous cliff jumping spots.
BERMUDA’S SHIPWRECKS ARE HOME TO SHOALS OF SHIMMERING SEA LIFE 40
Kayak, windsurf and jetski
If you fancy something a little more sedate, nothing beats an eco-excursion around Bermuda’s rural West End by glass-bottom kayak, where you’ll find schools of fish, sea turtles and the most colourful coral the Atlantic has to offer. Alternatively, you can make the most of the tranquil waters around Daniel’s
CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Paddle boarding on one of Bermuda’s rolling bays; warm seas and Atlantic breezes make it perfect for kitesurfing; there are plenty of spots to jetski in Bermuda; the scenic Railway Trail
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Head Beach by paddling out to the HMS Vixen, a 19th-century wreck that’s home to shoals of shimmering sea life. Row over with a bag of bait and a snorkel and you’ll soon be surrounded by millions of amazing fish. Beyond the incredible aquatic life that surrounds Bermuda, you’ll also find that the year-round sun and solid breezes provide perfect conditions for more adventurous activities. With numerous places to try your hand at windsurfing and jetskiing in beautiful Atlantic waters, there’s no reason not to make a splash.
Dive, snorkel and cave swim
More than 300 unique shipwrecks and 200 square miles of coral reefs surround the islands, so whether you fancy donning your snorkel and flippers and swimming straight out from the beach, or taking a full week’s guided scuba tour, you’re unlikely to ever get bored. Eerie wrecks teem with sea life, and are a cool balance of history and ecology, as well as a tough test for experienced divers to try out. Meanwhile, for something a little more luxurious, check into Grotto Bay Resort in
Hamilton Parish and take a dip in the cooling waters of Prospero’s Cave – an ancient sea cave full of stalactites that’s exclusive to hotel guests and users of their natural spa.
Hike and bike
There aren’t many countries you can hike or cycle across in a single day, but with its compact 21-square mile size, Bermuda is one of them. Rent a bike in the UNESCO World Heritage town of St Georges and hit the picturesque coastal trails, where you can take in seaviews and wildflowers, as well as some of the country’s best kept secrets – gorgeous hidden coves and rolling sandy beaches to kick back and relax on. Alternatively, head to the Railway Trail, an 18-mile former rail bed which meanders through Bermuda’s most scenic historical sights, wildlife-filled woods and pretty pastel-coloured villages – perfect for a day’s bike ride or pony trek. Visit the island in May and you can join the hordes of walkers, cyclists and swimmers who take on the full length of the trail for charity in the annual Catlin End to End. ◆ For more information visit gotobermuda.co.uk
BERMUDA INSIDER’S GUIDE
Unmissable Events Whether you’re a sports lover or a party animal, make sure you get right to the heart of Bermuda by planning your visit around these cool events
WATCH THE 35TH AMERICA’S CUP PRESENTED BY LOUIS VUITTON
Grab the Grub
GET A TASTE OF CITY FOOD FESTIVAL
If you love great food and fine wine, you won’t want to miss the City Food Festival, which takes to the streets of Bermudian capital, Hamilton, every April. As well as loads of incredible opportunities to sample multicultural delicacies, fusion food and Bermudian classics, you’ll get the chance to taste lovely local wines and watch live demos from top international chefs. The weekend of walking tours and all-day eating culminates with the exciting announcement of the winner of the three-day-long chef competition, which seriously tests the skills of the best cooks the island has to offer. So head on over to Hamilton and start filling up on food.
Photograph by Ricardo Pinto
This June, the oldest trophy in international sport will hit the wild Atlantic waves of Bermuda’s iconic Great Sound for its 35th edition, presented by Louis Vuitton. From the end of May, the world’s fastest boats and most talented sailors will descend on the island to start writing a new chapter in the history of one of the most exciting events in world sport. Whether you fancy watching from the serene shoreline at Gosling’s Dark ‘n’ Stormy Island Bar or getting in on the action with a week-long stay on your own spacious, modern catamaran by private charter specialists Helm Events, the month-long event is set to bring a real party atmosphere to the island. What’s more, with Sir Ben Ainslie attempting to win the cup for Britain for the first time in the event’s 166-year history, there’s never been a better time to fly across and get involved.
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Be a Hero PARTY IT UP AT HEROES WEEKEND
If you like a good old knees up, you’d better get yourself over to the pink sands of Bermuda for Heroes Weekend, which sees thousands of locals descend on Hamilton for one huge carnival that starts on 16th June and goes through the night till the parade down Front Street the next afternoon. Each year, the fun-packed festival celebrates and commemorates all the different Bermudian legends who’ve helped make the country into the vibrant island nation it is today. Expect foodie delights, fabulous floats full of national folk legends and traditional dress, as well as the sweet sound of soca music to help keep you stoked up with party spirit.
FESTIVAL OF THE PERFORMING ARTS
CATCH AIR AT BERMUDA KITEFEST
At the beginning of every Easter holiday, locals flock to the world-renowned beach at Horseshoe Bay on the island’s south coast for the annual Good Friday Kitefest – a fun-filled day out which sees thousands of colourful, carefully-built, homemade kites take to the sky. Often weeks or months in the making, each kite is entered for tons of cool prizes. As well as the colour show, Easter egg hunt and wheelbarrow races on the beach, you’ll be able to get a full-on taste of a traditional Bermudian dish – codfish cakes served between two tasty slices of toasted hot cross bun, which brings a sweet and salty twist to the traditional British treat.
Arty types will delight at the opportunity to pair Bermuda’s incredible tropical climate with a stellar line up of cultural events to lighten your mood between January and March each year. Tons of talented performers from all over the world fly across to the island for sold-out shows in the country’s key cultural hubs of Southampton, Hamilton and Devonshire parish. So whether you’re into jazz, country, classical or simply fancy grappling with a little bit of Shakespeare in the theatre after a long day chilling on the beach – when you plan your trip alongside the Festival of the Performing Arts, you’re sorted.
Bowled Over SOAK UP THE CUP MATCH VIBES
With its British heritage, it’s no surprise that the game of cricket plays a huge role in Bermudian culture, and the islands pretty much grind to a halt for the duration of the two-day Cup Match between the cricket clubs of Somerset and St. George’s every August. Beyond the game, expect an allweekend party with yacht raft-ups, beach camping and full-on festivities that Bermudians and visitors love. The biggest highlight is the Non Mariners Race, a huge raft-up in the waters of Mangrove Bay, which is the place to be if you like stiff drinks, worldrenowned DJs and watching locals and tourists make a splash in the sea from bizarre boats built specially for the day.
EXPERIENCES 46 USA SPECIAL 58 NORTH COLORADO, US 65 ROME, ITALY 72 GSTAAD, SWISS 78 KOBE, JAPAN 85 MALAGA, SPAIN 90 BORDEAUX, FRANCE 97 TOP ADVENTURES
Photograph by ###
STEPS TO HEAVEN: The Spanish Steps are an unmissable part of any trip to Rome. [p65]
ALTERNATIVE AMERICA Think you know the USA? As in, REALLY know it? Weâ€™ve rounded up some classic US breaks, plus some alternatives that you may not have discovered yet 46
Photograph by Stephen Noble / Alamy
hile an epic American adventure is on many a bucket list, there’s few of us who can realistically take the time out of ‘real life’ to traverse the open roads, stop off in all the places we’d like to see, and pick up Brad Pitt as a hitchhiker along the way (which is what definitely always happens when embarking upon a Stateside adventure. Or so we were promised). It’s crucial, then, to choose wisely when it comes to the places you want to visit, but with 50 states to choose from, that’s a little easier said than done. To help, we’ve complied a guide to all the classic US destinations, plus some alternative choices for those who want to try something new. If you see Brad, send him our regards.
Classic: Miami, Florida It’s not all boobs, bums and biceps in Miami (although we’ve spent our fair share of time appreciating that on South Beach – and recommend you do too. Between posts
NO OTHER CITY CAN LIVE UP TO THE INTOXICATING JUMBLE OF CULTURES THAT IS NEW ORLEANS
12 and 13 is particularly fun). Beyond that though, this city offers so much culture – way more than we have space to talk about here. So let’s start with our fave, which is Little Havana, a hub of Cuban cafés, restaurants and art. Stroll the streets crammed with old fellas playing dominoes, and for full-on old-school vibes head to El Rey de las Fritas, one of the best Cuban diner experiences in town. Try a frita cubana – a Cuban version of a hamburger, loaded with thin little crispy things, cheese and egg, with a mamey shake (a sweet juice, blended into a thick juice) on the side for some vit C. Recover (the portions are giant) with a Cuban coffee, then join the old fellas on the street for a game of dominoes. HOW: The Vagabond One of the most Motel is a very important events cool retro choice in MIami’s cultural in up-and-coming calendar is Art Basel, which sees (and nearby) thousands of collecBiscayne Bay, nightly tors and enthusiasts rates from £15, converge to browse and network. thevagabondhotel.com;
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more economic struggles, too. But for a city with fighting talk, sass and plenty of soul, it ticks all the boxes and more. HOW: The Catahoula is a cute little boutique hotel close to the city’s French Quarter with nightly rates from £148, catahoulahotel.com; British Airways offers return flights from £544, ba.com; neworleansonline.com
AMERICAN DREAM: [clockwise from here] The French Quarter in New Orleans; Little Havana in Miami; Jersey City, New Jersey
Norwegian offers return fares to Fort Lauderdale from £159, norwegian.com; miamiandbeaches.com
Photographs by (main) Inge Johnsson/Alamy; (New Jersey) Sean Pavone/Alamy; (Miami) ADS Alamy
Alternative: New Orleans, Louisiana No other city can live up to the unique intoxicating jumble of cultures that is New Orleans, Louisiana. Not been? New British Airways flights, launching on 27 March, make it more achievable than ever. The city may have started life in 1718 as a FrenchCanadian outpost, but nowadays you can expect musicians busking on street corners (the city is the birthplace of jazz), hole-inthe-wall stalls dishing up garlicky Creole cuisine (a spicy blend of French, Spanish, African and Caribbean flavours) and a bohemian, decaying yet vibrant French Quarter packed with wrought-iron balconies and parties, parties, parties – with seriously good spirit. The city’s had its blows – you’ll remember the Hurricane Katrina footage of 2005 (and many of the outer neighbourhoods are still trying to rebuild themselves), while the BP oil spill served
Classic: New York City, NY Think you know New York City? Yeah you probably do. But you don’t know all of it – that much we can be sure of. If you haven’t been, you’re sure to do the Times Square thing, it’s a must – with plenty of new additions this year, too, including the National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey (an interactive undersea journey right there in the heart of Manhattan). Brooklyn isn’t old news just yet, in fact new hotels including the über-cool 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge make it a great base, meaning you Set to open this wouldn’t even have autumn, visitors to to touch Manhattan the Ocean Odyssey if you didn’t want to. experience will encounter a giant And to continue with squid, a humpback that vibe, why not whale and a great white shark (not real spend a day or two ones, obviously). exploring the other boroughs? Chinatown in Flushing, Queens (the REAL Chinatown) is a mind-boggling web of cheap, cheap restaurants ($1 pork buns) and little noodle stalls. Take a tour with Joe Stifano (via vimbly.com), who runs excellent food-focused walks through the city, helping you find the places you never normally would. HOW: 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge offers nightly rates from £220, 1hotels.com; Norwegian offers one-way flights to JFK from £149, norwegian.com; nycgo.com
TAKE A GUIDED TOUR THOUGH NEW YORK TO FIND NEW PLACES Danny DeVito and Bruce Springsteen), head a few miles along the Hudson to Hoboken, which is home to priced-out Manhattanites, and old-school, untrodden-by-tourists Union City, which is also known by the name “Havana on the Hudson” due to the huge Cuban population that resides there. HOW: Have your pick of cheap digs with a Manhattan view at airbnb.com; Virgin Atlantic offers return flights to Newark from £400, virginatlantic.com; visitnj.org
Classic: Boston and Maine You might know Boston for baseball, chowder and Irish pubs, but if a couple
Alternative: Jersey City, NJ Nobody likes sitting in the shadow of someone else – least of all New Jersey state, and several of its cities, which sit just over the water from New York’s Manhattan. If you’re looking for that local New York experience, and doing New York on the cheap, it’s worth basing yourself in Jersey City, where Airbnb rates are mega low, and you’re just a 15-minute train across the Hudson from Wall Street. But Jersey City is a destination in it’s own right, with a plethora of restaurant openings and some great new breweries – one of which is even gluten-free. Yep. To truly embrace the underdog state (birthplace of Meryl Streep,
Why just visit the Deep South…
of days of big-city life have you craving some adventure, check out the coastal city’s vibrant fishing culture. If your kind of thing is getting up at the crack of dawn to jump on a boat, wind and surf whipping up into your face and a steely-eyed determination in your eyes, there are plenty of companies that charter fishing boats for individuals up to small parties. Scour the coastline for striped bass, bluefish and more, or for something a little further afield, make the schlep to the seaside city of Portland, Maine by car or train from Boston (a couple of hours), where you can join a boat trip and get up-close and personal with Maine’s unrivalled lobster population. HOW: Check out a range of chartered fishing trips at fishingbooker.com; book a Maine lobstering trip at luckycatch.com; boston.gov; visitmaine.com
FOR JAWDROPPING BEAUTY AND WILDLIFE, GO TO ALASKA Real Americas Real Adventure
Alternative: The best of Alaska For jaw-dropping beauty and a boatload of wildlife, the unconquered state of Alaska has all that – and more – rolled into one rugged Alaska’s biggest trip. An organised city is handily close tour is a good way to the wilderness, to make sure you but also has some sights of its own to see the best bits, see, including the maximising your time Alaskan Heritage and not worrying Centre and several ski areas. about logistics. Try G Adventures’ Highlights of Alaska package – a 15-day tour that’ll have you trying fresh seafood in Anchorage, halibut fishing, spotting whales and seabirds in the Kenai fjords, hiking and rafting the Denali National Park and checking out an array of glaciers (climbing them, walking over them, y’know). It’s a place to find yourself wowed by your unfamiliar surroundings. HOW: G Adventures offers 15-day trips from £2,249pp excluding flights, gadventures.com; travelalaska.com
Classic: Summertime in Utah Adventure seekers may think they need to head to Utah’s National Parks (and with good reason), but beyond the big names of Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion, there are 43 remote state parks – which demand a visit just as much as the big guns. Whatever your style there’s something to suit: try rock climbing in Snow Canyon, which has 16 miles of hiking trails
Why just visit the Deep South…
When you can live it?
