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Our associate editor, Hannah Summers, won Young Travel Writer of the Year at the 2016 Travel Media Awards – for the second year running, no less. Hannah also won the 'Best Print Coverage' category in the British Annual Canada Travel Awards in February.
couple of years ago I met a guy called Massimo Vitali, the photographer who launched a million copycat pictures of beaches. His shots – Google him and I bet you'll recognise some of them – have this extraordinary combination of gritty realism and washed-out ethereal beauty, achieved by setting up an old-school 8x10 camera (one of those massive, part-accordion-looking things) on scaffolding in the sea and shooting back and down towards the beach. The scenes he captures aren’t always pretty – the beaches are often in working-class Italian towns, with dilapidated buildings in the background, hazy skies, and shores so packed with people you can barely make out any sand. When we spoke, he talked of watching “tension” build throughout the day, as people arrived, found a spot and marked out their territory. “They play, they read, they eat, and then at a certain point they get bored. When the first one leaves the tension breaks,” he told me, and at that point “you can do anything you like but you’ll never get a good picture.” As someone who grew up near Bournemouth – where the sandy shores threaten to cave in under the weight of lotion-slathered humans as soon as the sun comes out – I reckon I know a bit about tension on beaches, and that’s exactly the way I like it. Find your perfect beach in our roundup on page 60 – tension optional, obviously. e @escapismmag escapismmagazine
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We bring you top travel tips, from American Gods star Ricky Whittle’s scoop on LA to the best summer fests
The most incredible beaches on the face of the Earth, from the Caribbean to Camber Sands, and much more besides.
Looking good takes some serious hard work. Luckily we’ve put in the effort for you. Plus: The Intrepid Series
15 . Photography 22 . Just Landed 26 . Ricky Whittle on LA 32 . Best Summer Festivals 38 . Short Stay 40 . In Focus: Liverpool 44 . Alternative Indian Ocean
60 . The world’s best beach breaks Your guide to the world’s coolest beaches 70 . Ibiza, Spain Discovering a different side of the White Isle 77 . Marrakech, Morocco Beyond the bustle in this cool Moroccan city 86 . Catskills, USA Exploring the place New Yorkers go to chill 92 . Aarhus, Denmark 48 hours in the charming Danish second city 96 . Il Palio, Siena, Italy Horse racing, but not quite as you know it 102 . Moscow, Russia Inside the restaurants of the Russian capital
111 . The Checklist 121 . The Intrepid Series: Jordan Hiking and ancient history in the Middle East
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IN THE LOOP: We’ve rounded up the greatest new things in travel [p22], from wallet-friendly flights to Singapore with Norwegian to vertigo-inducing rides just like this one at Europa Park in Rust, Germany
15 PHOTOGRAPHY 22 JUST LANDED 26 RICKY WHITTLE 30 ON LOCATION 31 COOL INSTAGRAMS 32 SUMMER FESTIVALS 38 SHORT STAY 40 LIVERPOOL, UK 44 INDIAN OCEAN
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Photograph by Stefano Politi Markovina/ AWL Images Ltd
e get it: you’ve a seen a picture of the Colosseum before – but have you seen it reflected perfectly in a puddle? We thought not, and that’s why we’ve banged together this cool collection of city shots for you to enjoy. Putting a new spin on some classic destinations, this month’s photos explore the unexpected in some of Europe’s biggest cities, from the changing of the guards in Athens to the subterranean street art of Stockholm. Sit back, turn the pages and enjoy. e
GET THINGS IN FOCUS An effortless blend of classic design and modern function, the lightweight, versatile and super-fast FUJIFILM X-T20 will have you taking better shots right out of the box. Complete with an updated APS-C sized 24.3MP X-Trans™ CMOS III sensor and X-Processor Pro image processing engine, you’ll be fully equipped to track fast-moving objects with autofocus, and improved startup times will stop you missing your best shots waiting for your camera to turn on. As if that weren’t enough, there’s also a tilting touchscreen LCD monitor, 4K movie
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ITâ€™S THE SOUND OF THE POLIS: A minor ceremony marking the changing of the guards happens outside the Greek parliament on Syntagma Square, Athens once an hour. Although it looks like this guard is giving it a real go, apparently the movements are carefully thought out to protect the soldiersâ€™ circulation after standing still for so long.
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Photograph by Matteo ColomboPhotograph / AWL Images by ### Ltd
PAINT IT TRACK: Think Londonâ€™s Tube stations are the most iconic on the planet? Boy, have we got some news for you, good friend. This striking photograph was taken at the T-Centralen metro station in Stockholm, Sweden, where the underground rail network comes colourful and cavernous, taking in everything from rolling rainbow murals to big old vines like the ones shown below.
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Photograph by Marco Bottigelli Photograph / AWL Images by ###
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WHEN IN ROME: When most people visit the Vatican in Rome, they like to bask in the panoramic city views from the top. Not this photographer, though, who arrived just in time to catch the cupola of St Peterâ€™s Basilica against this delicious backdrop â€“ a particularly godly evening glow.
Photograph by Danita Delimont/AWL Images
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JUST LANDED WHAT’S NEW IN TRAVEL SLEEPING WITH THE STARS San Sebastian may just be one of our favourite city break destinations, but beyond a clutch of cute Airbnbs, the city’s hotel scene has always been a little bit sparse. Step forward Akelarre, a new 22-bedroom boutique hotel that’s opening in the city this July. Along with blinding views over the Bay of Biscay, the swanky hotel is attached to one of the city’s many three-Michelin-starred restaurants. When you’re not lounging around your airy room, be sure to check out the city’s bar-lined cobbled streets. From £379 per night. akelarre.net
Food lovers will be well aware of the gutsy street-food scene in Palermo, Sicily. Even Rick Stein’s had a go! Now the island’s second city – the 2,700-yearold Catania – is having its moment in the gourmet spotlight. Take a new three-hour
GILI SEASON If you’re going to fly across the world to visit Bali, make sure you hop over to the Gili Islands, too. Even better, try Intrepid Travel’s new seven-day sailing adventure, taking in the peace and serenity (not to mention endless white sand and yet more turquoise water) of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. You’ll be sleeping on a yacht with up to eight like-minded folks, spending your days snorkelling, swimming and exploring bays that you normally wouldn’t have access to. Not too shabby. From £1,190pp. intrepidtravel.com
walking tour with streaty.com, led by Sicily specialist Marco Romeo, and you can devour some of the city’s classics, including parmigiana and horse (oh we know), while wandering around beautiful streets peppered with markets and Baroque churches to explore. Prices start from £25 per person. streaty.com
Photograph by (San Sebastian) Dhwee/Getty
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SINGAPORE FLING You probably don’t use the words ‘Singapore’ and ‘budget’ too often in the same sentence – a few years back it was named the world’s most expensive city. But at least getting there is cheap, thanks to new flights from Norwegian Air. Starting in September, the airline will get you there from £179 one-way, saving your more cash for important things like Singapore Slings in luxe hotels. norwegian.co.uk
BY GEORGIA Not long ago, getting to Georgia was a slog, with lengthy stopovers. Forget that faff: new direct flights from Georgian Airways (to the capital, Tbilisi) and Wizz Air mean you can spend more time travelling the country, and less time getting there. For a comprehensive tour, check out Wild Frontiers’ 15-day group trip, which takes in the capital of Tbilisi, forested valleys, snowcapped mountains, rural villages and some of the last untouched regions of Eastern Europe. Prices from £1,995pp. wildfrontierstravel.com
Photographs by (Singapore) Michele Falzone/Alamy; (Europa Park) Hans-Joerg Haas
Obviously you’re planning your next romantic break, and where better to say “I LOVE YOOOOUUUU” than at the top of a 73m vertical drop? That’s just one of the rides at Europa Park, Germany, a theme park that’s seeing the launch of several more white-knuckle rides this spring. OK, it’s officially geared up for families, but with Strasbourg as the closest airport (with flights from Ryanair at £25 return), you could, in theory, combine a pretty, croissant-fuelled French city break with a day riding Europe’s newest roller coasters. europapark.de
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PHOTOGRAPHY by David Harrison GROOMING by Rebecca Richards using Cover FX WHITTLE WEARS: Kingsman blue slim-fit double-breasted windowpane-checked wool suit jacket, £995; Kingsman + Drake’s silk-grenadine tie, £120; Oliver Spencer Lupin cotton pocket square; Thom Sweeney slim-fit cotton-poplin shirt, £235; [overleaf] Kingsman slim-fit double-breasted overcoat, £1,495; all from mrporter.com Crockett & Jones chestnut burnished calf oxfords, £420, crockettandjones.com
INTERVIEW RICKY WHITTLE
WHITTLE, BOY WONDER SEE MORE AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM
From the climate to the people, LA is more than a little bit different from Oldham, but that’s exactly why Ricky Whittle likes it. The American Gods star tells Lydia Winter about the best places to eat, sleep and play in the City of Angels
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Three times a week, I’ll sit on the beach and watch the sun set in Marina del Rey. I wish I’d moved there sooner America. Yet, despite his jetsetting, Whittle has definitely found a home in LA. He tells us exactly what he loves most, from skydiving in San Diego to seaside sunsets.
The best thing about LA is the climate It’s very relaxed, it’s very warm, everyone’s walking around in yoga pants, shorts and T-shirts, because it’s a holiday destination – it’s beautiful, sunny and bright. You almost feel guilty staying indoors. It encourages you to move and be active. People hike, they work out a lot, because it’s nice out. It’s a completely different mentality.
People here are a lot more positive
Photographs by (Venice Beach) Christian Kober / AWL Images
t’s a long journey from Oldham, Greater Manchester, to Los Angeles. Almost 5,300 miles, in fact. But for Ricky Whittle, it’s been a long journey in more ways than one. You’ll know his face best from his four-year stint on Hollyoaks as heartthrob policeman Calvin Valentine, as well as his time on Strictly Come Dancing, where he reached the final in 2009. In the six years since Whittle left the UK, and his northern English hometown, he’s starred in a feature film and several TV shows – the most recent of which is American Gods, the much-hyped adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novel. The show was filmed in Toronto, Wisconsin and Oklahoma, which meant that Whittle spent time travelling across much of North
MAN ABOUT TOWN: Ricky Whittle has swapped his hometown of Oldham for LA; [below] Venice Beach
It’s a great feeling. Everyone’s quick to pump you up and commend you on anything you’ve done well, whether it be your career or whether you’re dressed well. I think it might be the sun. When England’s hot, in the summer, it’s a different country. It really is wonderful. But as soon as that rain comes in, everyone gets As well as having miserable again.
My favourite area in LA is Marina del Rey, in Venice Beach
an amazing beach, Marina Del Rey is home to a famous boardwalk, canal system and an outdoor gym, where you’ll find tons of bodybuilders.
I wish I’d moved there sooner. It’s a completely different vibe to central LA – there’s the beach, people are doing yoga, they’ve got their bikes. I spend most of my free time there now. Three times a week I’ll sit on the beach and watch the sun set over the water, which is an incredible thing to be able to do. Mother Nature takes over
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America is incredible for meat – in the UK, we just don’t know how to barbecue and you forget what’s behind you, a city with all of the smog and the craziness. It’s really special. There are dolphins, sea lions and all sorts of marine life that comes right alongside the beach. All the seals live in Marina Del Rey. The dolphins like to go up the coast between Malibu and Venice. That’s the thing – even the animals here are chilled.
On my days off, I like to go skydiving in San Diego
My favourite restaurant in Los Angeles is C & O Cucina It’s beautiful Italian place I always go to in Marina Del Rey. I love Baby Blues
SUITED AND BOOTED: [clockwise from here] Dressed for a more…British climate; the LA farmers’ market; Ocean Front Walk, Venice Beach
Barbecue for pulled pork and steak tri-tips [marinated and smoked sirloin]. America is incredible for meat. Steaks, chicken, and all that fried stuff. The flavours are immense. We definitely don’t know how to barbecue compared to America. For special occasions, I like Craig’s on Melrose. It’s a really nice spot with good food and a lot of variety. One thing I do miss, though, is my Sunday roast – and a good kebab.
Toast, on Melrose, is great for brunch. I also like The Grove, which is part of an outdoor shopping centre. It’s nice to relax in the sun there and chill – and you can
do a bit of shopping. If I’ve been working out – at Gold’s Gym, the iconic place where Arnold Schwarzenegger trains – I go to The Firehouse, in Venice. It’s got a great menu that’s very healthy, lots of lean meats, salads, avocados – healthy food that helps you to recharge.
The Redbury is a great hotel It’s where my family and friends like to stay if they’re not staying with me. Then there’s The Hollywood Roosevelt, which is bang in the middle of everything, They have some huge parties there, and you’re right on the Strip, by the Chinese Theatre, all the stores, and the tourist attractions.
LA is good base to explore from You can fly to Vegas in 40 minutes. There a lots of different cities that are pretty close, yet they have very different feels, which I find really interesting. When filming American Gods, I drove down the coast from Toronto. I drove to Vancouver, through Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Santa Barbara, all the way back down to LA so I know the whole West Coast. I’d definitely recommend San Francisco, which is a fourhour drive – it’s a lot of fun. e American Gods is available on Amazon Prime
Photographs by (Ricky) David Harrison; (LA) Patrick Eoche; (Venice BEach) Hemis/AWL Images
It’s one of the best things you’ll ever do in your life – it’s really spiritual. You realise you’re so insignificant in this world, and you can’t help but LA’s barbecue scene start to re-evaluate is booming right your whole life and now. If you’re serious problems. I always about smoke, you should head to Long think that, if I land, Beach establishments then obviously I’m Bigmista’s, Robert meant to be here. I’m Earl’s, or Horse Thief BBQ in Downtown. an adrenaline junkie and it gives me my buzz. It’s even better if you catch the sunset while you’re doing it.
P ROMOTI ON
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Innsbruck blends old town charm with incredible mountain sports and blockbuster alpine views; head to the city to see the world’s best bikers at Crankworx mountain bike festival in June
Heart of the Alps With a unique blend of imperial history and alpine charm, the Austrian city of Innsbruck is an amazing year-round destination, whether you’re an active adventurer or culture lover Photograph by (main) Innsbruck Tourismus/Christof Lackner; (bike) Crankworx/Scott Robarts
Special Offer THREE NIGHTS FROM £180PP
Fancy experiencing the spectacular sights of the Capital of the Alps for yourself? Lucky you, because Innsbruck is offering an incredible three-night city break package from just £180pp. The special offer includes a 48-hour Innsbruck Card, giving you access to the city’s best sights, and three nights’ B&B accommodation, as well as coffee and cake 2,000m up the beautiful Nordkette mountain, which you’ll be accessing by cable car. For more information, and to book your trip, visit innsbruck.info
f you’re the kind of traveller who likes aweinspiring adventure and cool city culture in equal measure, look no further than the alpine city of Innsbruck, Austria. Whether you fancy cycling in summer or skiing on miles of perfect pistes in winter, in Innsbruck you’ll do so knowing that you’re in a place that’s been voted “Best Sports Destination 2017”, and when you take a look at the city’s action-packed sporting calendar, you’ll understand why. Visit the city in June and you’ll be able to see some of the world’s greatest mountain bikers perform daredevil stunts and jumps at Crankworx festival, or head over in September to get a taste of the action yourself with the Haute Route amateur road cycling race, an incredible tour of the Dolomites that starts in the city before winding its way down to Venice. If culture’s more your thing, you’ll be able to soak up the 800-year-old Habsburg history by
day, taking in sights like the Imperial Church Ambras Castle and the Golden Roof, before enjoying evenings of live classical music at month-long events like the Festival of Early Music, or free summer concerts in the courtyard of the Imperial Palace every evening in July. What’s more, when you travel with the Innsbruck Card you’ll be able to discover 19 of the city’s fascinating historical sights and get unlimited access to public transport, sightseeing buses and one return trip on all seven cable cars. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to head to Innsbruck and explore the Alps. ◆ For more information visit innsbruck.info
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Forget measuring footballing success with trophies, wins and goals scored – for us it’s about how far you’re willing to travel. And there are a few players who live and fly for the cause...
hen football fans talk about a journeyman, they probably have in mind a player like Marcus Bent, Trevor Benjamin or Nicky Shorey – Dean Whitehead at a push. The people off the list are Galácticos, mercurial international talents and first team mainstays from Europe’s top leagues – your Messis, Ronaldos, Ibras and Lewandowskis. Wrong. Enter kiwi.com – the flight shop, comparison site and (now) data hoarding sports-travel analyst – which has put together a seriously exhaustive stats round-up of the most travelled players in the history of the beautiful game. The all-time great? Raúl, a man who played four times as many games for Real
Madrid as he did for his other three clubs put together, and clocked up almost 1.1 million kilometres in 21 years. What’s more, of the players still on pitch today the top four are no surprise: Casillas, Xavi, Ronaldo and Messi – all with over 800,000km. For those of you doubting Pelé’s greatness in comparison to the world-class players of today, the Brazilian’s still the greatest: netting almost 16 goals for every 10,000km travelled, he’s about two-and-ahalf times the striker Messi is (with 6.5 goals over the same distance). As for the great debate of the modern game, Cristiano edges it, with 40,000 more kilometres on the rewards card than the Barça boy. Ah well Lionel, just get some shuteye and think of the airmiles. e
TRAVEL GOALS: Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas is among the top four most travelled football players
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Looking for a daily dose of the wild, wild world out there? These three Instagrammers are well worth your attention…
Capturing compelling stories of survival in the world’s harshest conditions, Peter Mather has been snapping shots in Alaska and the Yukon since 1994. Expect caribou, arctic foxes and more of those little guys above.
The most amazing thing about Varun Aditya’s wildlife photography isn’t the fact that he captures birds, big cats and beautiful sunsets on Kenya’s Masai Mara, it’s the fact that he taught himself how to take shots this good.
Scuba royalty Nadia Aly knows some of the most incredible diving spots on the planet. From penguins in Africa to seahorses in Indonesia, her pictures go to the one place your iPhone never will: in the drink.
