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SPECIAL ISSUE


(Destinations)05.09 Norway 128

Estonia and Latvia 136

France 38, 81,102 Andalusia 75

Manila 116

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Issue Index England 46, 61 Estonia 136 France 38, 81, 102 Hamburg 54 Italy 38, 44 Latvia 136 London 34, 54, 88 Madrid 66

EUROPE Andalusia 75 Barcelona 54

Milan 54 Normandy 146 Norway 128 Paris 34, 48, 54 Spain 36 The Americas Mexico 38

Currency Converter Singapore Hong Kong Thailand Indonesia Malaysia Vietnam Macau Philippines Burma Cambodia Brunei Laos US ($1)

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Source: www.xe.com (exchange rates at press time).

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Palawan 35 Siem Reap 22 Singapore 52 Vietnam 36

SOUTHEAST ASIA Bali 22, 35, 92 Bangkok 38 Hanoi 22 Hong Kong 22, 70 Indonesia 35 Malaysia 50 Manila 116


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(Contents)05.09 >102 Île de Bendor near Marseille, France.

102 French Island Hideaways Around France, CHRISTOPHER PETKANAS explores four islands where the pleasures of daily life still matter. Photographed by MATTHIEU SALVAING. GUIDE AND MAP 114 116 Manila’s Makeover The more things change in the 8

Philippine capital, the more you have to shake your head and wonder. Yet its residents are what make this a liveable city. By BRENT HANNON. Photographed by BRENT T. MADISON. GUIDE AND MAP 126 128 On Top of the World Norway has one of the highest standards of living in the world. But the locals cling fast to Nordic traditions—especially a deep reverence for their Arctic

M AY 2 0 0 9| T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A . C O M

surroundings. SEAN ROCHA explores the new north. Photographed by MARTHA CAMARILLO. GUIDE AND MAP 131 136 Under the Baltic Sky Along the coasts of Latvia and Estonia—from beaches to untouched islands— THOMAS BELLER goes in search of Europe’s lost riviera. Photographed by BLASIUS ERLINGER. GUIDE AND MAP 144

M A T T H I E U S A LVA I N G

101-136 Features


EUROPE FOR LESS SPECIAL ISSUE

(Contents)05.09

MAY 2009

Unseen France Idyllic island hideaways you need to visit now

+

ITALY NORWAY ANDALUSIA LONDON THE BALTICS

> 72

Departments 14 18 20 22 24 27 146

Bali Our good food guide to Ubud

Manila 22 ways to make the most of your next trip SINGAPORE SOOTHE YOUR SOUL AT THESE NEW SPAS

CLASSIC CRUISING FROM BANGKOK TO HONG KONG BY SEA travelandleisuresea.com

Plus: Affordable flights and hotels

SINGAPORE SG$6.90 O HONG KONG HK$39 THAILAND THB160 O INDONESIA IDR45,000 MALAYSIA MYR15 O VIETNAM VND80,000 MACAU MOP40 O PHILIPPINES PHP220 BURMA MMK32 O CAMBODIA KHR20,000 BRUNEI BND6.90 OLAOS LAK48,000

Cover

Editor’s Note Contributors Letters Best Deals Ask T+L Strategies My Favorite Place

Belle Île-en-Mer, off of France. Photographed by Matthieu Salvaing.

> 88

> 46

52 Spas Three new all-natural offerings for Singapore. BY HUI FANG 54 On the Scene European tastemakers raise the bar.

61-74 Stylish Traveler

34 Newsflash Paris wine bars, private island retreats, Vietnam on a plate, learning trips, an art walk in Bangkok and more. 40 Hotels Affordable European stays. 44 History Lesson Architect Santiago Calatrava’s latest futuristic bridge spans a canal in Venice. BY MARIA SHOLLENBARGER 46 Detour Six stylish inns in England’s Lake District. BY ALISON TYLER 48 Eat Where to find the freshest food around Paris. BY CHRISTOPHER PETKANAS 50 Neighborhood Kuala Lumpur’s very hip Bangsar Baru. BY ROBYN ECKHARDT 10

> 61

75-99 T+L Journal 75 Driving BILL DONAHUE steers through olive oil-soaked southern Spain. 81 Mind+Body Sacred Lourdes experiences a revival. BY BRAD GOOCH. 84 Special Report The popularity of Asia’s “Shangri La’s” has put them at risk, writes veteran traveler ANTHONY MECIR. 88 Shopping On an antiques-shopping trip in the English capital, LYNN YAEGER discovers one-of-a-kind bargains. 92 Food JEN LIN-LIU uncovers a handful of chefs who are raising the culinary ante around always-popular Bali. 96 Cruising On a slow, but stylish, boat to China. BY PAUL EHRLICH 99 Reflections GUY TREBAY investigates the passionate relationship he’s developed with his luggage.