Photographs by Zachary Frank / Alamy; Design Pics Inc / Alamy
NEW TERRITORY: [this image] Snow Canyon state park; [clockwise from below] gliding in Utah; Big Blend national park; Kenai fjords
and is a mish-mash of red rock landscapes and lava caves. Wannabe geocachers should try the aquamarine Bear Lake, which sits high up in the rocky mountains on the Utah-Idaho border, and is a hotspot for boating and the hi-tech hunting trend of geocaching. For a bird’s-eye appreciation of the scle of the state’s landscapes it has to be Flight Park, which is known as one of the finest training sites for hang gliding and paragliding. Hop in, strap up and join a pilot on a tour of the sky. HOW: Bon Voyage offers 12-night trips to Utah from £1,795pp including flights, bon-voyage.co.uk; visitutah.com
Alternative: Austin and Big Bend National Park, Texas Nothing says road trip like a sun-scorched desert highway and a RGV cruising into the sunset. But start your Texan adventure in Austin, namely at Wavegarden, America’s first land-locked surf park, which operates with a system of super-techy machines. Riding horses? It’s time to ride some waves here instead. Next, hop in your RV and cruise down to Big Bend National Park and state park, a region of the Chihuahuan Desert that’s tucked into a curve of the Rio Grand river, right on This unique facility the Mexican border. only opened at the The dry, open desert end of last year, and jagged mountains and features a 14-acre lagoon filled are a hiker’s paradise, with rainwater with more than 200 where surfers of all miles of trails that abilities can ride some waves. can suit a day-long
Come with us to the Deep South and you won’t just see the sights, you’ll experience the real destination. Try new activities. Meet local people. Take in a diﬀerent view.
For our full range of small group tours in the USA, Canada, South and Central America visit: grandamericanadventures.com or call 0333 222 8124
THE TIDE IS TURNING: [this image] The Erie Basin Marina Park in Buffalo, New York; [below] one of Portland’s urban wineries
DETROIT’S EMPTY FACTORIES ARE NOW HOME TO BIG CLUBS 52
Classic: Detroit, Michigan Anyone with a passion for Ford motors should be familiar with the story of Detroit. Nope? OK. The city was once the grand dame of car manufacturing, that all went wrong, workers left and the city was left a shell of its former self (literally – empty, beaten factories line the streets, satisfying visitors’ #ruinporn needs). Today, though, the wheels of Motor City are turning again – young bearded entrepreneurs are moving in, new companies and restaurants are opening, and all those empty factories? Big old clubs are coming to town – think Berlin of the States, with a side of epic street art and squeaky hot dogs (perch on a faux leather stool and lean on a sticky counter at Lafayette Coney Island for the very best). Detroit may be famous for the birth of techno, but it’s also the birthplace of Motown, and a visit to the Motown museum is an absolute must for a singalong-style run-through of the music label’s history. Formerly down-and-out cities can get a bad rep, but if you love an underdog, and a city slowing grinding its way back to its former glory, then this is definitely it. HOW: Make the most of converted factory buildings and stay in a cool Airbnb, airbnb.com; Delta offers return flights from £520, delta.com; visitdetroit.com
Classic: Portland, Oregon We’ve been obsessed with Portland since its food-truck heyday – Oregon’s largest city was one of the pioneers of the foodtruck scene, and London has a lot to
Photograph by Mira / Alamy; Jamie Francis
jaunt of a multi-week slog. Float trips down the Rio Grande are a must, with the chance to spot Mexican black bears and a colimi warbler (it’s a bird – and you can only see it in this part of the US, so take your binoculars). Get your stargazing game on as well, because this is one of the best parts of the world in which to try it. HOW: America as You Like It offers 14-night RV holidays to Texas based on £1,185pp based on four sharing, including flights.
Alternative: Buffalo, New York As you can probably tell, nobody loves a resurgent city more than us. Buffalo – perhaps most famous for its chicken wings – was once a thriving port that sailed right into a major decline in the 1980s. And now, you guessed it, it’s making a comeback. Take the Richardson Olmsted Complex for starters, a former psychiatric hospital that’s currently being stripped and spruced into a grand hotel, or The story behind Canalside, a newly Anchor Bar’s famous renovated riverfront Buffalo wings district that’s home to involves a group of drunk and hungry festivals, events and revellers demanding craft beer (the scene food late at night. Sounds familiar. And is booming – try the what an end result… Big Ditch Brewing Co for size). Meanwhile there are galleries galore – including the Albert Knox, a collection of 6,500 works of modern and fine art on rotation, which ranges from Picasso to Warhol. Of course they’re not the only reason the visit, but a buffalo wing tour is essential. Get your face and fingers messy at Anchor Bar, where the spicy, saucy deep-fried phenomena was born (with a side of blue cheese). HOW: The Inn Buffalo is a mansion now operating as a boutique hotel (complete with music room), innbuffalo.com; Nightly rates from £110. British Airways offers return flights to New York from £400, ba.com. Travel on with Jet Blue from £135 return,
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Why just look out over the landscape...
when you can get up close Come with us to the Americas and you won’t just see the sights, you’ll experience the real destination. Watch wildlife in its natural habitat. Meet local people. Experience the great outdoors. Discover the Americas like never before, travelling in real time. C
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National Parks Walk 11 days from £2,199
Deep South &A Delta Blues N A D 12 days from £2,099
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For our full range of small group tours in the USA, Canada, South and Central America visit grandamericanadventures.com or call 0333 222 8124 M
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InRHODE 1938, Route 66 became the first paved A journey through America’s cultural and N E W Y O R K M ISLAND A I N E HIGAN CONNECTICUT highway linking Chicago with the West musical heritage, fromM I Cthe Civil Rights VERMONT M I N N E S Oto T Athe beginning of country P E Nmusic, N S Y LVA N I A NEW JERSEY and became an iconic symbol of the great Movement NEW American road trip. On this exciting 14 day blues, rock ‘n’ roll and jazz. Learn how the HAMPSHIRE I O W A O H I O MASSACHUSETTS DELAWARE IANA W I S Cgave O N S II NNDrise tour you’ll visit many famous and quirky region’s history to these unique WEST ILLINOIS MARYLAND VIRGINIA NEW YORK RHODE stops as well as the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas musical genres and how they to M I C Hcontinue IGAN ISLAND CONNECTICUT VIRGINIA and the backroads where time has stood still. shape popular music today. P E N N S Y LVA N I A NEW
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EXPECT TO SEE MIGRATING HUMPBACK WALES IN HAWAII Alternative: Virginia and Maryland On any trip to the States you’re bound to eat well. If not, well, something’s gone horribly wrong. Head to Virginia and Maryland, on the east coast, and you can have a foodie trip that goes beyond food trucks, burger bars and ribs (although we love ’em). Take Maryland’s ice cream trail, for example, which includes stops at nine countryside family-owned farms, which is a great way to indulge in the region’s ‘cow to cone’ philosophy and get your fill of new flavours. The state’s creamy, Members of PDX icy industry dates Urban Wineries back to the mid make wines using 18th century, and grapes grown throughout the they even claim to Pacific Northwest be the birthplace of including syrah, the stuff. You heard pinot blanc and zinfandel. it here first, Italy. In neighbouring Virginia (easy to do in one trip) it’s all about the oyster trail, taking in the state’s seven different oyster regions, where the seafood takes on a range of flavours due to the salinity levels of the water they’re harvested in. Some of the creeks are no more than a mile apart, but still the flavours vary wildly, from salty or buttery to sweet (yes, sweet!), depending on where you try them. And we suggest that you definitely try them all. HOW: Bon Voyage offers a self-drive Capital Region tour from £1,975pp including flights and 11 nights’ accommodation and car hire, bon-voyage.co.uk; capitalregionusa.co.uk
Classic: Maui, Hawaii Beaches? Check. Blazing sunshine? Check. Bakeries? Er, check! Now that our holiday priorities are aligned, let us tell you a bit about Maui, Hawaii, a tropical hotspot of blinding stretches of sand, that obligatory
turquoise water and quaint little towns. The second-biggest of Hawaii’s islands, also known as the Valley Isle, is a great choice for those who take their snacks as seriously as their snorkelling. For the former head to Lahaina, with its colourful farm-to-table restaurant scene, and for the latter you can take in the coral off the island’s beaches, or try the Molokini Crater – a crescent-shaped, partially submerged volcanic crater, which homes an outstanding coral reef and varied marine line. And if bigger is better you’re in the right place – expect to see migrating humpback whales during your visit. HOW: The Andaz Maui is a smooth and swanky choice, nightly rates from £431, maui.andaz.hyatt.com; Virgin Atlantic offers flights to Hawaii from £689.57, virginatlantic.com
Alternative: Key West and Dry Tortugas Sailing, Florida The most isolated and least visited national park doesn’t come with a single mountain, forest, lake or bear. Instead you’ll find vast sweeps of gleaming white beach, sea turtles and thousands of colourful fish. Obviously you know it’s the Dry Tortugas Islands, which sit at America’s south-eastern tip in the Florida Keys. And the best way to appreciate this water, no shit, is by water. So try Intrepid Travel’s new six-night expedition sailing through these tropical archipelagos, snorkelling in the Marquesas Keys, drinking in Key West and checking out the historical Fort Jefferson. When you’re not doing all that, you’ll be trying your hand at sailing in one of the most sublime settings for it, while kipping in a cabin and generally living the yachtie lifestyle (cold beers on deck come as standard). HOW: Seven days from £854pp with some meals, excluding flights, intrepidtravel.com e
Photographs by (Tortugas) robertharding/Alamy; (Virginia) Virginia Tourism Corporation
thank them for. It’s expanded, evolved and is even more exciting today – take Lardo, one of the golden kids of Portland’s food-cart-turned-restaurant revolution. The slogan “bringing fat back” equates to hefty, meaty subs and dirty fries loaded with crispy morsels. Beyond the trucks, you’ll find a wave of new additions, including urban wineries which now rival the city’s famed craft distilleries – try PDX Urban Wineries for a ‘passport’ and access to nine local tasting rooms. For something more nutritional (yes, really) try Broth Bar, the city’s first bone broth drinking spot, which brings this nourishing food – sourced from the region’s best pasture-raised and grassfed animals – straight to your mouth. It’s a big part of the venue’s (and the region’s) focus on supporting the local community. Get involved yourself with Delta’s new direct flight, which is launching in May. HOW: Keep it quirky and stay in a tiny house on wheels in the Alberta Arts District. Nightly rates from £125, tinyhousehotel.com; For details on Delta’s new non-stop flights from London Heathrow to Portland, see delta.com; travelportland.com
SECRET ESCAPE: [this image] The Dry Tortugas Islands. Not particularly dry, but very pretty; [below] oyster harvest in Virginia
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American Dream With incredible Creole cuisine, civil rights history and vibrant musical heritage, a tour of the southern states with Grand American Adventures is the ultimate trip for culture lovers
ot many breaks give you the chance to experience the diverse culture and inspiring history of an entire region in a single 12-day getaway. Not many breaks span five stunning states, giving you the chance to get a taste of art, music and food, either. Luckily for you, the Deep South and Delta Blues tour by Grand American Adventures does, and it’s one of the easiest and most exciting ways to unearth the intriguing stories and sights that make the southern US so special. Starting on the sun-soaked streets of Atlanta, Georgia, you’ll get your break going by discovering a foodie haven full of classic cooking and awe-inspiring Americana. After an afternoon’s walking tour, grab a bite to eat at Empire State South, an authentic eatery that serves up the best of American cuisine. Over the Alabama border in Birmingham,
you’ll be able to trace the history of world famous civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., taking in the Civil Rights Institute, as well as plenty of the sites that played such a huge part in helping transform the culture of America during the mid-20th century. Make your way westward toward the Mississippi River in south Lousiana to enjoy the smooth sounds of jazz in the city where it was born – New Orleans. Indulge in world-class Creole cuisine by day and party all night in the city that created the first cocktail, the Sazerac. Rolling back time on the lively streets of the French Quarter, you’ll be at ease taking in a show at one of the clubs made famous by jazz heroes like Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington in the 1920s. Then, after a night on the downtown dance floors, you can head out on an action-packed