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TRIED & TESTED All the gear and gadgets you need for your next trip
BEOPLAY P2 SPEAKER, £149
Voice-activated, portable and splashand dust-resistant, this Bluetooth speaker will give you ten hours of tunes – more than enough to get you to the beach and back. beoplay.com
Cult classic Twin Peaks returns after 25 years off-air, and the real-life locations are easier to reach than ever before #08 NORTH BEND, WASHINGTON, USA Hate to burst your bubble, but the picturesque American town of Twin Peaks doesn’t really exist. Lucky really, because anywhere that’s full of murderous townsfolk, malevolent spirits and overthe-border drug running operations isn’t likely to be a honeypot for tourism. Fortunately, the real-world Twin Peaks, – which straddles the Snomalquie river Photograph (Snoqualmie Falls) by Tim Abramowitz; (Kyle MacLachlan) 2012 Twin Peaks Productions Inc
PEAK YOUR INTEREST: Snoqualmie Falls, the filming location for The Great Northern hotel; Kyle MacLachlan returns as Agent Dale Cooper
between the tiny towns of North Bend and Fall City in Washington State – is ripe for exploring, and you’re less than likely to get embroiled in a small-town murder mystery when you go there. In fact – more than just soaking up the miles of National Forest that surround the filming sites – log-wielding super fans of David Lynch’s classic will love the fact that just a 40-minute drive out of Seattle you can grab a cup of damn fine coffee at Twede’s Café, the North Bend eatery which doubles as the show’s diner, or eat at a locavore restaurant that overlooks the famous falls from the series’ credits. What’s more, Norwegian has just launched new low-cost, non-stop flights from London to Seattle, which means you can get a taste of those pine forests much, much easier, faster and cheaper than ever before. Now that’s definitely worth waiting 25 years for. e Twin Peaks premiered on Sky Atlantic on May 22.
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FESTIVALS WINGING IT
WHERE DID WE PITCH THE TENT? Yep, festival season is upon us, and it’s nearly time to grab your wellies and head to a field for a long weekend of music and madness. Tom Powell presents this summer’s finest…
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The Alternative Ones
Photograph by Andrew Whitton/Fanatic 2016
Secret Garden Party, Cambridgeshire, 20-23 July Kleenex at the ready, because this year’s Secret Garden Party (which is perhaps the most trailblazing of all trailblazers in the festival world) is set to close its, er, fields for the final time this summer, and what a weekender it’ll be. Perhaps the first UK fest where you were actively encouraged to forget about the music and mud wrestle, hot tub and fancy dress the weekend away, this year’s grand finale is all set to be as stellar as last, but replete with celeb-themed stupidity. Buy a ticket, shave your head and go full Britney 2008 – it’s your last chance. Tickets from £190. secretgardenparty.com
Mud wrestle, hot tub and fancy dress the weekend away at Secret Garden Party this summer
Also, Warwickshire, 30 June-2 July Sick of cider-soaked tents and trashed teenagers? Maybe you’re just a little more discerning than the average festival-goer? Probably about time you went to Compton Verney – home to an idyllic statelyhome-turned-art-gallery, which you’ll be camping across the lane from. There’ll be wild swimming, As well as cocktail wine pairings, classes, there are philosophical (and several gourmet not-so philosophical) events held over the weekend, including talks and even a Saturday night’s cognitive mixology Truth or Dare session where you’ll Banquet, featuring a pudding procession. analyse your
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senses by drinking cocktails. Mindbending, whichever way you look at it. Tickets from £120. also-festival.com
Wildfire Adventure Camp, Kent, 16-18 June Looking to escape the absolute mundanity of modern city life? Look. No. Further. By day you’ll be discovering the 80 pursuits of active expeditions, bushcraft and adventure sports, before spending your nights revelling in front of the campfire, or heading to secret parties across the site. What’s even better is that you can pre-book all the bivouac building, slip ’n’ sliding, bee-keeping and general Moonrise Kingdom vibes you like, and it’s all included in your ticket price. Tickets from £160. campwildfire.co.uk
The Eco Ones
Shambala, Northamptonshire, 24-27 August Like your food meat-free, your beer crafted from surplus bread and your carbon footprint minimal? While the line-up Shambala’s the UK isn’t yet revealed, weekender for you. you can expect a And aside from the stellar selection of artists at Wildfire, groundbreaking curated by the team plastic-free, behind LeeFest organic produce (think Kate Tempest and Wild Beasts). and responsible waste initiatives the festival is taking to make hedonism more responsible, there’ll be sets from Foreign Beggars, Awesome Tapes from Africa and Benjamin Zephaniah to name a few. You’re as likely to find yourself dancing in a large wooden boat as you are pedalling a stationary bike to charge your phone. Tickets from £184.99. shambalafestival.org
We Love Green, Paris, 10-11 June If a weekend of debauchery followed by
OUT OF THIS WORLD: [above] Helsinki’s Flow festival; [below] go wild at Wildfire Adventure Camp
simply upping sticks and leaving your polyester tent in the middle of a field isn’t your idea of sustainability, we’ve got you covered: go to We Love Green in Paris’s Bois de Vincennes park. As the name suggests, the festival’s ethos is all about minimising environmental impact. As well as a pretty incredible line-up (we’re looking at you, Anderson .Paak, Solange, Action Bronson and headliners A Tribe Called Quest), there’ll be lectures and debates with scientists and NGO head honchos to make sure that the festival’s philosophy remains at the forefront of your mind.
The City Ones
Tickets from £100. welovegreen.fr
Flow is a superslick, sustainable and carbonneutral festival in Europe’s capital of cool, Helsinki
Weekend tickets from £158. flowfestival.com
Tickets from £55. sunfall.co.uk
Photograph (Flow Festival) by Samuli Pentti
Flow, Helsinki, 13-18 August This super-slick, sustainable and carbonneutral festival in Europe’s capital of cool, Helsinki, is the perfect place to mix a little Scandi-chic city break with a full-on festival weekender. With 40 food offerings giving you great grub from tons of the world’s coolest cuisines, you’ll be able to see Sampha with sushi, Ryan Adams with a rice bowl and, er, Töölön Ketterä with tacos. Plus, you’ll get to see the likes of Frank Ocean, Lana Del Rey, Young Thug and Aphex Twin up close while you’re there, which is always nice.
Sunfall, London, 12 August What happens when you invite a load of the world’s biggest electronic music heads and DJs to south London and let them loose in Brockwell Park? Sunfall, that’s what. Back for a second year, the stellar lineup is supplemented with a huge record fair and knowledge arena where you can check out talks. It’s also the only time you’re gonna see Floating Points, Romare, Theo Parrish and Jay Electronica in your own backyard.
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Way Out West, Gothenburg, 10-12 August When a summer’s stroll through the most picturesque park in the waterside city of Gothenburg, west Sweden just isn’t enough, we’d wager killer sets from Frank Ocean, Danny Brown and Mac Demarco might help. What’s more, if you want to, er, stay out west after the festival site shuts for the evening, there’s a specially curated Some of Gothenload of nights out burg’s best bars and made purely for venues participate festivalgoers with in Way Out West’s Stay Out West a little juice left in afterparties, so you the tank.
The Foodie Ones
Standon Calling, Hertfordshire, 27-30 July We’re no strangers to decent food at festivals these days, but at this Hertfordshire-based knees-up, you’ll be following your stomach as much as your ears. Think outrageously good vegan fare from Club Mexicana, a huge French-style diner from burger pop-up heroes Le Bun, a real ale festival in association with Hackney Brewery and Sunday roasts and jazz on the lawn of Standon’s country manor home.
The Good Life Experience, Flintshire, 15-17 September There aren’t many festivals where you can pitch your tent in the shadow of two castles and head to dozens of workshops on everything from butchery to bread making, catch chef talks from Wahaca’s Thomasina Miers, Petersham Nurseries’ Damian Clisby and root-to-fruit hero Tom Hunt, AND hear a live music line-up curated by BBC Radio 6 Music’s Cerys Matthews. It’s wholesome fun for hipster families at its finest. e
Tickets from £137. standon-calling.com
Adult tickets from £90, under 12s go free. thegoodlifeexperience.co.uk
Bilbao BBK Live, Bilbao, 6-8 July Just 15 minutes by shuttle bus from the beating heart of the northern Spanish city, Bilbao BBK is the perfect festival for people who don’t really like festivals very much. Trading sweaty campsites for a beautiful boutique bolthole in one of Europe’s most exciting smaller cities, you’ll be able to spend your days scoffing Basque bites in town and your evenings watching Depeche Mode, Fleet Foxes, Brian Wilson, Justice and Phoenix. Which beats sitting in the hotel bar, if you ask us.
Wilderness, Oxfordshire, 3-6 August Wilderness returns this year with a roster of chefs and food traders the festival is so proud of that, on the line-up, they share pretty much equal billing with the artists. Though it includes some great music (headline sets come from Grace Jones, Bonobo and Two Door Cinema Club), Wilderness is probably best described as an eclectic festival of culture and food: you’ll find a roster of some of London’s best street-food traders, a craft village where you can make and buy gear for your kitchen and your cupboard, talks and debates, plus long-table banquets from acclaimed international chefs – the perfect tonic to a night of raving in a neon-drenched forest.
Weekend tickets from £105. bilbaobbklive.com
Tickets from £189. wildernessfestival.com
Tickets £180. wayoutwest.se
can explore the city as well as continuing the festivities.
Photograph (Way Out West) by Faramarz Gosheh
INTO THE WILD: [above] Gothenburg’s Way Out West; [below] Le Bun will be at Standon Calling
SHORT STAY ELMLEY NATURE RESERVE, ISLE OF SHEPPEY
BACK TO NATURE
On the hunt for a rural mini-break with a difference? Turns out you don’t need to go far… Determined not to follow the herd, Hannah Summers travels to Kent to spend the night in a shepherd’s hut What’s the score? When a hotel just won’t cut it, you need a hut. Not any old hut, mind, but a shepherd’s hut that’s buried deep in the wilderness of the UK’s only national nature reserve that you can sleep in. Yep, that’s Elmley reserve, a 3,200-acre island that’s located on the River Thames in north Kent, just a 90-minute drive from London. If romance is your thing (oh, don’t pretend it isn’t), you’ll be in your heart-eyed element. Not for your partner, obviously, but the interiors: each hut has been beautifully
refurbed with a nature-inspired shabby-chic feel. That’s grey, woolen throws covering king-size beds; soft, white cotton sheets; dressers made from rehashed railway wagons and bath products bottled by natural skincare brand Green & Spring (sud yourself in the very hot, very powerful shower in the hut’s teeny bathroom then crawl into one of the fluffy bathrobes that are supplied). I stayed in the lovely Vanellus, but each individually designed cabin has a different quirk going for it.
What to do Just relax. Really, this is a place to switch off your mobile (there is 4G, so
If romance is your thing, you'll be in your heart-eyed element. Not for your partner, for the interiors
ELMLEY NATURE RESERVE ADDRESS ELMLEY NATURE RESERVE, ISLE OF SHEPPEY, KENT, ME12 3RW
PRICE FROM £100 A NIGHT GETTING THERE 90 MIN DRIVE
INFO VISIT ELMLEYNATURERESERVE.CO.UK TO SEE THE FULL RESERVE AND HUTS
D E PA R T U R E S
OUTSIDE THE BOX Don’t limit yourself to conventional bricks and mortar – try one of these alternatives for an unusual overnight stay
BROOKS COUNTRY HOUSE HORSEBOX
FIELD DAY: The shepherd's huts on Elmley Nature Reserve may be small, but they’re perfectly formed, with cosy, modern interiors and killer country views
Photographs by (Elmley) Rebecca Douglas Photography; (Finn Lough) Rob Durston
be disciplined) and soak up the gorgeous British countryside (it exists!). Sit up in bed, looking out through your floor-toceiling window, relax outside in a wooden chair, roasting marshmallows on your private camp fire, or have fun at the hut’s tiny table, playing Scrabble and knocking back the couple of bottles of red that you should bring with you. When you get really drunk you can peruse the hut’s mini library and read poetry In keeping with the to each other – try Kentish theme, why Deborah Almah’s The not take a couple Emergency Poet: An of locally produced bottles of wine along Anti-Stress Poetry with you? TenterAnthology. den-based Chapel Down's Union Red fits Go on. Why not? the bill perfectly. When you’re not busying yourself with all that, get out and explore the nature reserve. Expect to see barn owls, ducks flapping about in the nearby pond and sheep lolling around the heather fields. When you’ve walked yourself out, return to the site’s kitchen, heat up some soup, and bring it back to enjoy in your hut. If that sounds a bit chilly, don’t be put off – this place is just as beautiful in the frost-covered winter as it is in the summer, when you can throw that stable-style door fully open and really get back to nature.
What’s nearby It would be crazy to leave, but if you must, try Whitstable for oysters. e
Why stay in a 22-bedroom Georgian manor near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, when you can sleep in this horsebox in its grounds, instead? Exactly. You can, however, make the most of its pool, snooker table and breakfast. From £79. brookscountryhouse.com
CRANE 29 When a treehouse in the wilderness just won’t cut it, try hanging out in a crane on Bristol’s harbourside instead. It’ll be welcoming guests from June this year, but it’s in such high demand there’ll be a ballot process entry. Like bingo, but better. From £189. canopyandstars.co.uk
FINN LOUGH BUBBLE DOMES The tent’s days are numbered – head to Northern Ireland and you and your loveeerrrrr could hole up in this see-through ball buried deep in a lake-side forest. It’s even furnished with a four-poster bed and freestanding bath. From £295. coolcamping.com
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IN FOCUS LIVERPOOL
JUMP IN THE ’POOL A trip to Liverpool is full of good food, good times and good music. Tom Powell tells you how to make the most of it all
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If coffee’s your poison, the beating heart of Liverpool only has one option: Bold Street Coffee – the city’s first and best-regarded speciality shop for caffeine obsessives. Its shots come from Europe’s finest roasters, and because Liverpool’s an arty old place, you’ll find in-house exhibitions to stare down before you chow down on the salt beef hash. For a bar crawl without too much heavyfooted staggering (or Uber bills), head to the Baltic Triangle, which is exactly what it sounds like: a once-unloved industrial area on the edge of the city centre that’s
now the site of much arty quirk and cool regeneration projects. Start by enjoying the rustic environs of The Baltic Social with a Punk Afternoon Tea of sliders, sesame and honey wings, teapot cocktails and slabs of Oreo and Jammie Dodger-inspired cakes – or just get your head around their Liverpool is full incredible list of of small-scale beers from Liverpool breweries, and and Manchestermany are based in the Baltic Triangle. based brewers. Look out for The From there, head Baltic Fleet and the around the corner Mad Hatter Brewing Company. onto Greenland
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Street, where you’ll find Constellations – an event space that blends food trucks with live music, and a hidden-away outdoor bar vibe. Think Peckham’s Copeland Park, but in Liverpool. Then, to end your night, head to the labyrinthine complex of Camp & Furnace, which takes up an entire block on the far side of The Baltic Social. If there’s not a gig, football game or multi-day festival for you to get beery at, there’s still enough to keep you entertained.
Away from the Baltic Triangle there are plenty of bars with style and swagger – the best of which are secret. If you can find it, make your way straight to Ex-Directory, which only just started giving out its digits in April. Call to reserve a seat and engage the barkeep in a cryptic game of hide and seek, which’ll involve you sliding into a super-swish speakeasy through a phone box down an alley in the city centre (it’s all part of the fun). For an easier ride, there’s Some Place, a Parisian-style attic lair of absinthe swilling and wobbly legs, which you can find by walking along Seel Street until you see a green light near The Zanzibar Club.
There are plenty of bars with style and swagger, the best of which are the secret ones
Eat If you’re the sort of person who likes to start their day with a plush plate of posh nosh, try the Vincent Café, a brunch spot and bar near the Liver Building that’s part-owned by Steven Gerrard. With breakfasts, gourmet bites and a sushi menu to eat in and take away, it’s pretty much the best spot for brunch and picnics to huff on the hoof. On the other side of the city centre in
STREET EATS: Join Liverpool’s cool kids at Finca, a Cuban pop-up in the city’s Constellations event space
the Baltic Triangle, street-savvy Cuban restaurant Finca has recently opened its, er, hatches in Constellations, and will be sticking about for another six months or so, unlike a lot of the shorter-term pop ups you’ll also find at the venue. For more street food vibes, grab a table at Bakchich, a top-notch spot for Lebanese food right on the trendy stretch of Bold Street. There you’ll find charcoal grills, fattoush and Arabian grub from breakfast
MERCURE LIVERPOOL ATLANTIC TOWER HOTEL
An ideal city centre location opposite the Royal Liver Building and waterfront makes Mercure Liverpool Atlantic Tower Hotel the perfect place for a week-end escape. The hotel, recently refurbished, offers 225 guest rooms including privilege and suites that boast panoramic views of the waterfront.
From £79 per room 0151 227 4444 |
D E PA R T U R E S
jam-packed with galleries, music venues and multi-purpose art spaces. Bold Street’s FACT is a top option, showing arthouse movies, exhibitions and talks on everything from post-truth politics to quantum physics. Also worth a visit is the centrally-located Bluecoat for off-kilter contemporary art and Tate Liverpool on the dockside for – well – you’ve heard of the Tate, right?
Stay through to dinner, and the shawarma starts at just £3.50. Madness. For veggies, Egg Café is a go-to for simple all-day dining in the boho environs of an old warehouse loft about two minutes from Liverpool Central station. They’re also BYOB, and corkage is only a quid. Come dinner, if you fancy fine food with a view, head up West Tower for a meal at Panoramic 34, where you can soak up the city from one of the highest restaurants in the UK, with an epic eight-courser. For fine food with a seasonal, local lilt try The Art School. A grand restaurant on the northern fringes of the city’s cool Georgian Quarter, it’s the perfect place to blow the budget on a ‘surprise me’ tasting menu which comes in vegan, veggie, pescatarian and, er, meaty. Alternatively, for Japanese flavours at less premium prices, try Tokyou, a small eatery a block to the right of the bombedout church at the end of Bold Street. Starters are about £2 and mains rarely cost more than £8. We love it up here.
Do What with Sgt Pepper hitting the big 5-0 this year, the whole of Merseyside is making more of a fuss about The Beatles than ever. There are still tickets available for International Beatleweek over the August bank holiday, or you can hop aboard the charabanc for a Magical Mystery Tour of Liverpool, which starts at the Cavern Club
and features Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields and (obviously) Macca’s childhood home. Of course, if Ringo, George, Paul and John leave you colder than cold, there are plenty of other festivals in the city throughout the year, but the pick of the bunch is Hope & Glory, a new boutique weekender that sits slap bang in the middle of the city centre, where you can see Madchester villains like Shaun Ryder and Bez, as well as getting The line-up at Liverknees deep in a huge pool’s Hope & Glory Victoriana carnival festival includes a complete with host of musicians from the city, such sideshows, rides and as Ian Skelly from offbeat bawdiness. The Coral and Beyond the The Zutons’ Dave McCabe. festivals, the city’s
The chic boutique Hope Street Hotel is a great option if you favour rooms of the stripped-back modern variety. Downstairs, there’s classy grub and a huge wine list at The London Carriage Works restaurant. If you’re looking for a bed on a budget, try Hatters Hostel, which blends Victorian quirk with functionality and an all-important bar for meeting buddies (as well as a free breakfast to help nurse that hangover). Finally, Liverpool fans should stay at The Shankly Hotel, which – beyond the inspirational quotes and memorabilia – is a glam yet cosy bolthole less than five minutes’ walk from Lime Street Station. e Virgin offers trains from London Euston to Liverpool Lime Street from £16.50 single. See virgintrains.co.uk for more information.
