THE 50TH ISSUE
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ISSUE 50 • ESCAPISM • 11
E D I TO R I A L
Jon Hawkins DEPUTY EDITOR
Lydia Winter ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Tom Powell CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Mike Gibson SUB EDITOR
Matthew Hasteley DESIGNERS
Emily Black, Annie Brooks JUNIOR DESIGNER
Louis Moss COVER PHOTOGRAPHY
George Hwu/EyeEm/Getty images: Times Square, New York by night, p62
Cathy Adams, Jordan Kelly-Linden, Joe Minihane, Lucas OakeleyD
Mark Hedley SALES DIRECTORS
Mike Berrett, Alex Watson PRINT ADVERTISING
Jo Birt, Rhianne Cochrane, Charlotte Gibbs, Jason Lyan, Francesca Neal, Sam Ratcliffe, Seth Tapsfield LEAD DEVELOPER
AJ Cerqueti JUNIOR DEVELOPERS
Matt Clayton, Dignified Sorinolu-Bimpe
HIS IS THE 50th issue of escapism, and while I don’t want to get all ‘doesn’t time fly?’ on you, it really does feel like a lot’s happened in the six years and 49 issues since we handed out a bright-blue magazine with a penguin, a flamingo and a Brazilian flag-patterned football on the cover. Also on that cover was the tagline ‘Travel Everywhere’, which gave a pretty good indication of how we felt about travel – that the world was there to be explored and discovered. But travel everywhere? Literally the whole earth? Let’s be honest, there are places you wouldn’t want to travel to; would find hard to travel to; would place yourself in danger by travelling to. Which isn’t to say you couldn’t, just that for most of us the ‘travelable’ world is somewhat smaller than the entire world. There’s also the subject of your responsibility as a traveller – are there places it’s irresponsible or ethically unsound to go to? This is the question Cathy Adams asks about visiting Myanmar, on page 78. This extraordinary country is impossible to consider without the backdrop of an ongoing crisis, in which the military has been accused of genocide in its campaign against the Rohingya in Rakhine state. Yet what is the cost to the country’s tourism industry, and therefore to its citizens, if we don’t continue to travel there? It’s a deeply complicated issue, and if you’re asking questions – whatever answer you arrive at – you’re the kind of person we created escapism for in the first place. ◆
Steve Cole ACCOUNTS
Jess Gunning, Jenny Thomas, Caroline Walker MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
Jon Hawkins, Editor
Melissa Van der Haak MARKETING AND EVENTS
MARKETING AND EVENTS EXECUTIVE
Tim Slee CHAIRMAN
Tom Kelly OBE
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DEPARTURES 17 ◆ In the Frame 24 ◆ Just Landed 29 ◆ On Location: Cold Pursuit 32 ◆ Short Stay ◆ Another Place, Lake District 34 ◆ In Focus ◆ Santa Barbara, California
EXPERIENCES C OV E R S TO RY
The Escapism 50
The 50 hottest things in travel, from destinations to brands
EXCURSIONS 62 ◆ NYC ◆ A deeper dive into an old favourite
One day to visit all the Big Apple’s most famous swimming pools
50 ◆ The Anniversary Special
72 ◆ Corfu, Greece Island idyll
56 ◆ Petit St Vincent ◆ Free diving in the deep
78 ◆ Myanmar ◆ A spiritual journey
A look back over 50 brilliant issues and five years of Escapism
Reefs and relaxation in the Caribbean Sea
Food, wine and beaches on a gorgeous Ionian isle
Sensitive explorations in a troubled destination
99 ◆ The Checklist ◆ Essential gear for the active traveller 109 The Intrepid Series ◆ West Sweden 118 The Selector ◆ Best US road trips, national parks and more 130 Rear View
(Dubai) Philippe Chancel; (hot tub) Roger Borgelid; (pool) Aberration films ltd; (monk) vectorx2663 / shutterstock
FOREVER YOUNG this year, Fjällräven Kånken turns 40. Originally introduced as a schoolbag for Swedish children in the 70s, the bag’s simple Scandinavian design and ultra-robust Vinylon F fabric has made it popular with millions of people all over the world. Used in countless different ways, over the last four decades the
Kånken has made its way from Örnsköldsvik to all four corners of the planet and is showing no signs of ending its journey. Set to continue for at least another 40 years, the Kånken has always stayed Kånken. Forever functional. Forever young. Forever yours – to carry in your own way.
24 29 Jim Corwin
In the Frame Just Landed
Short Stay ◆
Another Place, Lake District Santa Barbara, California
From the bookâ€™s opening chapter, Hive, this image of Dubai featuring the Burj Khalifa under construction references the notion of bringing lots of people together in the same place.
IN THE FRAME Civilization: The Way We Live Now explores present-day life through striking images [
escapismâ€™s In the Frame is presented in association with:
Philippe Chancel, courtesy of Melanie Rio Fluency
IN THE FRAME • DEPARTURES • 19
IN PLANE VIEW: This mind-bending aerial image of an airport is an imaginary location made out of thousands of photos of airports in the US and Brazil.
Depicting bathers in China whoâ€™ve headed to the coast to flee their daily routines, this shot also features in the Escape chapter.
IN THE FRAME • DEPARTURES • 21
SEE CHANGE ‘CIVILIZATION: THE WAY WE LIVE NOW’
From teetering apartment blocks to the growth of new metropolises, this coffee-table tome, lovingly edited by William A. Ewing and Holly Roussell, chronicles the expansion and
evolution of human civilization through stunning imagery. Get ready to gawp. Out now. £39.95, thamesandhudson. com
Zhang Xiao, courtesy of Blindspot Gallery
22 • DEPARTURES • IN THE FRAME
TREE’S A CROWD:
These iconic, largerthan-life trees stand tall in Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay nature park.
Olaf Otto Becker
escapism’s In the Frame is presented in association with:
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24 • DEPARTURES • JUST LANDED
FLY LIKE AN EAGLE
Essential highlights from the world of travel, including a brandnew place to stay in Thailand, a unique setting to sleep under the stars, and even a hotel room on skis. Happy travelling…
How do you like your holiday lets? With an infinity pool? Sitting on the edge of a verdant jungle? Overlooking a unique seascape of limestone islands often called the finest in all of Asia? OK, fair enough, we guess that you’ll probably quite like new Thailand property Eagle’s Nest, then. Held aloft in the canopy on the edge of Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay National Marine Park, this four-bedroom delight takes tranquillity to new levels. Aaaand relax. From £594pn. eaglesnestluxuryvilla.com
RIO A GO-GO
WATER VIEW: With
Brazil on a budget: Norwegian’s new route launching in March will take you to Rio de Janeiro for a realistic price.
(Eagle’s Nest) Christopher Leggett
In a country where endless blue waters, white-sand beaches and luxurious over-the-water villas are par for the course, it can be hard to find a hotel that stands out. Enter Milaidhoo Island Maldives, which continues to up the luxe factor with new activities like sleeping under the stars on your own private sandbank. But you won’t just be sleeping on sand, silly – obviously the area will be transformed to be as comfortable as your ultra-plush Milaidhoo villa, complete with a four-poster bed, and there’ll be a yacht with a dressing room, shower and toilet.
boats, beaches, and endless blue waters, Milaidhoo Island Maldives makes for a once-in-a-lifetime holiday destination
Gone are the days when a trip to Brazil was reserved for gap year goers and travellers who were feeling extra flush, because Gatwick is soon to be connected to Rio de Janeiro by a low-cost, long-haul route from Norwegian. Launching in March, Norwegian’s flights to Rio will cost from £240 one-way, making trips to Latin America more affordable than ever before. And what’s more, with as many as 100 additional internal flights being added monthly by short-haul airlines, you’ll be able to hop around easier while you’re there, too. Brazilian grand tour: on. norwegian.com
RELAX, REJUVENATE, REVIVE AT BODYHOLIDAY, SAINT LUCIA Home to the most comprehensive wellness centre in the Caribbean, BodyHoliday is ideal for solo breaks to refresh and recharge, fun all-girls holidays or even romantic couples’ escapes. Daily spa treatments, ﬁtness classes, and sports on land and water are all included as part of your stay at this leading health and wellbeing resort. The daily programme of activities is tailored to you, and can be as vigorous or tranquil as you like – start the day with beach boot camp or slow the pace down with yoga and Tai chi. There’s even a thrilling adventure programme that includes mountain biking, river trekking and abseiling. During downtime, guests can savour delicious cuisine at ﬁve exquisite restaurants, and recline on the beautiful sandy beach as waiters deliver refreshing cocktails and fruit kebabs.
7 nights from £2,525 per person based on two adults sharing a Luxury Room on All-Inclusive including a daily spa treatment. OFFER: Save up to 40%. BOOK BY: 28 Feb 2019.
4 O Y E A R S O F L U X U R Y T R AV E L
Price is based on two adults sharing and includes return scheduled flights, private transfers and access to a UK airport lounge. Price is based on low season travel and offer is subject to change and availability.
020 3797 2312
26 • DEPARTURES • JUST LANDED
LEARN FROM THE PROS There are fewer better places to dig into mind-blowing food and drink than the Italian isle of Sicily, and there are few better people to do it with than Michelinstarred chef Merlin Labron-Johnson. So when it comes to a food-forward break, The Thinking Traveller’s new cookery course at Rocca delle Tre Contrade is a no brainer. You’ll get to spend a week in the stunning surrounds of the Tre Contrade villa with uninterrupted views of Mount Etna and the Ionian sea, heading out to local food markets and vineyards; taking part in cookery sessions with Merlin; and discovering Sicily’s natural wines with Master of Wine Isabelle Legeron. We’re going to need a bigger pair of pants. From €4,250 per person based on two sharing. thethinkingtraveller.com
ROOM FOR MANOEUVRE
With its transparent roof, this moveable hotel room provides plenty of opportunities to gaze at the Northern Lights wherever they appear.
ALL ABOARD Slip on your boat shoes and get your sea legs ready, because the London Cruise Show is back at Kensington Olympia from 16-17 February, and
this year it’s bigger than ever. Whether you’re a seasoned cruiser or you’ve never been on a ship in your life, there’s plenty to discover at the event, from once-in-a-lifetime expedition cruises to ultra-luxe Mediterranean
escapes, plus loads of exclusive insight from industry-leading cruise lines and experts. Fancy it? escapism readers get tickets at an exclusive price of £4, just use ‘Escape50’ at the checkout. cruiseshow.co.uk
(Sicily terrace) Francis Amiand; (cruise) Alastair Miller
If you’re not spending your winter weekends zipping through the Arctic wilderness of Norway, Sweden and Finland on a snowmobile before laying your head to rest in a moveable hotel room that’s propped on skis, then you’re not really doing it right. Luckily, Arctic adventure specialist Off the Map Travel has your back, because its new tailor-made tour will let you do just that. Here’s to fire-cooked dinners and nights spent beneath the Northern Lights. Three night tailor-made itineraries start from £1,599pp. offthemap.travel
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ON LOCATION • DEPARTURES • 29
ON THE FLY
British Columbia, Canada: home to sweeping, snow-laden landscapes, the Rocky Mountains... and a murderous Liam Neeson out to get revenge using a snowplow in darkly funny new movie Cold Pursuit
Whether you’re on your bike, pounding the pavements, or neither of the above, we’ve got you covered
RAB KINETIC PLUS, £180 Soft, stretchy and super comfortable. Job done. cotswoldoutdoor. com
RAPHA COMMUTER JACKET, £100 Stand out from the crowd (and the dark) in this cycle jacket. rapha.cc
E Photo by Lifestyle pictures / Alamy
VER WANTED TO visit British Columbia, Canada? No? Well, what if we told you that Liam Neeson was out there going mad on a snowplow? OK, so we’re not sure that makes it any more enticing – but all the murder aside, self-aware revenge thriller Cold Pursuit, set and filmed in the Rocky Mountains, is a good way to get a glimpse of the frozen tundra and epic snow drifts of Canada’s most scenic valley regions. Neeson plays Nels Coxman, a stony-eyed snowplow driver who swaps shovelling snow for shovelling dead bodies as he violently wreaks bloody revenge on the drug cartel that murdered his son. There’s high-speed humvee car chases, gun fights in fur-lined
coats, and all the Arctic action you could ever want from a man on the wrong side of 60. All, of course, set against the majestic backdrop of BC’s mind-boggling mountain ranges. Be honest: can you think of a better idea for a film than “Taken... on ice”? ◆ Cold Pursuit is in cinemas 8 February
GOING IN FOR THE CHILL: Liam Neeson
plays an upstanding snowplow driver gone bad in tonguein-cheek new film Cold Pursuit, set in BC, Canada
COLD PURSUIT GIVES YOU A BLOODCHILLING GLIMPSE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA’S FROZEN TUNDRA AND EPIC SNOW DRIFTS
SALOMON LA COTE FLEX 2.5L, £130 A 2.5-layer fabric keeps you dry even when things get wet. salomon.com
INSTAGUIDE: SLOVENIA • DEPARTURES • 31
LAKE JASNA, TRIGLAV
Slovenia is a fairly small country, so it’s easy to drive to many locations in a small amount of time. Luckily, our hotel was directly opposite this stunning view of the Julian Alps, and all we needed to do to witness this sunrise was to roll out of bed and pick up the camera. The wind had dropped, which meant the peaks behind were perfectly reflected in the lake and the rising sun clipped the summits with a gorgeous orange glow.
The astounding natural beauty of Slovenia takes some beating, and no one captures its jaw-dropping mountains, lakes and sunrises quite like travel photographer Tom Carter – follow him at @nomadlad for more epic shots from around the globe [
LAKE BLED No trip to Slovenia is complete without stopping off at what is probably the most famous lake in Europe. Not only is this spot surrounded by gorgeous pine trees, but the icing on the cake is the small island that sits in the middle of the water, setting a truly romantic scene. Capturing it from above really shows off how beautiful the area is, even on a pretty gloomy morning.
SVETI TOMAZ CHURCH, SKOFJA LOKA Tom Carter (@nomadlad)
Slovenia should be on your 2019 destinations list for many reasons. Not only is it a relatively cheap location to travel to and explore, but it was home to some of the most outstanding landscapes I have ever seen. To get this photo, we woke up well before the sun had risen and headed to this spot we had read about online. As the sun slowly started to light the area, the morning dew started to transform into low-lying mist and turn the whole place into a fairytale.
ANOTHER PLACE, THE LAKE
Another Place is more than just a hotel in the Lake District – it’s a thoughtful destination that takes full advantage of its idyllic Ullswater location and provides a laid-back base for some serious exploration around one of the UK’s most remarkable regions, finds Tom Powell
£180pn for a double room ADDRESS:
Watermillock, Ullswater, Lake District, CA11 0LP NEAREST TOWN: Penrith GETTING THERE: Trains
from London to Penrith take roughly three hours, plus a 15-minute taxi to the hotel. Or it’s a 5hr40 drive. TO BOOK:
Book online at another.place
WHAT’S THE SCORE
Forget the old-fashioned hotels, forget stuffy threecourse dinners, forget wading through the tourist hordes of Windermere and the Southern Lakes to get anywhere: at this design-led modern bolthole in the rugged and picturesque North Lakes, you can bring the outdoors in, balancing the classic Cumbrian outdoors break with a little bit of luxury. Since the Rampsbeck Hotel’s multi-
million-pound renovation, expansion and reincarnation as Another Place back in 2017, people have been found sipping tea in wetsuits in its lounge, having just taken a dip in the water a minute’s walk from the front door. Sister hotel to the much-loved Watergate Bay Hotel in North Cornwall, this is a property that encourages you to enjoy the outdoors for every minute you can, but also knows how to help you relax afterwards. If the weather
TRUE BLUE: Another Place’s outrageously good-looking pool has views of both the lovingly revamped hotel and the undulating green hills of the North Lakes
SHORT STAY: ULLSWATER • DEPARTURES • 33
doesn’t let you out, you can hunker down in the Living Space for food or indulge in a rejuvenating indoor swim or treatment at Swim Club. There’s an outdoor plunge pool for the particularly brave, too.
WHAT TO EAT
Another Place isn’t about formal dress and swanky restaurants, but that certainly doesn’t mean it doesn’t know how to get its funk on food-wise. Casual dining for all the family is available in the Living Space, the hotel’s all-day dining area that’ll serve you sarnies, coffee and cake by day, and boards, burgers and cocktails in the evening. Order your drinks to the Library if you’re looking for full-on cosiness. For something more luxe, the Rampsbeck Restaurant serves three-course dinners at £40pp, taking in the best of local produce, from the roast picanha beef to the beer list.
THE PLACE TO BE:
[below, left to right] The infinity pool at Another Place has some pretty impressive views; the hotel’s cosy library space.
WHAT TO DO
You’re in the Lakes, so most of what you’re going to want to do is right outside the door. Luckily, Another Place will help you make the most of it, offering easy access to almost every kind of activity imaginable. Its outhouse (the Sheep Shed) has wetsuits and water boots to borrow at any time, while classes, courses and single sessions in kayaking, wild swimming, trail running and much more are all available through the hotel, too. Nearby, you can bag a number of Wainwrights, from the short, sharp Hallin Fell to the more sustained Bonscale Pike and Arthur’s Pike. Similarly, you could trade all that activity for a little bit of relaxation and just look at them from the comfort of the bathtub. Yeah, that’d be nice. ◆
ANOTHER PLACE IS A DESIGN-LED BOLTHOLE IN THE RUGGED NORTH LAKES WHERE YOU CAN BRING THE OUTDOORS IN
LOCAL HEROES You’ll want to make the most of your surroundings in Ullswater. Here’s a to-do list
HELVELLYN No doubt one of the most dramatic and iconic mountains in England, 950m-high Helvellyn is a sharp, fin-like ascent that looks back over a lake hundreds of metres below. Its best-loved approach is easy to access from Glenridding, a village at the far end of Ullswater. Scramble to the top in good conditions and you’ll be rewarded with epic panoramas.
DISTANT HORIZONS As well as running some of the activities at Another Place, Lakes-based expedition company Distant Horizons offers a range of outdoor adventures from expedition challenges for offices, families or particularly competitive couples to weekends of mountaineering and wild camping. distant-horizons.co.uk
(Pool, kayaking and main) Jim Varney, Aberration Films; (Library) Luke Hayes
ULLSWATER STEAMERS If you’re up in the Lakes without a car, the most scenic way to explore is by old-school steam ferry. A half-hour walk from the hotel in the nearby village of Pooley Bridge, Ullswater Steamers’ fleet is the perfect way to get around the area, stopping off at some of the best points of interest along the way. ullswater-steamers.co.uk
Urban wineries, sunset sailing and some seriously good local food and drink… Santa Barbara has all the ingredients for a perfect winter pick-me-up, finds Jordan Kelly-Linden
DO HIT THE (URBAN WINE) TRAIL
Since you’re slap bang in the middle of California wine country, there’s no better place to get your wine on than here. Santa Barbara county boasts some 220 or so wineries, but that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise – everyone’s seen Sideways, right? The exciting part comes in the form of Santa Barbara’s urban wine trail: a collection of more than 30 tasting rooms and inner-city wineries which have set up shop all over this sun-beaten Pacific-coast city. Up on State Street, there’s the red-clay-tiled rooftops of the Presidio district. It’s the heart of downtown Santa Barbara and where you’ll find about eight different tasting rooms, including an inner-cityoutpost of Margerum Estate, the winery chosen to serve its 2014 Sybarite sauvignon blanc at the Obamas’ White House state dinner back in August 2016. Over in the east of the city is the up-and-coming Haley Street corridor in Santa Barbara’s sleepy industrial district, where experimental urban winery Sanguis and fellow barrel rooms Carr, Potek, Whitcraft and Jaffurs rub shoulders with local craft breweries, empty lots and storage units. Then there’s the Funk Zone, a bohemian, hipster part of town that’s undergone a complete cultural turnaround over the last few years. It’s here – where the harbour and California’s iconic beach-side palms meet reclaimed fishing warehouses and old industrial plants – that you’ll find the highest concentration of tasting rooms, most of which are within walking distance from one another. Excellent stuff. IT’S ALWAYS SUMMER IN THE SUMMERLANDS
Self-confessed ‘Hollywood brat’ Charlie Picerni owns and runs Santa Barbara Beach Horseback Rides, a ranch of about nine horses and five miniature ponies that offers 90-minute horse rides through the secluded Summerlands and beaches just outside of Santa Barbara central. A visit is worth it for Picerni’s running commentary and sassy attitude alone, but this is also a fantastic way to explore another side of the city, and watching dusty light stream through the tree-lined path on the way out to Loon Point beach really is something you won’t want to miss.