INDULGE IN CREOLE CUISINE AND THE SMOOTH SOUNDS OF JAZZ IN THE CITY WHERE IT WAS BORN – NEW ORLEANS
P ROMOTI ON
CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Graceland, home of Elvis Presley; street musicians in ‘The Big Easy’; New Orleans’ French Quarter; a bowl of gumbo; Memphis is full of blues clubs like B.B. King’s; Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Memphis; Natchez, Mississippi
boat tour of the region’s wild wetlands and swamps in search of alligators. Heading north, tour the majestic home and stroll the 38 acres of lush gardens of Houmas House Plantation in Darrow, Louisiana, before making your way to Natchez, Mississippi, to explore its historic district with over 400 antebellum homes and historic churches. Winding further up the Mississippi River and into Tennessee, you’ll be able to explore the lively blues roots of B.B. King and Muddy Waters and the Sun Studio in Memphis, as well as visiting Graceland – home to the king of rock’n’roll himself, Elvis Presley. For even more musical fun, make a beeline for Nashville – the neon-lit capital of Tennessee that sits right at the heart of the deep south’s thriving country scene today. With plenty of
bustling bars and music halls, it’s the perfect place to catch a show, have a knees up and try your hand at a little line dancing before heading back to the UK full up with the unique and spectacular soul of the southern states. ◆
Getting There Grand American Adventures specialises in small group holidays to the Americas. With unrivalled knowledge and experience, they are committed to bringing you the finest small group adventures available. Grand American Adventures offers a Deep South and Delta Blues tour, which takes in all the states and sights mentioned, from £2,099 excluding flights, grandamericanadventures.com
STRIKING A BALANCE Photograph by ###
Lured by its reputation for clean living and craft breweries, Andy Jones travels to northern Colorado to master the art of combining beer drinking and mountain biking. Intrigued? Here’s his guide to how you can do it, too… 59
f you’re ever going to get a hangover, Colorado is the place to do it. The state – where “the beer flows like wine”, according to Dumb and Dumber’s Lloyd Christmas – seems to have a craft brewery on each of its cities’ picture-book street corners, but always within view are the Rocky Mountains, home to the cleanest air in the US and all sorts of endorphin-boosting pursuits, including skiing, horse riding and hiking. The state gleefully hits you in the face with
EVERY CITY SEEMS TO HAVE A CRAFT BREWERY ON EACH OF ITS STREET CORNERS
all four seasons in one day – in Fort Collins, Loveland or Denver you can wake up in early spring with snow on the ground, yet be sitting in a T-shirt by Situated at the base lunchtime. of the Rockies, this Aside from all that city is a good base beer – the best of for exploring the mountain range, and which is made from home to the state’s organic hops and university. Make local mountain spring sure you check out its pretty Old Town. water – Colorado’s a place where health and happiness rule. In fact, the Livability List of 100 Best Places To Live in the US stuffs six places from Colorado in its top 40, with pretty Boulder being the hottest ticket. Also in that list are Fort Collins and Loveland, where the populations have both grown by 32% since 2000. Located in the central north of the state, these cities aren’t just for living in – there’s never been a better time to spend a few days (or weeks) finding out what makes them so great. Beer-lovers and adventure-seekers, rejoice – here’s your essential guide to some guaranteed good times in northern Colorado.
On the beer trail If you’re thinking it’s best to go now before the beer runs out, that’s unlikely – Colorado is one of the biggest brewing hubs on the planet, with more than 200 breweries. The state ranks top for beer brewing in the whole of the US, not least because it’s home to Coors, whose HQ in the town of Golden
INTO THE WILD [clockwise from here]: Colorado’s understated scenery…; horse riding at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch; Fort Collins
ON THE ROLL IN COLORADO RELAXING THE RULES
Photographs by (main) Shutterstock/Snehit; (horse riding) parkerphotography/Alamy; (Fort Collins) Michael J Fajardo/Getty
is the biggest brewing facility in the world. Alongside that there are many unique brewing hubs. Like any good alehouse, the doors are always open, with beer tours being a great way to see each town, learn local legends and get merry. New Belgium, based in Fort Collins, was created in 1991 by bike nut and brew-sipper Jeff Lebesch, an engineer who cycled around Belgium, tasted its famous beers and began unpicking their flavours back in his home state. The brewery is famous for its Fat Tire – a bright amber ale – Blue Paddle Czech Pilsner, and Ranger IPA. Even for non beer fans, the crisp suds fresh from Loveland’s the barrel would take Valentine Re-Mailing some replicating Program re-sends anywhere else. over 130,000 Valentine’s cards from If you want to over 100 countries hit as many of Fort every year, so they Collins’ breweries as bear the Loveland postal stamp. Ahhh. you can in one go, the
Magic Bus Tour (themagicbustours.com) – MC’d with enthusiasm by local celebrity Michael Murphy – is a great way to do it. The bus swings by a collection of breweries including Odells, Funkwerks and Horse and Dragon, and each has its own signature beer, whether it’s a light ale or a thick, dark, chocolatey brew. You do get to try 13 different ales, which you usually pour yourself, though you may want to consider Britain’s good name abroad before you take them all on… Alongside the brew tours, you get to trawl through Fort Collins’ old town, so classically American in its appearance that it was used by Disney as the basis for the ‘Main Street USA’ element of its global theme parks. Artisan cheeses, cupcakes and beauty products are all well worth picking up here. Half an hour away in nearby Loveland, you can also take a tour of their own Loveland Aleworks, visit the LoCo Artisan Coffee House, and take on the gut-busting
In 2014 Colorado went marijuana-legal to those aged over 21 years old, and tourism’s now booming on the back of the bong, with the ‘green dollar’ reportedly generating $2.39bn for the state in 2015 alone. Coloradans have branched into all areas of the market, from high-end ‘cannabis concierges’ who will take you on a weed tour to ‘bud and breakfasts’ – low-end accommodation where you can wake up and roll up, often near the ski or hiking resorts. Cannabis concierges cater to every strain of weed smoker – from married couples who want to try it for the first time, to wealthy hippies kicking back on a break. They can get you NFL tickets and a joint, skiing with a joint, a five-star hotel with a joint… You get the picture. Unlike in Amsterdam, weed isn’t smoked on-site in licensed cafés in Colorado – it’s sold in out of town shops and consumed off-site. It is also frowned upon – you can get issued with a ticket – if you smoke it in the street, leaving consumption in a weird hinterland of being legal but not openly so. Even taking that into account, the marijuana business is the fastest-growing business sector in the entire state: research suggests that the industry could surpass $20bn annually by the year 2020.
TWO-WHEELED TREK: Fat biking is one of the best ways to see the Rockies up close, as well as burning off some of those beer calories
‘brew brunch’ at Grimm Brothers Brewery. The latter pairs five dishes with five different beers, including the tricky-to-find (outside Loveland, at least) Bleeding Heart porter.
Man vs mountain After all that you may want to do something to clear your senses, and there are few places on earth where that’s easier to do. Head to Fort Collins for an adrenaline-filled, calorieburning fat bike ride in the Rocky Mountain National Park with Front Range Ride Guides (frontrangerideguides.com). They’ll collect you from your hotel and send you up a mountain trail in Peaceful Valley on a fat bike – for the uninitiated, that’s a mountain bike with wider
ambling past the prairie dogs and elk on your own trusty steed. If you stay at Sylvan Dale Ranch, make sure you check out the starry night skies, but be warned – the local bears are far more inquisitive (and hungry) here than up on the mountainside… e
GETTING THERE British Airways offers flights from London Heathrow to Denver International from £507 return. See britishairways.com for details.
Photographs by (main) aaronj9/Shutterstock; (deer) welcomia/Shutterstock
THERE ARE FEW BETTER WAYS TO SEE THE ROCKIES THAN BY BIKE
tyres designed for riding through deep snow. The Rocky Mountains boast elk, gray wolves, cougars, bears and all sorts of birdlife, but – while you may well see a preying eagle above – it’s almost impossible to see any of the blockbuster names because they’re so secretive, especially when you’re chugging along on a bike. It’s hard work – on the lungs as much as anything, thanks to the altitude – but there are few better ways to see the Rockies up close, and certainly none better for putting a smile on your face as you spin recklessly down the hill. For a city detour, take an hour’s drive and cruise along any of nearby Denver’s many bike pathways, or stay in Fort Collins and use its Bike Library (fcbikelibrary.org) for ambling around town. In a different saddle, be sure to take a horseback ride in Loveland. At Sylvan Dale (sylvandale.com), a fully functioning cowboy ranch with campfire sing-a-longs and a cook-out on the grill, you can stay overnight or simply take up a day trip in the (horse) saddle in the foothills of the Rockies. Though No, Grimm Brothers only half an hour isn’t so-called away from where I’d because the owners early been fat biking, are a bit miserable – it’s named after there’s no snow this the famous German time, but you do get storytellers, and the to pretend you’re brews are inspired by their tales. Clint Eastwood,
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GUARDIAN ANGELS: You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to places to see in Rome. Castel Sant’Angelo is just one of them
ROMAN HOLIDAY Photograph by Getty Images
The Eternal City attracts a LOT of tourists, and to beat the crowds and see it in style, you’ll need to know what’s what, so here’s our guide to the best of Rome Words by Hannah Summers
GETTING THERE Norwegian operates six weekly direct flights between London Gatwick and Rome, with free Wi-Fi connectivity on flights. Fares start from Â£34.90 one way. Visit norwegian.com/uk or call 0330 828 0854.
Katie Parla neighbourhoods
See the sites from a Fiat 500
For a tourist-free look at Roma, take a walking tour with Katie Parla, an American expat who’s called the city home for several years. There’s Trastevere – a maze of medieval streets located over the River Tiber – or you could try her Pigneto, Prenestina and the Periphery walk. You’ll start at the imperial gate of Porta Maggiore, before wandering through some of Rome’s hippest neighbourhoods, taking in street art and urban gardens. The tour ends in Madrione, home to some aqueduct ruins.
Sure, you could check out the city from a double-decker bus, or you could fold yourself into a vintage flamingo-pink Fiat 500 and razz around the city in a convoy of craziness. Accompanied by Alvise, the city’s best tour guide, you’ll be talked through the sites over a walkie talkie. You’ll stop off at lesser-known Roman ruins and Alvise will fill your brain with fascinating facts delivered in the most spirited way. There’s only one way to circle the Colosseum, and this is it. Paparazzi potential high.
You’re doing Italy wrong if you don’t embrace the Italian aperitivo sessions. Early each evening locals will gather at pavementside cafés and drink beers, spritzes and wine while the café lays on some (free) snacks – think mini sandwiches, bits of pastry and parma ham, and the like. It’s a big part of the city’s culture and a good way to feel in tune with the local way of living, and after a day of sightseeing you can’t really go wrong with an al fresco drink or ten. Head to the backstreets of Trastevere or the banks of the River Tiber for a view.
Photograph by Roland Nagy / Alamy
Photograph by Andrey Anisimov / Alamy
Villa Spalletti Trivelli
For super-swish suites with impressive Colosseum views, stay at Palazzo Manfredi, a restored luxury villa that doesn’t skimp on all things mauve and shiny. Within just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel you’ll be able reach some of the city’s biggest ancient sites. And when you’re not wandering around those, you should be churning through the spritz menu – it goes far beyond good-old Aperol – at the top-floor bar with a view.
For an old and young combo, this cute little guest house, located on Piazza di Porta Maggiore is a steal. It’s run by Stefano and Maria and is a conversion of Maria’s grandmother’s apartment – so expect megahigh ceilings and antique furniture in the six bedrooms. Breakfast is taken Roman style – that’s standing at the counter downstairs with a pastry in a napkin and coffee in your hands – also, there’s a handy late-night pizza joint just below.