Photographs by (Beatleweek) Stuart Homer; (Hope Street) Georgia Fowler; (Bold Street) Dave Ellison/Alamy
STAGE PRESENCE: International Beatleweek; Hope Street Hotel is home to The London Carriage Works
The trendy focal point of Bold Street is your first port of call for indy shops. There you’ll find radical bookshop News from Nowhere; vendors of the finest 1950s threads; Little Red Vintage; and Matta’s International Foods, a 30-year-old superstore full of ingredients from all over the world. Just ’round the corner is Lost Art – a skate shop that’s up there with the UK’s best. Alternatively, head to the Bluecoat to pick up antiquarian reads from Kernaghan Books and vinyl at city stalwart Probe Records.
STATELY CHARM Blenheim Palace is the perfect destination for a day trip from London, and now we’re offering you and a friend the chance to experience it for yourselves...
ull of history, character and traditional British charm, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Blenheim Palace is a distinctive attraction and events venue in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside. More than just a marvel of Baroque architecture and stately surroundings, the palace is home to one of Europe’s most important and extensive collections of art, including portraits, furniture, sculpture and tapestries that’ll give you a fascinating insight into national heritage, arts and culture and wow you at every turn. Set in rolling grounds complete with beautiful gardens and self-guided trails, and just a twenty minute drive out of Oxford, Blenheim Palace is the perfect destination for day trips from London, or weekend getaways in Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds. Fancy visiting for free? We’re offering you and a friend the chance to do just that, taking an individual tour of the private
apartments – which are rarely opened the public – and state rooms, before a delicious three-course lunch at the Orangery Restaurant and cream tea in a private room. The lucky winner will also be given a hamper of goodies – including Blenheim Palace’s own wine, chutney, jam and chocolate – as well as a Privilege Card, which gives a year’s access to the Palace Park and Gardens and 15% off at all on-site shops, cafés and restaurants, meaning you’ll be able to make the most of the pictureperfect country retreat again and again. So what are you waiting for? Enter now. ◆ For more information, visit blenheimpalace.com
HOW TO WIN To win a trip to Blenheim Palace for two including private tours of the palace’s state rooms and private apartments, as well as lunch in the Orangery Restaurant, private cream tea, a hamper of goodies and a Privilege Card, visit escmag.co/blenheim-palace
WINGING IT INDIAN OCEAN
ATOLL ORDER There’s more to the islands of the Indian Ocean than white sand and blue sea, but not much more – you’re on holiday…
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RICKSHAW AROUND SRI LANKA
CATCH SOME QUIET IN COMOROS
Somewhere between The Hangover and a Top Gear driving challenge (from back when it was good, obvs), Large Minority’s Lanka Challenge will pit you and two mates against 1,000km of tough Sri Lankan terrain armed with a map, a tuk tuk and a series of outlandish tasks. Each day you’ll be told where you need to be by sundown, and it’s your responsibility to get there, regardless of the flat tires, crocs and naga chillies that stand in your way. Large Minority offers a ten-day Lanka Challenge from £1,275pp excluding flights. largeminority.travel
Chances are you’ve never heard of the Comoros islands, a tiny atoll that’s big on tropical charm which sits about 200 miles off the coast of Mozambique. Blending Arabian architecture with classic Indian Ocean warmth and French chic, the islands provide a perfect – and nearly touristfree – alternative to some of the glitzier islands in the Indian Ocean. Head across and dive, whale watch and volcanic crater camp your days away. Responsible Travel offers 11-day flights from £1,399 excluding flights. responsibletravel.com
Photograph by (Madagascar) Tom Mackie/AWL Images; (Comoros) Hemis/AWL Images; (Sri Lanka) Ivoha/Alamy
GO WILD IN MADAGASCAR There aren’t many places in the world where you can see rare birds, lemurs and chameleons plus a few bonus dolphins and whales in a just couple of days’ schlepping. In fact, Madagascar is pretty much the only place where you can, so make the most of it by exploring the rainforests in the north, and the wildlife-rich woodlands down south. Wildlife Worldwide offers 12-day tours from £4,245 including flights. wildlifeworldwide.com
HIT THE BEACH IN THE MALDIVES Lustrous, indulgent and very luxe, the Maadhoo-based resort of Ozen by Atmosphere in the Maldives’ South Malé atoll offers next-level lodgings with an active twist. While you’re there, you can learn to dive with the resort’s own PADI certified school, take a trip to an uninhabited island, or see the creatures of the deep with the resort’s submarine experience. That’s if you ever want to stop stretching out on the strip of sand outside your seaview villa, of course. Kenwood Travel offers seven nights at Ozen by Atmosphere Maadhoo Maldives from £2,542. kenwoodtravel.co.uk
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TAKE A DIVE IN THE SEYCHELLES With underwater canyons, outrageous overhangs and colourful sea life, the warm seas around the inner plateau of the Seychelles are some of the most exciting to dive in the entire Indian Ocean (and let’s face it, it’s pretty big). What’s more, when you hop on a liveaboard schooner with Dive Worldwide, you’ll be getting a specially organised itinerary to coincide with the calmest seas, best diving conditions and booming marine life. All aboard. Dive Worldwide offers ten-day tours from £2,750pp including flights. diveworldwide.com
We get it: sometimes when you go away, even the most outlandish luxury can get boring after a while. So eschew your sun lounger at Essque Zalu Zanzibar for a day and take a trip to a local spice plantation, go out on a local fishing boat or explore the exhaustive street food stalls of Stone Town before heading back to the resort for a Swahili cooking class, taking in dishes like spiced meat skewers and pweza wa nazi – a delicious octopus and coconut curry. What’s more, if you suck at cooking, there’s a multi-course chef’s table dinner each Wednesday to show you how it’s done. Scott Dunn offers seven nights B&B at Essque Zalu Zanzibar from £2,928pp, including flights, transfers and spice tour. scottdunn.com
Photographs by 9Seychelles)WaterFrame RM/Getty; (Zanzibar) Veronica Bogaerts/Getty
GET YOUR FOOD FIX IN ZANZIBAR
There are some moments that pass in a second, but last for a lifetime. Itâ€™s these experiences that youâ€™ll find dotted across the Maldivian island paradise of Coco Bodu Hithi; surprising and authentic touches that make your stay a truly timeless adventure. Coco Bodu Hithi is in an enchanting setting, where contemporary creature comforts blend stylishly with Maldivian themes to offer an environment where guests can refresh their senses, rekindle their love of travel, and reconnect with the world around them.
WWW.COCOCOlleCtiOn.COM FOR BOOKinGS +960 664 6600 firstname.lastname@example.org
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EXPLORE JAVA, INDONESIA
White sand, turquoise sea and indepth lessons from a former British tennis number one – if that sounds like your ideal week away, it’s about time you jetted off to Mauritius and learnt a thing or two from Andrew Castle and his crack team of coaches, who’ll be on hand with a week of workshops that’ll get you serving up a storm in no time. The Private Travel Company offers seven-night all-inclusive coaching weeks from £1,899pp including flights, based on two sharing. tennis-abroad.com
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Photographs by (Java) Michele Falzone/AWL Images; (Mauritius) Axel Ruhomaully
UP YOUR GAME (SET AND MATCH) ON MAURITIUS
Pushing the Indian Ocean to its easternmost extent, the Indonesian island of Java – which is absolutely packed with amazing Hindu culture, wild backcountry and one of the world’s most amazing metropolises – is ripe for a week or so of exploring. Hop on tour with G Adventures and you’ll see it all, from the dynamic, busy streets of Jakarta to the dramatic volcanic highlands near the southern coast. Oh, and they’ll chuck in a sunrise mountain hike or two for good measure as well. Sign us up. G Adventures offers nine-day tours from £781, excluding flights. gadventures.co.uk
Described by early settlers as ‘the original Garden of Eden’, the Seychelles archipelago is without a doubt the jewel of the Indian Ocean and a leading luxury destination for discerning travelers. Located on the famous Baie Lazare, in the exclusive south-end of Mahé Island, Kempinski Seychelles Resort offers guests round-the-clock expertise, dedication and unmatched Creole hospitality in dazzling surroundings of untouched, natural beauty. From small, home comforts to spacious luxury and bespoke banqueting, the Kempinski Seychelles Resort is an ideal location for those seeking a world-class island getaway. +248 438 6666 or email@example.com
IN SID E R ’S GUID E ST. JOHN’S, NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR, CANADA
FIVE OF THE BEST From the city’s lively downtown to its stunning natural surroundings, St. John’s is your perfect short-haul escape.
✈ S T. J O H N ’ S , N E W F O U N D L A N D & L A B R A D O R
FULL-ON FLAVOUR IN ASSOCIATION WTH
With fresh fish and an inspiring array of restaurants serving up pioneering local fare, the city is a haven for foodies.
INSIDER’S G UIDE I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H D E S T I N AT I O N S T. J O H N ’ S
From the whales, icebergs and fjords along the coast to its incredible food and drink scene, St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador is the perfect alternative to a classic city break like Reykjavik, Iceland. Discover our guide to the very best of this cool city in Atlantic Canada.
CONTENTS 52 WHY YOU NEED TO VISIT 54 SEE THE GREAT OUTDOORS 56 FOOD, DRINK AND FESTIVALS
✈ UNITED KINGDOM
GO OUTDOORS Hike, bike, sea kayak or whale watch, you can do it all in St. John’s, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
WestJet operates a daily non-stop flight from Gatwick from early May to late October. Air Canada flies year-round from Heathrow with daily flights from May through to October. The short-haul flight time of less than five hours and a time difference of just three-and-a-half hours makes St. John’s a great destination for a short break, as well as a very convenient gateway for the rest of the province and Canada. destinationstjohns.com/canada
SPOTLIGHT ON ST. JOHN’S
The Hit List Here’s why St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada is the new Reykjavik…
owering icebergs, hundreds of humpback whales, a burgeoning food and drink scene: whatever you’re looking for from your next short-haul trip, make sure St. John’s, NL is on your radar. The vibrant city, which sits on Canada’s most eastern edge, is a wild world of epic scenery and colourful encounters. Here are five reasons for a visit.
1. It’s closer than you think
You don’t have to pay a fortune (or fly for hours) to reach a part of the world that’s insanely different to what we’re familiar with at home. You can fly from Toronto in just three hours, or reach St. John’s in just five hours direct from London. Imagine, a trip to Canada in less time than dinner and a movie.
2. It’s home to innovative cuisine, delicious local dishes, great bars and amazing festivals
Head to St. John’s and you won’t just find some of the most exciting restaurants in Canada, you’ll find high-end eateries that cook up tasty dishes from some of the country’s freshest and most distinctive local ingredients, from moose burgers to seared scallops, salt cod to bakeapples. And it’s not just the food – make your way to any of the city’s
bustling bars or lively festivals and you’re likely to find regional twists on classic drinks, from deliciously crisp craft lagers to iceberg-infused rums, vodkas and gins. Watch you don’t spill your drink, though, because the music culture throughout the city is huge, too. With live shows on downtown George Street most nights, and festivals in July and August, you’re sure to get your knees up.
3. Explore the endless coastline
There’s nothing quite like an injection of fresh sea air to rejuvenate the body and mind, and you can experience the very best of the great outdoors a stroll from your hotel in St. John’s. So, try hiking along the footpaths of the East Coast Trail, taking in dramatic Atlantic views from vast, ancient cliffs. Or, if you fancy hitting the water, there’s no better way to explore the caves, bays and beaches than by sea kayak, or on a boat trip from the city’s harbour.
INSIDER’S G UIDE I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H D E S T I N AT I O N S T. J O H N ’ S
ST. JOHN’S BRIMS WITH BUSTLING BARS AND EXCITING RESTAURANTS SERVING TASTY LOCAL FOOD – AND IT’S JUST A FIVE-HOUR FLIGHT AWAY FROM LONDON 4. Hold hands with a local
FIVE OF THE BEST: With pastel-painted charm, incredible restaurants and limitless opportunities to hit the trail and watch wildlife, there’s no better combination for your next short-haul adventure
No matter where you travel it’s always best to let the locals take you to the nooks and crannies of a special place. Let local Chef Lori take you out foraging for seaweeds, mussels, scallops, and mushrooms and boil them up on a beach for a truly special taste of place. Shutter bug? Let local photographer Maurice take you to the must-visit highlights to capture the glory hour light on the most iconic landscapes of St. John’s. A keen birdwatcher? Jared is so good at what he does, Costa Rica and Honduras invite him to conduct tours. How about if yogi and foodie Christa guides you on a taste of the city in her favourite places to dine? You will hear tales from locals who call this place home.
5. Natural wonders
The region is home to the world’s largest concentration of humpback whales, some of the largest and most accessible seabird colonies in North America, and is on the migratory path of ancient mammoth icebergs. With 22 species of whales during the summer months it is a safe bet you might encounter a whale feeding and frolicking with its young ones. To be a close but safe distance from the spectacular white and blue iceberg is a moving experience. To hear it hiss and crackle and see the rivers of turquoise water pool is a wonder. And, the birds just make you smile. To watch a puffin skim the water with its round belly is a joy. Can holiday snaps get much better than this? ◆
Special Offer GET FIVE NIGHTS IN ST. JOHN’S FROM £685PP
Travel with Canadian Affair and experience St. John’s from just £685pp including return flights from Gatwick with WestJet and five nights at the Fairfield Inn & Suites. To find out more and to book visit destinationstjohns.com/ canada
For more information visit destinationstjohns.com
SPOTLIGHT ON ST. JOHN’S
Outdoor Odyssey St. John’s is the perfect base for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure lovers. What are you waiting for?
ometimes you just need to escape from the real world – away from technology and the hustle and bustle of the big city, surrounded by nothing but nature. Few places on Earth offer as many opportunities to do just that as St. John’s, the gateway to an area twice the size of the UK and 29,000km of coastline, which adds up to one almighty outdoor playground. From chasing icebergs along the coast to hiking the trails, here are just a few of our favourite things to do in the greatest of great outdoors…
Hit the trails
St. John’s is an urban centre on the doorstep of unspoiled wild tuckamore forests and endless coastline. It’s hard to imagine that you don’t
Special Offer LUXURY FOUR-NIGHT EXPERIENTAL BREAK FROM £939PP
have to drive miles to get away from it all, but it’s just minutes from your accommodation. The East Coast Trail starts in St. John’s and offers more than 300km of groomed hiking paths that track the scenic shores to the north and south of the city. Along the towering cliffs, you’ll find sea stacks, ancient abandoned settlements, deep fjords and a dramatic wave-driven geyser known as ‘The Spout’ by locals.
Experience the very best of St. John’s with luxury travel expert Destinology. Five-day breaks start at £939pp and include return flights with WestJet, airport transfers, four nights at luxury boutique hotel The JAG in downtown St. John’s, city tours and a whale-watching boat trip. For more information call 01204 867124 or visit destinationstjohns.com/canada
Icebergs, Whales & Birds
Imagine coming face to face with huge, slow-moving creatures of the deep; that have prehistoric origins and are capable of sinking ships. That’s exactly what you’ll find in Newfoundland, and in many cases, right from the cliffs surrounding St. John’s. Better yet, if you visit at the right time of year it’s easy to combine an iceberg-viewing boat trip out on the region’s waters with some whale spotting. Between spring and autumn, 22 different species of whale pass through the rich and fertile waters that surround Newfoundland – not to mention the largest population of feeding humpbacks in the world. If you’re lucky, you might get to catch one of these vast creatures bursting out of the ocean and crashing back into the waves with an almighty splash. Head out in search of these vast, sublime creatures on a boat tour from St. John’s harbour or just south of the city in Bay Bulls and Witless Bay, where you can add the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve to your boat tour and see the largest colony of puffins in North America, as well as nesting gannets, murres, kittiwakes and much, much more. It’s absolutely stunning.
A taste for adventure
It’s safe to say that a day on the water is a quintessential experience when travelling to Newfoundland, and heading out on a sea kayak comes highly recommended by the locals for its mixture of ease and fun. Hugging the coastline in a colourful boat for one, looking up at the towering cliffs, hauling up your own sea urchins, paddling through waterfalls and sea caves is exhilarating. If you fancy a slightly elevated heart rate you may consider the sublime, snorkeling with the whales. Join your guides in the picturesque community of Petty Harbour to the south of St. John’s. Hop aboard their Zodiac boat for the thrill of a lifetime. The pristine, clean waters of Newfoundland and Labrador make for perfect wetsuit diving conditions to explore the Second World War shipwrecks and the Bell Island underwater caves.
INSIDER’S G UIDE I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H D E S T I N AT I O N S T. J O H N ’ S
TIP OF THE ICEBERG: From spring through summer, the coast around St. John’s becomes the perfect place to spot both icebergs and 22 different species of whale
IF YOU VISIT ST. JOHN’S AT THE RIGHT TIME YOU’LL SEE WHALES AND ICEBERGS FROM THE CLIFFS SURROUNDING THE CITY
Your return trip
We already mentioned the vast land mass of the island portion of the province. Well, the Labrador area, or ‘big land’ as it’s known, is bigger again. The province is home to four UNESCO World Heritage sites and multiple National Parks, which means one trip just won’t do. Once you fall in love with this place you may want to put the Fogo Island Inn on your bucket list. If there’s a more extraordinary place to stay, we want to hear about it. Here, ground-breaking architecture meets a stark, craggy shore, and the results will make your jaw drop. The 29-room luxury inn sits on stilts over the rocks, while inside you’ll find a contemporary art gallery, a cinema, rooftop wood-fired hot tubs, and a cavernous dining room where you can eat local food while icebergs and whales drift past the window. Yep, it really is that kind of place. ◆
Win a £500 Destinology travel voucher We’ve teamed up with Destination St. John’s and luxury tour operator Destinology to offer one lucky reader a £500 voucher to spend on their next trip away. A specialist in tailor-made and luxury holidays, Destinology offers a number of luxury breaks to to St. John’s and beyond. To find out more and to enter visit destinationstjohns.com/canada (terms and conditions apply).