SEE SUNSET CRUISING
What better way to see the sunset than out on the water with a glass of local wine in your hand and a spot of jazz quietly playing in the background? Head
SANTA BARBARA • DEPARTURES • 35
FROM FRESH SEAFOOD TO HOME-GROWN FRUIT AND VEG, THIS IS THE HOME OF TRUE HYPER-SEASONAL, FIELD-TO-FORK EATING (wine) Blake Bronstad; (bay) Jim Corwin; (crab) Jay Sinclair
down the palm-lined beach and over to the marina where you’ll find the Santa Barbara Sailing Centre, where a 50ft catamaran specialises in sunset sails along the scenic Santa Barbara coastline. The boat goes by the name of Double Dolphin, a nod to the fact you’ll likely end up racing pods of bottlenose dolphins down the waterfront or waving to lazy Californian sea lions beached on the ocean buoys. Depending on the season, you could even be lucky enough to spot a whale or two as well.
EAT & DRINK You might be big on your locally sourced, farm-totable produce back home, but head to Cali and you’ll realise that it’s nothing compared to the likes of what’s available Stateside. It’s often joked that California is
so self-sufficient, it could become its own independent country. From fresher-than-fresh seafood pulled straight from the Santa Barbara Channel to vibrant, home-grown fruit and veg from over the hills, this is the home of true hyper-seasonal, field-to-fork eating. Make the most of it at noted local restaurant Bouchon, where every Tuesday afternoon the head chef leads a team of guests around the local farmers’ market to source ingredients before returning to the restaurant for a three-course dinner with local wine pairings. The Farmers Market Foodie Stroll costs $95 per person and the group is capped at six, so there’s enough space to get hands-on with the produce and prod the chef for all the expert advice you want. This supermarket-style sweep might not be for everyone, so if you prefer to just turn up and eat then there are plenty of options across the city. Loquita on State Street puts a modern Californian twist on Santa Barbara’s colonial Spanish history. Expect stunning interiors, inventive cocktails (think G&Ts with kaffir lime-infused gin, Mediterranean tonic and blood orange, or a chocolatey twist on a classic old fashioned) and generous plates of paella hot from the stove. Elsewhere, Wildwood Kitchen on East Haley Street should be your first port of call for superior seafood and more. Order >
36 • DEPARTURES • SANTA BARBARA
STAY > the blackened shrimp and heritage tomato jumble, throw in the tuna niÇoise salad – where the fish is still pink and perfectly seared – add a plate of smoked chicken with charred cauliflower, and don’t look back. If you want a more casual edge, Mony’s Tacos on Anacapa Street is an ideal pitstop while you’re out and about exploring the Funk Zone, and at $1.95 per taco you’re going want to order everything. Trust us, we’ve done it. If you have room after all that temptation, finish off your feast at McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams’ scoop shop on State Street – it’s an absolute must-visit for the churro and leche ice cream alone. ◆ For more information on Santa Barbara, visit santabarbaraca.com. Norwegian operates a daily direct service between London Gatwick and LA International. Fares start from £169 one way or £285 return in economy and £499 one way or £919 return in premium including all taxes and charges. To book, visit norwegian.com
BELMOND EL ENCANTO
Shop smart: [below] For a browse around the shops with a bit of added style, head for La Arcada Plaza which is designed to resemble a quaint Spanish courtyard.
Once upon a time President Ivanhoe and the Reagans would visit the Belmond el Encanto just for lunch. These days it’s the faces of Oprah, Ellen or even Bill Murray you might spot among the leafy paths and out on the sun-drenched terrace of the hotel. The hilltop Belmond el Encanto has been a favourite among celebs and others alike for 100 years, but over the last decade or so, the seven-acre estate has undergone a $132m revamp. Now its spacious Spanish-colonial bungalows and luxe suites boast marble baths, wood burning stoves and beds so large they’ll put your little London flat to utter shame. It’s modern Californian living meets old-school Hollywood glamour, with an infinity pool and uninterrupted views out to the Pacific thrown in for good measure. Rooms at the Belmond el Encanto start from $475 per night. To book call (805) 845 5800 or visit belmond.com/hotels
(main) Mark Weber; (Belmond) Macduff Everton
There are a whopping one million tiles in 27 different styles at the newly opened Hotel Californian. Yes, really. With modern Moorish-themed décor from celebrity designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, it might just be one of the best looking spots in Santa Barbara to rest your head. Of course, it’s not (exactly) new. The Hotel Californian first opened its doors in 1925 for all of 11 days before an earthquake and fire brought it crumbling down. Now it’s back and it’s not doing things by half: it occupies not one, not two, but five city blocks. Rooms are elegant and refined, with many of the ceilings reaching up to double height. There’s a rooftop pool which looks out onto the beach, and over the road there’s a spa inspired by Marrakech. But the best bit? The seafood at its Mediterranean-influenced restaurant Blackbird and the sticky bacon and cinnamon breakfast buns from its café The Goat Tree. Rooms at the Hotel Californian start from £439. Call (805) 882 0100 or see thehotelcalifornian.com
The Grande Dame of Tennessee c e l e b r at e d
u n pa r a l l e l e d
rmitage Hotel has been woven into t e, defining the service and details Five-Star hotel, the only of its t of downtown, we invite you to exp x Arts architecture, discreet attentivenes offer an enchanting backdrop to your Since 1910, The Hermitage Hotel has been woven into the fabric and rich history of Nashville, defining the service and details discerning travelers expect at a luxury Five-Star hotel, the only of its kind in Tennessee. Nestled in the heart of downtown, we invite you to experience the timeless elegance of our Beaux Arts architecture, discreet attentiveness to your needs, and inspired spaces that offer an enchanting backdrop to your Nashville adventure.
HVILLE, TN 37219 H OT E L . C O M
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a world well-travelled From immersive travel experiences to talks by acclaimed speakers, the Destinations: Holiday & Travel Show at Olympia London will provide you with enough holiday inspiration for 2019 and beyond Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show, the UK’s leading travel exhibition, returns to Olympia London from 31 January–3 February 2019 for its biggest event to date, with a whole host of new exhibitors, experiences and expert speakers ready to whet your appetite for adventure. This year sees the show launch its firstever dedicated authentic travel section, ‘Destinations Discovery’, and each area
of the show is set to provide visitors with limitless inspiration for their travels in 2019. With more than 600 brands and over 70 global tourist boards present, an array of travel experts from leading tour operators and travel companies will be on hand to provide visitors with in-depth knowledge and expert advice for holiday planning. But with so much on offer, how do you know where to start? Read on for our guide...
new for 2019, the destinations discovery section will highlight authentic travel experiences
What not to miss at Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show 2019 1. Explore the new Destinations Discovery section for inspirational travel experiences In partnership with escapism, the show will launch its new ‘Destinations Discovery’ section for 2019 on the first floor of Olympia London. Focusing on authentic travel experiences, visitors will learn about off-thebeaten track activity and adventure tours. 2. Listen to your favourite writers and explorers at Stanfords Travel Writers Festival Visit Stanfords Travel Writers Festival to hear your favourite travel writers, TV personalities and explorers recount tales from some of their most notable adventures and expeditions. And with a line up that features some of the travel world’s most
DESTINATIONS: THE HOLIDAY & TRAVEL SHOW • PROMOTION • 39
A WHOLE NEW PERSPECTIVE: The Destinations: Holiday & Travel Show will shine a light on authentic travel experiences around the world
acclaimed speakers like Levison Wood, Kate Humble and Nicholas Crane, this year’s Festival is not to be missed. 3. Learn how to capture the perfect photo during a Travel Photography Masterclass Led by professional photographers Steve Davey and Jamie Marshall, visitors to the show can discover how to capture breathtaking views and memorable travel moments in dedicated two-hour Travel Photography Masterclasses. Jamie will also be hosting a session entitled ‘Making Travel Photography Pay’ to teach visitors how photography can become more than just a hobby. Classes are small and subject to availability, and are priced from £30, which includes entry to the show. 4. Visit the Meet the Experts Theatres for 2019 travel inspiration The Meet the Expert Theatres will treat guests to 50 hours of free, fascinating and
diverse talks. Speaker sessions will include learning about how overlanding gets you into areas other tours cannot reach, going off the beaten track in Patagonia, following in the footsteps of Michael Palin in North Korea and authentic experiences in South Africa. 5. Sample a variety of international cuisines at the Taste the World Stage Visitors can get a taste for unusual international delicacies with free food samples at the Taste the World Stage, where you can also see cultural performances and get involved with interactive displays. ◆ The Destinations: Holiday & Travel Show takes place 31 Jan-3 Feb at Olympia London
your exclusive ticket offer ESCAPISM READERS GO FREE escapism readers get two free tickets. To book online, please visit: destinationsshow.com and quote ESCAPES at the checkout. Subject to £1.50 booking fee per ticket (£11 usual price), max 2 complimentary tickets. Advance box office closes 30 January 2019.
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Everest Base Camp, Nepal
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The Escapism 50
Petit St Vincent 62 72 78
Reefs and relaxation
Diving deep Ionian idyll
A spiritual journey
THE ESCAPISM 50 • EXPERIENCES • 43
Words by LYDIA WINTER
Kantapat Phutthamkul / Getty images
THE ESCAPISM 50 Not only do we celebrate our 50th issue this month, but it’s January, which means there’s a whole new year of travel to plan. Here are our 50 favourites things to look out for in 2019. Grab a cuppa, sit back and get inspired...
of Pride celebrations
objects found in King Tut’s tomb
in between each Fête des Vignerons
SULTAN QABOOS MOSQUE : Visitors are dwarfed by the huge chandeliers inside the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. The room can hold up to 6,500 worshippers
ANUARY AND FEBRUARY are handsdown our least favourite months of year. That said, it gives us time to get planning our year ahead – including exactly when and where we’re going to go on holiday. As it’s our 50th issue, we’ve gone all out and found the 50 things we’re most excited about in travel right now, from a billionaire planning to travel around the moon and take a bunch of artists along with him, to the brands working to change and improve the travel industry as we know it. Of course, there are plenty of holiday tips in there for you, too, from a glorious party to mark 50 years of Pride to new tours that’ll take you deep into the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. The only problem will be choosing which adventure to go on first. >
1. Borneo, Southeast Asia Royal Brunei Airlines launched the first direct flights from London to Borneo at the tail end of 2018, which means you can now head straight to the island’s lush equatorial rainforest, sublime cuisine, and highly endangered orangutans. 2. Germany, Europe 2019 marks 100 years of the revolutionary Bauhaus design movement, and a brandspanking new Bauhaus Museum Dessau is opening to mark the occasion. But there’s more: there’s a year-long itinerary of events happening across the Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia regions, making it the perfect time to explore Germany beyond Berghain. 3. Panama, Central America There’s a lot more to Panama than the canal and the casinos, including the largest rainforest in the Western Hemisphere outside of the Amazon. What’s more, the country is celebrating its 500th birthday this year – and given that Panama City is often compared to Miami, you know the parties are going to be good. 4. Jordan, Middle East Melt-in-the-mouth lamb and other irresistible local delicacies? Check. Ancient history and trendy bars? Check. Diving in the Red Sea? Check. With all this on offer – and plenty more – Jordan is a destination well
SADDLE UP: [clockwise from right] Trekking through the remote Peruvian Amazon on horseback; The Lóndrangar rock pinnacles, Iceland
and truly on the up, so it’s not surprising that easy Jet is launching the first direct flights from the UK to Aqaba in March. 5. UK With Brexit looming, it’s all about the staycation. Take inspo from Netflix’s Outlaw King and head for castles, sweeping vistas and stylish new lodges in the Scottish Highlands; eat your way around the Lake District; or enjoy a city break amongst Cambridge’s Gothic architecture.
REGIONS RIPE FOR EXPLORATION
6. Yúnnán, China In a country both vast and vastly diverse, it can be hard to know where to start. Yúnnán – newly connected thanks to a brandspanking-new motorway and budget flight routes – makes for an easy introduction. 7. Turkish Riviera, Turkey With the reopening of old favourites and a clutch of brand-spanking new developments including a swoon-worthy Six Senses, there’s something afoot on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast. Swerve the glitzy resorts and make for the unspoiled beach towns of Datca and Kas, or head to the buzzy ancient city of Fethiye. 8. West Iceland, The Nordics Reykjavik? Been there. The Blue Lagoon? Got the t-shirt, mate. But to see what Iceland was like before the hipsters landed, try the newly accessible west side of the island on for size. There’s nowt but glaciers, birds... and you. 9. Alabama, USA From Moon Landings to music and barbecue, Alabama is a far from the sleepy Deep South state that you’d think – and with a host of celebrations for the state’s 50th year, Alabama is ready for take off. 10. The Peruvian Amazon, Peru You can’t get much more remote that the depths of the Peruvian Amazon, where you’ll find a heady contrast between buzzing Iquitos City and the rainforest. New tours take in this mysterious region – go now before everyone else does.
11. Durban, South Africa Durban boasts a prime position by the
Indian Ocean, long swathes of sandy beaches and a modern centre that was revamped for the 2010 World Cup, making it one of South Africa’s best-kept secrets – until now, because British Airways launches new direct flights from London this year. 12. Matera, Italy With boutique hotels, clubs and restaurants occupying the city’s thousand-odd ancient limestone cave dwellings, Matera has all the trappings of a destination on the up. When we’re not soaking up all that sophistication, you’ll find us munching the region’s characteristic conical bread by the loaf. 13. Hoi An, Vietnam In contrast to Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An – a Unesco-protected port city in Vietnam’s central province – makes for a dreamy step back in time, with mustardcoloured merchant houses and palm-lined
THE ESCAPISM 50 • EXPERIENCES • 45
waterfronts. But that doesn’t mean it’s old-fashioned: an influx of creatives and boutique hotels have brought trendy cocktail bars and stylish shops along with them.
(horses) Frazao Media / Getty images
14. Adelaide, Australia It’s been a few years since the Adelaide cricket ground was revamped as a major events stadium, but its legacy continues, as the redevelopment sparked the opening of heaps of new restaurants and bars and a city-wide renewal. Throw in the fact that beaches, wineries and the Australian outback are all within a 20-minute drive of the city, and you’ve got a city ripe for rediscovery. 15. Salvador, Brazil If you like to dance, head to Salvador, where there’s a newly opened museum completely dedicated to Carnival, not to mention a music scene so distinct that the city was designated a Unesco City of Music.
16. World Pride, NYC NYC is marking 50 years since Stonewall Riots with World Pride – a month of street festivals, movie shows and rooftop celebrations that will culminate in the Pride March on Sunday June 30. This is one party you definitely don’t want to miss. 17. Fête des Vignerons, Switzerland This viticultural festival doesn’t happen very often – five times a century, to be exact – but when it does, the Lavaux region pulls out all the stops. Pack your aspirin and settle in for
the wine-fuelled ride. 18. Rugby World Cup, Japan No one needs an excuse to hoover up as much ramen as humanly possible, but we’ve got one for you anyway. New infrastructure makes remote Japanese regions easier to access, and a roster of special events means the whole country will be celebrating. 19. The opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, Cairo With the first-ever exhibit of the objects from King Tut’s tomb, this highly >
NO ONE NEEDS AN EXCUSE TO HOOVER UP AS MUCH RAMEN AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE, BUT WE’VE GOT ONE FOR YOU ANYWAY...
46 • EXPERIENCES • THE ESCAPISM 50
ROCK ON: [above] Exploring Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, by boat; [left] looking out over Matera, a rocky outcrop in the region of Basilicata
> anticipated opening will be the world’s largest museum devoted to one civilisation. 20. The debut of Toronto Biennial of Art Home to Drake, The Weeknd and, er, our sister mag Escapism TO, Toronto is as cool as they come, so it’s about time its creativity was celebrated with the inaugural Toronto Biennial of Art, taking place on the waterfront.
21. Patagonia Patagonia does a little bit more than create brilliant gear that’ll kit you out for your most intrepid adventures. Its most recent – and still ongoing campaign – is working to save the incredible wild rivers of the Balkans.
in sustainability last year thanks to its continuous efforts to upgrade its fleet to make it more fuel efficient; innovative product designs to reduce waste onboard; and its commitment to developing lowcarbon fuels with LanzaTech.
24. Meliá Hotels You might not think it, but below Meliá’s glossy, glamorous surface lies a brand that expertly balances a sustainable ethos with a viable business strategy. Across its portfolio, it supports the communities in which it operates and strives to reduce its impact on the environment.
COOL NEW ACTIVITIES
25. Virgin Atlantic Virgin Atlantic won the World Travel & Tourism Council’s award for innovation
SENEGAL IS A COUNTRY OF CONTRASTS, FROM ANCIENT VOODOO TEMPLES TO THE POUNDING NIGHTLIFE AND DANCE MUSIC OF ITS CAPITAL
26. Get on the right track Slick new rail tours make the journey part of your holiday. Look out for Golden Eagle’s new 16-day adventure to Persia, and Planet Rail’s journey through the Swiss Alps. goldeneagleluxurytrains.com; planetrail.co.uk 27. Traverse the Northeast passage Follow in the footsteps of Arctic explorers with this once-in-a-lifetime cruise from Silversea, which will traverse the littlevisited Northeast Passage, visit the Unesco World Heritage Site of Wrangel island, and stop off at Murmansk, the last city established by the Russian Empire. silversea.com 28. Party in Senegal Senegal is a country of contrasts, from >
(boat) Kirkland photos; (cave) Massimo Colombo / Getty images
22. Travel Belize Belize is one of the smallest countries in Central America, but it more than pulls its weight when it comes to sustainability. 2018 saw the Belize Barrier Reef System removed from Unesco’s danger list thanks to the government’s pioneering measures to protect and restore its oceans.
23. Hurtigruten Hurtigruten leads the way towards reform for the cruising industry, with hybridpowered expedition ships, a ban on singleuse plastics and a foundation that works to support local and global projects.
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> ancient voodoo temples to the pounding nightlife and dance music of Dakar, its capital. The best way to take them all in is with Black Tomato’s new tours. blacktomato.com 29. Hit the road Head out on the world’s original road trip along the Silk Road with G Adventures’ new tour taking in all five ’Stans, starting in newly accessible Uzbekistan. gadventures.co.uk 30. Walk the walk Take things slow with Inn Travel’s seven-day walk through Portugal’s Arrábida National Park, within spitting distance of Lisbon, where you’ll find castles, coastline and more than a few pasteis de nata. inntravel.co.uk
31. Hyperloop technology The future is here: hyperloop technology – which will see passengers travelling at 700 miles an hour in floating pods – could cut inter-city journeys to an hour or less. 32. Biofuel discoveries The future’s bright, the future’s, er, green. The latest biofuels are made out of fungi and algae, and are easier and cheaper to produce. 33. Airport deliveries from Deliveroo Deliveroo has piloted delivering to terminal gates in Amsterdam, so beige airplane food could soon be a thing of the past. 34. Driverless cars Driverless cars will be in commercial use on UK streets by 2021. Just one example is tech
BURKARD IS ONE OF THE MOST INTREPID ADVENTURERS OF OUR TIMES. WE’RE LUCKY HE’S GOT A KICK-ASS INSTAGRAM TO GAWP AT
KING OF THE CASTLES: [left] The sunset over theScottish Highlands; [right] the Glacier Express chugging along between Zermatt and St. Moritz
company Oxbotica, which is attempting to run a driving demonstration between Oxford and London. Fasten your seatbelts. 35. VR; virtually a reality The age-old phrase ‘Are we there yet?’ might become obsolete – Audi has trialled installing VR headsets in the back of its E Tron car to entertain kids both big and small.
PEOPLE IN TRAVEL
36. Chris Burkard Burkard is one of the most intrepid adventurers of our times, so we’re lucky he’s got a kick-ass Instagram where all the rest of us can gawp at some of amazing things he’s seen. Follow him at @chrisburkard. 37. Jacqui Kenny Housebound due to illness, agoraphobe Jacqui Kenny started exploring the world through Google Street View and posting on her Instagram account, @streetview.portraits.