Red velvet chaises, giant wall hangings and gold gold gold? It has to be the very grand Villa Spalletti Trivelli, a converted mansion which now functions as a 15-bedroom boutique hotel. Expect huge windows, views of the Quirinal Palace, antique furniture and a staggering private art collection (there’s even a Rubens). When you’re not lounging around in the room (or checking out the city), the roof terrace, and its hot tubs, are where it’s at.
Photograph by Antonio Saba
For straight-up cheap Italian dishes served in huge portions, try Baffetto (the one located on Via del Governo Vecchio with outdoor seating). The service is brusque, bordering on unfriendly, but that’s not really what this place is about. Instead, it’s about dining with the locals, feasting on super-thin-and-crispy, topping-laden pizzas and our pick, the bucatini amatriciana – a slightly spicy bacon and tomato sauce that’s served with a chunkier version of spaghetti. Saucy face 100% guaranteed.
Italian fine dining doesn’t get much more sophisticated than the Rome Cavalieri hotel’s La Pergola restaurant. The three-Michelinstar, ludicrously swank restaurant, complete with frescoes, plump leather chairs and statues, is the baby of chef Heinz Beck, who brings his crazy inventions (exploding carbonara, anyone?) to an exquisite tasting menu. Stick it on the credit card, it’s worth it. When you’re not gawping at the food, you’ll be ogling Rome’s glittering skyline.
You won’t be short of gelato choices – try Il Gelato di Claudio Torce or Al Settimo Gelo for the best pistachio cream in town – but pastries are a big deal here too. Combine the old with the new by checking out century-old Regoli (one of the city’s most celebrated cake shops) along with the new Risciolli Caffe, with its steel-grey walls, modern vibe and inventive two-mouthful-size sweet treats. If you prefer wine with your cakes over coffee (yep, us too), this is the place.
pasticceriaregoli.com; rosciolicaffe.com e
REACH THE PEAK Switzerland has its fair share of wealthy retreats. And then there’s Gstaad. Safi Thind travels to the iconic Swiss resort to see exactly what money can buy up a mountain
it on the right hand side of the train, my friend has told me, as it’s the best place to catch the scenery as you pass Lake Geneva. Unfortunately the journey up to Gstaad has been shattered by an incident – death, I think – which has thrown Switzerland’s normally efficient transport into chaos. By the time I’m winding my way up to the mountains it’s getting crepuscular. I’m sitting on the ‘Golden Pass Panoramic’ train, fitted with floor-to-ceiling windows which allow a traveller to be “at one with the landscape,” says the brochure. But my mole-like eyes strain to catch anything in the purpling Crescent-shaped, evening. That is serene and absountil I suddenly lutely massive, Lake start to see these Geneva is shared by France and twinkling strings of Switzerland, but is light hanging in an generally considered inverted V-shape to be one of the latter’s landmarks. appearing all the way up the valley. They’re strangely beguiling. Are they Christmas lights or are they UFO landing strips? It’s not the end of the visions. When the train pulls into Gstaad village I’m confronted by the incredible view of a castle high up on a hill, four baroque turrets illuminated by spotlights, flags flapping in the breeze. It’s the Palace Hotel, the centrepiece of Gstaad and it’s pretty awesome. The train chugs on as I stare back at this construction that makes the heart jump a little. An hour later I arrive at Hamilton Lodge, an isolated drive up a snowy hill in a village called Zweisimmen, the furthest end of the Gstaad valley. The hotel staff get a shock to see me approaching out of the dark, wreathed in mists, all vampiric at this time
of night. I get a shock when they tell me they are closed. They weren’t expecting me – some kind of mix-up, apparently. Luckily Tamara, the charming Dutch hotel manager, rustles me up a room extempore and the chef cooks me a dinner for one. Hamilton Lodge is a spacious, wooden-timbered retreat with a cosy fireplace, bookshelves and mounted animal heads. It’s lovely, though being the only guest here I feel a bit like Jack Nicholson in The Shining let loose in an Alpine nuthouse. Peeking outside the window, I wonder how snowy it will be up on the hills tomorrow. While the slopes in Zermatt, around two hours south of here are longer and more varied, Gstaad has its own 220km of white pistes – not including the Bernie Ecclestoneowned Glacier 3000, an 8.5km glacier slope set high in the mountains. The pistes are a mix of the easy, tended type and the wilder ones, including the 45-degree-gradient tiger run, the most threatening in the region. The only problem is that it has been a
I STARE AT THE GSTAAD PALACE AND IT MAKES MY HEART THUD
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Photograph by imageBROKER / Alamy
dry December – indeed, it’s actually the least snowfall for the month since 1864 and there’s no promise of anything. I’m peering out of the window the next morning to check conditions. Sadly, it’s roasting. Not a flake of snow flutters in the sky nor rests on the ground. The air should be moist, the landscape deliquescent, but it’s dry as a desert. This is climate change in its starkest form and it stretches right across the Swiss and French Alps. I never thought I’d say it, but it’s a pain to see so much sun. Still, there are options. The aforementioned Glacier 3000 has numerous freeride areas while offering spectacular views of the Alps – and at 3,000m you’re guaranteed snow. Or, like me, you could try the easier slopes in Saanenmöser a bit further down the valley, shot out through the snow cannon. I hop in a car with Kurt, my guide, and get ready to glide. The narrow piste is relatively free from people today and a good place for a rusty skier to get reacquainted with the white stuff. You get to see a variety of folk here – those skiing without helmets are the unusually rich, says Kurt, as a helmetless man whizzes past with his equally helmetless daughter. I’m worked to the bone on the slopes. Like Peter Sellers’ Clouseau – who was a famous Gstaad resident – I’m making a mockery of myself as small kids swing gracefully around In ‘The Return of the me like cygnets Pink Panther’ (1975), instinctively Sellers’ incompetent practised in their French inspector, Jacques Clouseau, surroundings. Kurt heads to a grand watches me with hotel in Gstaad in clenched jaw. pursuit of a diamond thief. While many do
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THIS IS A WORLD WHERE TRADITIONAL SWISS MOUNTAIN LIFE MEETS GLITZ AND GLAMOUR of course come to Gstaad to ski, there are many other diversions here – you could, for example, go on a toboggan run, walk the 300km of mountain trails, or bike the 150km of hills. You could get a horse-drawn ride down to the beautiful frozen Lake Lauenen to ice skate. Or you could avoid winter sports altogether and simply wallow in the luxury of Gstaad village. That’s where I’m headed post-ski. Going down the valley I notice a change in atmosphere. The air feels more rarefied. The people appear more decorous. The chalets are bigger, swankier. The main village
Photograph by Hemis; imageBROKE / Alamy; Shutterstock
SNOW DAY: [clockwise from this image] Taking in the view from Glacier 3000; the Swiss Alps; Glacier 3000’s ski area
thoroughfare, the promenade, comes into view with a row of luxury stores crouching lustily under wood chalet façades – Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Prada and Cartier – all shouting wealth. Then there’s that fairytale building, square and white up ahead on the hill, looking for all the world like a Barbie doll castle in the daylight. In 1955, Gstaad passed a rule for all new construction to adhere to the local chalet style. It does, except the Palace which escaped this diktat since it was built 100 years ago. But I don’t think the normal rules would apply to it anyway. It is princely,
classic, every bit fitting of its name. The Palace is a little encapsulation of Gstaad. Walking along the village you’ll find an unusual place. There are the designer boutiques stuffed full of stingray leather wallets and jewelled jeans, but you’re also more than likely to come across a cow traipsing amiably through to pasture. It’s a world where traditional Swiss mountain life meets glamour. The thing with Gstaad is that all the glitz is wrapped up in an attitude of discretion. Yes, the heels clicking on the stones carry feet of uninsurable value. But they don’t want you to shout about it. Go to St Moritz if you want cupidity. This old-school philosophy has a British hand in it. David Niven, Liz Taylor, Richard Burton and the aforementioned Peter Sellers were Gstaad residents. Roger Moore lived in Gstaad and his son Geoffrey is very much a face on the scene. And I learn that those chalet lights I saw on the way up here are called Julie Lämpli after long-term Gstaad resident Julie Andrews. She donated them to the whole village for 12 years on moving in here after deeming the chalets a little too glum for the Farming tradiChristmas season. tions are still an But it’s the Palace important part of hotel that’s the life in Gstaad, and if you visit during centrepiece of the the summer, you’ll village; retiring back see cattle auctions there I decide to do a taking place around the area. bit of flaneuring.
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CASTLE IN THE SKY: [above] The Palace hotel overlooks the rest of Gstaad; [below] a mountain coaster run on Rellerli mountain
vacation, however – the food and drink prices are not cheap. It seems that things are currently changing in Gstaad. The rich are becoming ever busier and visiting less. Some of the stars have left. Roger Moore’s gone. And you won’t see a manic Peter Sellers falling into the GreenGo pool again. The snows are coming later and disappearing earlier which is a squeeze on the ski season. Indeed, the place is now having to adapt to a more ruthless age of conservatism. Heading back through the mountains on the glass train to Montreux I see those orange upside down-V lights again, fading into the distance and with them the charm of this old Swiss institution. My eyes squint to catch every single last one until they disappear into the night. e
GETTING THERE Fly to Geneva and catch the train up or fly to Bern and catch the train down. The Golden Pass Panorama train runs from Montreux to Gstaad and Zweissimen – tickets can be purchased at the train office in Montreux. Or get the Swiss Travel Pass all-in-one ticket for unlimited rail, road and water travel.
Photographs by (main) Ingolf Pompe 19 /Alamy ; (Rellerli) Christoph Rueegg/Alamy
There are touches of glamorous history everywhere. It’s in the portraits of the stars hanging in the famous hotel lobby where many a princely chinwag has taken place. It’s in the tasselled brass keys they give you – no electronic keycards here. It’s in the tartan lift, the seventies tat and kitsch architecture of the hotel’s legendary GreenGo disco with Visiting the GreenGo its swimming pool is part and parcel of and retractable a trip to Gstaad, and dancefloor that even if it’s just for one, you should go featured in Seller’s along to see resident Return of the Pink DJ Jim Leblanc and Panther (he falls in, do some serious people watching. of course). The hotel
disco is pretty much the only one in town and the drinks are a minimum 35 Swiss francs, so make sure you don’t go wild. While there’s not a huge après-ski scene in the village – most people go to bed early and set off to ski early – there are enough restaurants, saunas and lobby action to keep you entertained for days. And it’s not all about the Palace. The Alpina, on the hill opposite the Palace, opened four years ago and offers some state-of-the-art luxury and palate-addling restaurants. It also has an unbelievable, two-floored panorama suite with its own spa, kitchen and chef, (if you’ve got a spare 22,000 francs in your wallet for a night in high season). Further down the road there’s the Grand Bellevue, which offers six different saunas and steam baths as well as an ice grotto. You could also try the evanescent Iglu-Dorf igloo village in Saanenmöser with its exotic ice carvings. It’s not obligatory to pay through the nose in Gstaad either. There are other fine hotels in the area like the three-star Spitzhorn, a proper ski stopover with modern, spotless and quirkily designed rooms, charging a fraction of the rates of the five-stars. The people who stay here are skiers-proper, heading out to the groomed slopes around Eggli and Wispile, the closest ski areas to Gstaad village, or a little further to 1,000m-plus wilder slopes around Rougemont. There’s even a youth hostel here now. Don’t count on a bunk-bed
PORTRAITS OF STARS HANG IN THE PALACE LOBBY, WHERE MANY A PRINCELY CHINWAG HAS TAKEN PLACE
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PERFECTLY BALANCED Sake, spas and street food, with a side order of karaoke and culture? No, it’s not too good to be true: it’s just another day in Kobe, finds Hannah Summers
Photograph by Sean Pavone/Shutterstock
ome cities get a raw deal. They sit in the shadow of the big players, always there but rarely visited, cast aside for the glory-seekers – the Tokyos, Osakas and Kyotos. In among all those cities is Kobe, a cosmopolitan, waterside metropolis in the south of Japan. It’s subtle with its charm. Though it lacks the frenzy of Tokyo, the free-spirited gritty vibes of Osaka, and the tranquil tea houses of Kyoto, Kobe is calm and endearing, with a side of bars, breweries and – not least – beef. That kobe you’ve been splashing out on in the UK? This is its birthplace.