C L O C K W I S E F R O M F A R L E F T : E M I LY M O T T ; L A R A D A Y ; E M I LY M O T T ; N I G E L C O X

33-54 Insider

61 Icon Boots to keep everyone, even a Brit, dry. BY BRUNO MADDOX 62 On the Road Tia Cibani of Ports 1961 reveals her travel hit list. BY JENNIFER CHEN 64 Street Corner Where to shop and what to do in Madrid. BY CATESBY HOLMES 68 Beauty Plane-friendly products to keep you refreshed. BY ELIZABETH WOODSON 72 Shopping Hong Kong’s NoHo district without labels. BY LARA DAY 74 Must-haves Men’s grooming products.


Privilege knows no boundaries.

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(Editor’s Note) 05.09

I

N THESE FISCALLY CHALLENGING TIMES, a special Europe issue may seem a

little odd. But make no mistake: while intra-Asian travel really is flourishing as people tighten their belts, many are still traveling from Asia to Europe right now, or are planning to—and why not, with all the great deals out there? But whether you’re off for a summer break in France or a shopping trip to London, you’ll want to watch your wallet, which is why we’ve devoted our Strategies section (page 27) to “Europe For Less.” Packed full of information you can use any time you’re off to Europe, we look at how you can save on flights, trains, car rentals and hotels— information that means you get far more for your travel buck. We also unearth a selection of affordable European hotels from Paris to Budapest (page 40), some for just over a hundred dollars a night. Being a Brit, though, one of my favorite articles in this issue is “Lake District Inns” (page 46), since it’s a part of the country I’ve rarely visited but which is quintessentially English. Elsewhere, our Europe focus takes in spectacular (and little known) destinations in France (“French Island Hideaways,” page 102); Spain in “Andalusian Gold” (page 75), in which our writer goes in search of the best olive oils in southern Spain; and jewelry shopping in London (“London Treasure Hunt,” page 88). As is always the case for any of our special issues, we do realize that our readers are most interested in Asian travel, so this month we also take a stroll into Hong Kong’s hip NoHo area (“Beyond the Brands,” page 70) and peek into some cool boutiques, as well as review a selection of new, natural spas in Singapore (“Breathe in, Breathe out,” page 52). Manila is the focus of our main Asia feature (“Manila’s something of a revelation. Happy travels!—MATT LEPPARD TRAVEL + L EISURE EDITORS, WRITERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE THE INDUSTRY’S MOST RELIABLE SOURCES. WHILE ON ASSIGNMENT, THEY TRAVEL INCOGNITO WHENEVER POSSIBLE AND DO NOT TAKE PRESS TRIPS OR ACCEPT FREE TRAVEL OF ANY KIND.

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C H E N P O VA N O N T

Makeover,” page 116), and I’m sure you’ll find our take on this oft-maligned city


EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EDITOR-AT-LARGE ART DIRECTOR FEATURES EDITORS

Matt Leppard

ART EDITOR DESIGNER EDITORIAL ASSISTANT INTERN

Ellie Brannan

Paul Ehrlich Fah Sakharet Jennifer Chen Chris Kucway Wannapha Nawayon Wasinee Chantakorn Piyanant Nimakorn

REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS / PHOTOGRAPHERS Joe Yogerst, Adam Skolnick, Robyn Eckhardt, Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop, Lara Day, Naomi Lindt Cedric Arnold, Steve McCurry, Peter Steinhauer, Nat Prakobsantisuk, Graham Uden, Darren Soh

CHAIRMAN PRESIDENT PUBLISHING DIRECTOR

PUBLISHER VICE PRESIDENT / ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGERS CONSULTANT, HONG KONG/MACAU CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER PRODUCTION MANAGER PRODUCTION GROUP CIRCULATION MANAGER

J.S. Uberoi Egasith Chotpakditrakul Rasina Uberoi-Bajaj

Robert Fernhout Lucas W. Krump Michael K. Hirsch Kin Kamarulzaman Shea Stanley Gaurav Kumar Kanda Thanakornwongskul Supalak Krewsasaen Porames Chinwongs