THE ESCAPISM 50 • EXPERIENCES • 49
PEAK PERFORMANCE WITH CRYSTAL SKI HOLIDAYS 38. Elon Musk In addition to his other pursuits, Musk has set up The Boring Company, which is starting to build underground tubes with the aim of creating a transport network that will slash intercity travel times. 39. Yusaku Maezawa The Japanese billionaire aims to be the first civilian passenger to fly to the moon with SpaceX in 2023, and wants to take a group of leading artists with him to inspire them to “create masterpieces”. 40. Phoebe Smith Travel writer Phoebe Smith is turning traditional travel writing on its head by creating stories that help people catch some Zs with sleep app Calm.
41. Polartec fabric Arctic adventurers will want to make sure all their new kit is made with Polartec fabric. Originally made for the U.S. special forces, its benefits include consistent warmth and greater breathability. 42. Google Pixel’s camera Aside from being mind-blowingly good, the Google Pixel 3’s camera will let you snap a photo of a dish or a building and be able to tell you all about it.
43. Attack of the drones When they’re not disrupting airports, drones are being developed with AI technology that will snap you from your best angle. 44. Robots on the rise From robot-staffed hotels in Japan to suitcases that follow you around, robots are coming to a holiday near you. Let’s just hope they don’t rise up… 45. Biometric boarding Last year, easyJet trialled self-boarding gates using biometric technology at Gatwick Airport, with the aim of speeding up the boarding process for its passengers. Coming soon to an airport near you.
BRANDS PUSHING TRAVEL FORWARD
46. Norwegian There are few airlines that offer more for your money than Norwegian, which has just started operating in Argentina and is about to roll out free Wi-Fi on all its long-haul flights. 47. Intrepid Travel Pushing women-only, solo, and single-parent tours, Intrepid is committed to opening up the world of travel. This year, it’s got new Northern India trip for solo parents and their kids that’ll take in Delhi, Jaipur and head to Ranthambhore National Park.
(castle) Aumphotography / Getty images; (glacier express) Franziska Pfenniger
48. Seychelles Seychelles tourism ministry’s innovative policies require hotels to use some of their turnover to restore that island’s natural environments – and it’s working, with species like hawksbill turtles making a return to their habitats. 49. Airbnb When it blasted onto the scene in 2008, Airbnb literally changed the way we holiday. The company continues to innovate, with future plans including a roadmap that’ll help connect you with local travel experiences. 50. Celebrity Cruises With 29 restaurants, pioneering facerecognition and in-cabin technology, and rooms ranging from spacious suites to twinlevel villas, the brand new Celebrity Edge turns traditional cruising on its head. ◆
Some say you can’t have it all, but these people have clearly never visited the Austrian ski resort of Zell am See. Sandwiched betweeen Lake Zell and the Salzburger mountains, the historic town is the definition of pictureperfect. It’s a fantastic year-round resort, but if you’re looking to make the most of your ski season, here are some reasons why Zell am See should be right at the top of your list. With easy access to 138km’s worth of piste, it will keep even the most experienced skiiers happy. From wide open slopes to tree-lined trails and glacier skiing just a short bus ride away, the resort caters to all abilities. Stick the kids in ski school while you take on the 6km-long Schüttdorf red run, or get everyone involved in all the fantastic cross-country skiing Zell has to offer. Even after you’ve kicked off your boots there’s still plenty of things to do. Hop on a snow bike and explore the slopes, or head down to the shoreline and try your hand at curling on the frozen water. Elsewhere, there are plenty of quaint cafes to warm up in and you can get to know the local cuisine at all the traditional Austrian restauarants dotted around town. Then, if you’re feeling particularly beat after a day of bombing down the mountain, there’s always the luxurious Elements Alphen Panorama spa in the Hotel Tirolerhof. What are you waiting for? Make those winter moments count with Crystal Ski. Visit crystalski.co.uk to book your stay in Zell am See. The mountains are calling.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES In honour of our 50th edition, we’ve taken a trip down memory lane to look at some of our favourite quotes from past issues. From China’s Guangxi province to, er, Hull, we’ve been a busy little travel magazine…
Years of Escapism
Lovingly made issues
Pages of travel stories
50 ISSUES OF ESCAPISM • EXPERIENCES • 51
HEN THE FIRST issue of escapism hit the streets of London way back in 2013, never in our wildest dreams did we consider what it would be like to get to the big Five-Oh. But here we are: we’ve travelled to all four corners of the world, stayed in some of the best – and most bizarre – accommodation and witnessed sights that will stay with us ’til the day we go to the big media house in the sky. Why did we do it? Other than racking up the air miles and always having an excuse to escape the office, it’s all been in the pursuit of great ideas for your next trip, wherever that might be. It’s been a blast – and here’s to 50 more issues of mad city breaks, rural expeditions and discovering just what our awesome planet has to offer. For now, we’ll leave you with our favourite quotes from every issue. Enjoy.
13 50 OF THE BEST…
A cliché it may be, but Rio is a city that dances and music is the lifeblood of its vibrancy. These certainly aren’t the stuttering, robotic attempts at samba typical of a Tuesday night get together at the local.
Duncan Madden; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Being here makes me feel like I’m standing in the middle of an openair gallery, because there’s street art everywhere I look.
TRADITIONAL OKINAWAN FOOD IS BASED AROUND THE CONCEPT OF NUCHI GUSUI, WHICH LITERALLY TRANSLATES AS ‘LIFE MEDICINE’
Helen Elfer; Paris, France
Kinsellas is a kind of multi-storey car park of hedonism housed in an old morgue, and the higher up you go, the madder it feels.
Chris Beanland; Sydney, Australia
Portland has a food scene so deliciously non-conformist that everyone has an opinion about it, even the city’s grouchiest taxi drivers. We meet one cabbie who doubles as a mushroom forager.
Rosie Birkett; Portland, US
02 I DEFY ANYONE TO COME BACK FROM THE MARKET WITHOUT AT LEAST A TEE SAYING NO TUK-TUK TODAY! Laura Millar; Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The fire’s lit, the pints of Gull are poured and the sun is shining pinkly in the harbour. It’s happy hour at Reykjavik haunt Slippbarinn.
Cathy Adams; Reykjavik, Iceland
What looked small and a little mediocre from the beach was altogether bigger and better up close. A clean four-foot swell was unloading with a rhythmic, urgent rumble that beckoned us into the water.
Duncan Madden; Maldives
We found out the hard way why no one attempted the journey since Scott. It’s a long way, it’s extremely cold, and it’s a tough place to hang out for 105 days.
Ben Saunders; Antarctica
I was presented with a platter of delights that included impala testicles. In case you’ve always wondered what they taste like, they’re watery and chewy. Very chewy.
Andre Mcleod; Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Joe Minihane; Okinawa, Japan
Films are screened daily in case you feel the need to spend time in a darkened room (an opportunity I take up after one particularly heavy karaoke session).
Imogen Rowland; a cruise ship, the Caribbean
We stay in Mission Beach just long enough to pick up sunburn and frozen yoghurt, before heading north to chilledout, upscale La Jolla.
Jon Hawkins; San Diego, US
My mind isn’t playing tricks. I actually recognise the song that’s being chanted among the drumming and the wild but languid dancing . It’s Rick Astley.
Mike Gibson; Blue Mountains, Jamaica
When I ask where the crab in the crab rarebit comes from, the lady at the counter gestures to a shack 20 yards away, >
40 > overlooking the cove. “There,” she says, “caught this morning.”
Skiing here doesn’t end when the sun dips behind the Taebaek mountains, because like most things in South Korea, the sport is enjoyed as much under moonlight as under the sun.
Neil Davey; Cornwall, UK
The city is nothing short of obsessed with coffee, to the point where baristas are local celebrities and people proudly proclaim themselves coffee snobs.
Ben Clatworthy; PyeongChang, South Korea
I open the throttle and the little boat glides across the water. My god, this is great: blazing sunshine, Tippex-white cliffs and sea the colour of blue curaçao.
Jessica Furseth; Melbourne, Australia
Lurking at the back of my mind is the thought that later today I might come to a sticky end beneath tons of falling snow.
Hannah Summers; Ithaca, Greece
Dominic Bliss; with the avalanche patrol in Whistler, Canada
ENGLISH DEBAUCHERY IS NEVER TO BE UNDERESTIMATED, BUT HERE IN SAN ANTONIO IT COMES TURBO-CHARGED AND WITH A SIDE OF ROCKET FUEL
Some of the major hotels employ door staff in full giant panda costumes to hug guests as they arrive from the international airport.
Jonathan Thompson; Chengdu, China
There’s been extensive rebuilding since the earthquake and locals are regaining a sense of independence, even viewing what happened as a new start for Haiti.
Laura Millar; Port-au-Prince, Haiti
As the last European country to adopt Christianity, Lithuania has a vibrant pagan history, and the country’s sacred landscapes make for a mysterious and often macabre road trip.
Safi Thind; Ibiza, Spain
Anita Isalska; Lithuania
It’s hard to fathom what’s going on in a lemur’s mind the first time you look at one eyeball-to-eyeball. And that’s probably just the way they like it.
The road is fringed with lemon terraces and lavender, and we zigzag past silvery, sun-scorched olive trees and tumbling creamy villas which cling to the craggy rock faces, while below us cobalt blue water laps against the rocks.
Aby Dunsby; The Amalfi coast, Italy
I wander back inside to a muffled hum of bonhomie. There’s a man at the bar showing other customers his glass eye. Somebody shouts cheers with enthusiasm as the wind outside gasps and scurries around a flock of smokers.
Rob Crossan; Hull, UK
Surrounded by late-summer snowflakes, I take a seat on my rocky throne and gulp at the invigorating, hypnotic panorama of the Canadian Rockies.
Hannah Summers; Canadian Rockies
Rob Crossan; Madagascar
Today the city’s empty roads are filled with the eerie skeleton structures of more than 90,000 abandoned buildings.
The route is dotted with beach towns stuffed with shops selling inflatables and ice cream, along with the kind of garish attractions so embedded in European seaside culture you imagine they pre-date the human race.
Jon Hawkins; Puglia, Italy
Hannah Summers; Detroit, US
I KNOW THE MECHANICS A BIT BETTER BUT I STILL WOULDN’T CALL MYSELF A CYCLIST. I JUST LIKE EXPLORING THE WORLD
Ollie Slee; cycling from Cornwall to Laos
Another modern show of Bologna’s alternative mind-set is its legendary rave culture. Early performances from Aphex Twin and Plastickman are still spoken of in reverent tones by local oncerevolutionist pill-heads, the sort who now have respectable jobs in academia.
Laura Chubb; Bologna, Italy
Disembarking the boat, I climb the first 650 steps towards the monastery, as puffins whizz past my ears their wings chopping the air like helicopter blades.
Ronan O’Shea; County Kerry, Ireland
In Kristinsund, local farmers import llamas from South America to bodyguard livestock, while Moldes cows are treated to a six-week holiday each year. That’s more than the average human gets in
50 ISSUES OF ESCAPISM • EXPERIENCES • 53
terms of protective lamas and days off.
Ed Cooper; Norway’s Arctic Coast
There’s no denying how alien the skiers look, wobbling awkwardly and noisily over the cobbles of the Tyrolean city’s old town in the rain.
Jon Hawkins; Innsbruck, Austria
BHUTAN IS THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WITH A NATIONAL PARK DEDICATED TO PRESERVING YETI HABITAT…
Claire Vooght; Bhutan
Patrick Tillard, climbing Switzerland’s Weissmies with Kenton Cool
Hannah Summers; Chilean Patagonia
Never have more cautious steps been taken – I was like a tipsy waiter carefully carrying a tray of delicate crystalcut champagne flutes.
A WORTHY ISSUE: We dedicated our 25th edition to covering the refugee crisis through the eyes of the refugees themselves, volunteers and experts, suggesting ways that readers could offer support. The cover was a tally representing the growing number of refugees
Here, deep in the vanilla-hued sedimentary rock, stalactites the size of my thighs dangle from the ceiling, and bizarre limestone formations shaped like bulbs of garlic smother the gritty walls.
If you’re ever going to get a hangover, Colorado is the place to do it. The state where ‘the beer flows like wine’ seems to have a craft brewery on each of its cities’ picture-book street corners.
Andy Jones; northern Colorado, USA
I might be a long way from the top of The Egg (it’s around 60m tall) but just ten metres up the view over the green mountainous landscape is blockbuster.
Cathy Adams; Yangshuo, China
“Is that Alec Baldwin?” I ask through a mouthful of langoustine, nodding (my hands are also busy dealing with shellfish) in the direction of a man standing on a pontoon a few metres away.
Jon Hawkins; in Bohuslän Coast, on the northernmost part of Sweden’s west coast
25 AS I WAS BORN A REFUGEE, THE FEELING OF NOT BEING AT HOME IS PART OF ME Syrian-born, UK-based artist and musician Basel Zaraa
54 • EXPERIENCES • 50 ISSUES OF ESCAPISM
The mountains grow bigger as we approach Vágar Airport , the hillsides shine green and yellow in the late-evening sun, the sheep take fluffy, flocculent form.
Ronan J O’Shea; The Faroe Islands
From my window I see a herd of grazing deer, their mossy antlers poking out as they get ready for rutting season in August.
Safi Thind; the Scottish Highlands
The road from the upper end of the valley to the bottom snakes out through the two massive cliffs at La Daille, which guard the entrance to Val d’Isère like Tolkien’s stone sentinels.
Tristan Kennedy; The Taranteise Valley, France
Leaving the Arctic port of Murmansk, (where polar bears easily outnumber humans) we powered past the remote archipelago of Franz Josef Land before cracking through six-foot pack ice on our final push to the Pole.
Jonathan Thompson; The North Pole
Vedran and I clamber awkwardly into a two-person kayak and slowly set off from Opuzen, heading inland where narrow sun-doused channels wiggle their way through swaying mangroves.
Hannah Summers; Neretva Valley, Croatia
A large bird of prey takes flight, giant brown wings beating through the forest. We realize it’s a buzzard.
my imagination starts spinning stories.
Lydia Winter; Con Dao Islands, Vietnam
Leipzig swaggers like Oliver Reed or Mick Jagger – bottle in one hand, fag in the other. It doesn’t want to be provincial, it wants to be performing on a bigger stage.
Graeme Green; Cornwall, UK
Christopher Beanland; Leipzig, Germany
I wander into one of the detention rooms, a dust-coated concrete cell where you can still see the metal bar to which prisoners were shackled. I no longer feel alone; there are ghosts with me, and
At sunset, we cycle to the Shwedagon Pagoda, a temple said to house eight hairs of the Buddha, and we watch as the sun drips yolk onto its golden spires. ◆
Cathy Adams; Yangon, Myanmar
HERE IN THE EARLY MORNING LIGHT, THE TREES BRISTLE IN THE WIND AND SMALL SIGNS WARN OF RATTLESNAKES SLEEPING IN SHADY SPOTS ALONG THE BAKED-DIRT TRAIL
Tom Powell; Arizona, USA
HEY GOOD-LOOKIN’: In 2017, we revamped Escapism with a brand-new, super-sleek design and a host of different features. We’re pretty pleased with the result, if we do say so ourselves
VALENCIA • PROMOTION • 55
Valencia: back to nature With lush forests, mountains, marshes and more, the stunning Spanish region of Valencia is home to wildlife galore – not to mention world-class gastronomy and rich culture. Bincoluars at the ready
[bottom right] Miguel Lopez Die
There’s more to the Spanish region of Valencia than its avant-garde capital city and the Costa Blanca’s beautiful beaches – its three provinces, Castellón, Valencia and Alicante are home to a rich natural environment, with incredibly diverse bird life. The region of Valencia has 22 Natural Parks, areas of special interest and outstanding natural beauty that are protected by law and include some of Europe’s most significant habitats, from mountains that rise more than 1,800m above sea level to vast areas of rolling forested hills, deep river canyons, coastal wetlands, marshes and ancient forests, with each habitat as beautiful as the last. These areas are already important breeding and wintering grounds for birds, but the region of Valencia is also on a major flyway, which means the area is home to around 400 bird species year-round.
During spring and early summer, the coastal wetland areas provide vital breeding areas for species like the collared pratincole, purple swamphen, eye-catching greater flamingo and more. Elsewhere, the mountains are nesting habitats for several species of eagles, while the forested hills and river valleys are home breeding populations of the vibrant golden oriole, great spotted cuckoo and red rumped swallow. With such abundant wildlife it’s no surprise that the region of Valencia is a top
destination for nature lovers. But throw in a vibrant culture, world-class gastronomy and easy access to the region’s three airports, and it’s a hard place to beat. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get booking. ◆ You can book bespoke guided tours and find out more about the region of Valencia at experienciascv. com/birdwatching; birdingvalencia.com
the region of Valencia is home to river canyons, ancient forests, coastal wetlands and marshes
TAKING THE PLUNGE Free diving in the waters surrounding Petit St Vincent is a breathtaking experience in more ways than one – as well as an insight into the bright and beautiful sights of the sea, it’s a window into a vital underwater world we need to preserve
Size of Petit St Vincent
Flight time from Barbados
T 15M BELOW the water’s surface, all I can hear is the squeaking of the coral, the gentle roar of the waves, and the reliable, reassuring thud of my own heartbeat. I float, suspended in the endless blue, watching the dappled light play over the reef and multicoloured fish of all sorts of shapes and sizes darting in and out of their hidey-holes. Down here, you develop an intense awareness of your body: the constant urge to breathe, the pressure that builds in your ears, and the knowledge that every movement is using up precious oxygen. It’s taking all my attention to override my >
Average temp in February
Words by LYDIA WINTER
Dudarev Mikhail / Shutterstock
STRANGER FINS: Free diving started out as a means for catching seafood including octopus and abalone. These days it’s a professional sport
PETIT ST VINCENT • EXPERIENCES • 57
FREE DIVING – WHAT’S HAPPENING IN YOUR BODY ◆◆ When submerged in water, the body’s
pulse drops to conserve oxygen. ◆◆ CO2 begins to build up in your
system and you feel the urge to breathe. If you fight it, your diaphragm starts to convulse and pull on your epiglottis, making you swallow repeatedly. ◆◆ Your veins and arteries constrict in your extremities to give optimal supply to your heart, lungs and brain. ◆◆ When oxygen levels drop, your brain tells the spleen to release oxygenrich blood back into the body and you’ll feel a surge of energy.
> instinct to head up to the surface. I look at my watch: I’ve been under the water for more than three minutes. I slowly make my ascent to the air, where I exhale before taking a few calm, steady breaths. While I’m personally chuffed with my time underwater, when it comes to free diving, three minutes is nothing, and 15m is, well, not very deep. But then I’m just setting out on my journey, under the excellent tutelage of former professional South African free diver Hanli Prinsloo, who can hold her breath for six minutes and reach depths of 60m. Even that is small-fry – the standing world record for staying underwater without breathing is 24 minutes and 3 seconds. Free diving is exactly what it sounds like: the act of diving in deep water without any breathing aids. It’s just you and your mask
– and your buddy, who watches over you from the water’s surface. Originally free divers were subsistence fishermen, and free diving was widely practised in Greece, where it was used to catch octopus; in Korea, where the haenyo dive for abalone sea snails on the island of Jeju; and similarly on the coasts of Denmark and Sweden, home to shellfisheating fishermen in the sixth century BC. These days, as a competitive sport, free divers have been known to reach depths of 214m.