Sake sessions But first, a drink. You’ll have your pick of thousands of sake breweries on a trip to Japan, but each region’s product tastes different depending Japan’s famed on the rice and water fermented rice wine used. The Hyogo is the country’s prefecture. in which national drink, and is often served as you’ll find Kobe, full part of a special of sake houses, its ceremony, where it’s history dating to the gently heated and sipped from cups. 17th century when methods were very much about hard graft and wood. Today, with the introduction of high-tech machinery, the Nada district accounts for 30% of the country’s production, with 40 breweries to choose from. If you’re going to get steaming on sake – and I really recommend that you do – this is certainly the city for it. My pick is the Shushinkan brewery, because nowhere else will let you dress up like a surgeon and sip the Japanese wine at the same time. While many of the breweries in the region offer tasting rooms, this one lets you go into the factory – kitted out in scrubs, hair nets and blue shoe cover things – to see the process in action, from rice polishing to filtration (it’s fascinating stuff, promise). At the end you’ll try every sake under the sun, from the fruity to the vaguely spicy, from the hot and comforting to the cold and gloriously gluggable. It doesn’t stop there: the adjoining restaurant, Sakabayashi, serves curious Japanese cuisine that goes big on the neba neba – a phrase used to describe the texture of slimy, slightly gloopy food. You’ll have a lot of that. The best bit though is the restaurant’s tofu, which is handcrafted in the brewery itself, and is paired with the sake – because in Kobe, that’s a thing.
Culture and calm Time for a gallery. The waterfront Hyogo
BRIGHT LIGHTS, SMALL CITY: [clockwise from here] Sunset on the waterfront; a statue of Gigantor; Kobe beef; one of the city’s shrines
Photograph by Hannah Summers
KOBE IS A CALM AND LAIDBACK CITY, AND YOU’LL NEVER FEEL HARASSED OR HURRIED HERE
Prefectural Museum of Art is a handsome, raw-looking concrete building designed by Japan’s world-famous architect Tadao Ando. Inside, its wide, sweeping staircases and severe lines lead to a maze of rooms showcasing the range of the country’s artistic talent, from Japanese modern art masterpieces to quirky sculptures. Take some time to wander around; exhibitions roll through the galleries every few months, and even if you’re the most reluctant art appreciator, you’ll find something that’ll wow. Kobe is a calm and laid-back city – you’ll never feel harassed or hurried here. It’s modern and cosmopolitan, and you won’t find the bright neon lights that you’d envisage from a major Japanese city. That being said, you’ll feel a new sense of calm as you ride the cable car up the mountain to the Nunobiki Herb Gardens, home to 75,000 – yes, 75,000 – herbs, spread across 14 gardens. If flowers aren’t your thing, the panoramic view over Osaka Bay and Kobe are some of the best vistas in the city. Meanwhile, the Nunobiki Falls, which
are reached from a steep forest path behind the train station, are a peaceful stop-off point on a hike through Kobe’s mountain trails. I didn’t have the time or the stamina, but I did see eager, sweaty locals tackling the slopes of Mount Rokko.
After dark Street food’s a big deal in Japanese cities and Kobe has its own take on it – with kobe beef, naturally. Head to Chinatown and you can get your fill of cheap pork buns and the most delicious street wagyu you can find – thick melty strips of it, seasoned, sliced and draped into a soft bun with a thin layer of lettuce. All for a couple of quid. It’s a great pre-karaoke snack, and for that, Big Echo is my pick. Pay for Prized kobe beef has a private booth (the to fulfill a specific norm here) and settle set of criteria to be in to an hour or two labelled as such. Some of the kobe of Meatloaf, Cher and cattle are played Celine Dion. Sake classical music, and will be delivered massaging the cows is common, too. to your room,
EMBRACE JAPAN’S CULTURE AT AN ONSEN
CALM AND COLLECTED: [this image] Laid-back Kobe is full of traditional Japanese architecture; [below] the city’s signature dish
An evening with the onsens Strolling the cities is all well and good, but to truly embrace the history and culture of Japan you need to spend a day or two soaking your weary bod in some healing warm water, aka an onsen. The small village of Arima is just a subway ride away from Kobe and is a pretty Virtually all of little tranquil maze Kobe’s best bars of quaint cobbled are within walking streets, which lead distance of one another, so you can to seven warmtake in as many water onsen springs, as you like with relatively little effort temples, shrines and required. Cheers! centuries-old wooden
buildings that feel a world away from the gleaming straight lines of Kobe. No wonder, then, that the place has become a pilgrimage destination for stressed-out Japanese looking to relax. But a visit here is about more than a hot-water soak. Ditch the hotel room for a traditional sleep in a Japanese inn such as
GETTING THERE For more information, visit seejapan.co.uk; nightly rates at ANA Crowne Plaza start from £88. anacrowneplaza-kobe.jp; British Airways fly from London Heathrow to Tokyo from £817 return, ba.com. From there, catch the Shinkansen to Shin-Kobe station (around three hours).
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Photograph by Hannah Summers
and tambourines are supplied. Japanese bar culture is addictive – forget our big rooms crammed with people and try Kobe’s intimate 12-seater drinking dens. You’ll find them in the backstreets around Sannomiya Station and they are prime bar-crawl territory.
Inn Gobosho, an old house with winding staircases and corridors that give way to private living rooms that also act as your bedroom. Remove your shoes, slide into your slippers – it’s the rules – and settle into a tea session complete with silky kimono and traditional Japanese music. While the historic inn has its own private onsen, it’s the food here that really got me. And for that you need to be prepared to go with the flow. Forget choosing your own dishes (you won’t know what they are anyway): instead, you’ll be presented with a tasting-menu-style meal complete with suspicious yet delicious flavours and, most of all, textures. Think sushi, tofu, tempura, insanely good melt-in-your-mouth (kobe) beef, and a soup the consistency of phlegm, crammed with unidentifiable edible objects. Try it all – the sake will help – and retreat to your roll-out matt-on-the-floor ‘bed’. Breakfast takes a similarly adventurous path – rice (good), lightly fried fish with pickles (good) and a whole tray of different types of tofu, from soupy to wobbly (very good). All cleansed out? My final stop back in Kobe is a gritty burger joint with lightly seasoned burgers that let this supersonic beef do the talking. It feels like a dirty little secret in this relaxed and cosmopolitan city, but the kind of secret you feel compelled to share. It’s called Wanto. You’re welcome. e
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SLOPES AND THE CITY Skiing in Spain? Classy Costa del Sol? Teaming snowy peaks with striking street art in Andalucia, Estella Shardlow uncovers a winter sports wonderland in Sierra Nevada before getting to grips with MĂĄlagaâ€™s impressive cultural comeback
of the Alhambra Palace walls beyond the apartment buildings – before taking on the hairpin turns that wind steeply into Sierra Nevada National Park. On the flight our fellow passengers were clad in flip flops and T-shirts, and with the countryside now brown and baking beneath a cloudless April sky, my boyfriend and I exchange a dubious look: can there really be a ski resort hiding up here, or is it some elaborate trick? Olive groves and roadside goats aren’t necessarily a good sign. After another half an hour, however, we sweep round another bend to see snowy peaks jutting above the foothills. Granted, this late in the spring it’s not the thick blanket of white I’d seen a couple of months ago in the Alps, but already I can make out brightly-coloured figures zipping down the blue run, Maribel, into the resort. For ski-in-ski-out action, El Lodge is in prime position right on Maribel, with a vast, decked terrace and outdoor pool
CAN THERE REALLY BE A SKI RESORT HIDING UP HERE, OR IS IT AN ELABORATE TRICK?
Photograph by Horizons WWP / TRVL; Sean Pavone; Jose Angel Astor Rocha / Alamy
ace upturned to the sun, a babble of Spanish voices around me, and a chilled San Miguel in hand, I wiggle my toes, half-expecting to feel sand between them; instead, they’re strapped snugly into a pair of ski boots. This curious fusion of Med and mountain is what happens when you come to Sierra Nevada, Europe’s most southerly ski resort and one of the highest at 2,102m (lifts go up to 3,330m), meaning the season can extend from late November to early May. It’s one of the few places where you can spend the morning on the pistes and be lazing in a palm-fringed piazza Sierra Nevada come afternoon. is officially the Approaching sunniest ski resort the resort on the is Europe, but don’t worry about the drive from Málaga rays impacting the airport, we skim the powder – there’s an outskirts of Granada advanced artificial snowmaking system. – catching a glimpse
PISTES AND PLAZAS: [clockwise from here] Sierra Nevada ski resort; Travel Plaza de la Merced, Malaga; the city’s skyline at sunset
to make the most of the Spanish sun. The style inside is a slick modern take on Alpine style: cowhide rugs, vintage ski posters, wood-panelled walls and elaborate antler horn chandeliers. Each room is named after a famous resort – we’re in Jackson Hole – and many have their own private hot tub on the terrace. Fondue and raclette are on the menu in The Grill restaurant, alongside other suitably indulgent dishes such as grilled lobster and the locally produced Riofrío caviar. All perfectly justifiable after a day practising one’s parallel turns. The next morning we head to the resort centre to rent equipment and jump onto the Al-Andalus bubble lift in a matter of seconds. Apart from catching the odd conversation in Swedish or English, the majority of the crowd seems to be Spanish. Spreading out the map, out of the 118 pistes there’s a reassuring wealth of blues and greens (this is my boyfriend’s second time skiing), not to mention night skiing on Saturdays, a cross-country skiing circuit and a 165m halfpipe. The tip-top facilities were used to host the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships earlier this year. For most of the day, it’s warm enough to hit the slopes without a jacket, and I hear that the following week a cohort from Granada University will arrive on their annual trip to ski in bikinis and trunks. The downside to these conditions, of course, is that the snow is a little slushy, and on a few runs we had to dodge patches where the
ground beneath was showing through. After ditching the gear in El Lodge’s equipment room at the end of the day, it’s all about a sauna and massage in the spa, before sinking into the squashy leather sofas in the lounge. Playing an after-dinner game of Jenga by the log fire, overlooked by a few antlered specimens on the walls and with a belly full of raclette, it’s only our bottle of tempranillo that reminds me I’m in Spain. Málaga is a far cry from what I’d expected, too. Picturing Brits on tour? It turns out the city has undergone a Bilbaostyle rebrand in recent years, swapping Stella and sunburn While it’s referred for Brancusis and to as the ‘capital of Francis Bacons. The the Costa del Sol’, Pompidou Centre is Málaga’s artistic heritage, Gothic staging its only poparchitecture and up outside France: rebuilt port mean it a giant Rubik’s cube stands out from the rest of the region. of a building on the marina, next to a cluster of open-air cocktail bars, where the vibe is more sipping Hendricks and tonic than downing a load of shots. The pop-up joins a grand total of 30 museums, including the Andalucían artfocused Museo Carmen Thyssen, the CAC (Centre for Contemporary Art) and a wine museum – all new additions over the past 15 years – as well as restored Turkish baths and a sprawling tenth century castle rising above the city centre. An impressive line-up for city of just half a million people.
Málaga’s Pompidou Centre is the only offshoot of the brand outside France, indication of what an important arts hub Malaga is. It’s a must-visit when you’re in the city.
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BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL: [this image] The Pompidou Centre, Málaga; [below] Chic interiors at Malaga’s Room Mate Valeria hotel
STREET ART GRACES BUILDINGS IN MALAGA’S SOHO DISTRICT 88
the huge Ferris wheel on the sea front. One of three Room Mate hotels in the city (others can be found as far afield as Miami and Milan), its theme character ‘Valeria’ is apparently a botanist at the nearby botanical gardens, hence the verdant colour scheme: jungle-patterned wallpaper in the hallways and bathrooms lined in emerald tiles. More importantly, there’s a rooftop bar and pool, and a breakfast buffet that runs until midday – no need for an early night here. A tip-off leads us to Málaga’s indoor food market. Taking one of the tables in the centre, we eat our way around stalls serving everything from cod fritters and manchego to sushi and Korean-inspired tapas. Like the flurry of museums, this foodie hotspot is yet another example of the city smartening up its act. Out on the streets of the once run-down Soho district, the writing is quite literally on the wall – street art by some of the biggest international talents graces its apartment blocks and store fronts. Starting on foot from the back of the CAC, you can track down ‘Peace and Liberty’ by US artist Shepard Fairey (known for the Obama ‘Hope’ poster) staring out from a ten-storey building alongside D*Face’s closeup of a fighter pilot, and spy Dadi Dreucol’s murals of black masked figures. Spain may be the country most visited by Brits, but somehow there are still plenty of different sides of it ripe for discovery. e
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ROOM MATE VALERIA Rooms at Room Mate Valeria start from €109 per night. room-matehotels.com/en/valeria
FLIGHTS Norwegian operates a year-round daily service between London Gatwick and Málaga. The flights are operated by a fleet of brand new Boeing 737-800 aircraft offering all passengers free Wi-Fi connectivity. Fares start from £29.90 one way. See norwegian.com/uk for more information and to book.