AMERICAN EXPRESS PUBLISHING CORPORATION PRESIDENT/CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT/CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT/CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT/EDITORIAL DIRECTOR VICE PRESIDENT/PUBLISHER SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, STRATEGIC INSIGHTS, MARKETING & SALES EXECUTIVE EDITOR, INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHING DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL RIGHTS AND CONTENT MANAGER

Ed Kelly Mark V. Stanich Paul B. Francis Nancy Novogrod Jean-Paul Kyrillos Cara S. David Mark Orwoll Thomas D. Storms Aneesa T. Waheed

TRAVEL+LEISURE SOUTHEAST ASIA VOL. 3, ISSUE 5 Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia is published monthly by Media Transasia Limited, Room 1205-06, 12/F, Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2851-6963; Fax: +852 2851-1933; under license from American Express Publishing Corporation, 1120 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, United States of America. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the Publisher. Produced and distributed by Media Transasia Thailand Ltd., 14th Floor, Ocean Tower II, 75/8 Soi Sukhumvit 19, Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoeynue, Wattana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand. Tel: +66 2 204-2370. Printed by Comform Co., Ltd. (+66 2 368-2942–7). Color separation by Classic Scan Co., Ltd. (+66 2 291-7575). While the editors do their utmost to verify information published, they do not accept responsibility for its absolute accuracy.

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(Contributors) 05.09 rent T. Madison photographed this month’s look at the Philippine capital (“New Manila,” page 116), the city he grew up in. “Seeing locations change and grow is part of the magic of travel,” says the photographer, who now lives in Thailand. Shanghai-based Brent Hannon wrote the article and couldn’t agree more. “Manila was a blast,” he says. “Bonifacio blew me away: the size of it, the quality of the restaurants and the energy of the place. Getting back to Malate after so many years was special too.”

B

Lynn Yaeger, who Blasius Erlinger “Though their histories wrote this month’s shopping story (“London are connected to Russia’s, Treasure Hunt,” page 88), the Baltic States have long says she’s a lifelong had a love affair with the EU,” says the Miamicompulsive shopper based photographer whose greatest joy is (“Under the Baltic Sky,” looking for things to buy in the world’s far-flung page 136). “You can see capitals. “I’d rather have the influence,” he adds, a hot dog at a flea market recalling the coastline’s than waste the afternoon Scandinavian-inspired at a five-star restaurant.” infrastructure. “Don’t A contributing editor at skip Muhu island,” Travel + Leisure in the U.S., Erlinger advises. “It was a Yaeger also writes for stunning, engaging place.” Vogue and T, The New York His work also appears in Times Style Magazine. Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

A B O V E , F R O M T O P : B R E N T T. M A D I S O N ; C O U R T E S Y O F B R E N T H A N N O N ; C O U R T E S Y O F B R E N T T. M A D I S O N B E L O W , F R O M F A R L E F T : C O U R T E S Y O F S E A N R O C H A ; C O U R T E S Y O F LY N N Y A E G E R ; A D A M S H E R W I N

Sean Rocha

“Norway is strangely comforting to American travelers,” says Rocha, who tours the country this month (“On Top of the World,” page 128). He notes the cultural similarities between the country and those of the U.S. Midwest. The landscape, on the other hand, is distinctly foreign. “The western fjords are breathtaking on a humbling scale—not just beautiful, but enormously beautiful.”

Clockwise from above: An art fair in Makati; Brent Hannon; Brent T. Madison.


(Letters)05.09 t+l journal

| going green

world when it comes to dining. By looking at young chefs, you also look at up and coming restaurants, so I definitely think this is something you should do more of in other cities around Asia. Maybe even make it a monthly feature. I’d eat it up.

Field Work Left: A class outdoors. Right: To start with.

T’S HALF PAST SIX in the morning and I’m high in the hills above Cianjur, a small agricultural town about two hours—in good traffic—south of Jakarta. I spent the previous night in a rustic bungalow on the grounds of the Maleber Tea Plantation, and after a cold-water mandi, I’m glad for the rising sun that’s burning off the last fingers of cool nighttime mist. As I pick my way down the rocky path that fronts the bungalow’s veranda, I greet women sporting flat-brimmed bamboo hats and men wreathed in clouds of clovescented cigarette smoke, plantation workers on their way to a day’s labor in the terraces. From the village of tile-roofed cottages nestled on the slope below rises a chorus of chicken squawks and the mechanical purr of a motorbike. A stay at Maleber promises breathtaking sunsets, plenty of crisp air and solitude, as well as the opportunity to hike the plantation’s tea trails, tour its late 19th-century tea processing facility and pursue side trips to nearby Gede Pangrango National Park. But there’s more to Maleber than tea and pretty views. The plantation recently became home to The Learning Farm, a nonprofit that aims to change the lives of vulnerable youth by teaching them how to farm organically. I’ve come to learn how the organization combines its twin goals of saving the Earth and rescuing at-risk kids. After a warming breakfast of bubur (creamy rice porridge topped with chicken, vegetables and fiery green chili sambal) purchased from a vendor just outside the plantation’s gates, I make my way to the double-storied villa that serves as The Learning Farm’s office, dormitory and canteen. Its current