Today, I’m not diving for abalone or octopus, and I’m a long way off breaking any records. Instead, I’m diving in the brilliant blue waters off the private Caribbean island of Petit St Vincent with Hanli Prinsloo and her partner Peter Marshall, who together form I AM WATER. The organisation has two arms: the I AM WATER Ocean Conservation foundation, and I AM WATER Ocean Travel, which offers free diving experiences at luxury resorts around the world. Petit St Vincent has partnered with them as part of its commitment to ocean conservation and fighting whale fishing in the Caribbean. There couldn’t be a better place to learn how to free dive. For starters, the waters here are a delightful 28°C, which makes the diving a much calmer, more pleasant experience. Then, of course, there’s the island itself. 22 ‘cottages’ dot Petit St Vincent’s 115 acres, each with an uninterrupted view of the sea. Sitting on my private terrace, I can barely see any other signs of human life in the island’s vegetation,
FREE DIVING IS EXACTLY WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE: THE ACT OF DIVING IN DEEP WATER WITHOUT ANY BREATHING AIDS AT ALL
PETIT ST VINCENT • EXPERIENCES • 59
save for a red London phone box perched on a rocky outcrop, a folly of Petit St Vincent’s owner. Some of the cottages have private beaches, some are by the ocean, and some sit higher up on the hill, with views over the bay. This is pared-back luxury: everything is deeply comfortable but nothing is over the top. If there’s anything you need, you can hoist a yellow flag outside your room and leave a note expressing your heart’s desire – breakfast, fresh towels, a snack – and it will magically appear. The real ‘luxury’ here is getting away from it all. There’s not even any internet, with only one small patch of WiFi near the restaurant, the idea being that you can switch off completely and focus on being present and in the moment – an ethos which chimes with I AM WATER and free diving. As part of our free diving course, led by Prinsloo, we do daily meditation and yoga, including special exercises (also used by opera singers), that stretch the ribs and diaphragm in order to prepare them to expand. We also do breathing exercises that we repeat when we’re in the water that help slow your heartbeat and prepare your body to take in more air. We sit in Petit
DRIFT AWAY: [left] Boats off the coast of Petit St Vincent; [below, left to right] free diving in action; chilling in a hammock is as hectic as it gets on PSV
St Vincent’s yoga pavilion by the water, spotting turtles coming up for air as they munch their way through a patch of sea grass by the water’s edge, and in the distance, dolphins play in the surf. The setting is idyllic, and perfectly tranquil. It’s all a bit less tranquil when it comes to applying these learnings in the water. We hop into a boat and head out to an empty patch of sea, armed with some buoys, and split into two groups: Prinsloo leading the free diving, and Marshall the all-important safety training (including a hilarious but crucial demonstration of how to get your buddy back to the surface if something goes wrong, which involves taking it in turns to As well as turtles, the waters around play dead). Petit St Vincent With Prinsloo, we are home to eagle hold onto the life ring rays, lobsters, Caribbean reef and and float face down nurse sharks, and in the water, going of course, lots of through our breathing colourful fish. exercises to calm our body and our minds. One by one, we take it in turns to descend, pulling ourselves headfirst along a weighted rope – we later master the art of duck diving in a way that doesn’t expend much energy, saves oxygen, and gets you deeper faster. Ahead of my first dive, I’m admittedly nervous. We’re being buffeted by waves, the
sun’s gone in, it’s started to pour with rain, and the idea of going straight down headfirst is, quite frankly, not all that appealing. Prinsloo senses my distress and talks me through some extra breathing, helping me to relax, and eventually I go for it. Under the water, I surprise myself by remaining calm, heading down the rope slowly and carefully, equalising my ears and taking time to scan the water around me. At the bottom, I turn upright and make my way back to the top. At the surface, I feel stupidly euphoric and eager to go again. After a few more rounds and safety drills, we head over to a reef, where we buddy up and explore, becoming more confident and diving deeper. We’re only here for a few days, but if you’re lucky enough to do one of the full-length courses, you can reach depths of up to 30m. Prinsloo glides among us like a mermaid – a visual helped by her metallic scale-printed leggings and extra-long flippers – as we watch nurse sharks and a beautiful spotted eagle ray glide over the reef. I’m mesmerised, but Prinsloo laments the lack of sea life here. Tomorrow, she says, after more training, we’re going to head to a protected reef further out, where the currents are stronger but the sea life is abundant. As you’d expect from people who spend so much time in the ocean, both she and Marshall are ardent ocean >
I AM WATER
(coast) Mike Toy; (Free diving) I AM WATER
Hanli Prinsloo and Peter Marshall run two projects, I AM WATER Ocean Conservation and I AM WATER Ocean Travel. Lydia travelled with Ocean Travel, which offers free diving experiences at luxury resorts around the world. Prinsloo and Marshall use these luxury experiences to fund their foundation, I AM WATER Ocean Conservation, which believes in ocean conservation through transformative experience. They work with underprivileged communities where young people, despite by the sea, often don’t know how to swim. For more information about I AM WATER, go to iamwaterfoundation.org
60 • EXPERIENCES • PETIT ST VINCENT
FREE DIVING CONTINUES TO MYSTIFY SCIENTISTS AND DIVERS OFTEN GO BEYOND WHAT WE BELIEVE OUR BODIES’ LIMITS TO BE > conservationists, and Prinsloo is involved in environmental projects all over the world. When we reluctantly return to Petit St Vincent for lunch, I can’t wait to get back out into the water… until I take a seat in a hammock under one of the beach palapas and promptly fall asleep. The evening is spent on free diving theory, and Marshall takes us through the sport’s history. Free diving continues to mystify scientists and divers often go beyond what scienctists believe our bodies’ limits to be – take, for example, that science dictates our lungs should collapse at 50m below water.
That said, there are plenty of associated risks if you don’t have proper training and don’t take the correct safety precautions. The next day, after some more yoga and a talk about ocean conservation, we head out on PSV’s sloop, aptly named Beauty, and spend the day cruising around nearby islands. We come to a stop and get into the water at Tobago Cays, which sits within the National Park where wildlife is monitored and the reefs are under observation. Here, the current is much stronger and it takes more effort to dive, but the results are worth it: the coral is incredible, and
shoals of gem-coloured fish flutter around us. Nurse sharks make their way through the water, and Marshall swims between us taking photos, but the photos simply don’t do the scene justice – it’s like being in an episode of Blue Planet. We head closer to land, and find warm shallow waters where sea turtles gently graze on seagrass, and red starfish stud the sands below. It’s a completely different world to the reef yesterday, despite their proximity. The two images stay in my mind’s eye for weeks afterwards: one bright and beautiful, and the other empty and forlorn. Back on land, sat in Petit St Vincent’s plush surroundings, I realise that I AM WATER’s free diving workshops are far more than just a very nice holiday. Together, Prinsloo and Marshall are teaching people to love the ocean, and how can you fail to protect what you love? ◆
PETIT ST VINCENT
This tiny privately owned island is reached by boat from Union Island, a 40-minute flight from Barbados. Luxury is laid back rather than opulent, and life centres around a two-mile stretch of beach, one restaurant, and a beach bar. There’s also a serene treetop spa if you’re in need of extra pampering. Nothing is more than a ten-minute walk away, but you can hitch a ride in one of the open-sided mini-mokes that cruise around delivering food to the cottages and palapas. It may be laid back, but expensive taste is still in evidence – there’s a wine cellar in an old water tank where you’ll find the likes of Chateau Lafite Rothschild. The biggest pleasure, however , is privacy – if you want, you can literally not speak to another soul for your entire stay, which is probably what makes it popular with a certain crowd of celebrities… Rates at Petit St. Vincent start from (£870) per room per night, based on two sharing a cottage in low season. See petitstvincent.com; Caribtours offers 7 nights from £3,455 per person full board including flights, transfers and airport lounge access. See caribtours.co.uk
SANDALS • PROMOTION • 61
beat the january blues Whether you’re relaxing by the pool with a cocktail in hand, enjoying dinner at a gourmet restaurant or simply hanging out in your luxurious suite, there’s nothing quite like a stay at a Sandals’ resort You could spend January shivering in the UK – or you could book a holiday to a Sandals resort, where the only blues you’ll be experiencing are the azure waters of the Caribbean and the endless blue skies. Yep, if there’s a place to kick back, relax and escape the winter, a Sandals resort is it. Voted World’s Leading All-Inclusive Resorts for 23 years in a row, they’re located on some of the Caribbean’s best beaches,
with tranquil waters that are perfect for swimming, boating and water sports. Then there are the suites themselves. At Sandals, you can choose from the Love Nest Butler Suites®, the most exotic, decadently romantic suites in the Caribbean; Swim Up Suites that let you float right up to your private patio; Millionaire Bluff-Top Suites, with amazing 180-degree views over the ocean; and more – not to mention that many
get your new year off to the best possible start with a luxurious sun-soaked stay at sandals
TRUE BLUES: Sandals’ superlative resorts in the Carribean are the ideal place to soak up the sun, explore the seas and discover world-class cuisine
of these have a Personal Butler Service. If that weren’t enough, a stay at Sandals will give you access to up to 16 gourmet restaurants serving food from around the world. What’s more, everything is included – which means once you’re there you won’t have to think about a thing. We can’t think of a better way to start the year... ◆ Save more in the Sandals Big Sale. Call 0800 742 742 or visit sandals.co.uk for more info
NEW YORK CITY • EXPERIENCES • 63
Words by JOE MINIHANE
Daniel Avila / NYC Parks
POOL RESOURCES NYC is a city that knows how to keep its cool, and we don’t just mean in the style stakes – the Big Apple is to home to more than 50 outdoor swimming pools, and they’re all totally free to use during summer. Prepare to dip into new parts of town…
Flight time from London
Average temp in July
The year NYC was US capital
SWIM CITY: The 100-metre Astoria Pool in Queens is New York City’s largest lido. Once used to hold Olympic trials, it’s now firmly the domain of the general public.
ESPITE BEING SURROUNDED by water, New York doesn’t immediately strike visitors as the ideal place to cool down on a hot summer’s day. Its rivers and vast bay are criss-crossed by relentless boat traffic, while the turbid brown water itself isn’t exactly inviting. Yet New York is unquestionably a swimmer’s paradise. Across the five boroughs there are 54 outdoor pools, ranging in size from vast Olympic pools to smaller playground pools for kids. And between late June and early September, they’re free for anyone to use. Being both an obsessive outdoor swimmer and a hopeless romantic when it comes to the Big Apple, this discovery sparked the idea for a challenge. What if I could swim >
THE VIBE AT THE ASTORIA POOL IN QUEENS IS EVERYDAY, SUBURBAN NEW YORK, ONE WHICH TOURISTS SO RARELY GET TO SEE > in pools in all five boroughs in one day? To not only say that I’d swum in them, but also to see some of the more far flung corners of a city I like to think I know inside out. I packed my towel and trunks, studied the subway map and reread John Cheever’s classic short story, The Swimmer, about a man’s quest to swim home in the pools of his friends and neighbours. One line stood out. “The day was beautiful and it seemed to him that a long swim might enlarge and celebrate its beauty.” It was time for a dip. 8am THE WILLIAM VALE HOTEL, BROOKLYN
Firstly, a confession. New York’s public pools open at 11am and close at 7pm, with an hour for cleaning between 3pm and 4pm. With the city’s public transport system creaking and its roads perpetually clogged with traffic, getting between all five pools within that time is virtually impossible. And so instead, I take my first swim in the terrace pool at Brooklyn’s ultra-hip William Vale hotel. Located in a part of Williamsburg that until a few year’s ago was a busy hub of artists studios, dive bars and assorted hipster hangouts, today the William Vale is just one of a number of luxury properties that have changed the face of the area completely. Its pool parties are the stuff of legend (even
at $150 entry for just one day), but it’s 8am when I arrive downstairs from my room and the only other person around is a pool attendant sweeping the deck. Despite the early start, the temperature is already creeping up to 30°C. The surrounding buildings reflect the growing heat, the East River glinting in the distance. I have decided to keep each swim short. There are no other swimmers as I slip This new kid on the in, my bow wave Brooklyn block is oozing with cool. arcing behind me as Contemporary I set off on the first design reigns of 20 quick fire laps. supreme throughout, with a destination I emerge soaked and rooftop bar the smiling, ready to take crowning glory. on the day. 11.03am ASTORIA POOL, QUEENS (RIGHT)
I’ve given myself ample time to get to Astoria Pool in Queens. The lockers at New York’s public pools are tiny, so after dropping my bag at a friend’s office in Manhattan, I ride a clanking W train north, across the East River and onto my second swim of the day. Astoria Pool is the largest in the city. 100 metres long and 50 metres wide, it sits between the Triborough and Hell Gate Bridges. It even held the US Olympic trials in 1936 and 1964. After proving to staff I have my own combination lock (all swimmers must bring their own for stashing their wares), I walk out of the cavernous changing area and along the concrete bleachers to the pool. It’s divided into six areas, with one at the far end for ‘fitness minded swimmers’ (NYC Parks and Rec’s words) to tack out laps. I drop in and front crawl my way along the far rope. In the adjacent area, a seniors’ swim aerobics class is underway. As I turn back, I catch the smiles of a group of locals lifting their weights while an instructor tells them to get moving over a funky beat. The vibe here is completely unlike the William Vale. This is everyday, suburban New York, one which tourists so rarely get to see. >
NEW YORK CITY • EXPERIENCES • 65
(left) Daniel Avila / NYC Parks; (main) Spencer Platt / Getty images
66 • EXPERIENCES • NEW YORK CITY
12.16pm FLOATING POOL LADY, BARRETTO POINT PARK, THE BRONX (PREVIOUS PAGE)
To save time, I hail a cab to my next swim. Riding the subway from Astoria to the southern Bronx involves a long walk and taking two trains, going via Manhattan, posing serious danger to the chances of completing my mission. The taxi zips across the bridge and over Randalls and Wards Islands before taking the freeway towards Barretto Point Park. This small promontory, found at the far end of a dilapidated industrial zone, all 18
wheelers, mechanic shops and cargo pallets, isn’t exactly a tourist hotspot. Local families stretch out over picnics as I stroll across the grass towards the Floating Pool Lady – a pool on a barge – docked on the far side of the park. After a swift bag check, I walk the gang plank and pass into a watery paradise. This barge is home to a seven lane, 25 metre pool and, quite frankly, it’s pandemonium. Kids holler at each other in Spanish and play almighty games of splash as I try and swim back and forth. One swims beneath me, emerging wearing a huge smile and shouting, “I’m a fish, I’m a fish”. I give
2.25pm HAMILTON FISH PARK POOL, LOWER EAST SIDE, MANHATTAN (PICTURED, ABOVE)
Riding the subway in summer can be brutal. The 6 train from the Bronx to Lower Manhattan is jam packed, despite the time of day. After leaving the Floating Pool and dodging the traffic of a six-lane highway which runs beneath a series of flyovers on the south side of the Bronx, though, it >
Daniel Avila / NYC Parks
THE FLOATING POOL LADY IS SO BUSY I GIVE UP ON LAPS AND INSTEAD FLOAT ON MY BACK, EYES SQUINTING, A BIG SMILE ON MY FACE
up on laps and instead float on my back, eyes squinting, a big smile slapped across my face. Drying off, I can see the towers of the maximum security Rikers Island prison on the far river bank. I can’t think of anything more incongruous with this pool full of happy swimmers. It’s not just swimmers who head to Barretto Point Park for its watery surrounds – you’ll spot people fishing off the pier, and some kayaking and canoing, too.
Dominica invites adventurers of the mind, body and spirit to experience the rich tapestry of unspoiled beauty and rich culture heritage. With world-class hiking and amazing underwater experiences amidst breath-taking natural wonders.
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68 • EXPERIENCES • NEW YORK CITY
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MULTITUDE OF SWIMS: [top] The Astoria has welcomed swimmers since 1936; [bottom] sunbathers at the historic pool make the most of summer in the city
> feels like a pleasant break. It’s time to take stock. I’m making good time, even if the journey will take an hour. If all goes to plan, I’ll be on Staten Island just in time for the pools to reopen after daily cleaning. By some kind of miracle, I emerge onto Manhattan’s East Houston Street without having faced any of the subway delays that have dominated the news in recent months. There’s no queue to enter Hamilton Fish Pool, which is tucked just south of East Houston among housing projects and tower blocks. However, just as in the Bronx, the pool is absolutely rammed. The far end is closed for lessons and so I try and swim my way around young couples petting, games of catch and the occasional serious swimmer. It’s a challenge. But it’s so wonderful to see these pools being used. And being used by kids, especially. It feels like the whole neighbourhood has come out for the afternoon. Mums and grandparents dot the sides, sitting on blankets, berating older teenagers for splashing too vigorously. It feels like Manhattan in miniature and is every bit as compelling. 4pm LYONS POOL, STATEN ISLAND
IT’S WONDERFUL TO SEE THESE POOLS BEING USED – AT HAMILTON FISH POOL IT FEELS LIKE THE WHOLE NEIGHBOURHOOD HAS COME OUT
POOL RULES New York’s public pools operate under a strict set of rules. If you’re tempted to dive in, check out these city-wide policies so you don’t get caught out: ◆◆ All swimmers must bring their own combination lock or they’ll be refused entry. ◆◆ All bags must be placed in a locker (be aware that lockers can only take small luggage) and cannot be brought poolside. ◆◆ White tops only. Yes, it’s bizarre, but if you want to wear a top when poolside, it can only be white. Gate staff are fastidious, with no exceptions made. Fly from London Gatwick to New York with Wow Air. wowair.co.uk For info on The William Vale in Brooklyn, see thewilliamvale.com
(Astoria) Daniel Avila / NYC Parks; (sunbathers) Spencer Platt / Getty images
I ride a yellow cab down to the Whitehall terminal, the lazy honk of the Staten Island Ferry sounding out at 3.15pm. In the back of my mind, I’m wondering if I should have started in a Brooklyn public pool at 11am after all and put myself up against the clock. It’s too late now and it looks like I’ll complete my mission with time to spare. Emerging onto Staten Island I look back at the glare of the Manhattan skyline in the brutal midsummer sun. Lyons Pool is a 15 minute walk along Bay Street, the borough’s jetties and New York Bay just beyond.