Photograph by (Pompidou) M Ramirez/Alamy; (Room Mate) Martin Mendez
Really, Málaga’s arty aspirations shouldn’t come as a surprise. This is the city that gave the world Picasso; you can visit the house where he was born and learned to paint with his father, or sidle up to the bronze statue of him that sits on a bench in Plaza de la Merced outside. There’s also a separate museum opened by his daughterin-law charting eight decades of his art. All this persuaded me to skip a stay in Granada – just a 45-minute drive from Sierra Nevada, it’s another easy city to combine with skiing – and take the coach onto Málaga this time round. After an hour-anda-half rolling past countless olive groves, we arrive at Room Mate Valeria, opposite
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ROLL OUT THE BARREL Armed with a healthy thirst for knowledge and, er, wine, Graeme Green grabs his bike and heads for the sun-drenched vineyards of Bordeaux
thought you were Chris Froome,” Isabelle Roy tells me, as I pull up at Château Guiraud. She’s clearly joking. I am on a bike but that aside there are a few ‘minor’ differences: I’m not wearing a Yellow Jersey, I lack Froome’s speed and stamina, and I don’t have three Tour de France wins under my belt. As the British cyclist was powering his way through each arduous stage last summer, I was on my own, very different ‘Tour de France’, a new cycling trip around the vineyards of Bordeaux, where the only time pressure was arriving for appointments at some of the country’s best
vineyards to sample the wines the region’s globally famous for. It’s a good and a bad time for Bordeaux wine right now. In the city of Bordeaux itself, the Cité du Vin has just opened; a shining new €81.14m project dedicated to wine from around the world. On my first day in the city, I make my With a total way up the Garonne vineyard area of river, where the gold more than 120,000 and silver panels of hectares, Bordeaux is the largest wine the new museum growing area in glint in the sun, the France. There are curved, 50-metreover 8,500 producers in the region. high tower possibly
meant to resemble wine swirling in a glass. I explore some of the Cité’s ten levels, sitting in on a ‘sensory session’, with images from wine-producing countries lighting up the walls, along with sounds – an accordion playing, meat sizzling on a grill – and, most interestingly, smells piped into the room. I get a good whiff of basil in one market scene, then sausages and freshly baked pastries. The aim’s to get the senses flowing, as part of a wine tasting: an Italian prosecco, a rosé from Provence, an Argentine malbec… Upstairs, displays look at wine from every angle, from the history of ‘fermented grapes’ throughout global civilizations
WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS: Barrels of wine in the cellar at Château Figeac winery in St-Émilion, one of Bordeaux’s appellations
Photograph by Graeme Green
to the links between religion and wine (“When wine is pure, it offers a glimpse of God,” says one recording). A large video installation has Mozart, Churchill, Voltaire and other historical figures discussing their love of du vin. I particularly like the smelling jars, which give blasts of liquorice, leather gloves and strawberry jam, and the upstairs bar, where I swap my ticket for a glass of Bordeaux red. I take a walk and look in on Cathédrale Saint-André’s impressive interior in the afternoon, calm and pleasantly cool during a Bordeaux heatwave, before heading out for the evening in this famously foodie city
WHEN WINE IS PURE, IT OFFERS A GLIMPSE OF GOD…
to La Brasserie Bordelaise, which cooks steaks, oysters and other southern French specialities. The place is buzzing. Bottles of wine line the walls. I order spicy shrimp fricassée, then perfectly cooked salty scallops. It’s a fine example of why people bang on about French cooking. I stay at Mama Shelter, near the cathedral. There’s something Zoolanderesquely ‘ridiculously good-looking’ about the hotel, designed by Philippe Starck; “Beauty goes on and on” is painted in the stairwell. There’s a sense of playfulness, too, with retro Batman and Tweety bird masks hanging on the bedroom mirror, table football (or
THERE ARE BIG HILLS ON THE RIDE TO ST-EMILION; TIME TO EARN MY WINE
GRAPES AND GEARS: [above and below] Bordeaux’s pretty countryside and vineyards lend themselves to exploration by bike
Photograph by Graeme Green
le babyfoot) in the restaurant and animal rubber rings hanging over the rooftop bar. Cycling company Cyclomundo transfer me in the morning to the village of Margaux, where I’m fitted to my bike and talked through maps and the route ahead. I start pedaling into the Médoc, an area on the left bank of the Gironde river that’s famous for red blends, and one of the region’s renowned appellations. The land’s quite flat, almost every field filled with neat lines of vines. My first stop is Château LamotheBergeron, outside Cussac-Fort-Médoc, a clean white château with conical towers. Director Laurent Mery leads me to the terroir observatory overlooking the vineyards, with three plates of grapes – the Médoc’s typical merlot, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot – to taste. “You’ve heard of Bordeaux-bashing?” Laurent asks, as we talk about Bordeaux’s international reputation. The region’s fallen out of favour with some wine critics over the past ten years, the ‘bad’ I mentioned earlier. The largest wine region in France, producing 720 million bottles each year, it’s perhaps a big, easy target. We watch a short video projected onto the glass wall of the barrel room, with wine expert Hubert Debouard demonstrating the blending decisions behind LamotheBergeron’s wine, before Laurent shows me to a bright modern bar where we work through a few vintages, including the standout 2010. “This is our roots,” Laurent says, when I ask what wine means to the French. “Wine’s part of our life.” I ride a circuitous route north. A village
shopkeeper gets the full assault of my barely-used-since-GCSE French and I come out with French bread and a block of cheese for a picnic. At Saint-Estèphe, I turn south, riding with fields of golden hay bales on my right, the Gironde river to the left where wooden sheds drop large nets into the water for mullet and other Some of Blaye’s fish. At Château Haut ruins date back Marbuzet, Delphine as far as the 12th Braud treats me to century, and are worth a visit in the 2015 vintage between glasses direct from the of wine… See the barrel and five other Citadel, which was built in the 1600s. selections. The 2008 Château LayaugaDuboscq is one of the best wines of the trip. I take a bottle for the evening in the slightly faded riverside town of Pauillac. Next morning, I catch the TransGironde ferry across the wide silvery river to the ‘right bank’ town of Blaye. It’s a colourful ride from the ancient fortified city through empty ‘ghost villages’. There are a few big hills to climb, too; time to earn my wine. It helps that I’m riding a light, fast carbon frame bike. It also helps that I have the destination of St-Emilion, one of the world’s most famous wine regions, as my motivation. Church bells ring as I pedal to Château Figeac, just down the road from the famous Cheval Blanc. “We’re going to my favourite place: the cellar,” winemaker Frederic Faye laughs, as we head downstairs to sample Figeac’s 2011 and, my favourite, the fruity 2009, “an outstanding vintage.” St-Emilion is “the kingdom of merlot,” Frederic tells me, explaining the prime difference between St-Emilion and the Médoc. My pace decidedly more sluggish, I ride on to St-Emilion, stopping just outside the city at Château Beau-Séjour Bécot
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MY LEGS SHATTERED AND LIVER CHATEAUX’D, I SET OFF FOR THE FINAL DAY for another tasting in a bright room with modern art hanging on the walls, before finding my hotel in the busy Unesco town of St-Emilion’s steep cobbled streets. Candles are burning in the Collegiate Church, while around the town, wine shops – my kind of church – offer tastings. In the evening, I sit on the central square with a glass of red and listen to a live band playing folk music. Leaving the towers of St-Emilion behind next morning, I hear clinking from a bottling plant at the bottom of the long fast hill, before veering off into the countryside, past fields of head-high corn and sunflowers. I cross the Dordogne and pick up La Lapébie cycle path (named after the Bordeaux-born Tour de France winner), through fields, forests and a cool dank 259-metre tunnel. Buzzards hover over the fields as I roll towards Château Fayau on the edge of Cadillac in the Entre-Deux-Mers appellation.
“We’re between the Dordogne and Garonne rivers, so the terroir’s different,” Marc Medeville tells me, explaining why the region makes not only reds, but good whites and sweet dessert wine. “Bordeaux-bashing isn’t based on reality,” Marc suggests, the subject rearing its head as I work my way through their selection. “It’s easy to bash Bordeaux, because there are so many different winemakers, styles and prices. But a lot of people know Bordeaux for very beautiful wine.” Whatever’s happening, I’m pretty happy with what I drink here and the region feels not only affordable, but friendly and unpretentious too. I ride on, for all of five minutes. “It’s not common to see people arriving by bike,” Julien Noel tells me at Château Du Cros in the shadow of a hilltop castle built by Richard the Lionheart in the 1100s. I’m normally a reds man, but it’s the whites that impress here, including a light Château Du Cros 2015 sauvignon blend, as well as sweet honeyish dessert wines. I make one final stop, Château La Rame, just beyond Sainte-Croix-Du-Mont, which requires a testing kilometre climb up a steep hill. It’s worth it for their easy-drinking whites, mellow sweet dessert wines and the view out across the countryside all the way to the renowned Château d’Yquem in Graves. Three vineyards down, I zip down the hill and into the medieval town of Saint-Macaire for the night, where men If your ideal vision are playing boules in of a French Medieval the park. town is all quaint My legs a little winding streets, churches full of shattered, my liver faded murals and a little chateaux’d, I a cobbled main set off for the final square, Saint-Macaire is your place. day, arriving an hour
NEED TO KNOW BIKING AROUND BORDEAUX Cyclomundo’s ‘In Velo Veritas’ cycling trip around Bordeaux’s vineyards costs from €1,175 (£984) per person, based on two sharing, including six nights’ accommodation in three-star hotels, breakfast and most dinners, luggage transfers, maps and route notes, and transfer from Bordeaux to Margaux. See cyclomundo.com, for more information and to book. Carbon road bike hire for the trip costs €210 (£178). Tours are available from April through to October. Tickets for La Cité du Vin (laciteduvin.com) start from €20. Double rooms at Mama Shelter (mamashelter.com) cost from €89, plus €16for breakfast. EasyJet (easyJet.com) offers return flights from London Gatwick to Bordeaux, including one bag and taxes, from £61. For more information on visiting Bordeaux and France, see bordeaux-tourisme.com, bordeauxwinetrip.com and france.fr
Photograph by Graeme Green
SHRINE TO WINE: The Cité du Vin is Bordeaux’s new museum of wine, and an homage to varieties from all over the world
later at Château Guiraud, a pretty château decorated with pink roses on the edge of Sauternes. “There are the equivalent of 90,000 bottles of wine in there,” Isabelle Roy tells me, peering into the barrel room. Bottles are opened and poured, including an excellent Château Guiraud 2013 blend. “We can plant only three grapes in Sauternes: sémillon, sauvignon blanc and muscadelle,” Isabelle explains. “Sauternes is famous for sweet and dry white wines.” Car horns honk from a wedding party as I turn into Château La Louvière on my way back to Bordeaux. “This appellation, Pessac-Leognan, is about dry white wine,” Claire Hamelin-Boyer informs me, pouring a selection of whites, rosé and big reds. The refreshing Château Bonnet 2015, from the company’s vineyard in Entre-Deux-Mers, is the pick of the bunch. “We call this a ‘thirst wine’ in French,” Claire tells me. After four days and more than 250km of cycling through sunny Bordeaux countryside, a ‘thirst wine’ feels like the right choice for the occasion, and a second glass… e
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Photograph by Die Bildagentur der Fotografen GmbH / Alamy
TAKE IT UP A GEAR Sure, holidays are great for a bit of rest an’ all, but if you’d like to fill your downtime with something downright adventurous instead, look no further… Words by Tom Powell
Razz a supercar around the Swiss Alps Whether you’re a petrolhead, mountain lover or plain old Bond villain, nothing quite beats self-driving over 800km of the most outrageously picturesque passes in the Swiss Alps in the kind of sporty motor you probably can’t afford (we’re talking the latest Lamborghinis, Maseratis and Porsches). You’ll be spending your evenings in the five-star Grand Hotel Kronenhof Pontresina – home to a world-class spa, Michelin-starred restaurant and private bowling alley. Well, Mr Bond... Ultimate Drives offers four-night self-drive tours from £3,652 for two people driving a Porsche 718 Boxster S, ultimatedrives.net
Discover Jordan on horseback If cowboys ever taught us anything, it’s that galloping into the wilderness on the back of a noble steed makes everything that little bit more epic. Lucky really, because on this
TREK AROUND THE NATURAL ARCHES OF WADI RUM AND PETRA ON HORSEBACK
MOUNTAIN BIKE, CAVE SNORKEL AND ISLAND-HOP YOUR WAY AROUND THE SOUTHERN ADRIATIC SEE TO BELIEVE: [clockwise from here] Ancient Petra; ICEHOTEL #27; trek Panama’s jungles; see Switzerland in a supercar