I

INDONESIA

Organic produce from the farm. Clockwise from left: One of the managers lends a hand; toiling out in the fields; harvest time.

Planting Seeds A farm near Jakarta aims to help local youth, save the earth and provide a sanctuary from the modern world, writes ROBYN ECKHARDT. Photographed by DAVID HAGERMAN 84

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“batch,” or class, consists of 24 Javanese men ranging from 15 to 25 years old, a mix of newbies and graduates who’ve returned for more training. In the middle of the villa’s manicured lawn, students stand in a tight circle around Miftah Zam Akhid, a cheerful moon-faced man who joined the farm six months earlier. Each morning, Miftah briefs them on the day’s tasks. This morning he passes out packets of seeds to a few before instructing others to drop to the ground for pushups—a punishment for breaching rules the previous day. A raucous sing-a-long ends with a chorus— “Organic? Organic! Organic? Organic! Poison … No Way!”—accompanied by hand clapping, and then the students scramble for shovels, pitchforks and hoes, and head to their classroom: a 5,000square-meter plot of land adjacent to the house, set amid a patchwork of other small farms. E’RE NOT JUST GIVING the students technical skills,” Jiway Tung, the project’s manager tells me later that morning. “We’re trying to change attitudes, and that’s a far harder thing.” Tung came to Indonesia from Brooklyn in 1992 to teach English and study silat, an Indonesian martial art; stayed to earn a master’s degree in history; and then, with his Indonesian wife, took up organic farming in the Javanese village of Tugu, an experience that introduced him to the predicament of Indonesia’s under-educated rural youth. “There were so many kids who hadn’t even finished elementary school, and they were just at loose ends,” he recalls, shaking his head. He set up a weekend program to teach them English, computer skills

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LETTER OF THE MONTH Food for Thought

Overall, I really enjoyed your food issue, but thought the tale about the Indonesian farm [“Planting Seeds,” March 2009] and its goals was particularly inspiring. In this day and age, to hear of young people whose lives are turned around through such a simple plan should be food for thought for us all. That these young people learn skills that should serve them well the rest of their lives, enjoy the work itself and even want to teach others about organic farming is quite extraordinary. They deserve to be the focus of a story in a major magazine, a story we should all read. — RO B E RT

A N TO N Y , JA K A RTA

Hometown Heroes I enjoyed your look at rising chefs in my home town [“Singapore’s Culinary All-stars,” March 2009]. Like many Singaporeans, I love to eat and think that this city is one of the best in the

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— TA N YA

CHIU, SINGAPORE

Back to School I never really gave whisky a second thought, other than to drink it with friends. But your short story on Scotland’s distilleries [“Whisky 101,” March 2009] made me think about how I could convince my wife to spend our next vacation there. I still haven’t come up with an answer she’ll believe, but I am poring over ideas with a good glass of single malt scotch. — H OWA R D

FERRARA, MANILA

Local Lingo Learned As an expat living in Asia, I think you should include more stories on how to speak basic local phrases. You did touch on the subject with the taxi-guide story [“Taxi Traumas Eased,” February 2009], but more is needed. Everyone knows that a few simple phrases can go a long way to a better vacation. — TO M A S

KLIEFER, SINGAPORE

Correction: In the story “Singapore’s Hawker Icons” that appeared in the food special in March 2009, we printed the wrong address for Chin Mee Chin. It should have read: 204 East Coast Rd; 65/6345-0419. We regret the error.

E-MAIL T+L SEND YOUR LETTERS TO EDITOR @ TRAVELANDLEISURESEA.COM AND LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON RECENT STORIES OR NEW PLACES TO VISIT. LETTERS CHOSEN MAY BE EDITED FOR CLARITY AND SPACE. THE LETTER OF THE MONTH RECEIVES A FREE ONE-YEAR SUBSCRIPTION TO TRAVEL + LEISURE ( SOUTHEAST ASIA ONLY). READER OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN LETTERS DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THOSE OF TRAVEL + LEISURE SOUTHEAST ASIA, MEDIA TRANSASIA LTD., OR AMERICAN EXPRESS PUBLISHING.