When I arrive, it’s just before 4pm and the gates are still shut. Impatient teenagers get into a quiet argument with some local mums, whose kids are already decked out in inflatables, unwilling to waste even a second getting ready once the doors open. Inside the high brick walls, an Olympicsized pool glints blue, its water still, with no swimmers troubling the lanes marked out beyond a huge play area. With time no longer an issue, I swim a steady kilometre before catching my breath, the kids on inflatables screaming with joy. Summer in the world’s greatest city can be pretty sticky. But after a day exploring all five of its boroughs’ pools, I think that I’ve found the ultimate way to enjoy it. ◆
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the coast with the most With dozens of gorgeous beaches, islands to explore and active adventures for all kinds of traveller, the coastline of Central Dalmatia in Croatia is the perfect escape for sun worshippers and thrill seekers... The Croatian region of Central Dalmatia abounds in gorgeous landscapes, endless beaches and numerous options for active adventures. With a wide choice of sandy, pebbly and nudist beaches, as well as an incredible array of adrenalinefuelled outdoor challenges for every kind of explorer, the old settlements, quaint towns and quiet islands of Split-Dalmatia County have become the ultimate tourist destination for travellers of all ages and interests. While wandering along the beaches from the north to the south of the region, it’s impossible to miss the largest sandy stretch of coastline between Split and Makarska. Situated right in the centre of the town of
Omiš, locals have nicknamed it velika plaža (Grand Beach), although its official name is actually Punta (Peak). Meanwhile, if you’re looking for an island escape, the most attractive beaches are located on Brač Island – check out the famous Zlatni Rat Beach (Golden Horn)
in the town of Bol: because of its beauty and uniqueness, the beach often makes the covers of magazines and is among the most stunning beaches in the world. Found in the harbour just off Hvar Island, the beaches on the Pakleni Islands are well worth a visit, too. Thanks to the
from family beaches to relaxing hidden gems in fishing villages, the makarska riviera has it all
CENTRAL DALMATIA, CROATIA • PROMOTION • 71
CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Looking down on the iconic Zlatni Rat beach in Bol, Brač; a street performance in central Split; the castle at Omiš
largest number of sunny hours on the Mediterranean, as well as their natural features and impressive crystalline sea, these are among the most attractive islands in the world, winning many awards and accolades for best beach destinations. Elsewhere, the famous beaches of the Makarska Riviera are a must-visit, too. A 60km-long coastline of incredibly diverse beaches, the Riviera extends from Brela to Gradac, leading you through 18 different towns and villages, while reserving something for everyone’s taste – from family beaches in the city of Makarska, all the way to relaxing hidden gems in remote fishing villages further along the coast. Apart from a pleasant time relaxing on the beach, adrenaline seekers can also enjoy a varied offering of active holidays: sailing,
regattas, surfing and kiteboarding are all part of the fun, while there are diving schools available in Split, Makarska, Hvar and Vis, which offer visits to some of the most attractive diving spots on the Adriatic. If you want a change of scenery, visit Omiš and the Cetina River to the east of Split. Once there, take a ride on the awesome zip line above the river or go rafting on rapids that’ll lift your spirits and adrenaline to the skies. And if you prefer more peaceful activities, you can feel the heartbeat of the river on canoe-safari or a kayaking session. After all that, head to Split’s most famous beach – Bačvice – to play the local game of picigin, which involves throwing a small
ball around in a circle, and stopping it from hitting the water below. From there, you’re just minutes from the heart of Central Dalmatia: the centre of Split and its beautiful Ancient Roman palace, which was once home to Emperor Diocletian. So what are you waiting for? Croatia is full of life, and there’s so much waiting to be explored. Go out and find it. ◆ For more information on holidays to Central Dalmatia, go to dalmatia.hr
CORFU • EXPERIENCES • 73
Words by JON HAWKINS
THIS WAY TO THE BEACH The Greek island of Corfu is one of Europe’s most desirable holiday destinations. Pick your spot and it’s possible to escape the hordes and get a taste of picture-postcard bays, deserted mountain villages and ridiculously good ice cream
Distance to Albania at the closest point
Avg high temperature in September
585.3km2 Total area of land in Corfu
BLUE IS THE COLOUR: Kassiopi is one of the most popular destinations on the northeast coast of Corfu, not least because of beaches like Bataria, just outside the town
ROM A DISTANCE, through the trees that line the road and the dusty windows of our hire car, we can make out just enough of the dark grey behemoth bobbing in Corfu Town’s port to identify it as a boat. Or a submarine. Or possibly a sea fort. Whatever it is, it’s enormous, and more than enough to distract us from the ancient stone gates, tumbling rocky cliffs and out-oftown fur coat emporia that we pass on our way north out of the city. As the curve of the road follows a steep headland we’re given a fleeting, clear-sighted view of the bay; enough to see three soaring masts and enough grey hull to identify our mystery thing (thanks, Google) as Sailing Yacht A. Owned by Russian coal >
> and fertiliser magnate Andrey Melnichenko and designed by Philippe Starck, SYA is a 142m-long, $450m boat that’s the biggest of its kind in the world. It has a sail area half the size of a football pitch. It apparently costs $300,000 each time you fill it up with fuel. There’s an underwater observation room so you can watch the massive propellers spin around while you play Monopoly with real money or drink molten diamonds or Snapchat your mates, or whatever fertiliser magnates do with their downtime. It isn’t what you’d call subtle, though Corfu’s no stranger to ominous-looking boats arriving at its shores. The Greeks, Romans and Byzantines all saw its importance as a naval base, and the island’s been thrown from occupier to invader for a good couple of millennia. The Venetians ruled (nor for the first time either) from the late 14th century to the close of the 18th, before France, the British and finally Greece all staked their claims. But in recent decades, the biggest impact on the island has been made by holidaymakers – myself and the ninth richest Russian in the world included. Tourism is
INFINITY AND BEYOND: [clockwise from main] the pool at Agalia; Corfiot food takes influence from throughout southeast Europe; Avlaki beach
THE NORTH EAST OF THE ISLAND HAS BOTH OUTRAGEOUS GOOD LOOKS AND A REPUTATION AS A MAGNET FOR THE WEALTHY the driving force behind the Corfu economy, and as ever that’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand it’s easy to get to and get around, there’s masses of accommodation and you’ll never run out of things to do; on the other, there’s a predictable cost to authenticity and handling vast numbers of tourists takes an undeniable toll, seen most obviously in the rubbish that has piled up at roadsides due to ongoing waste disposal problems that came to a head last summer. We spot said heaps of rubbish from time to time as we leave Corfu Town (and Sailing Yacht A) behind and trace our way along the narrow coast road. It’s not a very pleasant sight, but nor is it a holiday dealbreaker – in this part of the island, in September, at least.
DREAMS OF ICE CREAMS
The Ionian island of Corfu is around 65km long and shaped something like a stretchedout capital E, with the west coast facing Italy and the middle and bottom of the E facing east towards the Greek mainland. The north east of the island, where we’ve based ourselves, looks out over Albania – just a
couple of kilometres away at its nearest point – and has both outrageous good looks and a reputation as a magnet for the wealthy. It’s not exactly like wandering around Mayfair with more olive trees – the towns and villages are mostly still pleasingly rough around the edges – but you can spot plenty of swanky houses tucked away on hillsides or off pothole-ridden beach roads. Our base for the week is Agalia – a gleaming-white, architect-designed villa in the foothills below Mount Pantokrator that’s available from luxury villa specialists The Thinking Traveller. Inside, rooms are minimalist but sophisticated, with swathes of wood, marble and polished concrete throughout the bedrooms and open-plan living area. There’s also a basement bar right next to a gym, put there by someone with either an epic sense of humour or a unique approach to drinking and exercising. Outside is an infinity pool with views over hills that are at once dusty and lush green, stretching out to the artificially blue-looking sea and the rugged mountains of Albania in the distance. It’s a view best appreciated from the terrace, with the sun setting behind you as you mop up the spicy-sweet remains of prawn saganaki with freshly baked flatbreads – ideally knocked up in the villa by a brilliant local cook arranged for you by The Thinking Traveller. Infinity pool, cocktail bar and Balkan views apart, Agalia’s major strength as an HQ might just be its location. From the terrace you can plot adventures from sea to summit, literally pointing at things in the distance and saying ‘let’s go there’. Going anywhere at all means a nerveshredding drive up or down the potholed mountain track that links Agalia with the north east’s main coastal road, the turnoff to which is helpfully signposted by a gaudy There are seven Ionian islands: Corfu, Paxos, Lefkada, Ithaki, Kefalonia, Zakynthos and Kythira. Corfu is the most northerly, while Kythira is the furthest south.
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looking café called Ice Dream that serves hilariously delicious (you guessed it) homemade ice cream that one Corfiot tells us is the best on the island. I believe her.
THE OTHER WHITE HOUSE
In a week of pootling up and down that mountain road we come to see Ice Dream as a sort of mystical portal to the northeast Corfu coast. For starters, almost immediately behind it is an absolute beauty of a beach – Agios Spiridon, a gently curving sandy bay that’s protected from wind and
the afternoon sun by a row of tall trees. The sea is clean, it’s easy to park and there are a couple of tiny shops and tavernas a few steps from the beach, but despite this it’s rarely very busy when we visit, which turns out to be often. The small town of Kassiopi is an 8km drive east along the coast from Agios Spiridon, and its pretty, taverna-lined Kassiopi, our local expert tells us, is where ‘regulars’ to this part of the island go to socialise and be seen. Its castle, beaches and plentiful tavernas make it a big draw.
I WOBBLE AWKWARDLY INTO THE WARM SEA AND BOB ABOUT WITH CIVILISATION BEHIND ME, IMAGINING A PRE-TOURISM CORFU
streets and taverna-flanked harbour have long been a magnet for tourists without having flung all their charm into the Ionian sea. We stop for long enough to mainline espresso and stock up on supplies, before tracking down the narrow backroad just beyond the town that leads to Avlaki beach, an impossibly photogenic horseshoe-shaped cove with a shingly beach, a couple of sleepy looking tavernas and shallow cliffs that drip vegetation into the bright-blue water. I wobble awkwardly into the warm sea (that shingle) and bob about in the water with all signs of civilisation behind me, imagining what it would be like to discover a pretourism Corfu. That, after all, was the vision of the island that attracted many of those tourists in the first place. The naturalist Gerald Durrell apparently blamed himself – his trilogy of books about the pre-war years his family >
76 • EXPERIENCES • CORFU
> spent in Corfu (the subject of ITV’s recent TV show, The Durrells) presented a chaotic but magical place, rich in both natural beauty and colourful characters. Though Durrell and his family had several homes on the island, the best known is the White House in Kalami, a sleepy little resort town about 9km south from Kassiopi. Today the verdant and steeply banked hills that shelve into beach are dotted with villas, though you can still visit the house (it’s now an upscale restaurant) on its seafront perch looking out over the bay. We grab a quiet table outside, and sip local Corfu Beer and dip flatbreads into lemony tarama as small boats come and go from the nearby jetty.
A MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY
You could – and we do – spend days trawling the coast road, hopping from beach to beach and small town to small town, but there’s a lesser-spotted side to Corfu if you head inland to higher ground. Tracing our Though most way up the mountain tourists stick to the coast, Corfu’s from Ice Dream (that interior offers a place again), we drive quieter and wilder past the turnoff to insight in to the island. Old Perithia is our villa and instead a unique window on pick our way around different times. hairpins and over
tarmac so potholed it’s like the crater of the moon until we reach the town of Old Perithia. Though its inhabitants abandoned it decades ago, largely as a result of the coastal tourism goldrush, Old Perithia is now a mixture of spooky, tumbledown buildings and thriving tavernas. From a dusty car park so steep and rutted it must take out countless hire cars, we edge down vertiginous cobbled streets that wind their way through untamed vegetation only to reveal yet another packed taverna. I keep an eye out for one we’ve been recommended – Foros – which we find in a tiny square; tables are squashed together under a gazebo that drips with grape-laden vines, attached to a creaky, crumbling building. We order grilled sausages, delicious fried balls of courgette and feta, and a Corfiot dish called tsigari – tomatoes, garlic and onions sautéed with herbs and paprika. Later, fuller, we pick our way back to the car through broken cobbles and spot the ocean through a v-shaped gap in the hills. I half expect to see Sailing Yacht A or an invading fleet of Venetian warships melt into view and drift slowly across the gap between mountains, but instead a hire car rumbles past, noisily grinding its bottom along the craters of the car park and pointing back down the mountain to the coast. ◆
WHERE TO STAY: AGALIA
(Corfu Town) Jon Hawkins
You’d be hard pushed to find a plot of land in Corfu with a better location than Agalia’s prime hillside plot. In one direction it looks down on one of the most beautiful slices of coast on the island, with Albania in the distance; elsewhere there are views of rolling, forested hills and rocky outcrops that frame the flanks of Mount Pantokrator. The villa itself slots pretty seamlessly into the landscape considering its form is essentially two white cuboids, one on top of the other. Those clean, crisp lines are echoed throughout the interior, where pale wood, marble and huge windows create cool, open spaces where it’s virtually impossible not to relax. Outside, landscaped gardens surround the villa and there’s always a shady spot somewhere, though we won’t judge you for basking in the sun by the infinity pool. There’s an outside kitchen, too, where we grill fresh local fish and work our way through bottles of local white wine, which turns out to be excellent. Don’t just take it from us, though – one of the island’s oldest and most celebrated wineries, Theotoky Estate, gets James Bond’s approval in For Your Eyes Only. Agalia is only available through The Thinking Traveller and is priced according to occupancy: from per week based on four sharing two rooms; from €4,250 per week based on six sharing three rooms; from €4,720 per week based on eight sharing four rooms. The Thinking Traveller Experience Specialists can organise services ranging from wine delivery and in-villa cooks to boat trips and horse riding.
OF VILL A H O L I D AY S
Our Passion • Your Memories
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SPIRITUAL JOURNEY The backdrop of Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis poses a serious moral question for any traveller. Cathy Adams takes in the breadth of the country by every mode of transport she can find, and asks where tourists’ responsibilities lie
13 hrs 25 Flight time from London
Temples/pagodas in Bagan
T’S WHEN I get to Inle Lake that I realise my challenge to cross Myanmar using as many different modes of transport as possible has already been accomplished by people far more high-profile than me: the former presenters of Top Gear. My guide Nau-Nau was a fixer for the 2014 show. As we leave Heho Airport for the vegetable allotments and temple-studded plains of Shan State, he rattles off anecdotes: Jeremy Clarkson visiting freedom fighters near the Thai border; the trio buying loudspeakers and mobile air-con units to attach to their rust pile cars from the market in capital Nay Pyi Taw. >
Average temp in February
Words by CATHY ADAMS Shutterstock / Tzido Sun
WHEELS IN MOTION: Buddhist monks walk with parasols. Myanmar’s temples are among the country’s most popular attractions.
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> My insides deflate. I’m not doing anything nearly as adventurous. All I’ve done so far is rattle around in a sidecar through downtown Yangon and razz a scooter in dusty circles underneath Bagan’s temples. In a country whose infrastructure is at best ramshackle and at worst unusable,
I thought my challenge was sound. Or not. Unfortunately, transport is the least of Myanmar’s worries right now. After escaping the clutches of a draconian military government in 2015 (although the army still remains a powerful force), the country is back in the news for the
MYANMAR’S TOURISM BELT IS A LONG AWAY FROM TROUBLED RAKHINE STATE, THOUGH SHOULD YOU STILL TRAVEL HERE AT ALL?
Rohingya crisis. On a practical note, its incredible sights on its tourism belt are considerable distances away from troubled Rakhine state. On an ethical note: should you still travel to Myanmar? “I completely understand the moral questioning when travelling to a country in conflict, but I do think that, especially now, it’s important to support people from all races and religions in Myanmar,” adds Diana Fung, travel designer at Lightfoot Travel, which organised the logistics of my trip and ensures it partners with sustainable tours and operators on the ground. “Giving the country the cold shoulder would be a huge
MYANMAR • EXPERIENCES • 81
mistake, because the dip in tourism would directly affect thousands of innocent local families and small businesses all across the country that have become dependent on visitor-generated income.” My advice would be to spend money locally. Talk to local people. Read the newspaper. Visiting a country does not necessarily mean you endorse the government’s actions, however ugly they are. One section of society’s actions should not deprive the rest of the country’s citizens of tourism income. And with that I’ve decided to chase down Myanmar’s most majestic sights in a far more genteel transport challenge. Spoiler: mine includes quite a lot of sitting down.
Transport option one: Sidecar and bike Downtown Yangon is one of Asia’s bestpreserved colonial cores. Pastel-coloured townhouses swathed in wires (walk down bodhi-tree-lined Bo Aung Kyaw road to see a range of Battenberg cake colours) jut up against vast early 20th century Victorian courthouses (the High Court). There are a number of different halls of worship here – the Roman Catholic church and the dusty Armenian church alongside a mosque and a
SKY’S THE LIMIT: [left] Hot air balloons float over the temples of Bagan; [below, left to right] craggy peaks in the Mandalay region; an irresistibly inviting stretch of pool at Bagan Lodge
Buddhist temple – although how harmonious the relationship is between Myanmar’s various religious groups isn’t visible through the architecture. We’re driven in a squashy sidecar from Yangon’s grand, messy train station: past locals with thanaka circles on their cheeks (made of bark, thanaka is a While Rakhine natural sunscreen, state is some way from the main and my milky Essex tourist trail, always skin doesn’t take check the latest to it), past the FCO travel advice before travelling to chic mahogany Myanmar. You’ll find Strand Hotel where it at gov.uk. Kipling lived and the crumbling Port Authority and Custom House. At sunset, we cycle to the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda. Myanmar’s most holy temple is said to house eight hairs of the Buddha, and we watch as the sun drips yolk onto its golden spires. On to the Rangoon Tea House on Pansodan Road for dinner, a restyled colonial café – a ‘stylishly hipster teahouse’ according to Lonely Planet – with a neat selection of Burmese curries and traditional cups of tea. Next door is the excellent Hla Day craft shop, selling local curios made by disadvantaged groups across the country. Transport option two: Train You’ve had enough of hipster Yangon – I get it. Thankfully hipster is the last word to describe the battered ex-Japan Rail train >
(Balloons) Shutterstock/ lkunl; (Mandalay) Sean Pavone/iStock
82 • EXPERIENCES • MYANMAR
WE HOP ONTO ELECTRIC SCOOTERS EACH MORNING BEFORE THE SUN HITS, ZOOMING AROUND THE DHAMMAYANGYI TEMPLE
sunset, bumping under the nose of the 11th century stupas and surrounding villages, before pulling up at temple 749 (they’re all numbered – the more ordinary, if they can be called that, are known just by their numbers) for a blockbuster sunset.
> that clatters in a very, very long circle from the main railway station, but it’s a study in local life: tea sellers hawking tiny cups, vegetable sellers with unrecognisable lumps of vitamin D and entire families crushed into a four-person seating configuration. Hop on at Insein in the north and get off at the main railway station for a 40-minute journey through Yangon’s tin-roofed houses.
PLACE: INLE LAKE
Transport option one: Scooter To Bagan: Myanmar’s temple-studded, greencarpeted, tourist-crowded jewel. In spite of the millions of sunset and sunrise Instagrams that this place inspires, Bagan is every bit as awe-inspiring in the flesh and even this jaded travel writer spent a good 40 minutes watching the sun turn the sky an angry purple from atop the Buledi temple. Old Bagan’s some 2,000-strong temple field is fairly compact, hemmed in by four golden pagodas (the best view is from the not-unimpressive Nyaung Lat Phat Kan hill right in the middle of the plain), but the paths
are complex. It’s why we hop onto electric scooters each morning before the midday sun hits, zooming around quiet, frangipanitrellised Thabeik Hmauk, the gigantic Dhammayangyi Temple and Sulamani Paya, covered in centuries-old murals and usually considered Bagan’s most beautiful temple. Transport option two: Horse and cart The Orwellian way to see Bagan’s temples is by horse and cart. We clamber up at
Transport option one: Kayak We arrive at glassy Inle Lake via a day’s hike from Kalaw, a hill station with Victorian country houses and afternoon tea straight out of Burmese Days. After days sneezing at Bagan’s temples and slowly cruising down the Irrawaddy River, the hike is everything we need: a walk across the ridge of the Shan state’s green carpet of hills, stopping to peer into hill tribes’ houses and spot monasteries >
LOCAL LIVES: [left to right] A moment of quiet contemplation at Myoe Daung Monastery in Bagan; a fisherman on Inle Lake shows off his sea legs (Myoe Daung Monastery) iStock; (fisherman) Dmitry Rukhlenko/iStock
ROLLING TRANSPORTER ADVENTUREPROOF ON WHEELS. Built for demanding adventures, the Rolling Transporter is an ultra-durable, gear hauling duffel with all-terrain wheels.
84 • EXPERIENCES • MYANMAR
> buried in the folds of the mountains. Inle Lake is a different beast entirely, at first glance flat and featureless; so shallow it’s only two metres deep. A fat mattress of crops, mostly tomatoes (80% of Myanmar’s tomatoes are grown on Inle) lies on the edges. It’s why Inle’s standard greeting goes “How’s the price of tomatoes?” Around 60 different villages, with a population of around 180,000 Intha, live around the lake. How best to see them? We try kayaking: although if you value your marriage and your triceps, an hour is enough. That’s plenty of time to explore the floating Jumping Cat monastery (socalled thanks to its resident cats, although
they’re more likely to be found sleeping than leaping), fly underneath a bamboo stilt home and see Myanmar’s most popular postcard image up close: fishermen balancing wooden baskets on their toes. Transport option two: Long boat The less divisive option is to bump along Inle in a long boat. We visit many of the lakeside villages, stopping for soupy bowls of Shan noodles (a traditional dish of rice noodles with pork, peanuts and tomatoes) and watch the Intha women race across the lake. It also makes more of an appropriate entrance to the gorgeous thatched stilt villas at the lakeside Inle Villa Resort.