SPOTLIGHT ON ST. JOHN’S
In Good Taste
With a cool, quirky nightlife and the most exciting local produce you can imagine, St. John’s is an absolute dream for food and drink aficionados
Al fresco Eats
Eat like a Local
HAVE A PICNIC ON THE COAST
MAKE THE MOST OF UNIQUE DISHES
For a truly unique culinary experience to take your trip up a notch, make a beeline for the Ferryland Lighthouse, about an hour’s drive south of St. John’s. There you can indulge in a picnic with a twist, overlooking whale-packed waters in the shadow of a 19th-century lighthouse, and looking at one of the island’s most beautiful vistas. Perfect for a romantic day out or an afternoon of family fun, it’s sure to live long in the memory.
When you visit a place that’s as connected to nature as St. John’s, it’s no surprise that locally sourced produce sits right at the heart of its food culture. Not only is the city renowned for its cod fishing and salt cod prowess, but the region is also famous for its wild game and meat, which means that every time you dine at one of the city’s restaurants, you’ll be eating authentic bites made from locally sourced produce like snow crab, moose, and cod tongues and cheeks.
INSIDER’S G UIDE I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H D E S T I N AT I O N S T. J O H N ’ S
Raise the Bar COCKTAILING IN DOWNTOWN
Despite only being home to a little more than 100,000 people, Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital city of St. John’s claims to have the most bars per person of any city in the whole of North America, which means one thing: the locals sure enjoy a grand time. Whether you’re into live music, beautifully mixed drinks or dancing into the early hours, you’ll be able to do it all in St. John’s, where downtown George Street turns into a lively hub that’s similar to Dublin’s Temple Bar every night when the sun sets. Time to head to the bar and try some local craft brews.
Festival Fix VISIT DURING FESTIVAL SEASON
Great Gourmet EXPLORE THE CAPITAL’S EATERIES
Beyond the hilly streets and brightlypainted buildings of St. John’s, one of the main reasons to visit the quaint capital of Newfoundland is its top dining options. Whether you fancy dining on regional favourites with an award-winning twist at Raymonds Restaurant, stellar seafood at Bacalao Restaurant, a brilliant brunch at the historical Mallard Cottage in Quidi Vidi Village, or lighter bites at one of the many cafés in the city’s bustling downtown district, you’ll be able to discover a brand new flavour with every street corner you turn.
Best Boltholes A FOOD JOURNEY BEYOND THE CITY
Just an hour’s drive outside the city, the owners of lavish inns and artisan studios are rolling out great food experiences paired with lovely accommodation in stunning surroundings. Mind the Newfoundland ponies and goats as you check into the Doctor’s House Inn and Spa. Its tasting menu incorporates greenhouse vegetables, and your breakfast syrup comes from tapped maples. Meanwhile, local boy meets Louisiana girl and they start the Grates Cove Inn, where they are cooking up interesting Creole dishes using local ingredients. And they have some funky things happening in their studios and performing arts stage. If you want a creature comfort from home take in the Devon Tea at the Rose Manor Inn.
To get a fast fix of the culture of Canada’s youngest province and oldest city, and to try local produce and great nightlife all in one place, nothing quite beats pairing your holiday with one of the city’s amazing annual festivals. Whether it’s music or food you’re after – St. John’s has it all. For instance, head across in May and you can experience events like the Beer Expo, where you can try dozens of new and unique brews from Canada and further afield. In July/ August you’ll be able to enjoy a ten-day extravaganza that starts with live music in 21 downtown bars at George Street Festival, and culminates in the three-day Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival in the city’s Bannerman Park.
Discover an island paradise steeped in history From the UNESCO heritage site of Stone Town to its status as a Spice Island, surrounded by the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean at Essque Zalu Zanzibar
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BEACH DON’T KILL MY VIBE: Don’t let Britain get you down – we’ve rounded up the world’s coolest beaches. Check them out on p60
60 BEACH BREAKS 70 IBIZA, SPAIN 77 MARRAKECH 86 CATSKILLS, USA 92 AARHUS, DENMARK 96 IL PALIO, SIENA 102 MOSCOW, RUSSIA
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SHORE THING Sun, sea and sand is a classic combination for a reason. Hannah Summers rounds up a few of the very best beach holidays
Photograph by Macduff Everton/Getty
Ile de Ré, France INTRODUCING SPECTACULAR
THE FIRST-OF-THEIR-KIND IN THE CARIBBEAN
Most people heading to Japan make a beeline for Tokyo, and rightly so. Beyond the frenetic city though, this is a country that offers up some of the best beach holidays going, and for that you need to head to Okinawa. The birthplace of karate, it’s an archipelago of coral-fringed islands that could be mistaken for Hawaii (the laid-back residents often wear Hawaiian
THE CORALFRINGED OKINAWA ISLANDS COULD BE MISTAKEN FOR HAWAII shirts to work). Hop around a few, stopping off at eclectic Dojo Bar on the main island, or going straight to Taketomi Island for a digital detox – there’s also no public transport and people travel by water buffalo, so you’re really shunning tech while you’re there. To give you a sense of the area, look to one of their greatest exports – a girl band with an average age of 84. Check out their home isle of Kohama Island, a tiny turquoise-water island with a population of 600 and a song dedicated to it – ‘Come on and Dance, Kohama Island’. HOW: Air France offers flights from £550 return. airfrance.com; stay at the cool Hoshinoya Taketomi Island if you have
Photograph by (Wyadup Rocks) Neal Pritchard Images/Getty; (Taketomi) Akifumi Yamabe; (Vancouver) Stuart Dee/Getty
Picnics, wine and big sweeps of dog-friendly beach: Ile de Re might just be our perfect weekend beach getaway. The island, located just 30 mins from La Rochelle (fly or ferry it) is the summer hangout of well-heeled Parisians, but don’t let that put you off. For the best combo of beach and food, stock up on baguettes, cheese and charcuterie at La Flotte’s food market (it’s the biggest town on the island) and picnic at La Baleine Beach; feast on langoustines at La Cabane de la Patache on the Trousse Chemise beach or head to Café du Commerce in Ars en Ré for gambas flambées au cognac. Hundreds of miles of cycle paths wiggle their way across the island, crossing salt marshes, passing World War II fortifications, leading to Atlantic-frothed beaches, so if you think you’ve overdone it on cheese (and you’re doing something wrong if you haven’t), you’re in the best place to ride it off. HOW: For dramatic curtains and antiques, try the island’s favourite Hotel de Toiras. hotel-de-toiras.com. Airbnb has really cute, affordable options kitted out in shabby-chic furniture. airbnb.com; Ryanair flies to La Rochelle from £30 return. ryanair.com
NEW HORIZONS: [clockwise from here] Wyadup Rocks Beach; Hoshinoya on Taketomi Island; False Creek, Vancouver
the budget. hoshinoresorts.com, or try an island-hopping trip with Inside Japan Tours. insidejapantours.com
Margaret River, Australia Australia may seem a long way to go just for beaches, but Margaret River, on the country’s west coast, doesn’t have the hellish flight time that the likes of Sydney do (and with new direct flights launching with Qantas to Perth in March 2018, it’ll be even easier). Perth is a cool city itself, one that’s going through plenty of changes with art, bars and food, but drive south (only for three hours or so) to combine vineyards with beaches – one of the best combos
going. Rent a camper (you’ll never get better weather for it) and check out the beaches of Prevelly for a rustic sweep and Eagle Bay for calm, clear water and not a sod in site. When you’re not cruising around, try a wine tour which will When Qantas take you to the very first launched its cool House of Cards Kangaroo Route to winery; the name’s and from London in 1947, it took four a nod to the gamble days and nine stops. that winemakers The new flights will take with every connect us to Perth in around 17 hours. vintage – you have to play the hand you’re dealt. Food in the region is flipping awesome, weather it’s breakfast with a beach view at the White Elephant cafe (giant avocados), or big fresh portions of tacos and wings, with a side of local beer, at the outdoor Brewhouse Margaret River. HOW: Austravel offers 14-night trips in Western Australia from £989 per person. The offer includes one night at the Comfort Inn Bel Eyre in Perth followed by 13 nights Apollo Motorhome hire. austravel.com
FROM THE WORLD’S LEADING ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORTS
Blackpool, UK Oh don’t be so dismissive, what’s not to love about a faded seaside resort full of average guesthouses and sticky-floored pubs? Before you think we’re being rude, that’s just the sort of thing we’re into. And throw a giant roller coaster in the mix and you have yourself a fun, and funny, little beach break. Sure, it’s no Biarritz, but there’s a tonne of money being poured into the city, with new hotels on the horizon (from Hilton to
0800 742 742 SANDALS.CO.UK COME IN STORE VISIT YOU LOCAL TRAVEL AGENT *T&Cs apply. See website for full details.
SUNKISSED SHORES: [clockwise from here] Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia; Jolly Beach in Antigua; Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo
– Rebellion sees classic punk rockers, and the best of the new breed, play the city each summer.
Nothing quite prepares you for Myrtos beach, not even the thousands of Instagram posts you’re sure to ogle before your visit. Set on the Greek island of Kefalonia, the long, deep white-stone beach is one of the best-looking you’ll see, and puts other Greek beaches (which let’s face it, are pretty special) to shame. You’ll approach it by a steep back road, and arrive to see turquoise water with white cliffs leading into the sand. Beyond that, though, this island is a beachy treat. Don’t just stick to the resorts of the south;
instead drive along goat-dotted roads to Fiskardo, a cute fishing village in the north. It’s the jumping off point for tiny boats that you can hire and motor around to bays that are only accessible by water. HOW: F Zeen is a gorgeous boutique hotel set on the coast in Lourdas. Nightly rates from £80. fzeenretreat.com; EasyJet offers return flights from £120. easyjet.com
have recently put together a beach bar trail, helping you choose which beaches to visit based on how much rum and beer you want to drink. It’s not all Carib beers and cocktails though – the bars are a great chance to soak up the island’s culture. Whether it’s conch fritters at Turner, seeing local art at Ana’s on Dickenson Bay or
SURE, BLACKPOOL MIGHT NOT BE BIARRITZ, BUT IT’S A FUN LITTLE BEACH BREAK
It was would be remiss for us to write about beaches and not mention Antigua. No, not because of the white sand, crystal clear water and all that jazz, but because of the stats. Yes, stats; numbers – all 365 beaches in fact, from the remote Half Moon Bay to the peaceful stretch at English Harbour. Of course, you’re bound to get thirsty, which is handy because the good folk at the island
Photograph by (Myrtos) Allen Parseghian/Getty; (Anitgue) /Robert Harding World Imagery/Getty
a post office boutique-hotel conversion) and new rides coming to the Pleasure Beach. In the meantime, you can spend your dosh on the slot machines in Funland, and if music’s your thing, the city has become a pilgrimage destination for punks (you might want to check out Rebellion Festival from 3-6 August for Pennywise, Bad Religion and more). Beyond the great hair and leather jackets, the city has a great local music scene – why not go and check it out yourself? HOW: Try the central Best Western for good value. bestwestern.com; Growing out of book trains through Holidays in the Sun Trainline from £40 – a Blackpool-based return. thetrainline.com festival from 1996
listening to music at Castaways. HOW: Handily, the island’s also produced a guesthouse guide, meaning you don’t have to fork out for a plush resort. If you do though, try Carlisle Bay. Seven nights from £2,713, including flights. classic-collection.co.uk
Maldives If your idea of a beach break is a lazy combo of white sand, turquoise water and cocktails, then we can’t say we blame you. The Maldives is one of those ‘see it to believe it’ places, and the best bit is there’s something to keep every type of beach lover occupied. So if your heart is in water sports and classes, try the likes of Niyama, with its bright and bold interiors and a never-ending selection of things to do. For parties, check out Finolhu with its The meat that’s beach-club inspired found inside the roster of themed spiral-shaped conch nights and DJ sets shell is a delicacy all across the (and food choices Caribbean, where ranging from fish it’s used in salads, shacks to grills, too). burgers, chowders and fritters. To just kick back,
NOTHING PREPARES YOU FOR MYRTOS BEACH churn through books and work on that tan, head to the celebrity’s favourite, Huvafen Fushi. The tiny island is one where you’re really forced to relax – although if you start to get itchy feet, check out the coral regeneration programme (including a fun snorkelling session with the resident marine biologist), or book yourself in for a facial at the underwater spa. It’s a tough life. HOW: Virgin Holidays offers seven nights all-inclusive at Finolhu from £2,599pp. virginholidays.co.uk
San Luis Obispo, California Surfing in the morning and tasting olive oil in the afternoon? That’ll be a beach break in San Luis Obispo (or Slo Cal for short), California for you. The dramatic stretch of coast midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles shouldn’t be ignored on your Cali road trip, and it’s here that you can get a taste of California 50 years ago, soaking up the residents’ chilled-out lifestyle. With 20 microclimates, there’s sure to be sunshine somewhere. So spend your
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Located in e very sou of Sri Lanka UTMT happens to be a lot: a truly individuell managed bouque hotel, a competent aryuvedic center, an enjoyable bea hotel and a magic place for yoga lovers. Above all UTMT is a arging device for your soul. Surrounded by coconut trees, UTMT features 22 unique r ms and villas direct at a private bea.
Photographs by (Marbella) Jeronimo Alba/Alamy; (The Gallivant) Jake Eastham
SURFING IN THE MORNING AND OLIVE OIL TASTING IN THE AFTERNOON? THAT’LL BE A BREAK IN SAN LUIS OBISPO mornings at the promenade of Pismo beach (where you can swim, take a kayak to caves and arches, or go surfing) or the Oceano Sand Dunes, the only California state park where you can drive a car on the beach. There are 12 farmers’ markets that take place in the state, which should give you some idea of the local food focus here. In fact, this is a place where drive-thrus were banned, so the big players (McDonalds etc) soon went out of business. Instead, try Tognazzini’s Dockside restaurant for barbecued garlicky oysters, then sample locally brewed beers at Barrel House Brewing Company. Evenings can be spent barbecuing on the beach, or checking out one of the last remaining drive-in movie theatres in the US, the 1950s-style Sunset Drive-In.
DIVE ON IN: When you’re not sunning yourself around the pool, Marbella has great beaches to explore; [below] The Gallivant in Rye
Tin Trailer Co is a colourful collection of kitsch caravans – hook one up to your rental car for a twist on the campervan holiday. tinkertin.com. Norwegian Air offers one-way flights to Oakland (outside of LA) from £373. norwegian.com
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Marbella is still the stiletto-stomping ground of D-list celebs, but it turns out that’s not the case. This beach resort shouldn’t be ruled out for a spring, summer, or autumn weekend beach break (and it can be pretty warm in the winter, too). Base yourself at the adults-only Amare hotel for access to the beach, (they have big day beds on the sand that you will not want to leave) as well as the cobbled streets of the old town. Have a wander and indulge in some late-night churros, then retreat to your white-washed room before – yes, you guessed it – heading out the next day for more sunshine. HOW: Classic Collection offers three nights at Amare from £768 with flights.
something more active, it’s one of the best places on the coast to learn to kite surf, too. When you’re not getting busy with this, check out the cute town of Rye, just five minutes inland. It’s full of Georgian and medieval houses, boutique shops (no big brands are allowed) While it’s not and best of all, pubs. directly on the Loads and loads coast, Rye feels of them. Although like a seaside town because it’s beach holidays are surrounded by two more common in rivers full of boats the summer, there’s heading out to the sea at Camber. something to be said for wrapping up for long walks on the beach, followed by evening sessions eating great gastro pub grub and drinking local ale. Try visiting during the Wild Boar Festival in October, or Rye Scallop Week in February. HOW: The Gallivant is one of the best beach-front boutique hotels going, and it’ll gladly welcome your dog, too. Nightly rates from £110. thegallivant.co.uk; Southeastern offers return tickets from £20.
Rye and Camber, Sussex
You don’t have to fly for hours to find the best beaches, not when Camber, the closest sandy beach to London, is just 90 minutes away. The dog-friendly stretch of sand is great for a paddle, but if you’re looking for
Whether you’re travelling for fragrant fish curry, a week-long yoga retreat or colourful markets, there’s no getting away from the fact that Goa’s biggest draw is its uninterrupted stretch of golden beaches.