(Best Deals) 05.09

A pool villa at the Alila Villas Uluwatu.

Ten great hotels in Asia offering free nights and other bargains ■ CAMBODIA Quick Break package at Hotel Be (85563/965-321; hotelbeangkor.com) or The One Hotel (855-12/755-311; theonehotelangkor.com) in Siem Reap. What’s Included A two-night stay in a suite; daily breakfast; return airport transfer; an hour-long massage; a free bottle of wine; free Wi-Fi; free fruit and soft drinks; a pass to the Angkor Wat temple complex; and late check-out at 6:00 P.M. upon availability. Cost The One Hotel: US$279; Hotel Be: US$499, through September 30. Savings Up to 27 percent. ■ VIETNAM Luxury Weekends offer at the InterContinental Hanoi Westlake (844/6270-8888; intercontinental.com). What’s Included Daily breakfast and newspaper. Cost From US$128, through December 31. Savings Up to 27 percent. ■ SINGAPORE Four for Three package at the New Majestic Hotel (65/6511-4700; newmajestic.com). What’s Included A four-night stay for the price of three; daily breakfast; free Wi-Fi; and free soft 22

drinks in the mini-bar. Cost From S$280, through July 31. Savings 25 percent. ■ INDONESIA Double Indulgence package at the Alila Villas Uluwatu (62-361/848-21-66; alilahotels. com) on Bali. What’s Included A free night for a night booked, with a maximum of five free nights. Cost From US$725, through July 31. Savings 50 percent. Extra night offer at the Kayumanis Ubud (62-361/972-777; kayumanis.com), Kayumanis Nusa Dua (62-361/770-777), Kayumanis Jimbaran (62-361/705-777) and The Gangsa (62-361/270-260; thegangsa.com) in Sanur, on Bali. What’s Included A five-night stay for the price of three or a seven-night stay for the price of five; daily breakfast and refreshments; limousine service in the area; and at the Kayumanis Jimbaran, daily laundry and dry cleaning, and a bottle of sparkling wine. Cost Kayumanis Ubud: US$488 per night; Kayumanis Nusa Dua: US$488 per night; Kayumanis Jimbaran: US$599 per night; and The Gangsa: US$330 per night, through June 30. Savings Up to 40 percent. ✚

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HONG KONG Suite Loving Family Experience at The Peninsula Hong Kong (852/2920-2888; peninsula.com). What’s Included One-night stay in a deluxe suite with two free extra beds; round-trip airport transfers; breakfast; two spa treatments; and a cooking class for children. Cost HK$9,800, through December 31. Savings 40 percent. The family-friendly deluxe suite at The Peninsula Hong Kong.

F RO M TO P : CO U RT ESY O F A L I L A ; CO U RT ESY O F T H E P E N I N S U L A H O N G KO N G

DEAL OF THE MONTH


Q: WITH TEMPERATURES EXPECTED TO CLIMB INTO THE 40’S IN THAILAND, WHERE IN ASIA CAN YOU ESCAPE THE HEAT? —TASSANEE PAYONG, BANGKOK

A:

Our advice is to get out of Southeast Asia and head north. Pretty much all of Indochina becomes unbearable from April and May onwards, and Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are hot and humid yearround. Spring in Japan is always pleasant, with the added bonus of the cherry blossom season, though later than that sees fine temperatures as well. Shanghai, too, is a good place to visit in the spring months, but Beijing in the north suffers sandstorms during this time of the year. Further afield and at much higher elevations, Sikkim and Darjeeling in northern India and Bhutan are ideal to the end of May.

Over 300 hand-picked luxury retreats in Asia US$2 is donated to charity for every booking Discounted room rates We promote responsible travelling Earn Reward Points

(Ask T+L) 05.09 I’m tired of airline delays and cancellations. Do you have any tips for avoiding them? —BRAD MCGEE, SINGAPORE

The most obvious thing to do is book a flight early in the day since delays tend to have a knock-on effect. And avoid what might be termed “rush hour.” That means flying between 8 and 9 A.M. and 4 and 7 P.M., and during the middle of the week or Tuesday to Thursday. Using major airports is a good idea as well, since it leaves you with more options if your flight is delayed or cancelled. Also, jot down your airline’s customer-service details in each locale you’re traveling to. Finally, it’s a good idea to touch base with a reputable travel agent at a particular destination if you travel there often. Can you recommend some quiet boutique hotels on beaches around Asia that are suitable for a quick weekend break? —CYNTHIA DOWNES, HONG KONG