NEED TO KNOW Belmond Governor’s Residence, a handsome teak villa in the leafy embassy district, is Yangon’s grandest property. Rooms are colonial and gauzy, and the fan-shaped pool is ideal for a post-sightseeing cool-down. See belmond.com for more. Lightfoot Travel creates bespoke travel itineraries across the world. In Myanmar it works with local agency Khiri Travel. lightfoottravel.com
Shutterstock / vectorx2263
AT INLE LAKE WE TRY KAYAKING, ALTHOUGH IF YOU VALUE YOUR MARRIAGE AND YOUR TRICEPS, AN HOUR IS MORE THAN ENOUGH
The end Back to Yangon, where we need just two feet for the last stops: fish noodle soup at chain restaurant Feel; and a chai at Lucky Seven. I’ve not offended anybody, I’ve not raced cars across borders – but I’ve still seen the best that Myanmar has to offer. ◆
FILSON.COM/UK 9 & 13 NEWBURGH STREET, LONDON, W1F
[ INSIDERâ€™S GUIDE ]
From hiking in the mountains to rafting along rivers to watching world-renowned mountain biking competitions or going hiking, in the Austrian region of Tirol, you can â€“ you just need to know where to look. Read on to find out more. For more information: love.tirol In association with
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JOY RIDE: [clockwise from main] Mountain biking around Blindsee Trail; traditional alpine style; a relaxing boat ride on one of the area’s lakes
TIROLER ZUGSPITZ ARENA, TIROL
a place to reach your peak With soaring peaks, endless green pastures and crisp mountain air everywhere you go, Tiroler Zugspitz Arena in Austria’s Tirol region is a must-visit for one-of-a-kind summertime adventure in the Alps
[intro] Wolfgang Ehn; [bike] Peter Neusser
Perched On the borderlands between Austria and Germany, the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena takes its name from the majestic Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain, and is home to every type of terrain you could hope for. For outdoorsy types, the area’s soaring peaks and lush valleys are a hiker’s dream, replete with every type of terrain you could imagine. Dive into alpine woodlands dense with natural trails, take on challenging trail running or climbing routes – or, if that’s
not for you, grab your significant other and head out for a romantic boat ride on the picturesque lake Heiterwanger See. No matter how big or small your adventure turns out to be, there’s something for everyone here: don your swimsuit and head out for a paddle in the Sports & Leisure Park Bichlbach, where the kids can hit the water rafting channels or have a go at the challenging high ropes course. Elsewhere you can tear down the Forest
Thunder freeride track in Lermoos or the nearby Blindsee Trail, one of Tirol’s five Great Trails. Or if you’re more about the incredible ‘au naturel’ rides, there are more than 100 marked routes across Tiroler Zugspitz Arena. However you choose to spend your summer in Austria, it’s more than likely to include plenty of time in the great outdoors, with some adrenaline thrown in, too. ◆ zugspitzarena.com
innsbruck: cultural capital The Tirolean city of Innsbruck and its surrounding areas bring together gorgeous medieval architecture, jaw-dropping views, heaps of action, and unbeatable alpine cuisine for a getaway that has it all
GREAT OUTDOORS: The Tirolean capital offers everything from cycling holidays in the surrounding landscapes to cultural sights
To get the best of both worlds, try the new seven-day Innsbruck Trek (with both easy and advanced routes, and an optional guide), which takes hikers to almost every important landmark in the region’s massifs. The tour starts in the middle of Innsbruck’s Old Town and passes through the Karwendel mountains, the Mieminger Plateau and the Stubai Alps. You’ll then take in the rugged beauty of the Kalkkögel mountains, known by locals as the Dolomites of Innsbruck,
[couple] Edward Groeger; [Alpback Valley] Grießenböck Gabriele
When you arrive in Innsbruck, Austria, the first thing you’ll notice is the stunning medieval architecture. Tirol’s capital city is packed with museums, palaces, castles and churches, including the building known as the Goldenes Dachl, or Golden Roof, built by Emperor Maximilian I in the 15th century. Beyond its urban centre, Innsbruck has unfettered access to the great outdoors, with sweeping landscapes prime for trekking, long-distance hiking and multi-day day tours.
and the 800-year-old stone pine woods on Patscherkofel before before heading back into the city. If that sounds a bit too much like hard work, there are plenty of stylish hotels primed for rest and relaxation en route, and your luggage will be ready and waiting for you at each hotel. Innsbruck and its surrounding villages are also the place to refuel with hearty alpine cooking. Visit a mountain hut, where you’ll find Kaspressknödel (cheese dumplings), Kasspatzln (noodles) or the shredded pancakes known as Kaiserschmarrn. And while you’re here, it makes sense to soak up some culture. Enter the Innsbruck Card, which gives you access to 19 sights, a return trip on all seven cable cars and unlimited public transport. The city of Innsbruck: your perfect alpine break. ◆ innsbruck.info
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A L P B A C H VA L L E Y, T I R O L
Alpbach Valley: natural highs The Alpbach Valley’s alpine charm shines through in its wooden chalets and farmhouses, but despite its quaint feel, this picturesque town is also home to a roller coaster, and plenty of walking and hiking trails Strolling through the central strasse in the picturesque town of Alpbach, it’s easy to see why it’s widely considered the most beautiful in the Austrian region of Tirol. Each side of the road is flanked by timberclad chalets built in the traditional Tirolean style; there are luscious green spruce trees stretching into the sky; and a smattering of more than a hundred working farmhouses leaning into the steep valley slopes in the distance. Far removed from the glitz of
THE GREEN LIGHT: From its endless green hills to its hundreds of working farmhouses, the Alpbach Valley will show you a different side to the Alps
France’s Alpine resorts and only a 40-minute drive from the popular destination of Innsbruck, Alpbach is a traditional Austrian gem preserved for the 21st century. Don’t be fooled by its sleepy facade – there’s plenty of action to keep you entertained, especially for those with a taste for the great outdoors. Under the watchful gaze of the 1,899m Gratlspitz mountain, Alpbach village sits at the base of a long valley of the same name with an almost innumerable amount of hiking and walking trails (more than 900km worth of combined routes) to enjoy. Travel into the surrounding Alpbachtal area and you’ll find plenty of surprises
worthy of your attention, too. The Alpbachtaler Lauser-Sauser is a two-seater alpine roller coaster that starts at an altitude of 1,845 m next to the Wiedersbergerhorn gondola lift top station and whizzes down 134 vertical metres of jumps and twists, reaching speeds of up to 42kmph in the process. There are also plenty of bathing lakes, including the stunning Zireiner See, which are the perfect place for families to relax in the summer sun. And if you’re after something really special, take the Wiedersbergershorn gondola and hike to the summit, where you can watch the sun rise over the Alps. ◆ alpbachtal.at
Ö T Z TA L , T I R O L
reach new heights in Ötztal Whether you spend your day exploring James Bond Adventure World or watch the sun set over the jawdroppingly beautiful Lake Piburg, the Tirolean valley of Ötztal will tick just about every holiday box If you’re after more breathtaking scenery than you can shake a stick at, the alpine valley of Ötztal in Tirol, Austria, should be at the top of your must-visit list. As you’d expect from such landscapes, the area is home to biking, hiking and walking routes aplenty. One of the most popular is the Stuibenfall water walk, which takes you along a new set of trails and viewing platforms past the rushing waters of Horlachbach Creek, while those looking for extra adventure can climb right next to the water on a special fixed-rope climbing route.
PEAK RETREAT: The Ötztal valley is the place to take in breathtaking mountain views
Elsewhere, the newly founded Bike Republic Sölden is a unique, world-class bike park where you’ll find spectacular freeride terrain, diverse trails and Tirol’s largest pump track. It’s like a giant playground for bikers of all levels and ages, from children to passionate, life-long mountain bikers, and is a brilliant way to make the most of Sölden’s breathtaking landscapes, too. What’s more the Republic is home to more than 30 alpine restaurants and mountain huts, too. Once you’ve soaked up all that natural beauty, head for a thrill-filled day out at the James Bond Cinematic Installation, where you can immerse yourself in the glamorous, secretive world of 007 – including sipping
on a classic martini at the ice Q gourmet restaurant and taking the epic gondola journey up to the 007 ELEMENTS Plaza, where you’ll find views to kill for. If you want an authentic taste of Austrian country life, visit one of Ötztal’s mountain shelters, many of which are found at 3,000m above sea level around Obergurgl-Hochgurgl. A lot of these mountain huts are traditional restaurants dishing up local cooking alongside vegan and gluten-free options. TOP Mountain Star is a particular favourite – an architectural masterpiece perched on the ridge of the Wurmkogel with phenomenal views over the valley that together make for a truly unforgettable experience. ◆ oetztal.com
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SNEAK PEAK: St. Anton am Arlberg and its surrounding peaks are the perfect place to watch the sunset, whether you’re on foot or bike
S T. A N T O N A M A R L B E R G , T I R O L
blaze a trail in st. anton With action-packed high alpine trails, hiking, rock climbing and biking, there’s plenty to keep adrenaline junkies entertained in the mountain village of St. Anton am Arlberg in the Austrian region of Tirol [hikers] Bernd Ritschel; [007 Elements] Kristopher Grunert; Wolfgang Ehn
If you’re looking for year-round charm, near-unlimited outdoor adventures and some of the most amazing views in the Tirol region, Austria and beyond, look no further than St. Anton am Arlberg. Tucked away in the heart of the Tirolean Alps, this charming mountain area is the perfect escape for travellers who love nothing more than getting outside and exploring nature. Come summertime, you’ll find a vast selection of hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking routes around the area, covering everything from accessible strolls to action-packed and challenging high-alpine trails that’ll get your heart racing. The Arlberg region’s 300km of walking paths and 350km of mountain biking tracks
mean you’ll wake up with fresh possibilities every day, and never run out of places to explore, no matter what kind of activity you’re into. Families can enjoy challenging adventure walks in the hills, while the more intrepid can hike from mountain hut to mountain hut, taking in views and traditional Tirolean cuisine along the way. The fun doesn’t stop on the trails, though: for road bike racers, there’s the E-Bike Fest St. Anton in June, as well as the Arlberg Giro and Arlberg Bike Marathon in July and August. Drawing some of the world’s most promising riders, these are an absolute must for serious cyclists. If rain rolls in, or you simply don’t feel like getting outside – there are dozens of indoor
adventures to be had, too, from climbing at the arl.rock sport park and restaurant to discovering the region’s rich culture and heritage in the local museum. Nowhere will fill you with a sense of relaxation more than ARLBERG-well.com – from swimming and sauna sessions to massages and fitness classes, this is a go-to for a wholesome wellness experience in the Arlberg region. Once you’re done exploring for the day, you’ll want to check into one of the area’s gorgeous hotels or chalets, where you can kick off your walking boots and stretch out before hitting the area’s great restaurants to experience a famous Austrian welcome. Kick back and relax – you deserve it. ◆ stantonamarlberg.com
take it easy in Wildschönau If you want to take your holiday at your own pace, look no further than lush, rural Wildschönau for lengthy strolls, open-air swimming and traditional farmhouses complete with beautiful bell towers If you’re looking for an idyllic alpine summer break and want somewhere a bit off the beaten track, then Wildschönau is the ideal destination. In contrast to other regions, the Wildschönau valley in Tirol, Austria prides itself on gentle tourism – its hills are tailormade for rewarding walks. Legend tells that the surrounding landscape was created by the dying throes of a dragon after a local farmer heroically killed the beast. The result is 300km of walking paths dotted by quaint mountain huts for hikers in the summer months. Wildschönau is the ideal destination
for families thanks to the huge range of activities on offer: choose from riding, biking, and open-air swimming to name but a few. There’s also a deer park, herb garden and even sleigh rides available in the surrounding villages that’ll keep the little ones happily entertained. Fancy a ramble? The summer cable cars in the Wildschönau are the quickest and easiest way to the mountain tops of the surrounding Kitzbühel Alps. What’s more, there are 260 working farms in the region, which are easy to spot thanks to the traditional farmhouses with the bell tower on their roofs. If you
VALLEY HIGH: Outdoors lovers should grab some friends and hike to the Rosskopf, where you’ll find stunning views over the Wildschönau valley
want to find out more, the Z’Bach Farming Museum has more than 1,100 exhibits. In the summer, the Wildschönau Card covers the Wildschönau and Alpbachtal cable cars, the open-air pool, tennis, guided walks, Kid’s Dragon Club, Farming Museum, Silver Mine and plenty more. You’ll never have a dull moment. ◆ wildschoenau.com
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Zillertal: sweet valley life When it comes to breathtaking alpine vistas, the Tirolean region of Zillertal sure knows how to steal the show, with deep-blue lakes and endless stretches of green all set against a mountain backdrop Lustrous blue lakes, vivid green pastures full of alpine cattle, mountains as far as the eye can see – yep, when you imagine a holiday to the Austrian mountains, you’re probably imagining a trip to Zillertal, a vast valley that goes big on vistas, outdoor adventures and Tirolean charm. Whether it’s epic sunsets, lung-busting ascents or romantic moments out on the trail, you’ll find it all in this ancient, glacier-carved valley. And with more than 1,400km of
hiking routes and 1,200km of bike routes to explore, you’re unlikely to ever get bored, no matter how long you’re staying for. For a true sense of the alpine sublime, head straight for the High Alps Nature Park Zillertal Alps – a nature park high up in the mountains that’s rich with biodiversity, as well as glaciers, summits and all the views you’d associate with trips above the treeline. Zillertal is also home to Austria’s only year-round skiing resort, the Hintertux
Glacier, where you can expect perfectly skiable snow, ultra-sophisticated cable cars and outstanding food every day of the year. Fancy experiencing it all for yourself? There’s no better way than with the Zillertal Activcard, which gives you a return cable car trip each day, plus a daily trip to one of the region’s six gorgeous outdoor pools, as well as free public transport and 10% off at numerous partners throughout the valley. Whether you fancy rafting a river or testing your head for heights on a via ferrata and much, more, with the Zillertal Activecard it’s never been easier to do it. What’s more, when you get back to one of Zillertal’s idyllic mountain villages, you’re sure to find a number of bike- and dogfriendly hotels, huts and chalets that are the perfect place to hunker down. Locally run, and often home to great seasonal restaurants and traditional entertainment, they’re the perfect way experience some famous Austrian hospitality first hand. ◆ zillertal.at
[hikers] Zillertal Tourismus; [food] Kristallhütte
RAISING THE STEAKS: Experience Austrian hospitality at a gourmet restaurant, or test your head for heights with a lengthy alpine walk
Z I L L E R TA L , T I R O L
96 • PROMOTION • HURTIGRUTEN
hurtigruten: leading lights When it comes to epic adventures, seeing the Northern Lights is up there with the best of them – and if you head out on a voyage with Hurtigruten, you’ll get to take in Norway’s breathtaking coastline, too For a cruise with a difference, look no further than Hurtigruten's 12-day Classic Round Voyage. First and foremost, Hurtigruten pride themselves on giving you one of the best chances possible to see the spectacular Northern Lights – and if you don’t see them, the company will give you another six or seven-day Classic Voyage completely free of charge. It helps, of course, that Northern Norway is one of the most reliable places to see the Lights thanks to its
location well above the Arctic Circle, in the auroral zone – but it’s also home to more jaw-droppingly gorgeous scenery than you can shake a stick at, from snowy tundra to fjords, remote hamlets and glaciers. But with Hurtigruten, there’s plenty to shout about on board, too. The 11 ships in Hurtigrutent’s fleet are like floating Northern Lights observatories, with spacious viewing decks and onboard announcements, so you’ll never miss a sighting. What’s more,
book your trip For full information, visit hurtigruten. co.uk. Hurtigruten also offers flightinclusive voyages that fly direct from nine UK airports. Call on 0203 733 5953 or visit hurtigruten.co.uk
Hurtigruten’s cruises are primed to give you the best chance to see the northern lights
Hurtigruten is a leader in greener cruise technology, launching the world’s first hybrid-powered expedition ships in May 2019, as well as being the first major cruise company to ban single-use plastics onboard its ships. For the ultimate winter adventure like no other, Hurtigruten is the answer. ◆
The Intrepid Series The Selector
shops nationwide | ellis-brigham.com
THE CHECKLIST • EXCURSIONS • 99
IN ASSOCIATION WITH ELLIS BRIGHAM
F YOU’RE ONE of the good guys keeping to your New Year fitness regime (and, to be honest, even if you’re not), it’s about time you rewarded yourself with a smattering of the right kit to reach your goals. That’s why this month, we have pulled together some of the finest things in fitness for 2019, from smartwatches and earbuds to the particularly breathable bit of backpack you can see above. So flip the page, fill your head with gear ideas, and try not to spend your whole paycheck at once. ◆
Established in 1933 and still family owned today, Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports is the UK’s leading outdoor, ski and snowboard retailer. The team is committed to making your next adventure the best yet, whether it’s hiking in national parks, skiing or snowboarding in the Alps, or simply exploring some of the world’s most vibrant cities. We guarantee you won’t find a better place to start your journey than at ellis-brigham.com, or in one of the 24 stores nationwide, where you’ll find plenty of useful advice and inspiration for your travels. The Ellis Brigham team’s passion for being outdoors comes second only to their commitment to finding the right gear for your next outdoor adventure.
TERREX TRACEROCKER FLEECE JACKET, £64.95:
The perfect mid for breathability and free movement in the biting cold. adidas.co.uk
Whether your resolution was getting better at yoga, running a hundred times a week or just getting outside a bit more often, the New Year means new gear, and this kit is sure to help
MONTRAIL TITAN ULTRA SHORTS, £55:
Lightweight, moisture-wicking trail shorts with inbuilt compression briefs. columbia sportswear.co.uk
◀ 1000 MILE
▲ ON RUNNING
merino socks are more than soft – they’ll support your Achilles and toes on long runs, too. 1000mile.co.uk
lined pack with enough room for essentials, but great stability for running, biking and more. ellis-brigham.com
Swiss Alps, this lightweight trail shoe goes big on cushioning and grip. on-running.com
A versatile merino base layer that’ll cope with wildly fluctuating temperatures and activities. ellis-brigham.com
TRAIL SOCKS, £12.99 [TWO PAIRS]: These
TRAIL 20 BACKPACK, £49.99: A stream-
CLOUDVENTURE RUNNING SHOE, £135: Born in the
BODYFIT 200 OASIS BASE LAYER, £64.99:
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◀ SMARTWOOL MERINO 250 1/4 ZIP BASE LAYER, £100:
Constructed with anti-chafe seams, this 100% merino base is great for active escapes. smartwool.com
We don’t care how much it hurts, how crowded the parks and trails are with New Year fitness freaks, or how faddy you think resolutions are – the only way to get through winter is by sweating. Loads. So whether you fancy nabbing yourself some eco-conscious yoga and running gear, layering up with cosy new kit that’ll make you want to get out in the cold, or just want to buy some exercise essentials that’ll help you work out wherever you travel this winter (somewhere hotter than here, pretty please), we’ve got your back. Ladies [this page] and gents [to the left] take your pick.
◀ BELLUM ACTIVE
RENEW SCULPT BRA, £105: This isn’t
just great for training, it’s made of 65% recycled compression fabric, too. bellumactive.co.uk
BY NIGHT RUNNING ARMBAND, £6.99: A
high-vis, windowed running armband that’ll fit even the largest of 2019’s smartphones. decathlon.co.uk
◀ BELLUM ACTIVE
RENEW SCULPT 7/8 LEGGINGS, £120:
Eco-conscious and sculpting, these leggings look good as well as doing good. bellumactive.co.uk
TRAINING BAND 25KG, £7.99: Great
for training, this travel-friendly band means there’s no excuses for not working out. decathlon.co.uk
MONTRAIL BAJADA III RUNNING SHOE, £110: An innovative
shoe with a snug fit and excellent underfoot protection. columbia sportswear.co.uk
▲ JACK WOLFSKIN
SKYLAND CROSSING HYBRID JACKET, £110: A windcheat-
ing, breathable jacket for fast-paced sports in the cold. jack-wolfskin.co.uk
CHECKLIST ▲ SUUNTO
9 BARO, £499: This all-new powerhouse can deliver up to 120 hours of continuous exercise tracking. A perfect partner for the toughest tests. ellis-brigham.com
VIVOMOVE HR, £169.99: A hidden
touchscreen packages tons of fitness tools in a low key, good-looking watch face. Smart stuff. garmin.com
WATCH GT, £199.99:
Super-precise GPS and clever scientific coaching will help you reach your best, no matter where that takes you. huawei.com
THE CHECKLIST • EXCURSIONS • 103
STEEL HR, £169.95:
Track your heart rate and daily goals with the mini display and dials on this sleek, stylish connected smartwatch. withings.com
BACK ON TRACK New year, new you, new… essential fitness gadgetry for every type of traveller. Yep, from tidy-looking hybrid watches that don’t even look like fitness trackers to high-tech smartwatches made for the most challenging adventures in the mountains, we’ve got you covered when it comes to improving your exercise regime in 2019. So sit back, relax and, er, start putting the hard yards in.