THE RIVIERA MAYA HAS THE SECOND LARGEST BARRIER REEF IN THE WORLD A DROP IN THE OCEAN: Vagator Beach in Goa. With both golden sands and rocky coves, Goa’s coast remains popular with tourists
Maya, on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. The beach is truly one of the best we’ve seen, with talc-white sand, paragliders dotting the sky, and resorts spread far enough apart that you feel like you’re getting enough privacy. There’s also the second largest barrier reef system in the world to explore, where you can snorkel to your heart’s content, spotting all sorts of water-dwelling wildlife. While you’re in the area, it’s worth allocating a few days to Isla Mujeres, a little island that you can reach by Home to marine ferry from Cancun turtles, sharks and (home to highrises more than 500 and hot pants – yes, different species of fish, the Great it’s all true). Soak up Mayan Reef is a site backpacker vibes of incredible biodiand drink margaritas versity and wildlife conservation. in one of the many beach bars. HOW: The Rosewood Mayakoba is the coolest hotel on the stretch. Nightly rates from £540. rosewoodhotels.com; Virgin Atlantic flies to Cancun from £550 return. virginatlantic.com
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Neretva Delta, Croatia
Love luxe all-inclusive resorts or are you more clued up on cute little casas? Either way, you’ll have your pick on the Riviera
Travellers flock to Croatia for sailing trips, and why not? The water’s fiiiine. For something a little different, and much more
Vancouver, Canada Think Vancouver is just a cool Canadian city full of mountains and coffee shops? Of course it is. But beyond that, you’ll find a city with nine beaches, eight of which are by the ocean, and another by a freshwater lake. So when you’re not gulping in that fresh Canadian air while hiking up a massive hill, or ploughing through dim sum in one of the many awesome Chinese restaurants, head to the waterfront where you’ll find Jericho Beach. It’s not a soft, white-sand affair – this isn’t the Caribbean, after all – but it has swimming spots, windsurfing areas and picnic tables. For something more chilled, try Third Beach, a sandy spot surrounded by trees, and a great place for watching sunsets. HOW: For hipster vibes, stay at The Burrard. Nightly rates from £94. theburrard.com. Air Canada offers return flights from £550. e aircanada.com
Photograph by UIG via Getty Images
Plenty has changed since the 1960s, but you’ll still find something to suit you. Our favourite patch, though, has to be Morjim, about 15 minutes south of Arambol, a hippyville with loads of restaurants and bars on the beach; definitely spend your evenings here (La Plage is without question one of the best restaurants on the sand, whether it’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner). When you’re not lazing by the shimmering sea, or drinking the cheapest beer for miles, try visiting the markets. Apora’s Saturday night market is a fun evening out, and a great place to load your suitcase with hippy home stuff. HOW: Anahata Retreat is a peaceful place to relax in rustic sea view suites (check out its yoga schedule). anahataretreat.com. For something more luxe, try the five-star Alila Diwa, and twin it with the Four Seasons Mumbai (you may fly into the city, and it’s worth staying for a day or two). Nightly rates from £160 and £170 respectively. alilahotels.com; fourseasons.com; Air India offers flights from £360 return. airindia.in
local, try the Neretva Delta, just 90 minutes from Dubrovnik. Here you can spend your days kayaking through the mangroves on the Neretva river, cycling through tangerine fields and pretty villages, catching eels and frogs (and eating them, oh jeez). When all that gets a bit tiring, you’ll have access to the longest sandy beach in Croatia – a windsurfing hotspot, no less. For sunbathing and beer drinking, try the small village of Blace, with its cheap beachside apartments and little bars. As far as DIY beach holidays go, you can’t do much better. HOW: Arrange windsurfing and kayaking through Explore Neretva. exploreneretva.com; Book accommodation in Blace via Airbnb. airbnb.com; Easyjet offers return flights to Dubrovnik from £60. easyjet.com
A holiday with GIC The Villa Collection is a relaxing way to enjoy Greece and Cyprus, and we’re giving you and a friend the chance to win a seven-night trip
ith a wide range of elegant villas in the most beautiful locations across Greece and Cyprus, an escape with GIC The Villa Collection is perfect for everyone, from couples escaping London on a romantic getaway, to big groups of family and friends looking for a fun-packed week in the Mediterranean. Handpicked by holiday specialists, each of GIC’s self-catering villas will let you experience the best of Greece and Cyprus, and with local reps on hand to help you during your stay, you’re sure to make the most of your time away. Because holidays like these are worth sharing, we’ve teamed up with GIC The Villa Collection to offer you the chance to win a seven-night stay at Villa Luna on the island of Samos with car hire and return flights. From the moment you arrive, you’ll feel at home reclining by the pool, stretching
out in the villa’s well-appointed modern interiors or watching the Aegean shimmer from the comfort of the terrace. But best of all, you’ll be staying in a place that gives you the perfect opportunity to savour the unique landscapes and rich culture of Greece in carefree, unadulterated luxury. ◆ For more information, and to book, visit gicthevillacollection.com or call 020 8232 9780, quoting ‘ESCAPISM’; follow GIC The Villa Collection on Facebook or @gic_villas on Twitter to find out more.
HOW TO WIN If you fancy enjoying the sights of the Greek island of Samos from the luxury of a GIC villa, you’re in luck. We’re offering you the chance to win a seven-night stay at Villa Luna with car hire and return flights from London Gatwick. To be in with a chance of winning, visit escmag.co/gic-2017 and answer a simple question. What’s more, even if you’re not lucky enough to win, you can still save up to 40% on holidays to Greece when you book with GIC The Villa Collection. gicthevillacollection.com
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Photograph by NATUREWORLD / Alamy Stock Photo
ACCEPT NO IMITATIONS From hippy markets and sunsets to glossy yachts and superclubs, there’s only one Ibiza – but there are several different sides of it to explore, says Safi Thind
biza – land of the cosmic, pantastic, hedonistic, fantastic. Right now, looking out to sea from Café del Mar, somebody playing bongo drums on the beach as the smell of marijuana wafts over our noses, I’m in a zoned-out trance. The sun is descending in a perfect arc, setting the sky ablaze. I’m drinking in the spectacular cosmic show, feeling so peaceful that I’m on the verge of achieving unity with the Ibizan island goddess, Tanit, when this ear-shattering scream suddenly sounds: “Cheryl, I’ve fallen!” I look to see a girl to my left bouncing down a set of steps to the beach below. In the glare of the late-afternoon sun her pink skin peeps through the string bikini, exposing the world to parts which should really never be seen. Still clutching a beer in her hand she mows down innocent bystanders before Since opening rolling to the sands in 1980, Café del where she is, to all Mar has become intents and purposes, an iconic spot for watching the Ibiza lost. English sunset. It’s not debauchery is never cheap, but the views to be underestimated, and vibe are worth it for a one-off visit. but here in San
EVERYTHING IS A PICTURE OF PERFECT MELLOWNESS IN PRETTY IBIZA TOWN Antonio it comes turbo-charged and with a side of rocket fuel. I’ll admit I was a little concerned about this kind of scenario – Ibiza morphing into Magaluf – on the plane over when war erupted between a hen and stag party. The cause was a man – stag – popping a cava cork into the face of chief hen who’d
been sitting there innocently clutching a dildo. Just last month a plane flying out of Manchester was grounded in similar circumstances. But, worry not, because San Antonio is only one very small part of the many sides of this great island. Ibiza Town is a total contrast, with its lazy Spanish feel, like an old paella that’s been left to rest in the sun. Everything is a picture of perfect mellowness here – from the pink walls of the castle overlooking the town to the waves gently lapping against the picturesque harbour. I’m staying at the Lido Hotel. It’s walking distance to Bora Bora beach and a little further from the port. My apartment is usual holiday complex fare – beach-facing, communal pool, small kitchen and balcony – with just one point of note, which is the unusually large number of single women entering and exiting the building. The first evening I meet my Ibizan friend Javi for dinner, which we have in the shadow of the superyachts in the port. Once the home of hippies, ravers and eccentrics, the island is now catering for an increasing numbers of high rollers. These days it attracts the oligarchs and Middle Eastern
Photograph by (Cala d’Hort) Eloy Rodriguez/Getty; (Las Salinas) Arcaid Images/Alamy; (Bora Bora) Sabine Lubenow/Alamy
Sheikhs who are moored here in the marina. Indeed, says Javi, it’s all getting quite upmarket. Ibiza already has the world’s ‘most expensive’ restaurant, Sublimotion – billed as the Spanish answer to Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck – at the end of the Bora Bora strip. There are the yachts. There are also the increasing number of upscale private beaches, plush new hotels and clubs recently opened – this summer will see the start of Ibiza Hii, taking over from the
ON THE ROCKS: [clockwise from here] Tranquil Cala d’Hort; Las Salinas salt flats; for the ultimate beach party, head to Bora-Bora
famous Space nightclub, a new venture with a bit more of a luxury focus. It makes for a spectacular spectacle. That’s the beauty of Ibiza. There’s some kind of spectacle wherever you turn. This evening, the streets around the Marina Botafoch are crowded with groups of glamorous women dressed in incredibly skimpy outfits advertising club parties, much to the open-jawed delight of men around here. Further along the walls of the castle and deep into the narrow streets of the old town, are other jewels humming with life. The place feels like walking through a doll’s town, where everything is tiny and somehow unbelievably cosy but filled with surprises. Losing myself in the hundreds of stairs in narrow alleys, I hear music, singing and laughter and, rounding a corner, land in the middle of a private back yard where people are playing guitars and dancing and doing that most typical Ibizan thing – enjoying the night. I stay for a while to listen to the guitars – the view from the top near the cathedral is spectacular – before walking down to the
THERE’S SOME KIND OF SPECTACLE WHEREVER YOU TURN
beachfront which is quiet and soothed by a balmy air. There are lights on at the further end of the Playa d’en Bossa, the main beach strip, stretching down from Ibiza Town. I think that it’s the Ushuaia hotel and probably some kind of party – but that’s something for another night. Mornings are for finding a beach. Bypassing Playa d’en Bossa, which is crammed, I head to the quieter parts in the south (hire a car, if you can, it’s pretty useful if you are planning to get around and see a little of the island). If partying on a The journey passes beach all day is your Las Salinas, Ibiza’s thing, Playa d’en salt flats, which were Bossa is your place. Even if you don’t set up by the Moors join the revellers in some thousand years the beach bars, it’s ago and had been worth going just to people-watch. one of the mainstays of Ibiza’s economy (until electronic music hit). Blue Marlin’s Cala Jondal in the south is high-end with champagne and VIP sun loungers but a little too decadent for me today, so I pass a little further along the road and find this deserted little rocky gem, Cala Xerco. The mood is mellow, peaceful, harmonious. Just me and the sun and some folk with flutes. Ibiza still draws a mixed bag of travelling, peace-seeking, bead and braided-haired folk who – at risk of unfair generalisation – I’ll refer to as hippies. They’re maybe less seen than they were before, but one place to find them is at the hippy market. Walking through its veiled stalls I see the usual tat – wire animals, incense, multicoloured crystals – which makes me wonder if there’s some kind of magic ley line that connects this to other hippy enclaves all over the world, giving them this uniform quality of wilted lettuce. In any case I buy some crystals and wait for the sun to set, by
JOIN THE CLUB: [clockwise from here] Pacha has dominated Ibiza’s club scene since 1973; Ibiza Town; Las Dalias hippy market
THIS IS WHAT IBIZA IS REALLY ALL ABOUT –THE NIGHT BLEEDING INTO THE DAY
Photographs by (Pacha) Faris Villena; (Ibiza Town) Andrew Power/Getty; (market) imageBROKER/Alamy
which time I’m ready for some smut. Pacha has been here since 1973 and was the first of the island’s clubs to reach universal fame. The party this evening is called Paris by Night. It’s theatrical. It’s steamy. It’s saucy. It’s French smut. The place is jammed, the music accompanied by a varied mixture of transvestites, Moulin Rouge-style go-go dancers, models dressed in Marie Antoinette costumes and towering wigs and tasseled women on swings all lit up by ruby red spotlights and shimmering chandeliers. DJ Bob Sinclar hits at 3am and throws paper hearts into a goggling crowd. This is what Ibiza is really about – the night bleeding into the day. Pacha is only one of many, of course. If you have time you could try Amnesia, Es Paradis, Privilege, Eden, Sankeys and many others, though I can’t. I do manage Ushuaia, whose lights I saw on the Playa d’en Bossa strip the first night. It is the venue for the day/night Ants party, held in the open-air hotel complex where there’s a swimming pool surrounded by apartments, the guests getting a free pass to dance into the night. Pacha was built It’s huge, music and to resemble a lights and people farmhouse, but throwing themselves that’s where any ‘wholesome’ assointo the pool. I get ciations begin and a VIP pass and find end. Of all the clubs on the island, it’s the myself lingering on one to prioritise. the cordoned-off VIP stage wearing an ant mask – because I guess that’s what I am, a very important ant. As the sun sets the night plays tricks on you. There’s this absolutely beautiful darkskinned Spanish woman, with her black hair
pulled back, dark-eyed, fiery lipstick on her face, who is dancing mysteriously in front of me. I can almost hear her whispering flamenco into the evening when she approaches me and says hello. “Where are you from?” she asks. “Yorkshire,” I say. “Where are you from?” “Birmingham,” she replies. The spell is broken and she turns and dances away into the night. The party finishes around 11pm which is about right to get to the next place, and I eventually end up back home at 6am feeling like a ghost. A few hours later I’m off up north to meet Javi for lunch. It’s greener up here, a contrast to the amber and red of the old town. Cala Boix on the further northwestern tip is a brilliant find – an almost secluded 100m cove surrounded by high cliffs, with dark sand and clear water to jump into from slender crevices above the sea. After lazing in the morning sun we go up the cliff to the restaurant La Noria looking down over the beach where they make amazing paella. Javi asks me about my living arrangements. I tell him it’s quite comfortable, but with an unusually high number of women milling around it. That’s because it’s one of the main business spots for Ibiza’s hookers, he explains. I’ll blame my friend who booked it. Anyway, now I’m here, I’m at peace. This is as far from the madding crowd as you can get and as I look out for smashed noggins from the night before, or the sheikhs or oligarchs, or visigoths, byzantines, barbarians and vandals or any other invaders who have tried to stamp their authority on Ibiza in the past thousand odd years – I see nothing. Just the cool quiet, the splash of the waves and the sun beating down. A picture-perfect isolated paradise and another of Ibiza’s many shades. e
SOUKS APPEAL First-time visitors to this Moroccan city can feel a bit overwhelmed, so consult our guide of where to head in Marrakech, and explore beyond the bustle Words by Hannah Summers Photograph by Paul Harris/John Warburton-Lee Photography
La Sultana Candlelight, roof terrace, moustached man playing a little guitar… La Sultana is one of the more romantic restaurants in Marrakech, and you can’t fault its setting (be sure to get there to catch the sunset). The menu features pigeon pastilles, chicken and olive tagine and custard pastries, or you can go for a tasting menu. Don’t miss the pastilles though – one of the city’s specialities, they are essentially minced pigeon stuffed into crispy pastry, with a truckload of icing sugar lobbed on top. Sounds dodgy as hell, but it’s a must-try. lasultanahotels.com
GETTING THERE Tour operator Classic Collection features a range of riads and resorts in the city, with three nights available from £895pp including flights and private transfers. classic-collection.co.uk
Stall 22 at Jemaa El Fna
We’ll be honest, Marrakech isn’t a city where you’re going to be inundated with amazing restaurants at every curve of the medina, and that’s why the new restaurant at Riad Farnatchi is an even more welcome addition. The adventurous menu has been painstakingly agonised over and tested by the riad’s British owners and features ‘forgotten’ classics from Morocco – a bit of tripe, for example. If you’re just hankering for home food after a few too many tagines, it has that covered too – expect a luxe version of mac ’n’ cheese, and the like.
At first glance this gigantic chaotic square can seem totally overwhelming. When you’re not getting chased by a snake charmer, there’s sure to be monkey in a Liverpool FC shirt trying to selfie with you. Don’t let it get to you. Visit at night, when food stalls are packed onto the tarmac, serving anything from sheep’s head and carby potato sandwiches to soup and kebabs. You’ll be harassed by eager stall workers to take a seat at their ‘restaurant’, but like they say, they’re all the same. Still, we’d recommend stall 22, where you can eat luminous orange sausages and grilled aubergine.
Photograph by Pavliha/Getty
ESSENTIALS Photograph by Andrea Pavan/ Getty /AWL Images
Buy a rug in the souks
Drink Moroccan wine at Cafe Arabe
Clean up at Les Bains de Marrakech
Obviously you’re going to shop in the souks. Well, you’re not going to just shop, you’re going to get totally and utterly lost, before a small child leads you down a narrow alleyway to his uncle’s rug shop. Turns out the rugs are nice – like, really nice. But start your haggling at a third of the price you’re quoted, and don’t feel under pressure to buy – the chances are the rug will still be there in a few hours (if you can find the shop again). For nice prints and cute, branded versions of stuff sold in the souks, try the shop Chabi Chic.
If you’re visiting a Muslim country on holiday you can’t expect to find a drinking spot on every corner, which makes the ones you do find extra special. Cafe Arabe is a breezy, outdoor, top-floor bar with lovely rooftop views. Most people book tables for 8pm or so (to coincide with the hypnotic sounds of the call to prayer), but it’s a great place to swig cheap but great Moroccan rosé at any time. It’s one of the only bars in the medina, and worth a visit for the setting alone.
Hammam experiences in Morocco can vary from the ‘arghhh, strange man showering me with a freezing hose’ (in the public hammams) to ‘so this how it’s actually done’ (in the spa-style riad hammams). If you’re feeling flush, book into the tiled den that is Le Bains des Marrakech, where you’ll have the day’s dust and sweat soaped, scrubbed and rubbed from your body. You’ll emerge with your back de-knotted and your bits smelling like a bowl of potpourri.
Photograph by Huw Jones/Getty/Lonely Planet
The desert via quad bike
Stroll the museums
To escape the hectic medina – and as much as you love it, you will feel the need to escape occasionally – try the Majorelle Gardens (pictured). The calm 12-acre space is filled with cactus-lined shady lanes, exotic plants and cobalt-blue coloured pots, walls and benches. The cobalt blue is the trademark hue of the garden’s founder, the French painter Jacques Majorelle, but the space was nurtured into its current state by designer Yves Saint Laurent. Of course, it’s suitably pretty, and if Instagram’s your game, you’ll be in Story heaven.
Your trip to Marrakech doesn’t just have to be a never-ending muddle of leather bags, tiles, tagines and rugs. Arrange a half-day quad bike or buggy tour with Dunes & Desert and you can tear up some sand while breaking free from the close confines of the city. You’ll bounce over some impressive rocky landscape, have some lunch with a Berber family and get sand in places that you didn’t even know existed (tip: to rid yourself of all that sand, head to the hammam afterwards for a thorough cleansing, info on the previous page…).
While the city doesn’t necessarily have any big-ticket ‘must-see’ museums, there are a few that are definitely worth a wander around. Start with the Photography Museum, which is a peaceful, interesting space containing both permanent and temporary exhibitions (the back of the chairs at Riad Farnatchi’s restaurant are actually covered in some of the portrait photos hung in the museum). Next, try the Museum of Marrakech which houses Rabati embroidery and contemporary art. The tea room is a lovely spot for a silver pot of Morocco’s best minty drink.
STAY Four Seasons Marrakech
Les Jardins de la Medina
Marrakech’s ancient medina is a special place, even more so when you get to stay within its ancient walls. Riads dot the narrow, winding streets, and offer a variety of rooms – from dark and pretty dingy to bright with high ceilings. Try Angsana Riads, a collection of pretty and moderately-priced riads from the Banyan Tree hotel group. Each house (they are within metres of each other) offers spacious, colourful rooms set around a courtyard (pictured), with rooftop terraces that are a lovely place to sit back when the medina heat gets to you.
If your holiday priorities are more along the lines of chilling by a mega pool instead of getting lost in Marrakech’s old city, then the Four Seasons may just be for you. Set on the outskirts of town (but a shuttle ride from the medina), it’s a sprawling, calming oasis of swimming pools, sun loungers and, well, sun. You can visit as a day guest, or you may prefer to join the resort’s well-heeled clientele and book a night or two here after several more authentic riad nights in the medina. Don’t miss a treatment in the spa, which has jacuzzis, saunas and steam rooms.
To combine days lazing by the pool with a riad feel, try Les Jardins de la Medina. The 36-bedroom boutique hotel is set in grounds packed with orange trees, and is just a few minutes from the main square and the warren-like streets of the old medina. There’s one big pool surrounded by tall trees which catches the all-day sunshine, while the bedrooms are spacious, light-filled sanctuaries that you may be hard pressed to leave. But do: if only to relax in the on-site hammam, or to try traditional Moroccan food with an afternoon cooking class.