That’s a question with many answers, so here’s a start: On Siargao Island, in the southeast Philippines, Kalinaw Resort (General Luna, Siargao Island; 63-921/3200442; kalinawresort.com; villas from US$130) is popular with Manila residents for short breaks. In East Malaysia, Bunga Raya Island Resort (Polish Bay, Pulau Gaya; 60-88/380-390; bungarayaresort.com; doubles from US$600, including meals and speedboat transfers) might not fall into the inexpensive category but is definitely secluded in its lush rain-forest setting. In Thailand, two hours from Krabi, is Seven Seas Resort (221 Moo 2 Ko Kradan; 66-75/2033-8990; sevenseasresort. com; villas from US$188), which offers open-air rain showers and wonderful views over the Andaman Sea. ✚

E-MAIL T+L SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO EDITOR @ TRAVELANDLEISURESEA.COM. QUESTIONS CHOSEN FOR PUBLICATION MAY BE EDITED FOR CLARITY AND SPACE .

I L L U S T R AT E D BY WA S I N E E C H A N TA KO R N

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Something of a leap in hammock technology. Live the moment.

Book a three night stay at One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives and receive a 4th night and return airport transfer by luxury yacht for free. Conditions apply. Travel must be completed by 15 October 2009. To book or for details of longer stay offers, contact your travel professional, visit oneandonlyresorts.com, or email Info@oneandonlyresorts.com.mv. For a brochure call +960 664 8800. One&Only Reethi Rah is part of a portfolio of distinctive and memorable resorts in The Bahamas, Dubai, Maldives, Mauritius and Mexico. Call +960 664 8800, email Info@oneandonlyresorts.com.mv or visit oneandonlyresorts.com.


(Strategies) 05.09 TRANSCONTINENTAL FLIGHTS

Europe for Less Airline deals, hotel values, transportation tips—T+L brings you all the news you need to know to help make your next European holiday easier and more affordable. By YOLANDA CROUS. Illustrated by GUY BILLOUT

The global economic slowdown is turning out to be a doubleedged sword when it comes to flights from Asia to Europe. On one hand, major carriers such as Singapore Airlines are reducing the number of flights to European cities because of lower demand (one exception: Cathay Pacific (cathaypacific.com) has added four more flights to Paris). But a tougher economic climate also means more fare deals. As of press time, we found a Bt38,560 return ticket from Bangkok to London on Thai Airways (thaiairways.com) and a Hong Kong–Frankfurt return ticket on Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com) for HK$7,554. European airlines such as British Airways (britishairways.com) are also slashing fares. Make sure to check the online promotions offered on airline websites. And don’t forget that AirAsia X (airasia.com), the budget carrier’s long-haul subsidiary, now flies between Kuala Lumpur and London. We found a RM1,500 one-way fare on that route for their more comfy, XL seats. —JENNIFER CHEN

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solutions

FLY BUSINESS CLASS AND SAVE MONEY

LUXURY TRAIN ROUTES Central and Eastern Europe have a new, glamorous way to explore the cities and the countryside. The Danube Express (44-1462/441-400; danube-express.com), a restored 1950’s commuter-rail train that includes 12 sleeping cars filled with restored wood paneling and original furniture, launched last September with routes in 10 countries. For £2,590 per person, the 10-day Bosphorus Journey takes you from London to Istanbul. It includes two nights aboard the Danube Express with meals and drinks, seven nights at hotels in Budapest and Istanbul, plus sightseeing tours, dinners, and a return flight from London to Budapest.

Riding the rails in style on the Danube Express.

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LOW-COST CARRIERS As travelers become more budget-conscious, discount European carriers are expanding their networks to meet the demand. Ryanair (ryanair. com) is leading the way with 179 new routes in 2009, including flights from Edinburgh to Malta and Oslo to Bologna. Rival EasyJet (easyjet.com) plans to add at least 30 new itineraries this year — among them London Gatwick to Copenhagen and Berlin to Dubrovnik. We found summer fares for the new Berlin–Dubrovnik flight for as low as ¤26.99 one-way, and the deals should continue through the fall.

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CO U RT ESY O F DA N U B E E X P R ESS ( 2 )

The Danube Express.