Kayak Croatia’s hidden coves If there’s anything that’s better than ambling around the beautiful, ancient walled city of Dubrovnik in the south of Croatia, we’d wager that it’s probably hopping on a short boat ride across to the carfree island of Lopud and pulling a kayak around the nearby While you’re in and incredibly Lopud, make sure picturesque Elaphiti you visit Sunj beach. Islands – all 13 of Known as one of the finest beaches in the them. Once you’ve Dubrovnik region, mountain biked, cave it’s composed of fine snorkeled and islandwhite sand, which is rare in Croatia. hopped your way around the southern portion of the Adriatic, you can then get some kip in your own traditional Croatian stone house – or even better, on the beach. Turns out that even Action Man needs a rest day every now and then. Adventure Worldwide offers eight-day tours from £692, adventureworldwide.co.uk
the most dense, untouched jungle you’ll find on the planet, too. After a gentle boat trip into the heart of the Darien National Park, you’ll spend nine days hacking through the undergrowth in the capable hands of one of Panama’s most respected naturalists – which is handy, because we doubt you’ll get Google maps out there in the wilderness. Secret Compass’s 14-day expedition departs Panama City on 25 March 2017 for £2,799, secretcompass.com
Photographs by (Petra) Emanuele Stano/Getty; (ICEHOTEL) Tjåsa Gusfors and Patric Dallard; (Panama) Simon Buxton; (Switzerland) Lorenz Richard
ten-night trip to Jordan you’ll trek your way round the natural arches of Wadi Rum and the pink carved city of Petra with Bedouin guides, generally soaking up all the sights that Lawrence of Arabia thought were divine. Beats riding a donkey up and down Blackpool beach if you ask us. Wild Frontiers Travel offers ten-night tours from £1,595, wildfrontierstravel.com
Explore the jungles of Panama Just because delving into the mysterious depths of Panama’s Darien Gap in search of 5,000-year-old Petroglyphs, Embera Indian villages and tropical This remote, wildlife sounds like roadless swathe of the sort of thing Bear jungle sits on the Grylls or Tintin might border of Panama and Columbia. Look get up to on a long out for its amazing weekend, it doesn’t array of wildlife, mean you can’t make including monkeys and jaguars. a beeline for some of
Fill up in Swedish Lapland Learning how to survive in the snow-filled forests of Sweden is a lot more fun when you’re stuffing your face with pan-boiled coffee and outlandish outdoor banquets. It’s even better when you’re sleeping surrounded by ice sculptures at the brand new ICEHOTEL #27, which is great, because that’s exactly what you’ll be doing when you’re not husky sledding across frozen lakes and using the wintry forest as your own personal toolkit. Worried that you might suck at foraging? Don’t fret, because you’ll be in the more-than-capable hands of Michelin-trained head chef Alex Meier, who knows exactly how to squeeze the very best out of local ingredients like reindeer, moose, gravlax and an array of edible plants. We reckon you’ll survive… Discover the World offers three-night tours from £1,340 including flights, discover-the-world.co.uk
DIVE RIGHT IN: [left] Bike around the Highlands to see the likes of Loch Maree and Slioch; [above] take a surf tour in Morocco
European surf spots? Good, because on this week-long road trip around Morocco you’ll spend your days scouring the coast of Agadir in a 4x4 with a load of local experts, picking out the best right-hand ripcurlers in the world. In the evening, meanwhile, you’ll be soaking up the impressive sunsets, chowing down on tagine and camping out under the endless stars. Each expedition is carefully selected by forecast for the week, so you’re sure to make the most of the country’s best breakers. Morrocan Surf Adventures offers weeklong road trips from £750 with gear hire, morocsurf.com
across acres of epic singletrack wilderness, stopping only for fresh fish, pub grub and secluded mountain vistas that scream ‘how the hell am I still in the UK?’. Wildbike offers six-night tours with accommodation from £685, wildbike.co.uk
Catch Morocco’s best waves Sick of spending your entire wave time avoiding other boarders at overcrowded
Head to Scuba Fest in Mexico When swimming underwater widths at your local lido just won’t Agadir’s diverse cut it, chances are you coastline means the need a red-hot fix of surfing potential is blue sea and fish-filled endless, and there are waves to suit reefs. Jetting off to the all levels of ability. Mayan Caribbean for It’s also naturally Cozumel Scuba Fest – positioned to avoid winter storms. a diver’s mecca
Scotland: WILDLIFE GmbH / Alamy
Bike the Scottish Highlands When hammering your thighs on a slippery morning commute in February all gets a bit too much, it’s probably about time you ran away to Scotland’s western Highlands to boss a cycle in the mountains for a few days instead. Bumping your way up to Torridon – a scenic coastal village an hour and half drive from Inverness – you’ll spend five days being expertly guided
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IF YOU HAVEN’T HURTLED DOWN THE SIDE OF A VOLCANO, YOU HAVEN’T LIVED 102
just a few miles off Mexico’s dramatic Yucatan coast – you’ll plunge headfirst into nine epic dive sites approved by master adventurer Jacques Cousteau by day, and chill at cocktail parties all night. When you’re not gawping at Nemo and his mates under the sea, you can kick back in the cinema to watch the best diving flicks to hit the silver screen. Just don’t book unless you like Cozumel is renowned getting your feet wet. for its diving, with Four-day festival options ranging tickets, including from beach dives at Paradise Beach to nine dives, from £490, cozumelfest.com
Volcanoboard in Nicaragua
serious fish-spotting at Barracuda Reef, where you’ll also see hammerhead sharks.
Let’s face it, if you haven’t hurtled down the charred side of an active volcano in goggles and a boilersuit with a five-foot plank of wood strapped to your feet, you really haven’t lived. That’s pretty much why you
need to head to Central America’s youngest lava-blower, Cerro Negro, right now. Just make sure you’ve booked a bolthole with a good shower for when you’re finished, because things are about to get pretty sooty. Vapues tours offers day trips from Leon from £30, volcanoboard.com. Air Canada offers flights to Nicaragua from £415 return, aircanada.com
Get zippy in Wales Wales. Famous for male voice choirs, Tom Jones, and now your screams, as you fly headfirst across a 350ft-deep quarry on the world’s fastest zipwire. Meanwhile, there are also quarry tours and viewing platforms for the cautious, curious, or plain sadistic. So if you like adrenaline, wobbly knees and travelling at more than 100 miles an hour while suspended by a cable attached to your back, head on over to Penrhyn. e Zipworld offers day passes to Zipworld Velocity, Bethesda, from £60, zipworld.co.uk
Photographs by (Nicaragua) Prisma Bildagentur AG/Alamy; (Mexico) Seaphotoart/Alamy
NEED FOR SPEED: [clockwise from left] Board down a volcano in Nicaragua; explore Mexico’s underwater world; zip-lining in Wales
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1 FJALLRAVEN 2 TRAIL SHOES 3 BACKPACKS 4 WATCH 5 CARRY-ON Photograph by David Harrison
SHOOT THE BREEZE FJALLRAVEN, ABISKO HYBRID WINDBREAKER, (ORANGE) £145: With a superlightweight build and a slim fit, this jacket is perfect company for anyone who needs serious protection from sun, wind or rain while out on the trail – or on the way to the pub. Either way. fjallraven.co.uk
Photograph by ###
When it comes to picking the best pair of trail shoes, it’s the small things that help tackle the hardest of tasks. From grit-evading, foot-hugging boulder smashers to water-resistant kicks that’ll take your run up a level, try this little lot for size.
SAUCONY, PEREGRINE 7, (BLUE/ORANGE) £105: With supergrippy outsole and superior construction for enhanced energy return, you’ll be, er, flying as soon as you get this pair of peregrines on your feet. saucony.com
Photograph by David Harrison
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CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai is one of the most luxurious escapes in the UAE; one of the resort’s Luux Suites; eat, sun and swim at the resort’s poolside restaurant, Cafe Nikki
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he very best holidays start with a carefree, luxurious welcome, and that’s just what you’ll get from the minute you check into Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai – the elegant jewel in the crown of Dubai’s Pearl Jumeira. Spanning two square miles of gorgeous
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PhotographPhotograph by David Harrison by ###
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OSPREY, DAYLITE PLUS 20L, (PURPLE), £40: Complete with an LED light attachment and a whistle on the sternum support strap, this is ready for whatever the trek throws at you. blacks.co.uk
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The two mesh water bottle pockets on this nifty number mean you can easily navigate the office (or the Dales) without another awkward moment at the water cooler.
PhotographPhotograph by David Harrison by ###
EUROHIKE, ROAM 15L, (AQUA) £15: The MP3 pocket stops you dropping your phone when you listen to tunes on the go, and the haul loop makes this daysack perfect for the toughest climbs. blacks.co.uk
BERGHAUS, 24/7 25L, (ECLIPSE) £35: This compact bag is built for relentless use, which is lucky really, because with a name like 24/7, you expect nothing less than 100% adventureproof comfort. blacks.co.uk
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THE SE RIE S
elcome to the first installment of escapism’s Intrepid Series. Every issue, we’ll bring you a story to inspire your next adventure, one that will squeeze every ounce of energy and resource from you in the process. Hopefully, you’ll come back with a few decent memories, too. First up, Matt Maynard takes on the Grand Canyon’s fearsome Rim to Rim hike (which is exactly what it sounds) – in under 24 hours, no less. Want to know how he did it, and how you can have a go, too? Read on – and keep an eye out for the circling vultures… e
THE MILE-HIGH CLUB
Photograph by Matt-Maynard.com
After a childhood trip to the Grand Canyon piqued his interest, Matt Maynard returns to Arizona’s geological wonder as an adult to make it past the viewing rail, all the way down to the bottom, and then up the other side again on the ‘rim to rim’ hike
rappy magnetic rocks in a box. This was my gift-shop-tourism takeaway the last time I stood at the Grand Canyon’s edge. Those smooth pseudo stones were meant to pass for a connection with the inner workings of America’s greatest natural wonder. And, as an 11-year-old boy, I really tried to believe that. Perhaps no one who merely stands at the edge of the abyss can hope for any more. Yet, as I was harried between the retail experiences and tripod-wielding tourists of the ever-busy South Rim, I like to think that I made a promise. A cross-yourheart-and-hope-to-die pact, that one day I would get all the way to the bottom of that big hole and do some real exploring.
Fast forward two decades and I’m speeding away from the scene of that promise through an Arizona November night. My Californian travel companion James and I left the South Rim at 4am, heading to the remote North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We will attempt the ‘Rim to Rim’ hike, taking us down into the Canyon, along its hidden flats and back out to our starting point. It’s Hiking rim to rim in only 23 miles, but to one day requires no reach the trailhead permit but should you must first drive only be attempted by the extremely fit. the 212-mile overland A two or three-day route around the schedule is manageable for most great rift in experienced hikers. the Earth.
At the wheel is our driver Martha, and she’s just finishing her pep talk: “Remember, be careful near the edge. It’s soft. The hard rock is at the bottom of the canyon,” she says deadpanning the Brit in the rear-view mirror, “so it’ll hurt a lot if you fall.” Jokes aside, it’s the cold that I’m really worried about. After four hours’ driving we reach the North Rim Kaibab Plateau, where the mercury reaches a low of -6°C. At 2,500m we are nearly twice the altitude of Ben Nevis. Dawn reveals a sparkling landscape of ponderosa pine, frosted meadows, and some horsey looking remains being dissected by a feathered velociraptor. “Golden eagle,” says Martha, cooly. We spend an hour at Bright Angel Point,
ON THE ROCKS: [left] Walking through the Grand Canyon is no easy task; [above] Phantom Ranch Lodge provides a handy stop-off point for hikers
watching as sunlight chases shadows into the darkest basement of the Canyon floor. It’s church-like quiet. Looking across the great trench at the journey ahead, successive ridges and rock spurs appear from blue-morning haze like layers of illuminated theatre scenery. On the very far side is South Rim, where we hope to finish before the day is out. It’s time to get moving. After hugs with Martha, we begin. The North Kaibab Trail immediately plunges through the tree line, and once off the plateau the air temperature is far more agreeable. Mountain ash and gambel oak cling hopelessly to scant November leaves, and at each hairpin we have an
FOR EVERY METRE OF DESCENT WE GO A MILLION YEARS FURTHER BACK IN GEOLOGICAL HISTORY
October may be unobstructed view the very best time of the fall-line to to visit the Grand what we presume, Canyon due to autumn colours, incorrectly, is the longer daylight Canyon’s basement. hours and a visitor And yet the shuttle between the two rims. expected floor doesn’t come. The convex architecture of the Canyon tempts you down through its many false bottoms. Disarming on the way down. Devastating on the way back up. Instead, we step through the narrow rock-blasted Supai Tunnel and emerge into a lower red underworld. This ancient rock band (think less Rolling Stones, more Hermit Shale) sends us on an even steeper descent. Down here we are entering what early Colorado River explorer John Wesley Powell called “deep time.” For every metre of descent we go a million years further back in geological history. The trail narrows to a rocky parapet that hugs the canyon wall, teetering between acres of sheet vertical rock. On the other wall, ancient river eddies are remembered with hot-air balloon-size hollows carved into the Canyon’s polished wall.