CHARGE 3, £129.99:
From seven-day battery life to female health tracking, this is a surefire tool for getting fit on a budget. fitbit.com
PRO TREK WSD-F30, £399.99: The must-
have watch for hikers, the new Pro Trek gives you GPS colour map routing for up to three days. wsd.casio.com
104 • EXCURSIONS • THE CHECKLIST
BEST OF ’BUDS URBANEARS JAKAN WIRELESS FITNESS EARPHONES, £69.99 What do you get when you mix pared-back Scandinavian design, 12-hour battery life, ergonomic fit and deep, rich sound? These earphones, duh. Built for tangle-free convenience on the go, Jakan’s soft fabric cabling can be adjusted to a comfortable length that holds the earbud in your ear, keeping it secure while working out. When you’re done listening, you can hang the earphones around your neck with their magentised backs, too. Pretty neat. urbanears.com
CHECKLIST Louis Moss
Jakan headphones’ intuitive control knob makes it easy to skip tracks and change volume, as well as playing, pausing and receiving calls when you’re on the go. Nice.
shops nationwide | ellis-brigham.com
a winter wonderland The city of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, comes alive when the temperature drops, with a host of winter festivals, a vibrant culinary scene, and easy access to the pristine powder of Jasper National Park There’s something exciting about that time when the season begins to change and the temperature finally drops – and nowhere more so than in the city of Edmonton in the Canadian province of Alberta. You could say that winter is when Edmonton is at its best. The city plays host to several bustling festivals throughout the season, and you can keep warm by scoffing loads of the city’s excellent food. Then, of
course, the perfect powder snow of Jasper National Park is in easy reach and the Canadian Rockies are only a short trip away. But with so much on offer, where do you start? We’d begin by getting our chops around Edmonton’s dining scene. For starters, the city is home to some of Alberta’s hottest craft beer taprooms, as well as hyper-local bistros that serve the region’s produce and hipster bakeries that
winter is the season when the city of edmonton is at its best
reflect Edmonton’s young, forward-thinking population. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you can’t miss the Duchess Bakeshop – ranked as one of Buzzfeed’s top bakeries in the world – where you’ll be able to sample everything from the lightest, flakiest almond croissants to decadent, beautifully presented tarts. But if you’re after something more savoury, make sure you head to Biera, which puts a new twist on the trendy brewpub by serving modern Prairie- and European-influenced sharing plates paired with beer brewed locally by Blind Enthusiasm. In Edmonton, winter is festival season, with plenty of events dedicated to celebrating the colder weather and all the brilliant activities it brings. There’s
EDMONTON, CANADA • PROMOTION • 107
ABOVE: [clockwise from main] Edmonton in the middle of winter;the city’s thriving beer scene; taking a wintertime walk through Ice Castles
Luminaria, which transforms the University of Alberta’s Botanic Gardens into a peaceful oasis with candlelit pathways, hot apple cider, acapella singers and glittering ice sculptures. Then go for a nighttime adventure during the city’s Flying Canoë Volant festival, which will turn Edmonton’s French Quarter and the Mill Creek Ravine into a magical, fairytale-like setting with light installations, storytelling and music. Elsewhere, the Boardwalk Ice on Whyte festival is a celebration of winter in all its forms using ice and art. 96,000 pounds of ice is dumped – intentionally – for the weeklong festivities, so you can learn how to carve ice before heading to the ice bar. And then, of course, Edmonton sits cheek by jowl with the stunning landscapes of Jasper National Park, with its crisp blue skies, rolling hills, glacial lakes and white-capped mountain ranges. The largest
national park in the Canadian Rockies and part of a Unesco World Heritage Site, Jasper National Park is the place to soak up pure, unadulterated natural beauty. Here, you can take on a number of short ski touring, alpine ski touring and ski mountaineering day trips, or up the ante with multi-day glacial traverses. There are other activities, too, like winter walking and fat biking, snow shoeing, and ice skating on the many lakes and rivers. But you don’t have to leave the city to make the most out of the natural landscapes
on offer. Edmonton River Valley is the largest stretch of urban parkland in North America, clocking in at 22 times the size of New York’s Central Park. In winter, it’s the perfect place to snowshoe, cross-country ski and fat bike. In Edmonton, your winter adventure awaits. ◆ Looking for extra inspiration for your next winter holiday? Find out more at exploreedmonton.com
4-WAY STRETCH Freedom of movement
ELLIS BRIGHAM The St Moritz Jacket is available exclusively at Ellis Brigham stores. Visit: www.ellis-brigham.com
THE INTREPID SERIES • EXCURSIONS • 109
THE INTREPID SERIES
OMETIMES, BEING INTREPID isn’t all about macho adventure – lung-busting runs, gnarly first ascents, near-death experiences and all that. No, sometimes it’s about finding a lovely bit of peace and quiet instead, in a place that’s completely disconnected from the outside world, where the real challenge is learning to completely switch off from modern life, even for a little while. With this in mind, we sent writer Tom Powell to the coast and lakelands of West
Sweden for a walk on the wild side. There, he yomped through woodlands, foraged for mushrooms, cooked on an open fire, swam in lakes and spent his nights in a glass cabin under the stars – all set against the breathtaking backdrop of rolling hills, boreal forest and meadows studded with Scandistyle cottages. If there’s a place to let go and reconnect with your surroundings, this is it. So did Tom manage to escape the highoctane life of travel journalism? Flip the page to find out how he fared. ◆
THE INTREPID SERIES In the wilderness of West Sweden, ‘getting away from it all’ means just that, particularly when you’re staying in a glass-panelled hut… Tom Powell finds himself totally at one with nature on the ultimate immersive escape
THE INTREPID SERIES: WEST SWEDEN • EXCURSIONS • 111
HE AIR IS crisp, the afternoon bright. A fishing boat braces itself against the strong easterly wind, sending bucketloads of briny spray slopping across its salt-encrusted portholes. A weasel bursts from a hedgerow and darts across the trail, startled from its hiding place by voices and torchlight. Seagulls circle, caw and divebomb as a fisherman in bright orange overalls slings baby crabs back to sea from a battered old lobster pot. Wood smoke billows from the chimney of a sauna as the moon rises above a gently rippling lake. A cormorant shelters from the rain beneath its own wings on a small bathing platform. A young man strips down to his boxer shorts as the sun rises, falling to a seated position before crab-walking down the algae-covered rock and slipping with a neat plop straight into the bracingly cold water. In many ways, the coast and lakeland of West Sweden is little more than a succession
watching the sun rise above the woodland to my right as a man slouches from the wide-open doors of a glass cabin in a small wooded cove 300m across the water. This is the culmination of a four-day trip to West Sweden, on which I’ve done absolutely nothing. Or at least that’s what my host Staffan Berger would say. Since September 2017, he’s been hosting worldweary travellers in five glass cabins on his island home, letting them get back to nature and reset the clock. “Most people who come here say that they have done nothing. They say that they’ve just been relaxing,” says Staffan, speaking of the kind of clientele he’s received on the island since opening – the exhausted office workers and disillusioned city dwellers who want to switch off their phones for a weekend of soft adventure. “And that’s exactly what we wanted,” he continues, “that makes us incredibly happy.”
THE ELEVATED, GLASS-PANELLED HUTS PROTECT YOU FROM THE ELEMENTS WITHOUT DISCONNECTING YOU FROM THEM
of moments, each ebbing and flowing before your eyes. And all of them lead to this one: I’m floating towards a tiny islet in the water off Henriksholm, a privately owned island in Sweden’s Dalsland lake district, which is about a two-hour drive (and two-minute boat ride) from Gothenburg Airport. In the water, I walk out, arms propelling me in a gentle breaststroke, until my toes can no longer get any purchase on the slimy pebbles beneath them. The water, both surprisingly shallow and surprisingly sun-warmed for 7am, is crisp and pure. I do about 12 strokes before reaching the islet, which is home to a pair of gnarled, leafless trees, a few tussocks, a rock This island may encrusted with bird be small, but it’s home to all sorts of shit and some short wildlife, including muddy grass. From roe deer, badgers the vantage point and foxes. Keep your eyes peeled for of one of the trees’ rare white-backed lower branches, I look woodpeckers, too. back at Henriksholm,
Conceptualised by Visit Sweden, realised by Staffan’s architect daughter Jeanna and maintained by Staffan and his wife Maria, the 72-Hour Cabins are perhaps the perfect way to experience the wilderness in security and comfort: the glass-panelled huts – elevated a couple of feet off the ground on stilts and completed with cosy double beds and huge, barn-style wooden doors – protect you from the elements without disconnecting you from them. And they work: a pilot group made up of people in jobs selected from Forbes’ list of the world’s most stressful occupations were medically tested for the duration of their stay, and saw their stress levels drop by 70%, and their systolic blood pressure by 9% in just 72 hours. The concept comes from a form of nature therapy known as Shinrin-Yoku, or forest bathing, which sprung out of Japan in the 1980s, and continues to become more and more popular in a world that increasingly leaves us with less exposure to natural light, physical labour and fresh air than previous >
> generations and more time spent staring into screens for both work and play. Here, instead of itching to check emails, sitting contorted in a desk chair or endlessly scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, you’ll spend your days at ease on the island. You can forage for mushrooms, wild cook on an open fire in an outdoor kitchen in the woods, borrow a fishing rod and a rowing boat from the Bergers’ boathouse or just take a dip in the crystal-clear lake. For the most part, I opt for walking: creeping through the 5km-long, 500m-wide island’s woods, criss-crossing through fallen trees and grinning as the sun completes its arc through a sky that’s just visible through the canopy above. As I go I’m attuned to the
forest floor – acorn shells, pine cones and tiny mushrooms are everywhere. Usually glossing over these things for the bigger picture or full scene, I feel my mind sharpen and my inhibitions fade. Now heading for a barbecue dinner in a sheltered clearing by the boathouse on the island’s east side, I walk, stop, and listen to the rustle of the oak leaves in the trees. Looking down, I pick a mushroom that meets Staffan’s specifications for cep that we’ll be cooking later, and before I know it I’m wandering down the dirt track, Foraging is a huge absentmindedly part of Swedish food culture, not only for exfoliating the dirt cooks at home, but from its base with in restaurants, too – the rough edge of a Fäviken is one of the country’s best, and its pinecone. chefs forage for lots I drop the of their ingredients. mushroom into a trug brimming with others we picked earlier and sit down as the thick, smoky haze of steaks browning on the fire fills the air. Sitting against a tree, the cabins’ architect Jeanna tells us that her creations have been so successful and lauded that they’re currently in the process of manufacturing flat packs that can be put up in other nooks of nature across the globe, with interest coming from everywhere from Scandinavia and the Mediterranean to luxury resorts in the Caribbean. Currently, though, there are only three more, and they’re all in Dalsland: a pair sit overlooking a lake at country house hotel Baldersnäs Manor, and another stands alone on a dramatic crag beside a lake in nearby Dalsland Aktiviteter adventure park. Later, back at my cabin – a lakeside outpost at the edge of the woods with a tree trunk for a chair and a low-hanging branch perfect for drying my soggy swimming shorts on – I stretch out, staring up through the stars, eyes peeled for a rare showing of the Northern Lights that the Bergers’ had heard about over the radio earlier. I listen to the rustle of the reedbed ten feet below me, staring out at a strange greenish glint on the horizon, struggling to work out if it’s a reflection in the window or the aurora my tired eyes are desperate for. I sleep. I wake at dawn, watching the sun rise out east on the other side of the lake, casting the sky pink, then orange, before
glimmering across the lake’s surface like a thousand flickering candles. I rise, slipping from my cabin and yomping through the woodland trail until I reach a slender peninsula at the southernmost tip of the island. I brush my teeth with lake water, strip down to my boxers and slide into the water. You know the rest. Off the island, the land is covered in mile after mile of boreal forest. In fact, north of here Sweden is almost all woods, all of it
MIST THE BOAT: [clockwise from above] Earlymorning kayaking; Henriksholm from the sky; the hot tub at Väderöarnas Värdshus on Storö island
THE INTREPID SERIES: WEST SWEDEN • EXCURSIONS • 113
(kayaking and hot tub) Roger Borgelid
part of the world’s second largest biome, the taiga. As we drive, the roads twist through the woods as the trees fade into a misty wet haze. Then, after an hour or more, we hit the 165 motorway and everything changes: the road carves past a cliff of towering black gneiss topped with a smattering of pines that hang erect over the edge, and things all start to get a bit more pastoral. In these westernmost reaches of Sweden, below the border to Norway and above the coastal outpost of Gothenburg, the landscape begins to resemble a strange version of the Cotswolds painted by someone with a slightly over-enthusiastic love for the Scottish highlands. These
I RISE, SLIP FROM MY CABIN AND YOMP THROUGH WOODLAND UNTIL I REACH THE LAKE, WHERE I BRUSH MY TEETH WITH THE WATER undulating hills and rugged-looking meadows are dotted with characteristically Scandinavian houses made of colourfully painted corrugated iron and topped with gigantic red apex roofs. Half an hour further and you hit the coast, farmland giving way to a string of cute towns full of chalet-style homes by the waterside, some of them having their lawns
cut by robot mowers now that their summer residents are out of town for the low season. Here, we board a small fishing boat and head out to sea, crashing through waves for eight nautical miles until we reach Storö, which is the largest of Sweden’s Weather Islands – a 365-strong archipelago at the uttermost end of the country. More a tiny archipelago of smooth >
114 • EXCURSIONS • THE INTREPID SERIES: WEST SWEDEN
GETTING THERE Three nights at the 72 Hour Cabins on Henriksholm costs from £590. stenebynas.se; Stay full board at Väderöarnas Värdshus in the Weather Islands from £180pn. vaderoarna.com; Norwegian flies from Gatwick to Gothenburg from £62 return. norwegian.com; For more information on holidays to West Sweden, head to westsweden.com
time to gather in the wood-panelled dining room of Pia’s guesthouse, Väderöarnas Värdshus, to eat local cod and enjoy a log fire while discussing the island’s colony of Nordic bees (and their slightly saline honey) as well as the return of the bluefin tuna to waters in nearby Norway. Early the next morning, I’m standing overlooking a bathing platform on the western side of Storö. My shoes are off, my
THERE’S A FORM OF ALTERNATIVE THERAPY KNOWN AS EARTHING: TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES AND EXPOSE YOUR SKIN TO THE EARTH’S ENERGY
> rocky humps than a single island, Storö is easy to explore in a few hours, but to properly commune with the island’s rhythms, light and micro beauty could take you several days or more. In my 24 hours on the island, I do very little in real terms: I pull lobster pots on a boat with my host Pia’s husband, eat langoustine cooked in boiling seawater on the island’s jetty and watch as the wood-fired hot tub gets lit. Just before sunset, I jog and scramble across the island’s many dramatic hillocks, searching for a compass carved in the hilltop by seafarers who lived on the island as early as 1400. On my return the sky bruises itself pink and purple above the clayred huts of corrugated iron, signalling the
socks rolled into a ball by their side. According to Pia, there’s a form of alternative therapy known as earthing: to take off your shoes and socks and expose your skin – achy sinews, weary being and all – to the sand, earth, grass or rock beneath your feet. In doing so, apparently, you fill your body with the Earth’s electric charge, hooking yourself up to a global grid of energy that’s normally cut off by the insulating effects of manmade materials like rubber soles, nylon socks, carpet or (God forbid) lino. At my host’s behest, I’m giving it a go, rain jacket zipped against the wind and drizzle, toes curling against the cold of the rock, trying to soak up one final moment before I get on a boat and head back to the mainland. Barefoot, I close my eyes. Moments from the last three days start ebbing back to me: a twig breaking underfoot, causing a deer to dart deeper into the woods beyond; being startled awake in the middle of the night, a gale blowing loudly at my window; walking in darkness down an old farm track, I turn off my head-torch and gaze upwards – the stars are clear, undiluted and panoramic. Later, as my plane ascends towards grey clouds, I look down on a stream of pylons carving a straight line through the heart of the forest. A slender highway snakes through rugged country before disappearing into the heart of Gothenburg. From there, it’s coast, then islands, then sea. ◆
PEAK RETREATS • PROMOTION • 115
Do you Snow your stuff? Well, the award-winning holiday company Peak Retreats certainly do – and now it’s pulled together an expert guide to all the best off the beaten-track resorts to take your next ski holiday to the next level...
[main] Sainte Foy, Anne Marmottan; [bottom] Les 2 Alpes, B.Longo/Les2AlpesOT
you’ve carved up Flaine and powered through the powder in Tignes too many times to count. Now you’re on the lookout for some fresh slopes to lay down those tracks, but there’s no time to sift through the internet, the snow is falling and you want to slap on those skis ASAP. Enter French Alps specialist Peak Retreats and its team of experts. Here, they share their their top five resorts for winter adventures this ski season. Read on to discover something new...
Samoëns A postcard-perfect alpine village, Samoëns is part of the Grand Massif, which means you have direct access to 265km-worth of slopes. Book a stay at Les Chalets de Layssia in the centre of the village and make the most of the 4-star apartments’ pool and spa, too. Isère France’s third most popular skiing destination, the Isère area is just two hours from Grenoble. Challenge yourself to ski from the top of Les 2 Alpes all the way down to the village of Mont de Lans without stopping – last one down owes the group a round of chocolat chaud, though. St Martin de Belleville You may not have heard of this hidden gem, but this resort shares the same valley as Val Thorens. For a unique experience, stay at La Bouitte, a cosy 5-star hotel that boasts a three-Michelin-starred restaurant run by
father and son René and Maxime Meilleur. Sainte Foy Family-friendly Sainte Foy is supposedly where instructors from surrounding resorts head on their days off to make the most of its off-piste. But if that’s not your scene then there’s always the sauna and steam room in the luxury Le Ruitor apartments... Peisey-Vallandry Don’t miss the chance to snowshoe under the stars on a guided walk in PeiseyVallandry. Stay at the L’Orée des Cimes luxury apartments for access to an indoor pool and spa, as well as doorstep skiing. ◆ For more information and to book, call 023 9283 9310 or visit peakretreats.co.uk
beachcomber: paradise found From brilliant blue seas to beautiful beachfronts, Beachcomber Tours’ resorts are pretty much perfect – and if you book your holiday in January, you’ll get a whopping 30% off your trip
What do you picture when you think of paradise? Is it endless turquoise waters, soft white sand, luxurious accomodation and impeccable service that’s designed to make your life as easy as possible? Located on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, hotel company Beachcomber Tours knows a thing or two paradise – and ths year it’s celebrating its pearl anniversary with a January sale offering off 30% holidays taken between now and 19 December 2019. Beachcomber specialises in idyllic beachfront settings, luxurious accommodation and incredible facilities on the island of Mauritius, set in the jewelcoloured waters of the Indian Ocean. Their superlative resorts are ideal for family getaways, romantic holidays à deux, weddings, honeymoons and more – and if you book this month you can get an incredible 30% off your stay. What’s more, with 29 years’ experience helping discerning travellers to create their ultimate getaway, Beachcomber knows that ‘luxury’ isn’t one-size-fits-all. The team will work with you to create your own unique Beachcomber experience that be so special that you’ll treasure it forever, whether you want to back on a deserted tropical island, soak up the glitz and glamour of a buzzing city, or even bring together the best of both.