Photograph by Marc Van Vaek
COOL FOR CATSKILLS When the heat rises in New York City, savvy weekenders swerve the snooty Hamptons for the boho vibe of the Catskill Mountains, finds Laura Millar
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Photograph by Lorraine Boogich/Getty
e was just wandering along the street at two in the afternoon, a lone, twenty-something, modernday troubadour, strumming on his guitar, head bobbing to his own music, wearing a pair of sheepskin boots, beatup shorts, and a plaid shirt. Within just five minutes of entering the tiny town of Woodstock, Ulster County, a two-hour drive north from Manhattan, I’d basically learned not to bat an eye at such sights. When every other café is vegan, most shops are either tattoo parlours or offer psychic readings, and there are signs posted in windows advertising hot yoga and Tibetan chanting classes, it’s clear that the spirit of the sixties is still alive and well in this tiny corner of New York State. Grizzled-looking storekeepers sport Fleetwood Mac tour T-shirts, and you just know they’ve been to every gig. Woodstock, a tiny hamlet with a population of just 6,000, may not have actually hosted the famous music festival which took place in August, 1969 – it took place 60 miles down the road, in the town of Bethel, thanks to protests by Woodstock residents – but it still appeals to musicians, artists and anyone who embraces a laidback, alternative lifestyle. It couldn’t be further from the upscale towns which line the southern coast of Long Island (the other place New Yorkers escape to in the hot, sticky Getting to Catskills summer months). from New York’s And this natural, JFK International boho, neo-hippy Airport takes around two-and-a-half vibe reverberates hours by car, and the throughout the latter portion of the whole, vast Catskills drive is incredibly calm and scenic. region. My boyfriend and I have come here to explore what’s drawing more and more city folk north, rather than east, for the summer. Plus, it’s where Dirty Dancing was set, so there’s that too… The drive up from JFK eases us in gently to what we’ll experience over the next few days. Once off the snarl of the Interstate, quieter, two-lane roads slice through thick, lush forests, and we can see the hazy blue and green peaks of the mountain ranges in the distance. But as we approach our hotel near Mount Tremper, passing dozens of little mom ‘n’ pop stores selling groceries and newspapers, I almost swerve into a tree, distracted by a collection of strange, colourful robot-like structures on a patch of lawn by the roadside outside a workshop. Obviously, we pull over immediately. Inside the shop, Heller’s Fabulous
TOURISM TO THE CATSKILLS AS A WHOLE IS BOOMING, BUT SO IS RELOCATION Furniture, we encounter a sprightly, if somewhat eccentric, 71-year-old called Steve Heller, a local sculptor and furniture maker. Working with old machine parts, unwanted vehicles and general junk, he creates retro, atomic-age figures, customised hot-rods, and all manner of weird and wonderful gadgets which have graced celebrities’ homes (Robert De Niro is a huge fan), galleries and museums around the country. I ask him where he gets his inspiration, but he just hands me a DVD he’s made about himself and says, gruffly, “Watch this. I can’t be bothered answering questions about my work any more.” He reminds me gloriously of Back to the Future’s mad inventor, Emmett Brown, and even has a loveable dog, called Rocket. I think I’m going to like it here.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS: [clockwise from here] The Catskills; get the full experience in a log cabin; the area is also great for watersports
River deep, mountain high
fly-fishing, kayaking and tubing the rapids on nearby river tributary Esopus Creek. There’s also hiking and biking, which are now keeping hotels open year ’round. Tourism to the Catskills as a whole is booming, but so is relocation. “A lot of people have migrated from the city to open businesses,” explains local guide Fran DePetrillo. “There are techpreneurs, artists, creatives – the quality of life is better here, and it’s cheaper. We’ve got great bars The forests and and restaurants, a parks of the Catskills developing craft beer region are home to and cider scene, and some pretty cool wildlife, from black there’s just so much bears to bobcats, open space, people white-tailed deer feel like they can to all manner of different birds. really breathe.”
Hip replacement We head to Phoenicia, the poster town, if ever there was one, for the Catskills’ rebirth from home to the 1950s, largely Jewish vacation resorts which gave the area the nickname ‘Borscht Belt’ (including Kutcher’s, the inspiration for Dirty Dancing’s Kellerman’s) to smart hipster haven. Now, the in-crowd kip at The Graham & Co, a stylish new boutique hotel decorated in faux log-cabin chic, sip locally brewed craft beer at self-styled ‘farm-to-table gastropub’ Tavern 214, and brunch on corned beef hash at the slick, airy Phoenicia Diner. It’s no coincidence that most of these places are owned or run by New Yorkers, many of whom are familiar with the area,
Photograph by (main) Michael Marquand/Getty; (cabin) Sinisa Kukic/Getty; (road) Kevin Trageser/Getty
The Catskills are made up of five main counties, abutted by the Hudson river to the east: Ulster, Greene, Sullivan, Delaware and Schoharie, which encompass 700,000 acres of protected forest and parkland, and a range of mountains which are an extension of the Appalachians. Inhabited since the late 17th century, when the Dutch arrived, theories abound as to what inspired the region’s name (catskill means ‘cat’s creek’ in Dutch). These include the mountain lions which used to roam the area – though today they’re extinct, thanks to extensive hunting by the settlers. Ulster County sits in the Hudson River Valley, in the mountains’ foothills. The area’s long been popular in winter, thanks to its main ski resorts Belleayre, Hunter and Windham, and its summer pursuits, such as
having holidayed here as kids. That includes former music photographer Laura Levine, who’s shot everyone from Madonna to Lou Reed, and who now owns Mystery Spot Antiques in downtown Phoenicia. “I was born in Brooklyn, but my parents built a cabin up here,” she tells me in her fabulously eclectic store, which features counters overflowing with vintage vinyl, unsettling-looking, limb-less plastic dolls, lurex shirts, and black and white prints of Levine’s own work. “In the 1980s, I stayed there with a group of friends for a long weekend and by the end of it, we had all decided that we wanted to buy proper houses here,” she expands. “Gradually, I went from just coming up some weekends, to all summer, then I finally moved here full time last year. People fall under its spell; there’s a real sense of community, and of course you’re so much closer to nature. There’s a lot of young people who are coming up here from the city to open their own independent businesses now, because they just can’t afford to do that in New York city.” The sentiment is echoed by 26-year-old Simone Lecun, who serves me a delicious plate of wood-grilled octopus with homemade chorizo and chilli, at the quirky Peekamoose restaurant in nearby Pine Hill. “I see tattoos, piercings, skinny jeans and man buns everywhere now!” she laughs, having recently moved here herself from Brooklyn – the final straw, she explains, was her rent rising nearly a third over the past eight months. “Now my husband and I have a two-bedroom house with views over the valley, and go hiking every weekend.”
Taking the long view Ah yes, the great outdoors; it’s the main reason people come here, and despite not being particularly outdoorsy ourselves, my boyfriend and I are determined to get into the Catskills spirit. We start small, first heading across the impressive, 212ft high Walkway Over the Hudson, a 19th century former rail bridge which connects Ulster County with Columbia County, and the town of Hyde Park, where Franklin D Roosevelt once lived. From the middle of the bridge, we look out over the wide, still, petrol-blue waters, the emerald, forested plains on either side of them stretching out for miles towards the peaks in the far distance. It’s views like this which inspired the 19th century Serving an romantic art inventive menu movement known of local food from as the Hudson River the farmers and artisans of the School, largely Catskills region, this spearheaded by restaurant has been Lancashire-born a foodie mainstay for almost 15 years. painter and architect Thomas Cole. Driving over into Greene County, we visit his house and studio, now a museum, in the small town of Catskill. Set on two acres of land on a hillside, it offers breath-taking views across the Hudson River valley; no wonder he was so inspired to create the vast, sweeping canvases which portray local landmarks. There are several of Kaaterskill Falls, a gushing, tumbling twolevel waterfall, which we later hike around. The lovely trail starts at the top, and as it’s another hot day, we welcome the mild drenching we get at the bottom. Nearby is the imaginatively named North-South Lake, where you can camp, swim, hike and fish; a short walk up behind the water takes us to the edge of an escarpment where we can see right across five counties. Despite being high summer, the area doesn’t feel particularly crowded or touristy. Both Catskill, where we have lunch, and the tiny town of Tannersville, near where we stop overnight, are perfect examples of old-timey Americana mixed with modernity, their main streets lined with antique shops, independent boutiques, rustic cafés and recently opened wineries. There’s still a decent amount of artsy quirkiness here; Tannersville is known as the ‘painted village’ due to the bright colours of its buildings, while Catskill has a yearly display of cat statues (catues?) decorated by different local artists which are then auctioned for charity.
WATER FEATURE: One of the many waterfalls nestled in the Catskill Mountains. Hiking to the region’s remote parts is a must for visitors
The cabin in the woods
from grain to lumber was processed here, until the arrival of the railroads in the 1860s. Today, most of these tracks are out of use, but ‘rail trails’ are popular, where you can walk along the old routes. We arrive at the Roscoe Campsite in the mid-afternoon, the sun still high in the sky and dappling through the trees, and – as a concession to my tent-phobic boyfriend – we’re staying in a little log cabin. It’s delightfully cute, if bereft of a shower (yes, we still have to brave a communal shower block) but it really feels as if we’ve left civilisation largely behind. Thankfully, only a five-minute drive up the road, past several guns and ammo stores, is the Roscoe Brewery, staffed by grizzly men whose beards reach down to their chests – and this time, not in a hipster way. After sampling some of its finest brews, it’s back to the cabin for a slightly restless sleep (the countryside makes unsettling noises, it transpires), but we wake up to another scorching day. It feels like time to do some more communing with nature.
GETTING THERE TAP Portugal flies from London to JFK via Lisbon from £411 return; book via flytap.com. Rooms at Emerson Resort and Spa, Mount Tremper: start from $155/£126 per night, emersonresort.com. Rooms at Fairlawn Inn, Hunter, start from $129/£104 per night, fairlawninn.com. For details on the Rosco Campsite, see roscoecampsite.com. For more information on visiting the Catskills, see visitthecatskills.com
Photograph by Michael Hamrah/Getty
But all this still feels too urban. It’s time to go full nature. It’s time to go… camping. The next day, we set off for Roscoe, in Sullivan County, known, catchily, as Trout Town, thanks to its 2008 award for being the best place to catch the freshwater fish in the country. Here, there’s also hunting and shooting a-plenty, although we don’t plan to do much (ok, any) of this. To get there, we cross into Delaware County, passing vast expanses of farmland, storybook red barns, silver 1950s-style diners, and driving alongside babbling creeks. It feels like we’ve headed back into the past. The roads are so empty that sometimes we’re the only car for miles, slowing for the occasional family Built in a former of deer to cross. firehouse, Roscoe Mountains loom Brewery launched its flagship brew –Trout around us; it feels Town Amber Ale – in like the America 2013, but now makes of the movies. This ten different beers, was also big mill from punchy IPAs to malty barley wines. country – everything
First, we head to the Lander River Rafting Centre. This stretch of the Delaware river includes Skinners Falls, a series of excitinglooking rapids which I immediately decide look quite dangerous. With this in mind, I downgrade our plans from doing some kayaking to watching other people doing it instead. Which is just as much fun, actually, if you do it with your feet in the river while sipping on a beer. Later, we head to the Catskill State Park – those 700,000 protected acres of land – which is criss-crossed by picturesque trails. We’re dive-bombed by butterflies, and spot the occasional kingfisher gliding gracefully over a pond, though I am finding it hard to completely relax and take it all in as apparently the park is also home to several hundred black bears. However, the hike passes uneventfully, and then it’s time for one last stop-off. We’re ending our trip almost where we began, a few miles down the road from Woodstock, at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. This was built eight years ago on the actual site of the festival, and houses a museum with artefacts and footage from the time leading up to those three seminal days in 1969, as well as a concert hall. We wander around gazing at vintage VW camper vans daubed with psychedelic graffiti, listen to electrifying performances by Jimi Hendrix, Santana and The Who, and watch documentary clips outlining the politics, fashion, and history of the era. Afterwards, I ask who has played here in recent years, and I’m told performers include Journey, the Doobie Brothers, Joan Jett – and, er, Pitbull. It aptly seems to encapsulate the way the Catskills mixes retro with modern – and after a week here, I just can’t help but love its vibe. e
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AHEAD OF THE CURVE With its mix of centuries-old tradition and new-school food and design, Aarhus is a city thatâ€™s truly original, finds Clare Vooght 92
f you’re not impressed by a 400-ton, panoramic rainbow on the roof of a building – which, FYI, you can walk through and experience a change in temperature as you move from cooler blues through warmer indigoes and violets to reds – then you should rethink your priorities. The rainbow panorama by Olafur Eliasson on top of ARoS art museum is just one of many reasons Aarhus – Denmark’s second-largest city – merited its European Capital of Culture 2017 title. Its inventive New Nordic food Aarhus claimed its sourced from local Capital of Culture Jutland (the stickyaward alongside up peninsula of Paphos, Cyprus this year. It becomes Denmark) producers the first Danish is another. And city to do so since then there’s its Copenhagen was chosen in 1996. experimental architecture (it has residential flats created to look like icebergs) and its general design kudos: I fell for Aarhus, because everything here is created to be beautiful. As well as all the modern stuff, this historic Viking town has plenty of fascinating (and gory) history, if that’s what you’re into – immortalised in techconscious, interactive museums, plus lots of old buildings and cobbled streets to wander around, especially in its buzzy Latin Quarter. The city emanates effortless Danish cool. So if you’re a fan of Scandi cities, book yourself a budget flight now.
Day one: Aarhus Ø, Dokk1, ARoS and the Rainbow Walk Morning Aarhus is entirely walkable, but I make like a Dane and cycle around Aarhus Ø, a new canal-veined dockland quarter that’s essentially an experimenting ground for
Photograph by VIEW Pictures Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
THIS HISTORIC VIKING TOWN HAS PLENTY OF GORY HISTORY 93
A GIANT BELL IS RUNG WHENEVER A NEW AARHUS BABY IS BORN architects. In the past few years, various new housing blocks have sprung up, from swanky, sustainably built student accommodation to the striking Iceberg – angular waterside apartments designed to look like enormous shards of ice jutting up from the sea. The waterfront here is home to events such as group volleyball and salsa, and live concerts: keep an eye out if you’re visiting in summer, especially for yoga, exhibitions, lectures, live bands and club nights at the Dome of Visions, a temporary space that moves around the area. Then take a peek at Dokk1, which houses the coolest library and civic centre you’ll see. It’s been named the world’s best library, and the beautifully lit interior is worth a look: with plenty of interactive tech touches and Scandi ‘design porn’ flourishes. The tubular bell inside – the world’s largest – is testament to community-focused Danish society: it’s rung whenever an Aarhus baby is born via a button in the local hospital.
Afternoon Absorb more culture at ARoS art museum, where you’ll find that rainbow. I wouldn’t normally bang on quite so much about a gallery, but this one’s more of a concept. Its design is based on Dante’s Divine Comedy, and a visit begins with a dark, underground black-walled hell downstairs, home to an abandoned club space called ‘The Mirror’ with neon lights, a fallen disco ball and discarded beer bottles. Along a few more dark, warren-like corridors, I find an opening onto a metal balcony that turns out to be enclosed with mirrors that make the tiny space appear to go on and on. As you keep going up, floor by floor, gallery-goers travel through purgatory, through constantly changing exhibitions, up to the more virtuous, permanent Old Masters collection on the 8th floor. When you reach the roof, you’re in heaven – the aforementioned rainbow walkway that provides a coloursaturated view across the city. Evening This year, thanks to some innovative cheffing in local kitchens using all the fresh produce that comes from the countryside surrounding the city, Aarhus and the Central Denmark Region has won a European Region of Gastronomy accolade. Head to Aarhus Street Food, a casual market with independent food trucks including Stegen & Dellen, serving Danish meatball sarnies with heaps of crackling, and condensed street food incarnations of restaurants such as Copenhagen’s Grød, which serves porridge, risotto and daal. On my visit I have a creamy Grød risotto made with purple broccoli, raw apple and thickly grated parmesan as a live
SMELL ICE, CAN YA?: The Isbjerget, or Iceberg, development on Aarhus’s harbour – an arresting newly built apartment block
band – fronted by a girl who’s the spitting image of Amy Schumer – plays Femme Fatale by the Velvet Underground.
Day two: Old Town, Latin Quarter and the Moesgaard Museum, Kulbroen
Morning I find that there’s a fine line between hipster culture and history re-enactment, when witnessing bearded gents brewing casks of ale, 1800s-style, for guests to try at Aarhus Den Gamle By (the Old Town Museum). Stuffy old museum this is not – visitors can also get a look at life in Denmark through the ages, with pickling demos, quince porridge tasting in a reconstructed 19th-century grain merchant’s house, and a 1970s commune, rebuilt just as the Skansen commune was in Aarhus at the time. There are record players, poster maps of the People’s Republic Pickling is an of China, very important food 1970s prints, plus tradition all over the interviews with real Nordics, originally used as a way of occupants about life preserving produce in the commune and picked over the interactive mirrors summer months to last the cold winter. that put you in virtual
hippy-style garms. After my history fix, I wander back towards town via Mollestein, a picturesque street with enough brightly painted houses with trailing flowers and vintage bikes chained up outside – enough to keep your Instagram feed going for a while. Photograph by (main) Kristian Bang / Alamy Stock Photo; (far left) robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo; Westend61 GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
Afternoon Stop to eat at Langhoff & Juul, an organic restaurant where the mantra is ‘the best things in life either make you fat, drunk or pregnant’. At lunchtime, beautifully presented salads and open sandwiches are created with sustainability in mind, using local ingredients. From here, you’re in prime position to explore the Latin Quarter – the oldest part of the city. It’s full of cobbled streets to explore, and I’m transfixed by the cooler-than-your-front-room design shops, clothing boutiques and galleries that are also tattoo parlours (true story – check out Société G28). Grab a coffee while checking out the art for sale in Tank, then check out an installation in LYNFabrikken – a gallery housed in an old factory building. Don’t forget the Aarhus Cathedral, either, situated in a pretty square in the heart of
the Latin Quarter. And if you’re still feeling history-hungry, head to the edge of town to the Moesgaard Museum of archaeology and ethnography The Latin Quarter for – among various is was built in the other immersive 14th century, after installations – a the city oversaw the destruction of its old virtual-reality Viking fortifications. experience on an Today it’s one of Iron Age battlefield. the buzziest parts of town. We see arrows on screens coming towards us and hear swords clinking, along with other gorier battle sounds, here. The building itself is pretty cool too – as tends to be the Danish way – and it looks like its grassy, slanted roof is opening from the ground on a hinge. It doubles as a toboggan run in winter, too.