ESSENTIAL KIT FOR THE TRIP 1 Lightweight ‘approach’ or sturdy trail-running shoes 2 Zip-off hiking trousers and multiple warm and wicking upperbody layers suited to varying temperatures 3 Minimum three litres of water per day (see nps.gov/grca for seasonal water availability) 4 High quantity, high energy, palatable food 5 35-litre rucksack for day-hiking, 55+litre if carrying tent, sleeping bag and camping mat 6 First aid kit and basic knowledge
“Welcome to Texas,” James wisecracks as we pass Cottonwood Campground and stride out into the surprisingly broad cactus-peppered plains of the lower canyon.
The previous day we had read in the visitor’s centre how the change in flora and fauna while descending from the Grand Canyon’s cool high-altitude rim to its desert-like depths is the same as if travelling from Canada to Mexico. Seven more gently descending miles now separate us from the Colorado River. The temperature is in the pleasant 20s and we are glad to be hiking in balmy November warmth, avoiding summer hiker’s heat exhaustion, when temperatures can reach 49°C. As the afternoon rolls on, we concentrate on restoring energy levels by noshing on some nasty cereal bars. “Mexico is close now,” I quip lamely back. “What’s the chance of a michelada and a burrito at the Colorado River?” We reach the outlying cabins of longanticipated Phantom Ranch just as evening light turns grapefruit-pink. A mule deer dines casually alongside the path and seems not to notice as we patter wearily past. Moments later, a stone-built lodge appears through the trees with two dozen hikers sloshing back wine and a meanlooking meal inside. The electric-glow of civilization at the very bottom of the canyon
makes us wish we were more organised. While reservations here need to be made 12 months in advance, eating well, breaking up the hike and spending more time in the Canyon is quite clearly the smart choice. Instead, we check and then re-check our map, which stubbornly continues to indicate a 9.5-mile hike up to our motel near the South Rim. As tipsy Americans stumble sleepily through the dusk to their cabins, stars pop out through a cobalt-clear sky. The temperature drops. I pull on a fleece, refill my water bottle and we push on. The Colorado River passes under our feet in a rush of darkness and spray. James, who was so chirpy up until now, freezes in the middle of the dark suspension bridge. “What’s up, scaredy cat?” Following the beam of his headtorch, the answer is rising behind a cloud-scudded rock escarpment. As a full-moon floods the Canyon we switch off our redundant lights and, once on the Bright Angel Trail, turn to walk alongside the Colorado where frothy whitecaps now sparkle with momentary moonlight. Many uphill hours follow. Early on in the climb, a furry tail slinks down a tree
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THE CANYON’S CRUEL CONVEX CURVE PROVIDES A NEVER-ENDING ROCK WALL
On the sleepy drive back to our motel we stop briefly at the viewpoint that I visited as a child. It’s silent and empty in the moonlight. Nobody pushes me around, and I’m tall enough now to see well over the guardrail. For a long time I gaze with new familiarity over the secret folds of my childhood imagination. If nothing else, I reason, at least those crappy magnets were enough to attract me back. e For a permit and camping information, see: nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/backcountry-permit.htm
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Photograph by David Harrison
and into the undergrowth. “Ring-tailed cat?” I venture. “More like mountain lion” teases the Californian, getting me back for my childish bullying on the bridge. Luckily, Mufasa doesn’t make another appearance during the endless switchbacks and slowly we make our way back to the Earth’s surface. Over the last few miles we curse the sleeping campers in juniper-scented Indian Garden Campground and start to despise the Canyon’s cruel convex curve that provides a never-ending rock wall to our journey. It’s a little before 1am when we finally reemerge at South Rim.
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The bustling Israeli capital of Jerusalem is full of amazing history and cuttingedge modern culture, and one lucky pair of readers can discover it for themselves
or a city break that perfectly balances world renowned ancient history with cutting-edge modern culture and pleasantly hot summer weather, look no further than Jerusalem, the elegant yet bustling capital of Israel. Thanks to the Jerusalem Development Authority, we’re giving one reader and a friend the chance to win a luxury three-night break to the city including accommodation and return flights with Monarch Airlines. While the city is best known for its deep significance to religious communities the world over, Jerusalem’s modern boom in bars, foodie culture and tech startups has helped it become one of the most exciting city break destinations in the middle east. Whether your dream escape involves exploring the streets and food markets for the freshest freekeh and zatar in Israel, or simply chilling out with your feet up at one
EXPERIENCE A MODERN METROPOLIS BURSTING WITH COOL HISTORY AND CULTURE
of the city’s exclusive resorts, in Jerusalem you can balance vibrant culture with unadulterated relaxation. On your trip, you could just as easily find yourself fine-dining in the city’s revered restaurants as soaking up culture in the recently revamped First Station, where you’ll find tons pop-up shops and plenty of event spaces to take in the intriguing bustle of Israeli life at your own pace. When night falls, cool spots like Beer Bazaar open up, selling more than 100 tasty Israeli craft brews, and offering you a hopfilled glimpse of a city where old-meets-new. Alternatively, head to Mahane Yehuda market for top-notch food at MachneYeda, the original restaurant from Assaf Granit – the top chef whose Israeli-inspired eatery, The Palomar, lights up London’s theatreland. Beyond Granit’s great gourmet offerings, when the bustling market closes down in
CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Jerusalem is a haven for food lovers; taking a stroll and soaking up the sights; give your palate an education in amazing Israeli eats; the capital is packed full of cool art and modern culture
the evening, the shutters are spray painted with modern takes on famous figures from Israeli history, offering a colourful and engaging place to eat drink and relax. Meanwhile, if you’re more into spas than bars, you won’t be disappointed in Jerusalem – with effortlessly luxurious hotels like Jerusalem Gardens Hotel & Spa to get you pampered and relaxed, you’ll have the perfect place to escape the city in absolute bliss after a long day of sightseeing. Located just minutes from Jerusalem Light Rail at the entrance of the city, the hotel is the perfect place to experience the ancient beauty and modern excitement of the City of Jerusalem. During your stay you can take advantage of the outdoor and indoor pools, fully equipped gym with personal trainer, spa with jacuzzi, sauna and hot tubs, or just relax in the beautiful outdoor gardens and enjoy the tasty cuisine created by the hotel’s world-renowned chef. Just a five-hour flight from London Gatwick with Monarch, you can explore an incredible modern metropolis with inspiring history. For a chance to see it, all you need to do is enter. ◆ itraveljerusalem.com
HOW TO WIN Fancy discovering the incredible culture of the Israeli capital? We’ve teamed up with the Jerusalem Development Authority to offer one lucky winner and a guest a luxury trip to Jerusalem, including accommodation, flights and exclusive discounts to the city’s hottest attractions. To enter, and for full terms and conditions, head to escmag.co/jerusalem
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Active Relaxation For a Caribbean break that balances supreme beach relaxation, active adventures and luxurious places to rest your head, look no further than the beautiful island of Saint Lucia
resort or checking into a beautiful beachfront bungalow at Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, you’ll be able to chill out in complete relaxation. Of course, in Saint Lucia there’s a lot more to do than just lie back and relax. With unique experiences like chocolate tastings, private sailing lessons and helicopter tours on offer all over the island, you’re never likely to get bored. Fancy a crash course in Creole cookery? Maybe a mud bath at the Caribbean’s only drive-in volcano, or a zipwire journey through the rainforest? Here there’s something for every adventurer. It’s about time you saw it. ◆ To book, call 020 3582 3044; caribtours.co.uk
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ith miles of golden sand beaches and gently lapping blue seas, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia is just the perfect place for a sun-soaked beach break. You’d be wrong, because the beauty of the island goes much further than that. From the peaks of the iconic Piton Mountains to the lush rainforests of the lowlands, the island is full of stunning natural beauty, top-notch food and vibrant Caribbean culture. From the moment you arrive, you’ll have time to kick back, de-stress and relax, and reconnect with inner peace, swapping the hectic, exhausting streets of London for Saint Lucia’s sparkling turquoise waterfalls, palm-fringed beaches and wide, idyllic bays. Whether you’re pampering yourself with a unique spa break at BodyHoliday, reclining in all-inclusive luxury at Rendezvous couples
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Scrum-seekers For a holiday that perfectly balances beach break and VIP sports escape, head to the white-sand beaches of Bermuda to watch the World Rugby Classic this November
hether you love rugby, or just love the beach, there’s no better way to experience Bermuda than by heading to the World Rugby Classic on November 4–11. Now in its 29th year, the epic event sees some of the world’s greatest former stars take each other on in a week of action-packed competition, parties and gigs at the Bermuda National Sports Centre in Devonshire, just outside the quaint seaside capital of Hamilton. When you book with the Classic Collection, you can get access to the pitchside Classic Club as well as the Members’ Tent – an exclusive goal line hangout where you’ll find yourself rubbing shoulders with the stars, tucking into the topnotch buffet and tasting a tipple at an open bar before and after the match. Beyond rugby, Bermuda’s beautiful climate and wild Atlantic breezes make it the perfect
place for all manner of sporting events. From the Cup Match weekend in cricket and the America’s Cup in sailing, to the island’s rolling golf courses, you’d be hard pressed to find a better spot for sports-loving sunseekers. Once you’re done, there’s nowhere better to stay than the Fairmont Southampton Bermuda Resort – a luxurious bolthole that sits in almost 100 acres of rolling pink beaches and towering coconut palms, so when you’re not exploring the island or soaking up the all-action matchday atmosphere, you’ll have a whole paradise of your own to kick back and relax in. ◆ Classic Collection Holidays offers 7 nights at Fairmont
Southampton from £2,032pp with private transfers and return flights from BA. Prices based on two adults sharing, 0800 294 9323. Tickets for Members’ Tent and
Classic Club are avaiable via Classic Collection Holidays specialist sales, 0800 294 9329; classic-collection.co.uk
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Instant Escape You don’t have to go far for an indulgent massage that will take you to a more relaxing place. Thanks to Urban Massage, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home
re you planning your next big trip? Despite many of us thriving in the buzz of a big city, sometimes it’s good to take a break from the fast-paced routine of work and seeing friends and family. The most obvious solution is to take a holiday and travel to a place
A MASSAGE WILL HELP YOU APPRECIATE YOUR BREAK TO THE FULLEST 128
away. However, taking time off work simply isn’t practical every time you want to escape. A mobile massage enables you to take time out in the comfort of your own home. Other than enjoying their relaxing benefits, regular massages may also help tackle stress, anxiety and depression. They also increase circulation, helping to boost energy and help you through whatever the week throws at you. If you’re lucky enough to have that next big holiday planned, a massage can be the perfect way to start your break. It often takes a few days to wind down when you arrive at your destination, but booking a massage before you travel is a great way to start relaxing before you even get away. It will help you appreciate your trip to the fullest without bringing any of the stresses of work away with you.
An at-home massage after you travel is the perfect treat to make coming back from holiday a little bit more appealing, and an energising massage working on improving your circulation will help you combat the effect of jetlag, meaning your natural body clock will better adjust to the change of time zones. You don’t need an excuse to treat yourself to a massage with Urban Massage. Available in Manchester, Birmingham, London, Paris and Vienna. ◆ urbanmassage.com
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MAKE AN ASH OF IT AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW
Photograph by ###
Not content with carving up backcountry powder all over the world, team riders from legendary outdoors brand The North Face took to the ash face of an active volcano on the southern Pacific island of Vanuatu to show off their skills. Sure, the gritty slopes and overhead ash clouds made a mess of their skis and camera drones, but it was all worthwhile for that surreal, sooty alpine kick. Check out the full film @TheNorthFace and bow to their greatness. e thenorthface.com
GR AB LIFE BY THE REINS.
HERE, BIG IDEAS RUN WILD.
When it comes to an authentic cowboy experience, there’s no better place than Texas. Embrace your inner cowboy at hundreds of guest ranches, rodeos and rugged trails throughout the Lone Star State.
Creativity shines in the Lone Star State. Not only are we home to the largest urban arts district and one of the largest modern art collections in the country, we’re also big into classical music, theatre, opera and museums.
SEE WHERE THE WE S T IS S TILL PLENT Y WILD. When it comes to “great” outdoors, there’s something epic everywhere you look in Texas. From lakes and forests to beaches and canyons, you’ll find landscapes begging to be explored. You’ll also find countless ways to explore them, from hiking and biking to kayaking and canoeing.
TE X AS HISTORY NEVER GE TS OLD. Come to Texas and take a step back in time. Here, you’ll find more than 13,000 historic sites and landmarks commemorating everything from the Alamo to historic houses – even dinosaur bones, just waiting for you to explore.
TR AV ELTE X A S.COM > THINGS T O DO > OUTDOOR
Escapism Magazine - Issue 37 - USA Special