With corporations slashing their travel budgets, this might be the time to book yourself a business-class ticket. Earlier this year, the Geneva-based International Air Transport Association (IATA), an industry group that represents major carriers such as Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, reported that traffic in first- and business-class seats between Europe and Asia dropped by 17 percent last December. As of press time, we found on zuji.com a business-class ticket from Hong Kong to London for HK$25,846, taxes and fees included, in June — peak summer season — and a S$4,997 Paris—Singapore business-class ticket on Turkish Airlines. And with 2009 shaping up to be a tough year for airlines, expect to see deals for some time to come.—J.C.


MONEY-SAVING CAR RENTALS

REDUCING VEHICLE FUEL COSTS Renting a diesel car, such as the Volkswagen Golf or the Opel Astra, will ease the pain of high fuel prices by 4 to 8 percent. Though gas rates have dropped twofold in the United States since last July, in Europe they remain as steep as ¤1.26 per liter, the most expensive being found in the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. (The areas with the best prices include Eastern Europe, Great Britain and Spain.)

The biggest news in European car rentals: shortterm hires. Last summer, Hertz introduced Hertz 369 (1-800/654-3001; hertz.com; from US$45 per hour, including taxes and insurance), a program that allows travelers in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K. to rent cars in three-, six-, and nine-hour increments — perfect for a countryside jaunt, travel between cities, or a one-way commute to the airport. The company also recently launched a carsharing program, Connect by Hertz (1-877/654-4400; connectbyhertz.com), with a fleet of Mini Coopers and Ford Fiestas. Members, who pay a US$50 annual fee, can pick up vehicles at various convenient points in central London and Paris, starting at £3.95 or ¤4 per hour. (Rates include fuel, insurance and roadside assistance.)

JENS GOERLICH

HIGH-SPEED RAIL EXPANSION Europe’s high-speed rail network continues to grow—a boon for travelers looking for convenience and affordability. Spain is at the forefront, with 1,448 kilometers miles of track and plans for 8,530 more by 2020. The latest Renfe (renfe.es) route: a Madrid– Barcelona service that launched last winter, departing 17 to 26 times a day and cutting travel time from six hours to two and a half. The first high-speed connection between Figueres, Spain and Perpignan, France, as well as the first leg of one between Madrid and Lisbon, is scheduled to begin in 2010. Meanwhile, Italy’s Trenitalia (trenitalia.it) recently introduced service between Milan and Naples, shortening the journey from 8½ to four hours. You can purchase the tickets online, but note that you can only buy them three months in advance with Renfe and two months with Trenitalia.

NEW AIRLINE Earlier this year, Lufthansa launched Lufthansa Italia (lufthansa.com). The carrier offers nonstop connections between Milan Malpensa and eight European destinations, including Barcelona and Madrid, making travel between Italy and neighboring countries more accessible after Alitalia reduced its service from Malpensa last year. At press time, we found a round-trip fare from Milan to Barcelona for ¤99. T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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BUDGET BOUTIQUE BRANDS

Travelers looking for value and style are in luck: new affordable, design-conscious properties are opening up across Europe. Hotel Indigo, InterContinental Hotel Group’s boutique brand, now has an outpost in London, its first location outside North America, with plans for three more hotels in the city by 2012. The 64-room Hotel Indigo London Paddington (1-800/246-3446; hotelindigo. com; doubles from £131) is long on personality and perks — plasma TV’s, oversize beds and lobby décor that changes seasonally. This month, CitizenM, which has a branch at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, expands into downtown with its second property, CitizenM Amsterdam City (31-20/8117055; citizenm.com; doubles from ¤101). The rooms are small yet still manage to accommodate king-size beds, flat-screen TV’s and wall-towall windows. A CitizenM hotel is due to open in Glasgow later this year. Also look for Spain’s hip Room Mate (34/91399-5777; room-matehotels. com; doubles from ¤61) chain, with hotels in Valencia, Salamanca, Granada, Malaga and Madrid, and more on the way in Barcelona.

The Hotel Indigo London Paddington.

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European Business Hotels If you’ve never considered staying at a business-brand hotel, think again. Because corporate travelers make up the majority of their clientele, these properties often reduce rates on weekends to attract leisure travelers. Along with the well-established chains in America, most European cities have equivalents with similar offerings. At press time, we found a weekend rate of £105 for a double at London’s Swissôtel the Howard (4420/7836-3555; swissotel.com), more than 30 percent off the lowest available weekday rates, while rooms at the Hilton London Kensington Olympia (1-800/445-8667; hilton.com) dipped about 25 percent to £94 per night. This month, weekend prices at Norway and Denmark’s Scandic Hotels (46-8/5175-1720; scandichotels.com) start at DOK870 and NOK890 per night, double. Newer properties are also a good bet since they tend to have low opening rates: this February, the renovated Gran Meliá Colón (888/956-3542; solmelia. com), in Seville, Spain, was advertising rooms for US$171 per night on Travelzoo (travelzoo.com)—almost 50 percent off standard rates.