Evening Head to Sårt on hip Jægergårdsgade to start your night with Danish tapas and an epic cheese and charcuterie board, and few glasses of wine. Continue resetting the culture/booze balance in an apothecary-style setting with a Nuclear Daiquiri made with absinthe and Lemon Hart overproof rum,
or a Fattie Bum Bum, with Johnnie Walker Gold Label, port, and marshmallow and nettle stout syrup from St Paul’s Apothek. The cocktails are as cool, inventive and unique as the rest of the city. e Ryanair has direct flights from London Stansted to Aarhus from £19.99 one-way. For more information, see visitdenmark.co.uk and visitaarhus.com. For European Capital of Culture 2017 events, visit aarhus2017.com
STAY The Radisson Blu is a nicely designed option and an easy walk from the centre of Aarhus. Rooms are simple, modern and plenty of them have good city views (nightly rates from £102 per room, radissonblu.com). Hotel Oasia is a bit more youthful, with black-and-white Scandi cool points and furniture made by sustainably minded Danish brands (nightly rates from £105 per night, hoteloasia.com)
HOLD YOUR HORSES The Palio of Siena is one of the most high-octane horse races in the world, but whatâ€™s the story behind this unique equine occasion? Max Williams finds out
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t has been described as “the world’s toughest horse race” (BBC); “the greatest horse race in the world” (GQ); and “easily the most exciting 90 seconds to be had in all modern Europe” (The Guardian). For countless tourists it has provided the experience of a lifetime; yet for many animal rights activists it is an archaic monstrosity, responsible for the death of 50 horses since 1970. However you view the Palio of Siena, there can be no doubt that this is a totally unique event: a horse race that defines the identity of a city and, for 55,000 fanatical Sienese, serves as the embodiment of life itself. You might have encountered the Palio. Every summer, newspapers publish various articles and photo essays in an attempt to shine a light on As well as the this strange Italian infamous horse race, tradition. Well, this Tuscan town up to a point: the is known for its food, art, museums features tend to and medieval describe the Palio architecture, and is rather than explain one of Italy’s most visited places. it. For the Palio is a very difficult thing to explain. Books have been written trying to decipher it – La Terra in Piazza: An Interpretation of the Palio of Siena probably goes deepest – so packaging centuries of history and culture within a mere 1,500 words may prove optimistic. The salient points are these: the race is ridden bareback three times around Siena’s central square, the Piazza del Campo. Ten of Siena’s 17 districts, or contrade, compete in each Palio; the seven non-participants automatically enter next year’s iteration (three are drawn by ballot). And once the race starts, anything goes: whipping your rival isn’t only acceptable, it’s encouraged. Think war – on horseback. Of course there’s more, much more: such as the partiti, the secret dealmaking that occurs between the contrade in the lead-up to the race, and continues between the jockeys as they jostle at the starting rope. Or the enmity shared by certain contrade (Aquila and Pantera, for example), a hatred so intense that a contrada would sacrifice a shot at winning the Palio to ensure their rival fell short. Or the suspicion a contrada often feels toward their jockey, the outsider hired for the race, the mercenary who might well easily betray them. Even the scheduling of the Palio – twice a year, on 2 July and 16 August – appears somewhat bizarre. Why stage the races a mere six weeks apart? (To honour the Virgin
ONCE THE RACE STARTS, ANYTHING GOES: WHIPPING YOUR RIVAL IS ENCOURAGED
Mary: the Visitation in July, the Assumption in August. Although, happily, the dates also ensure every contrade races at least one Palio per season.) Rather than seek to explain the Palio, let us consider what it is that makes it wonderful – not only as a spectacle for the tourist, but also as a celebration of civic identity. In Siena, there is the Palio, and then there is everything else. One of the great appeals of the Palio is Siena itself: let’s be honest, were the race held in Milton Keynes it’s unlikely the tourists would come flocking. Stage a festival of colour under the Tuscan sun, within a medieval city so meticulously picturesque it might have been designed by Wes Anderson, and suddenly the world starts paying attention. Not, it must be stressed, that Siena particularly courts this attention: the city is fiercely protective of the Palio’s integrity. Unless you hail from
PEOPLE BELONG TO THEIR CONTRADA FIRST, AND SIENA SECOND
TICKET TO RIDE: [above] The Palio in full swing. The race attracts around 60,000 spectators; [below] San Gimignano, Siena
one of the contrade, you can only ever experience the Palio as an outsider. This is the most beautiful aspect of the Palio, and also the most heartbreaking. The evening before the Palio, each contrada – even those not participating – gathers together for a communal dinner. Rows of wooden tables fill the largest square in the district; great quantities of meat and pasta are prepared by volunteers; seemingly endless bottles of wine are distributed; and, beneath the night sky, the people of the contrada eat, drink and discuss the race to come. It’s hard to overstate the importance of the contrade to the people of Siena; an individual belongs to their contrada first, Siena second. Outsiders can purchase tickets for
Photographs by (race) Kim Petersen /Alamy; (San Gimignano) UIG via Getty
these dinners, although there aren’t many available. If offered the chance, attend one: not only will you remember the evening for many years to come (provided you don’t overdo the vino), you should also form a bond with your host contrada that means you have someone to root for. Nobody should watch the Palio as a neutral. Last August I attended the dinner of Aquila, the Eagle. Aquila hadn’t won the Palio since 1992, the longest of any contrada. In Siena, such a contrada is known as the ‘nonna’, the grandmother; Lupa, the previous nonna, won the July Palio and thus passed the unwanted title onto Aquila. If that weren’t enough, Aquila also holds the least victories of any contrada – a mere 24. (The record is held by Oca, Goose, with a cool 62.) Yet that August the new nonna had a real shot. Their horse was considered quick. Their jockey, a dashing young Sardinian named Giovanni Atzeni, had won the Palio for Selva contrada the previous year – his fifth Palio victory. And some shrewd dealmaking in the July race – when cursed with a weak horse – had left Aquila with favours to call in. Giovanni sat on the top table, flanked by the leaders of the contrada, the yellow helmet of the Aquila jockey placed in front of him. He appeared relaxed, shaking hands with the people who came over to wish him success. Later, he made a brief speech in which he promised to do his best to bring glory the next day. The affection is real but fragile. Failed jockeys are sometimes beaten up by their contrada, especially if treachery is scented or a rival is allowed to triumph. As the evening wore on, plates emptied, yet more wine bottles were poured out, and the mood grew The people of Siena celebratory. A crowd are fiercely loyal to formed in front of their contradas, and the top table, and many will be born, married and buried the people of Aquila within them. They began to sing. It was stand not just for a a beautiful sound, geographical area, but a way of life. that song, proud and sad, summoned by hundreds of voices in defiance of 24 desperate years that might finally be over. Some laughed, some wept; one man sobbed uncontrollably as he embraced his companion. All across the city, similar scenes would be taking place – although perhaps nowhere with such fervency as Aquila. Watching the Palio offers various options. The most memorable – and expensive – is to hire a balcony of one of the apartments
HEART OF THE ACTION: The Duomo – Siena’s cathedral – is where the victorious team and its supporters head when the race is over
order the horses will line up before the rope. To the despair of its citizens, Aquila is drawn to start alongside its rival, Pantera (Panther). Sabotage seems inevitable. The race is an anticlimax. Giovanni starts badly, and the horse is unable to make up the distance. He finishes several lengths behind Lupa – the same winner as July, and the same rider. After a 27-year wait, Lupa have two victories in six weeks. After the race, pandemonium. The people of the victorious contrada race to the Duomo, Siena’s great cathedral, where the celebrations begin. The black and white banner of Lupa is everywhere – you would think it the colours of the city. Into the Duomo, eventually, comes the horse, the triumphant jockey, and the Palio banner itself. (Each banner is unique, and kept by its victor – a new banner will be designed for July.) By now the cathedral is packed, stifling hot, echoing with cheers and the drumbeats that will last until dawn. A forest of camera phones block the view. On the streets of Aquila, desolation reigns. Old men talk sadly on the steps, perhaps wondering if they will ever see
another victory. Two teenage boys drift along, their arms draped around each other’s shoulders in a gesture of solidarity and despair. Ten long months until July. This is the side of the Palio few tourists will ever see. The quiet anguish, the broken hopes, a sorrow akin to mourning. As the Sienese have said: ‘we do not play the Palio, we live it!’ For better or worse. e
WHERE TO STAY PALAZZO RAVIZZA The Grand Hotel Continental Siena is unquestionably the most opulent hotel in Siena, but may we be bold enough to recommend the Palazzo Ravizza as a more understated option. An independent hotel, it has been run by the same family for more than 80 years, and each room is uniquely furnished. palazzoravizza.it/en
Photograph by Peter Unger/Getty
overlooking the piazza. As well as the race, you can see the preceding parade of the contrade – which involves drummers, flag throwers and mounted knights, all decked out in medieval pomp – from a comfortable vantage point. As the parade lasts many hours, comfort is recommended. Alternatively, join the multitudes crammed into the centre of the piazza. If you arrive early enough, you can stand right against the barriers; but be warned, you will also face a long, sweltering wait, and only be able to see a small section of the track. Although many Sienese attend the race, most prefer to watch within their contrada. In the streets of Aquila, the confidence of the previous evening has curdled into nervous, albeit excited, anticipation. Surely this is the moment? Surely not again… At 7pm the horses Located in Siena’s emerge from the central square, the courtyard of Palazzo Palazzo Pubblico Pubblico, the great features an impressive bell tower that town hall that towers has been replicated over the square. in locations all over Lots are drawn to the world, including, er, Grimsby. determine in what
P ROMOTI ON
Catalan Charm For a unique escape that balances beautiful design with outstanding service and laidback luxury in the lively heart of Barcelona, there’s nowhere better than El Palauet Living
f you’re looking for a place to put your feet up in the busy heart of Barcelona, look no further than El Palauet Living – a chic, luxurious boutique that’s the perfect mix of old-school Catalan Modernisme and state-ofthe-art contemporary design. As soon as you check into the all-suite hotel on Barcelona’s upmarket Passeig de Gràcia, you’ll find yourself in a home away from home. And what’s even better is that it’s your own
AS SOON AS YOU CHECK IN, YOU’LL BE IN A BEAUTIFUL HOME AWAY FROM HOME
private paradise to relax in, because access to the hotel’s facilities is completely exclusive to guests. So, whether you fancy taking a quick siesta in your spacious two-bedroom suite, watching the world go by on the brushed-up streets outside, or treating yourself to a drink or treatment at the hotel’s rooftop spa and terrace, you can – and there’s nowhere else in the entire city that’s quite like it. What’s more, every time you stay at El Palauet Living, the hotel’s team of personal assistants will be on hand to offer you a tailored service to make your stay memorable. From restaurant reservations to stocking your fridge, hairdressing and make-up to personal training, when you choose to stay at El Palauet Living, nothing is too much to ask. If you ever want to leave the comfort of your suite, Gràcia is one of Barcelona’s most soughtafter neighbourhoods. Full of Art Nouveau charm, fantastic shops and restaurants and even a Gaudi building or two, you’ll be in the perfect place to experience the city at its most authentic. But it’s when you get back to the hotel that
you’ll feel relaxed: whether you’re kicking back on the roof terrace or indulging in a romantic private dining experience in your suite, at El Palauet Living, you’ll instantly feel at home. ◆
For more information, and to book, visit elpalauet.com/en, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @el_palauet on social media.
FIND MORE TRAVEL INSPIRATION AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM
A TASTE OF MOSCOW Russia’s capital is now more visitor-friendly than ever, but for a true flavour of what’s changing in the city, head to its restaurants, says David J Constable
Photograph by ###
oscow today is nothing like the sullen Soviet metropolis of putt-putting Ladas and empty shelves it once was. It is a city of conspicuous abundance; of high-fashion boutiques and bullet proof cars. It’s difficult to think of another city that has undergone such a portentous shift from penury living and authoritarian rationing to luxuriant partying and fluent spending. This is a new Moscow. Something here, is happening. Signs of Communism and Soviet rule are still evident in the buildings and peeling advertising, and whether or not you believe in current state control and propaganda – or as a local, are in denial of it – the faces of Muscovites in the street appear contented. I’ve visited twice now in winter months and the city has a fairground brilliance. Red and white bulbs are stringed across trees and Christmas markets dot the city. At night golden lights illuminate the Bolshoi Theatre and the pentagonal luminescent ruby stars of the Kremlin rotate in the dark sky. Russians are the new jet set and Moscow is their congenial cradle. It is one of the richest, most energetic, fast-forward, fast-living cities I’ve The Bolshoi Ballet visited. Residents and Opera are two of here have the most the most respected oil and throw the best opera and ballet companies in the parties… in a country world. If you can’t with the most get tickets to a show, beautiful women. do a tour of the theatre instead. Everything you’ve heard about Moscow is true, but there’s never enough time to do everything. And you’ll need to know a Vlad or Alexei or someone called Pavel. For me, it was Gennady, my city chaperone; a
HIP TO BE SQUARE: [above] The State History Museum and Kazan Cathedal in Red Square; [below] Bosco Bar’s Red Square terrace
laughing, jolly bon viveur with a Cheshire Cat grin who gets me reservations and through the doors of some of Moscow’s most elite establishments; places where you have to have at least six billion quid in the bank or Putin on speed-dial to get in. To enter Russia you require a state or tourist invitation and for a peek of the posh you’ll need the introductions. So you
MOSCOW HAS 4,000 RESTAURANTS; GASTRONOMIC LIFE HERE IS FLOURISHING 104
must plan (or find yourself a Gennady). This is a dizzyingly chaotic city, a spiralling metropolis and an overspill of roads, buildings and frozen parks, all within a series of concentric ring roads that push out from the centre. It has a population of around 12.5 million people – four million more than London – and some 4,000 restaurants. The gastronomic life here is flourishing with food festivals, minimarkets, supper clubs and restaurants making international noise. In dark corners industrious hipsters are adopting places that muddle categorisation, places like Double B Coffee, LumberJack, Pinch, AQ Chicken and the organic farm-to-table cooperative LavkaLavka. Even in these snot-freezing conditions, entrepreneurship thrives. I arrange a tour of Red Square and the Kremlin with Ksenia Terenteva, a local tour guide. I visit the Kremlin monasteries, take that famous photo of Saint Basil’s Cathedral and see the waxy profile of Lenin inside his dark and eerie mausoleum. On the periphery of Red Square there are signs of a foreign food overspill from the west (Jamie’s Italian and Uilliam’s) alongside the successful Russian chains familiar to us in London, outposts of Novikov, Goodman and Burger
THE WHOLE RUSSIAN VODKA EXPERIENCE IS PARTICULAR AND AUTHENTIC
Photographs by (Red Square) Art Kowalsky/Alamy; (Bosco) John Kellerman /Alamy
& Lobster. With food an ever preeminent concern, Gennady introduces me to chefs and restaurateurs and places where roundthe-clock babushka doorwomen keep out curious foreigners. What I discover is a flourishing dining scene, an affluent mix of oligarchs and city elites; lots of shiny watches and polyester suits – there’s even a man in a full snakeskin suit and while it’s not my choice of ‘cloth’, I have to admit I have admiration for his tailor. At some stage, I discover caviar and vodka. Those rumours are all true. I indulge myself regularly and wholeheartedly for the purpose of, ahem, research. The whole Russian vodka experience is particular and authentic. There are strict rules. I decide to enter no holds barred, giving myself over fully to the experience and committing entirely. I guzzle with a tourist’s enthusiasm. The taste is crisp and clean, like licking ice. While no caviar is This is not the warm, what you’d consider giddiness-inducing cheap, Beluga is fluid I drank with the world’s most expensive, and gusto during my can sell for tens university days. This of thousands of is Russian Imperia. pounds. Breakfast of champions indeed. But the question
remains: is vodka Russian or Ukrainian? Legend (the Russian story) says that a monk named Isidor created vodka within the walls of Chudor monastery in the Kremlin in the early 15th century. In acknowledgment of this ‘fact’ the International Arbitration made a decision in 1982 to call vodka “an original Russian alcoholic drink”. Whatever the truth, it’s difficult to debate the outstanding quality of Russia’s output… and the violent, crippling hangover it leaves me with. The next morning, in the ornate dining hall of the Metropol Hotel, breakfast is an event. I’m served caviar on blinis while a lady plays the harp for me. It’s pathetically lavish. I’m convinced this is how breakfast should always be. Before 1917, it was. Caviar had been an everyday item, Russia’s chocolate digestive. It was available from grocery stores and served in inns during Shrovetide. Each morning I eat the salty Beluga, and each evening I hit the pillow with the chilled and distilled lubrication of Stolichnaya Red Label vodka on my lips. Moscow’s food scene is enjoying increased popularity in part due to the rising profiles of its young chefs and the media attention thrown upon them. Vladimir Mukhin is leading the charge having appeared in the new Netflix series of Chef’s Table and his restaurant, The White Rabbit, was voted number 18 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016. You also have twins Ivan and Sergey Berezutskiy of Wine & Crab restaurant who were commended in last year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list,
MAX YOUR WEEKEND Hike and climb in the Slovakian wilderness with Much Better Adventures THURSDAY Grab your rucksack and head to the airport. Meet your local host at Kosice airport and head to the medieval town of Spišská Nová Ves. Check in and unwind.