And if you’re looking to take your holiday to the next level, Beachcomber offers a series of Special Packages to make sure your holiday is perfect. If you’re looking for paradise, we’re pretty sure we’ve found it... Adults Only
Up the romantic ante with a Swim-Up Pool Room at the Victoria resort, or chill out to the max in a Zen Suite at Dinarobin Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa. Dream Honeymoons
From horse riding on the beach to sunset dinner cruises, Beachcomber’s resorts know how to make a honeymoon extra special – and you can choose from one of five diverse experiences, too. Beach Weddings
With outstanding attention to detail and three different wedding packages, Beachcomber can plan all the important arrangements for your wedding – allowing you to make the most of your big day. Family Time
From the free kids club for children 3-11, to amazing family accommodation and heaps to do on land or sea, there’s plenty to keep the little ones entertained – and, what’s more, under-11s can share their parents’ room for free. Sorted.
the team at beachcomber works with you to create your ultimate holiday experience
BEACHCOMBER • PROMOTION • 117
[Room] Christopher Laurenz; [horse riding] Khatleen Minerve
On the ground or in the air, British Airways sets itself the highest standard in everything it does. So whichever cabin you choose to travel in, you can be sure your holiday will get off to flying start. With up to five flights a week to Mauritius direct from London Gatwick, British Airways offers the choice of World Traveller, World Traveller Plus and the superb Club World Cabins. And if you book by 31 January 2019, you can make the most of the British Airways World Sale. If Mauritius isn’t for you, try Seychelles... Get back to nature at Beachcomber’s Coco De Mer Hotel & Black Parrot Suites, which
sits perched on the south-west coast of the spectacular Praslin Island. The hotel boasts more than 200 acres of tropical beauty, non-stop views of the Indian Ocean and the surrounding islands. What’s more, BA offers the only direct flights to Seychelles, flying twice a week from London Heathrow in a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. ◆ All Beachcomber Tours holidays are fully protected via ABTA (V1892) and ATOL (2995) bonding, so you can book with confidence. For more information and to book, go to beachcombertours.uk
THE SELECTOR u sa Out of the USA’s 50 states, how do you even begin to choose where to visit first? We’ve put the country’s best experiences into handy categories to help you decide
2] OVERSEAS HIGHWAY
the w he e l d ea l
Ever wondered why there are so many movies about the great American road trip? Read on…
Amazing wildlife? Rich native history? Hours of million-dollar views? A jaw-dropping national park at each end of the drive?
speeds between 25 and 45mph, you’ll be able to take it all in. HOW LONG? 4-5 days. GETTING THERE:
WOW air flies from Gatwick to Washington via Reykjavik from £211. wowair. co.uk; Fly from Knoxville to Gatwick with Allegiant Air and Norwegian from £378. kiwi.com
American Airlines flies from Gatwick to Miami from £259 return. americanairlines.co.uk
[New Orleans] f11 photo / Shutterstock
1] BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY
Yep, there’s no better way to soak up some of the finest Appalachian scenery than by hitting the Blue Ridge Parkway. This 432-mile road connects Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park with the Great Smoky Mountains on the North Carolina/Tennessee border, and with max
The ‘Great Smokies’ are so-called thanks to the fog that often hangs the peaks. The forest covering them is home to the densest black bear population in the eastern US.
If you’ve ever seen an advert where the camera spins around a car driving straight over a road that’s completely surrounded by water, chances are you’ve already seen the Overseas Highway, which connects mainland Florida to the Keys. This 113-mile stretch of highway runs from Key Largo to Key West, connecting 43 of Florida Keys’ 1,700
islands. Although the drive only take about four hours from Miami, you’ll want to factor in stops along the way: snorkelling in Key Largo, seafood in Islamorada and a trip to the Hemingway museum (which also doubles as a sanctuary for six-toed cats) in Key West sound about right. Chase it down with a big slice of key lime pie. HOW LONG? Four hours.
THE SELECTOR • EXCURSIONS • 119
3] PHOENIX TO LAS VEGAS If you’re looking for a road trip that goes big on dusty highways, desert scenery and – well – big rocks, this drive through the great southwest is the one for you. Heading north from Phoenix, you’ll tick off the red rocks of Sedona, the Grand Canyon and the slot canyons of Page before crossing from Arizona to
4] CHICAGO TO NEW ORLEANS If you want to experience the Deep South, take it to the source. Loosely following the path of the Mississippi river from Illinois to Louisiana, this drive soaks up everything from deep-pan pizza to old-school jazz, stopping along the way for foodie, cultural and musical history. Winding through Kentucky, Tennessee and
Utah. There, you’ll head to the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon and cathedral-like rocks of Zion, before skipping into Nevada to drive through the Valley of Fire. Toasty, but you’ll soon cool off in the pool when you get to Vegas. HOW LONG? 10-14 days.
Although its name suggests otherwise, the whopping 3,300-mile long US-20 highway (once known as the Oregon Trail) goes way, way further than just the northwestern US state. Snaking across the entire country from Cannon Beach, an epic portion of coastline near Portland, it rolls right through
WestJet flies from Gatwick to Phoenix via Toronto from £357. westjet.com; Norwegian flies direct from Las Vegas to Gatwick from £214. norwegian.com
Mississippi before reaching the delta in New Orleans, there’ll be plenty of time for sightseeing, presumably while listening to an all-American soundtrack of Elvis, Johnny Cash and BB King as you wind from Nashville to Memphis, Natchez and the Big Easy. HOW LONG? 14 days. GETTING THERE:
Norwegian flies from Gatwick to Chicago from £160. norwegian.com; British Airways flies from New Orleans to Heathrow from £399 return ba.com
5] THE OREGON TRAIL
essential sights like Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore and Niagara Falls, plus Chicago, Buffalo and upstate New York’s scenic Finger Lakes before reaching Boston on the east coast. Got a month to spare? We’ll get the van started. HOW LONG? 4-6 weeks. GETTING THERE:
Fly from Gatwick to Portland with Norwegian and Alaska Airlines from £251. kiwi.com; Air France flies from Boston to Heathrow from £364. airfrance.co.uk
ci t y sl ic k e rs We know that you know about all the obvious US cities, so here’s some of the ones you might not have already been to. Bragging rights guaranteed…
1) TUCSON ARIZONA
You might think the desert is acres of sand and cacti, but for chefs, it’s a larder stuffed with incredible ingredients. Tucson, Arizona, became the first US Unesco City of Gastronomy in 2015 for its chefs’ use of the Sonoran desert’s unusual produce. There’s Stephen Paul, a furniture maker-turned-distiller who’s using
mesquite wood to smoke the barley for his whiskey; Don Guerra of Barrio Bread who’s baking loaves with heritage grains grown in the region of hundreds of years; and chocolatier Adam Krantz, who uses his sweet treats to capture the unique flavours of the desert, to name a few. STAY: Hacienda del Sol, from £319. haciendadelsol.com GETTING THERE:
Virgin Atlantic flies from Heathrow to Tucson via LA from £878 return. virginatlantic.com
2) PORTLAND MAINE
Portland, Oregon has stolen the limelight long enough: it’s Portland, Maine’s turn to shine. Perched on the eastern seaboard, this rough and ready port-city-turnedhipster-haven was once a key destination on the freedom trail that helped African Americans escape slavery in the South. These days, it’s home to a burgeoning arts scene, a clutch of restaurants that make the most of the region’s brilliant seafood, breweries churning out craft beers, and the same unfettered access to the great outdoors that’s the trademark of any US getaway. STAY: Pomegranate Inn, from £127. pomegranateinn.com GETTING THERE:
Delta flies from Heathrow to Portland Maine with one stop from £697. delta.com
Thanks to its situation at the junction of three rivers, there’s tons of waterfront to explore in Pittsburgh, nicknamed the ‘City of Bridges’ thanks to, well, you guessed it…
3) PITTSBURGH PENNSYLVANIA
If you’re after an epic skyline, heaps of outdoor activities, an under-the-radar food scene and an up-and-coming arts community, but don’t want to elbow your way through the crowds to reach
your craft beer and fried chicken burger, look to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It’s the latest city to attract the hip and the hungry to its brunches, street food carts and farm-to-table restaurants, while the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh is the birthplace of the legendary artist) and the trendy Mattress Factory firmly
cement its creative credentials. Need extra incentive? BA launches direct flights in spring – a sure sign that Pittsburgh is a city on the up. STAY: The Parador Inn, from £127. theparadorinn.com GETTING THERE:
BA flies from Heathrow to Pittsburgh from £419 return. ba.com
THE SELECTOR • EXCURSIONS • 121
N at io n a l t reas u res From epic coastlines to pine-covered wilderness and vast canyons, if you’re seeking the great outdoors, America’s national parks are where it’s at
5) NASHVILLE TENNESSEE
[Portland] Sean Pavone / Shutterstock; [Sacramento] Adonis Villanueva / Shutterstock; [Nashville] CrackerClips Stock Media / Shutterstock; [Washinton] SoisudaS / Shutterstock
4) SACRAMENTO CALIFORNIA
As a holiday destination, Sacramento has received very little love. Yet last year’s smash hit movie Lady Bird highlighted it as a destination that punches well above its weight, with lush parks, lots of architectural character, farmers’ markets and great farmto-table restaurants aplenty. The community here
is quite small but lively, and devoted to following the thriving food, art and theatre scenes. Jump on a rental bike and tour the city’s museums, or use Sacramento as a base for exploring California’s unrivalled landscapes. STAY: The Sterling Hotel, from £164. sterlinghotelsacramento.com GETTING THERE:
Virgin Atlantic flies from Heathrow to Sacramento with one stop from £707 return. virginatlantic.com
Go to Nashville to melt your mouth with the city’s infamous hot chicken, then stay for the thriving live music scene, craft cocktails and an up-and-coming art movement that’s seen the city become the latest paramour of fashion’s darlings, who are setting up shop in its converted factories. These days, East Nashville – likened to NYC’s Brooklyn – is the place to be, home to more craft breweries than you could possibly sample in one visit. And hip it may be, but Nashville still has plenty of generous southern hospitality – and more than a few cowboy boots, too. STAY: The Hermitage Hotel, from £250pn. thehermitagehotel. com GETTING THERE:
Iberia flies from Heathrow to Louisville from £475 return. iberia.com
Take your appetite with you to Nashville, as missing this local specialty really isn’t an option – the spicy-fried chicken is served on white bread with pickle chips. YUM.
1) NORTH CASCADES
If you’ve always wanted to hack off on an American adventure and backpack through miles and miles of untamed wilderness, Washington state’s North Cascades national park is almost certainly the place you’ll be picturing. A three-hour drive from Seattle, this paradise of coni-
fer-clad mountains and alpine lakes straddles the border between the US and Canada and is as pure an expression of American mountains as you’ll find anywhere. If the promise of all those headily scented pines isn’t enough to get you packing, maybe the 300 glaciers in the park will do the job instead. GETTING THERE:
Virgin Atlantic flies direct from Heathrow to Seattle from £303 return. virginatlantic.com
122 • EXCURSIONS • THE SELECTOR
3] KINGS CANYON
4] BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON COLORADO
n at i o n a l t r eas u r es 2
2] BIG BEND TEXAS
Vast canyons, fossilised dinosaur bones, huge waterfalls and flowering cacti as far as the eye can see – yep, if you’re visiting Texas, you’re going to want to visit Big Bend. This whopping national park takes up more space than the entire state of Rhode Island, housing the largest protected portion of the Chihuahuan Desert in the USA
and an entire mountain range for good measure. Yes, really – give the Chisos mountains a quick Google. GETTING THERE:
American Airlines flies from Heathrow to Odessa via Dallas from £854 return. americanairlines.co.uk
American Airlines flies from Heathrow to Fresno via Dallas from £314 return. americanairlines.co.uk
Sure, the Grand Canyon gets all the fame for its size, but this one’s the, er, darkest. Named because of its vast, shadowy walls, there are parts that are so deep they get less than an hour’s sunlight each day. You can peer down into it from 1,000ft above the canyon floor, or if you’re feeling lucky, 15 people a day can win a wilderness permit. The prize? Travelling to the valley floor on a steep trail for some real middle-of-nowhere uncanniness. GETTING THERE: Air Canada flies from Heathrow to Montrose via Houston from £823 return. aircanada.com
like a castaway while on holiday in the USA, head to Isle Royale – a 45-milelong island in Lake Superior that was made for off-thegrid hiking. Take to the island’s 170 miles of trails, either
circumnavigating in two weeks, or walking end to end in a lot less. GETTING THERE: Air Canada flies from Heathrow to Thunder Bay (Ontario) via Toronto from £534 return. aircanada.com
5] ISLE ROYALE MICHIGAN
For dramatic coastline, car-free wilderness and the novelty of feeling
[Colorado] Kyootaek Choi / Shutterstock; [Texas] Wilsilver77 / Shutterstock; [California] Hans Harms / Shutterstock; [Michigan - lihgthoust] twphotos/ Shutterstock; [Michigan] Posnov/ Shutterstock
The unspoilt terrain of Kings Canyon is popular habitat for deer, mountain lions, black bears and endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, so take your binoculars with you.
Even though you’ll find it right next to Sequoia National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, Kings Canyon doesn’t get the same number of visitors as its more popular neighbour through the woods. That’s not because it’s not as good, it’s probably just because it doesn’t have the word ‘sequoia’ in its name. As a result, this corner of the Cali landscape gives you access to those giant trees and majestic mountains with about a third of the crowds.
123 • PROMOTION • PEAK RETREATS
St Martin: the peak of luxury For a ski holiday with an authentic mountain feel in the heart of France’s Three Valleys ski area, head to St Martin de Belleville, where an amazing blend of wintertime charm and luxury lodgings awaits you What if we told you there was a place where you could get away from the crowds of the Three Valleys? A place that maintains its old-time charm at the same time as being full of all the modern luxuries you’d expect from a top-class winter resort? A place that feels like you’re being let in on the ultimate secret? Well it exists: it’s called St Martin de Belleville, and you’ll find it in the same valley as Val Thorens, right at the heart of the Three Valleys’ 600km of slopes.
Skiing back into the village after a long day out in the mountains, you’ll feel like the member of an exclusive club as you head home to your alpine retreat and settle in for the night. But if you’re looking for a real treat, you can book a night in your own mountain refuge. Arrive on skis or walk up from St Marcel, then enjoy a Savoyard dinner and champagne aperitif feeling like you’re the only people on the mountain. Peak Retreats features a host of special
CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: You can ice skate by St Martin’s church; it’s great for couples; Chalets Home is just one of the stunning places to stay
[main/couple] David Andre
places to stay. Whether you’re skiing or not, the options are endless; from riding next to a frozen river on a Nordic dog sled to enjoying fine French cuisine at the three-Michelinstarred La Bouitte restaurant or skiing iconic pistes like the Jerusalem, the choice is yours. It’s about time you got booking. ◆ Award-winning French Alps specialist Peak Retreats features traditional resorts with access to brilliant skiing, just like St Martin de Belleville. The experienced team is passionate about finding you the perfect ski holiday. For more information and to book, call 023 9283 9310 or visit peakretreats.co.uk
London’s most talked about dining experience.
From 1st May to 15th July at The O2 Book your tickets now at www.londoninthesky.co.uk
LI NoTnH d o n E S K Y “Phenomenal. Loved it. I’d recommend this to everyone”
PARADIS PLAGE • COMPETITION • 125
The best of both worlds Paradis Plage is a Moroccan resort that seamlessly blends rest and relaxation world-class surfing with yoga, and one lucky winner will win a four-night stay at the resort the features a tempting taste of both If winter’s got you craving sunshine, surf and supreme relaxation, you’re in luck. This month we’ve teamed up with the luxurious Paradis Plage Surf Yoga & Spa Resort in Agadir, Morocco, to offer you the chance to win a four-night stay with an activity package that includes one surfing lesson, one yoga lesson and a sumptuous 25 min massage at the resort’s spa. Travelling with a friend, you’ll head a long way from the tourist hotspots of Agadir to the resort’s five kilometres of undisturbed sand and turquoise sea. There, you’ll be able to balance an all-action, expertly taught watersports break with some serious chill in
the unfettered bliss of a three hectare oasis on some of North Africa’s most scenic coast. Whether you’re riding Morocco’s finest surf spots, liberating your senses with a sunrise yoga session or simply pampering your tired body with a traditional hammam treatment at the resort’s luxurious spa, Paradis Plage is the perfect sanctuary for travellers looking to kick back, relax and leave all their troubles behind in the UK. For your chance to win, see right. ◆ For more information visit paradisplage.com, follow the brand on Facebook at facebook.com/paradisplageagadir or on Instagram at @paradisplage
Paradis Plage is the perfect sanctuary for those looking to leave their troubles behind
LIFE’S A BEACH: Paradis Plage’s resort is a stone’s throw from the beachfront. Enter our competition and you could be walking down this path soon...
How to win
For your chance to win a four-night stay for two at Paradis Plage Surf Yoga & Spa Resort, head to escmag.co/comps and answer a simple question. The prize also includes one surf lesson, one yoga lesson and a treatment at the resort’s Paradise spa. See the full T&Cs online.
THE BRIGHTEST WAY TO SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS The Aurora Zone is the original Northern Lights holiday specialist and remains dedicated to only one thing – showing you the Aurora Borealis. With years of Aurora hunting experience, an extensive network of expert guides and its carefully and scientifically considered destinations, The Aurora Zone offers you the very best chance of seeing the Northern Lights.
TO BOOK CALL 01670 333 454 OR VISIT WWW.THEAURORAZONE.COM
R E V O C S I D t s e r o f e h t SAVE 10%
Escape to self-catering woodland cabins; choose from ten idyllic UK locations set in beautiful forests. From Scotland down to Cornwall and stunning locations inbetween. Forest Holidays oﬀer perfect getaways for families, couples, groups of friends and even your dog in our pet friendly cabins! After a day exploring the forest you can relax in your own private hot tub.
Call 03330 110495 or visit www.forestholidays.co.uk and enter code ESCAPISM19 for 10% oﬀ the cost of your cabin This code entitles the user to 10% off the cost of your cabin at any of the ten Forest Holidays locations. The code must be applied at the time of booking and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers. Holidays must be booked by 14/3/2019 and taken by 31/12/2019.
❖ To advertise in this section please call 020 7819 9999
IKOS RESORTS • COMPETITION • 127
ikos resorts: the best of luxe From unique experiences you won’t find anywhere else to idyllic beaches in Greece, Ikos Resorts knows a thing or two about crafting the perfect holiday – and you could win a trip to their newest hotel Whichever way you look at it, Ikos Resorts have pretty much revolutionised the way we holiday in the Mediterranean with their ‘Infinite Lifestyle’ experience. At an Ikos Resort you can live your best life with access to Michelin-starred à la carte menus; complimentary drinks (including 300 labels of local and international wines) in all bars and your mini bar; waiter service by the resort’s pool, beach, and more. Elsewhere, Deluxe Collection guests benefit from the use of dedicated pool and beach areas, Anne Semonin spa treatments and even a complimentary dinner on the beach. If that wasn’t enough, Ikos Olivia and Ikos Oceania in Halkidiki Greece were respectively listed number one and number
three all-inclusive hotels in the world 2018 by the website TripAdvisor. May of this year will see another opening: Ikos Aria on Kos island – a resort nestled on the pristine sandy beach of Kefalos. There, you’ll be able to make the most of everything that you love about Ikos Resorts, from the exclusive Dine Out experience that allows you to explore authentic Greek restaurants at no extra charge to the Mini Drive adventure experience that gives you complimentary use of a Mini Cooper for the day to explore the beautiful island of Kos. If you like that, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for Ikos Andalusia, which opens just 20 minutes from Marbella in May 2020◆ For more information: ikosresorts.com
with exclusive dine out and drive experiences, ikos resorts have revolutionised the way we travel
LIFE’S A BEACH: Mark May 2020 in your diaries: Ikos Andalusia, Spain, is set to open
how to win All this talk got you dreaming of a trip to one of Ikos’s incredible resorts? You’re in luck, because Ikos is celebrating the opening of the Ikos Aria by offering one lucky escapism reader the chance to win an allinclusive five-night stay for two at the new resort after it opens in May (subject to availability; excluding July and August). For full T&Cs and to enter, head to escmag.co/ikos, where you’ll have to answer one simple question. Book before 28 Feb 2019 for up to 20% off at all Ikos Resorts and complimentary airport transfers when booking on ikosresorts.com
PIZZAS NATIONWIDE ON 9 FEBRUARY
Forget Valentine’s Day, National Pizza Day is your most important date in February, and now you can get 30% off pizzas... On National Pizza Day, our sister title Foodism will celebrate the iconic Italian dish: the diversity of styles on offer and the creators behind one of the world’s most famous and muchloved plates. Pizza lovers will have the chance to enjoy an exclusive 30% off at hundreds of pizzerias around the UK, to eat in or take away, as well as one-off pizza specials created just for the day. Now that’s what we call amore. Download your voucher at nationalpizzaday.co.uk
130 • EXCURSIONS • REAR VIEW
REAR VIEW [
ICE IS GREAT, isn’t it? It bulks out tasty meals, dries out your phone when you drop it in water and – as it turns out – looks absolutely drop-dead gorgeous when you take photos of it. Yep, in case you hadn’t already guessed, this is a picture of a rice terrace. But it’s not just any rice terrace: this is a particularly famous, swoon-worthy one in Chiang Mai,
Thailand (note the photographer in shot) which is surrounded by some of the region's finest luxury hotels and resorts. Every one of them will place you in prime position to gawp at those mesmerising rows of rice fields that, viewed from above, become an abstract painting of water, earth and light. Prizes for guessing how many grains of rice are in this picture... ◆
TURKS & CAICOS
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AT 135 FULHAM ROAD, SW3 6RT To book our best ever Big Sale offers, make an appointment with one of our expert travel advisors at sandals.co.uk/store
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