FRIDAY Head into the Slovak Paradise National Park for your first taste of its iconic gorges. Pass rock formations and waterfalls before eating lunch at a mountain lodge. Hike famous ledges and catwalks above the Hornad River, the perfect spot for a cliff-top photo that’ll freak out mum. 17km of walking (7hrs)
SATURDAY Today you’ll explore Piecky Gorge. The name means “fireplace” and refers to the unique rock formations in the canyon. Spend the afternoon climbing high-flying ladders alongside dramatic waterfalls, and take a soak in a thermal pool before food. 13km of walking (6hrs)
SUNDAY Wake up and climb to the rock shelf at Tomasovsky Vyhlad, where you’ll catch stunning views across the High Tatras mountain range. Then transfer back to Krakow, getting back just in time for work on Monday. 11km of walking (4hrs) Fancy it? Much Better Adventures have three-night adventure packages between June and August from £295pp including local guiding, accommodation, transfers, equipment and meals (see mbad.co/slovakia for full details). For more cool breaks, see muchbetteradventures.com
THERE’S A NEW WAVE OF CHEFS IN MOSCOW TAKING RUSSIAN CUISINE TO NEW HEIGHTS WINDOW SHOPPING: The GUM department store is architecturally impressive, which is fortunate as its shops are pretty expensive
will do whatever it takes to bring genuine Russian tastes back to the people.” Food here has always had a complicated and tumultuous history. Russia has faced cuts, rationing and the inability to grow and harvest. Under communism, supplies were sporadic and shortages were commonplace. Citizens had to apply every ounce of ingenuity to maximise the often inadequate resources and what you are beginning to see now in restaurants is the clever manipulation of local ingredients. Chefs are reinterpreting recipes; scouring markets, forests and oceans in their creation of patriotic plates. Back on the icy street I take refuge in GUM, Moscow’s indoor department store. It is one of the most overblown and polished malls anywhere. A line of people queue for colourful ice cream which baffles me as I’ve entered to escape the Baltic sting. Most of the stores are Italian fashion houses with elaborately designed set windows and suited doormen who eyeball any scruffy pedestrian who steps too close, including
GETTING THERE Aeroflot offers flights from London Gatwick to Moscow from £246 return. See aeroflot.com for details; rooms at the Motropol Hotel start from £210 per night, including breakfast. See metropol-moscow.ru; for more information about Ksenia Terenteva’s guided city tours, see moscowme.com
Photograph by Andrea Armellin/SIME/4Corners Images
making it into the Diners Club 50 Best Discovery Series; and the likes of Dmitry Shurshakov at Chaika and Dmitry Zotov at Zoloty and Antrekot restaurants. These are chefs in the vanguard of a new wave of culinary talent, chefs who are taking Russian cuisine and the whole idea of frozen food from the Bloc to new heights. The markets and the producers have been in the city for a long time, but it’s the application of the Traditional Russian ingredients that’s cuisine is diverse, changed. Chefs are influenced by central scanning with an Europe, the Middle East and central academic eye the Asia. Soups and cookbooks of the dumplings feature Soviet years, finding prominently, as do porridge and bread. lost recipes and new influences for their 21st-century menus. “Russians suffered 75 years, two-and-a-half generations, during Soviet time, fooled into eating this grey, urban grub,” says Mukhin in his episode of Chef’s Table. “I really hate that period because it destroyed Russian cuisine. I
me. As I leave I purchase an eight-stack, hand-painted family of Russian dolls – perhaps the country’s most iconic symbol and yet another piece of tourist tat to add to my already overflowing shelf of collected global trinkets. The energy here is evident and it’s beginning to wash over the city’s old badtempered ordinance. All this is propagated by Moscow’s bars and restaurants and the young chefs who experiment and celebrate new culinary achievements alongside old culinary traditions. It’s a sign of progress. There is more here to explore and wonder at than almost any city in the world; where the ancient and the modern co-exist and caviar is served at breakfast and bars will never, ever run out of vodka. e
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THE VIEW Lugano...a world of its own!
E XC U R S I O N S
CARVING IT UP: First established in 312 BC, the ancient carved city of Petra in Jordan is thought to be one of the earliest metropolises built on Earth. It took us one hell of a hike to get there [p121]
111 THE CHECKLIST 121 THE INTREPID SERIES: HIKING IN JORDAN 130 REAR VIEW
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E XC U R S I O N S
THE CHECKLIST 1 ESPADRILLES 2 WOMEN’S SUNNIES 3 MEN’S SUNNIES 4 SWIMMING GEAR 5 JEANS
IN ASSOCIATION WTH
With a tough, puncture-proof sole and a hard-wearing outer made of Cordura, these slip-ons will stand up to anything the jungle (or Cornwall) throws at you.
YOU KNOW THE ’DRILLE PhotographPhotograph by David Harrison by ###
OLIVER SWEENEY, DARIEN EXPLORER’S ESPADRILLE, £99: Don’t let your eyes deceive you – these are way more than just a pair of laid-back beach slippers. Built for the road with explorer Levison Wood, these shoes are tough enough to handle a 1,800–mile schlep across the gnarly trails of Panama and Colombia. oliversweeney.com
These shades from Illesteva aren’t just limited to tortoiseshell, they also come in marbled horn with polarised lenses, and a timeless black. Audrey Hepburn eat your heart out.
AWKWARD TURTLE OK, we get it, there’s a pretty big difference between turtles and tortoise – but with all the tortoiseshell sunnies out there, it can be pretty damn hard to pick a winner. Try this little lot for size (from left to right).
ILLESTEVA, PALM BEACH, (DIRECTION), £185: Handmade in Italy and designed in New York, these Illesteva frames combine classic shapes with cool contemporary materials. illesteva.com
RAY BAN, RB4279, (TORTOISE), £125: Military-grade lens technology? Check. Double bridge design? Check. Same old classic Ray Ban rivet and on-lens logo combo? Check, check, check. ray-ban.com/uk
LYNDON LEONE, MARLON, (CRYSTAL) £175: These goldbridged see-through specs from new brand Lyndon Leone ooze understated cool, while still making one hell of a statement. lyndonleone.com
PERSOL, 714 SERIES, (MADRETERRA), £235: Made famous in the 1960s by Steve McQueen, the Italian brand’s iconic folding 714 Series sunnies are still up there with the finest frames today. davidclulow.com
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THIERRY LASRY, NEUROTY, (VINTAGE MULTICOLOUR), £290: Give old-school tortoiseshell marbling a nudge into 2017 with these deep textured purple-and-blue-flecked beauties from France. thierrylasry.com
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A direct descendant of the first ever folding frames, Persolâ€™s updated 714 series sunnies are built to pop in your pocket the moment itâ€™s not sunny enough to look cool.
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Built to enhance individual colours, Oakley’s Prizm lens technology won’t just improve your visibility in bright conditions, it’ll give everything that cool sun-baked glow.
MOSCOT, MILTZEN, (CRYSTAL) £240: Thought up in the 1930s and still going strong, Moscot’s Miltzen frames will look as good on the streets of Italy as they do in a rainy field in England. moscot.com
CUTLER AND GROSS, 1228, (MATT BLACK) £360: Blending Italian acetate with cool matt black metal, these oversized, aviatorshaped specs are durably built for all the, er, visionaries out there. culterandgross.com
CUBITTS, CRESTFIELD, (HONEY) £125: Combining a classic lens shape with a sweet-as-sugar translucent frame, these tasty ’glasses make summer last forever. cubitts.co.uk
OLLIE QUINN, MAISETTI, (ROASTED CHESTNUT) £98: Whether you’re rocking them while surfing in Cali or in your Nan’s garden in Aldershot, these frames are sure to get you noticed. olliequinn.co.uk
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OAKLEY, LATCH PRIZM, (SAPPHIRE) £170: With a latch to keep them secure on your shirt and fine-tuned lenses that’ll enhance details for sport, these slick sunnies are 100% adventure-proof. uk.oakley.com
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Also available in a further two types of tortoiseshell, these round-framed wonders from Ollie Quinn are serious head turners that perfectly balance classic and modern.
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THROWING SHADES Whether youâ€™re looking for a pair of glasses thatâ€™ll help you explore the great outdoors, or just want to look the part on the beach in Greece, these five sets of stellar sunnies are sure to stop you from squinting in summer 2017.
IN AT THE DEEP END Enough with the budgie-smugglers already, for a set of swimmers that makes more than a statement, try Finisterre for size. With fastdrying fabrics, bold designs and some serious eco credentials, you’ll be all set for summer.
These beach shorts aren’t just a cool modern take on old-school French bathing suits; their 100% polyester build means you’ll be dry long before you get back in the car.
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FINISTERRE, REN BIKINI, £95: As well as being amazingly eye-catching, this range of reversible tie-back bikinis is carefully crafted from recycled yarns that include discarded fishing nets. finisterre.com FINISTERRE, TALLAND SHORTS, (FRENCH BLUE), £65: Equally at home in and out of water, these quickdrying beach shorts are perfect for those days when you just want to get up and go. finisterre.com FINISTERRE, BURAN SHORTS, (FIREY RED), £50: Fast-wicking, UV-resistant and supersoft against your skin, these swimmers blend premium Italian fabric with seriously clever Cornish design. finisterre.com FINISTERRE, TALLAND SHORTS, (KERNOWAII), £65: Also available in chilled out palm and wave prints, these brand-new beach shorts from the Cornish brand will bring warm to the coldest of coasts. finisterre.com
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FINISTERRE, ACIES SELVEDGE JEANS, £150: Part of Finisterre’s True North range, which seeks out pioneering solutions to style and function, these Japanese-crafted 13oz selvedge jeans can handle whatever the English countryside throws at you. And they look pretty damn good if you ask us, too. finisterre.com
PhotographPhotograph by David Harrison by ###
IT’S IN YOUR JEANS
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THE SE RIE S W IN ASSOCIATION WITH
elcome to the next installment of the Intrepid Series, for when lazing on a beach just wonâ€™t cut it. This month Hannah Summers heads to Jordan for a week of desert adventures, ancient history, calf-quivering hikes, camels and kebabs. Lots of kebabs. e
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IN THE PINK 122
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Ancient landscapes both natural and man-made make Jordan truly unique, but visitors can be put off by its location. Undeterred, Hannah Summers sets off to discover the beguiling destination
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elcome to my home,” 70-year-old Abu Yahya says to me while gesturing at the cave behind him. “This is where I had my ten children; where I lived before the modern world existed. Before Facebook, email and Tinder!” He flashes me a toothless grin. Am I in danger of being swiped right? “This,” he spreads his arms and widens his eyes until they are virtually out of his head, “is Dana.” You’d be forgiven for wondering what, where or who Dana is; and that’s exactly the point. I’m standing on a slither of path, in a jumbled, as-far-as-the-eye-can-see mess of giant rocks and spiky bushes. This is Dana in Jordan, a remote nature reserve set deep
FOR ALL OF JORDAN’S NATURAL SCENERY, THERE’S A BUILT-UP CITY TO COUNTER IT
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in the country’s wilderness, and just one of the many off-the-tourist-trail stop-off points on my eight day, hiking-heavy group adventure tour with G Adventures. I’ve barely managed to take a picture before Abu Yahya is off, his beaten-up Nike Airs speed-walking down the scraggy hillside, his plastic carrier bag swinging by his side. For four hours he squeezes us between rocks, around cliff edges and down holes on a tour of his backyard – its edible plants, its sleepy owls, its stones shaped like elephants (he says) – before signalling for us to sit down on a smooth ledge overlooking his home turf. He stuffs a metal teapot with leaves, boils up the herbal concoction and distributes the sweet brown liquid around the group. Brews – with views – don’t get better than this. For all of Jordan’s natural, gulp-thatfresh-air-in scenery there’s a built-up city to counter it. Our group meets several days earlier in the capital of Amman, a place where the buildings are grimy-weather grey, the pavements throng with people
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and the road rules? Forget your ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’ – no one gives a shit. While the capital’s charms may be subtle (and mostly based around its kebabs), its main draw is its access to Jerash, the largest ancient city outside of Rome. Sprawled across a clutch of hills 48km to the north of the capital, it’s one of the most staggering collections of crumbling columns, amphitheatres and temples – the remnants of Greek and Roman inhabitants – in existence. Yet the crowds are nowhere to be seen. For Jordan – despite its blinding scenery, its history, its hospitable locals – is cursed by its unfortunate geography. Bordered by Syria, Iraq and Israel/Palestine, the peaceful, culture-rich country’s fortunes have been hindered by risk-averse tourists and a brigade of over-protective mums who’ve banned their adult children from travelling here. It happens. Check the Foreign Office website and it’ll tell you “terrorists are very likely to carry out attacks in Jordan.” Scared? They say the same about France and the USA.
Ironically, it’s that lack of crowds that make it all the more inviting. And it’s not just the tourist sites, either. I stand in the shadows of Hadrian’s Arch – gateway to Jerash and gifted to the emperor when the city was built – but despite its dramatic presence, I’m distracted by the rusty playground next door. Its slides have faded from postbox red to salmon, its swings, once 1980s prom dress blue, are now a dull grey. Crisp packets – spicy fried chicken flavour – drift past in the wind. Any children who used to play here got fed up long ago. Despite its oil-rich Saudi neighbours, it’s clear this country is far from wealthy. “Six years ago tourism made up 20% of our GDP,” our guide Ayman tells us while we wander around a goat-filled ancient hippodrome. Now it’s coupled with a population that’s swelled to 9.5 million, a third of which is made up of refugees, and some would argue the country is at breaking point. Yet, despite the pressures on the economy, the country’s king and queen are continually praised for their ‘open door’ policy for their Syrian
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ROUND THE HOUSES: [above] Facades of homes in the ancient city of Petra; [right] the Dead Sea
neighbours. It’s that natural hospitality, and kindness, that defines this country and my trip – from scoffing our bus driver’s homemade fig biscuits, to being taken on an impromptu kebab tour of Amman, the Jordanians just can’t help themselves. Several amphitheatres later, we head south and are deposited at the foot of our next big hike, the Ibex Trail. We scramble up
Photographs by (Petra) Ralf Siemieniec/Shutterstock
WE RUMBLE PAST DUSTY FLATS THAT COME ALIVE DURING CAMEL RACING EVENTS
the sun-scorched gravelly ground, pressing on at a seemingly impossible incline to catch the best views of one of the country’s biggest lures, the Dead Sea. I watch the water frothing at the gravelly banks, its salt forming thick white strips. My eyes adjust to the hazy sky – the water seems to go The Dead Sea is on forever – but around 8.6 times its setting, in one saltier than the of the world’s five ocean, and it’s this extraordinarily high most water-short level of salinity that countries, means its means animals can’t lifetime is limited. survive here – hence “In 50 years all of the name… this will be gone,” Ayman tells me, before launching into an explanation of receding water levels, pumps and salt content that’s up to eight times more than last year’s lilo-based holiday in the Med. I make the time for a swim – hell, I may never see this again – and bob about in the water with a handful of other tourists. The Dead Sea, like Jerash, is all ours. Back on the road we’re moving on to our next night’s kip. While Jordan may be dotted with spectacular sights, the roads in between are far from pretty. We rumble past sparse dusty flats that only come alive during the sporadic camel racing events (“Jordanian camels are slow and shit,” Ayman tells me, “those big Saudi camels always win”) and swap our minibus for something more desert-appropriate: a bruised Mitsubishi pick-up pimped with a dismal paint job. Bags lobbed into the back, scarves draped like balaclavas, we start careering through the sun-drenched sand, past weather-beaten rock and bushes with parsley-like leaves that are fed to the camels to speed up their milk production rates. “For camel food it’s OK,” Ayman tells me, making me give the bush a sniff, “and if you drink the milk you will feel the strongest
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WE CONQUER 800 STEPS, CLIFFSIDE PATHS AND MASSIVE DROPS TO GET TO PETRA
HITCH A RIDE: [above] The spellbinding exterior of the treasury in Petra; [below] Hannah in Jerash
Photograph by Ken Kaminesky
you’ve ever felt. Invicible! But first you’ll be sick straight away,” he looks troubled, “the rest of the night with diarrhoea.” This is no place for it. Our camp, set deep in the vast desert of Wadi Rum, is a basic ensemble of canvas tents, a giant central bonfire and bizarre interior touches (think FC Bayern Munich duvet covers). At 10pm we abandon its relative comfort, switch off our torches (Ayman’s orders) and go on a midnight walk through the pitchblack desert. It’s silent, serene and hypnotic as hell. Twenty minutes of silent shuffling later, the peace is broken by the Canadian at the front of the group. “I thought I tripped over a massive rock” he wails. “It was just a dead camel,” Ayman finishes. Rotting corpses aside, it’s special stuff. But of course we’re yet to experience Jordan’s trump card: its Hollywood-worthy, pink-hued ‘must do’. And boy do we do it. While most people would visit the sprawling ancient site of Petra in half a day, taking a 30-minute wander along the Siq, a 1.2kmlong canyon which was made into a sacred path by the Nabataeans, Ayman’s got us on a much sweatier mission. “The goat trail!” he exclaims. I fear we’re in for some hills. It’s a gentle start at sunrise, with a
peaceful wander through empty meadows. All very romantic. All very easy. The next part, though, is where the effort comes in: 800 steps, vertiginous cliff-side paths and massive drops, before we reach the monastery, a One of the most towering ensemble of famous archaepillars and openings ological sites in carved into rust-red the world, Petra is thought to date back rock. Hand-painted to around 300BC, signs with arrows which also makes pointing in all it one of the oldest cities in the world. directions claim to offer the ‘best view in Jordan’, and I abandon the group to follow the steep donkey-trodden trail for a monastery-from-above picture. It’s just for starters. The next morning we gather at Petra’s Siq and follow the path past snoozing stray dogs towards the treasury. The narrow rift eventually opens up to a vast space with the treasury – made (most) famous by Indiana Jones – looming in front of us in the eerie, tourist-free silence. “A Swiss traveller discovered this in 1812 and told the world about its existence,” Ayman whispers. Some holiday bragging rights. It stuns me into a dazed trance, but of course Ayman has bigger ideas. Truly terrifying ones. We take a lesser-known trail
through Petra, and start scrambling up and along a steep path, squashed by donkeys, nudged by goats, before we reach a tiny ledge. “Have a look,” Ayman orders me. My legs immediately wobble, where’s my rope? I need a rope! I creep to the edge, gulp, and gaze down for a fresh, 100m-high perspective on a tourism hotspot. In many ways it’s just like Dana: a place where people lived before the modern world existed. But – I’m sorry Abu Yahya, because you and Dana were rather charming – the historical scenes stretching out beneath my feet are dramatic, iconic and for the final stop on the tour, much more climatic. e
NEED TO KNOW G Adventures offers a seven-night Jordan multisport trip from £1,099pp. Price includes accommodation, breakfasts, some meals, private transportation and an excellent guide. Price does not include flights. For more information or to book, please call 0344 272 2040 or visit gadventures.co.uk
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STILT THE BALANCE Unique to the island nation of Sri Lanka, the tradition of stilt fishing goes back to the Second World War. Resourceful fishermen would take to stilts in the choppy shallows in an attempt to boost supplies during a period of national food shortage. Nowadays, while it’s not the most efficient way of bagging the catch of the day (fishermen usually only catch small fish, like herring and mackerel), it’s an iconic image that you can see all along the country’s coasts – just like this snap in the southern town of Koggala. e
Photograph by Stuart Pearce / Alamy Stock Photo
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Escapism Magazine - Issue 40 - The Beaches Special