La Ferme villa, in Provence, above left. Right: Torre Blanca, on Spain’s Andalusian coast.

VILLA RENTALS European villas have always offered value, especially if you’re traveling with a group. Here, four companies that promise exceptional savings ■ Carolyn Grote, founder of Ville et Village (1-510/559-8080; villeetvillage. com), a boutique agency with some 250 properties throughout France and Italy, believes Provence offers the best bang for your buck in France, since the area has an abundance of villas. You can score the four-bedroom La Ferme, outside St.-Rémy, for US$3,488 a week in July (an 8 percent discount compared with last year’s rates). ■ Spain-Select (34/91-523-7451; spainselect.com) has a “Great Deals” section on its website for properties that typically cost no more than around ¤118 per person per night during high season. At press time, we found Torre Blanca, a threebedroom villa on the Andalusian coast, for ¤1,250 per week (six-person maximum). ■ California-based RentVillas (1-800/7266702; rentvillas.com) has more than 1,600

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properties in eight European countries, and connects you with previous renters for unbiased opinions. Among its best bets this season: the five-bedroom Villa Bodamia (US$1,294 per week), in Islamlar, Turkey, with views of the Mediterranean. ■ The 2-year-old Dream & Charme (39-02/8050-3457; dreamcharme.com), in Milan, rents luxury holiday villas throughout Italy. While its “Dream” properties tend to be quite expensive, the “Charme” options are softer on the wallet, especially in areas such as Umbria and Puglia, which generally go for 20–30 percent less than their Tuscan counterparts. Case in point: the fivebedroom, five-bathroom Villa 0186, in the Umbrian countryside, which rents for ¤3,620 per week — or just ¤103 a night per bedroom.—H I L L A R Y G E R O N E M U S

F R O M L E F T: C O U R T E SY O F T H E I N T E R C O N T I N E N TA L H O T E L G R O U P ; CO U RT E SY O F V I L L E E T V I L L AG E ; CO U RT E SY O F S PA I N -S E L EC T

strategies | travel


Promotional Feature

IMPIANA CHERATING RESORT Fresh new look and fully refurbished—perfect for your next trip to Malaysia!

N

ext time you plan a trip to Malaysia, think of the beaches of Cherating and, in particular, the Impiana Cherating Resort in Kuantan, Pahang. The resort is located just 2.5 hours’ drive from Kuala Lumpur. Boasting a new look, having been refurbished during a sevenmonth makeover of its rooms, restaurants and public areas, all rooms are sea-facing with breathtaking views of nature at its best. Guests will be impressed by the architecture, designed to resemble the finest in traditional Malay culture. Each room features wooden floors, a four-poster bed and a private balcony complete with ceiling fans, air-conditioning, television, shower bath for deluxe rooms and suites, mini-bar, IDD telephone, hair-dryer, coffee and tea-making facilities, not to forget complimentary Wi-Fi at selected hotspot areas. Explore Malaysian and international cuisine through a host of delicacies available at the resort’s in-house, redesigned restaurant Kedai Kopi, and after a long day out exploring the sun, sea and sights that Cherating has to offer, unwind at the Fun Pub, which offers relaxing music and a live band. Should guests prefer to stay indoors but still enjoy the serenity and breezes, there’s the Pelita Lounge, which overlooks a lily pool and the spectacular sea view. As well as its leisure facilities, Impiana’s six meeting rooms are noted for their quality of professionalism and excellence. Some open onto landscaped courtyards, often used for group activities, family days and incentive meetings, including themed parties. All the hotel grounds and beach areas, including the pool, can be turned into fantasy worlds for various events. The free-form swimming pool commands a superb view of the green and natural surroundings, with well-landscaped gardens. For a little more vigorous exercise, the gym provides a range of equipment for an ideal workout. Cherating also offers an array of outdoor activities, such as firefly watching, an Ibok river cruise, the spectacle of the local fisherman and see homemade batik being made. Alternatively, 20 minutes away is the town of Kemaman in the state of Terengganu, where everyone must try the famous Hai Peng Coffee at the famous Hai Peng Kopi Tiam. Travelers seeking a refreshing change from a typical run-of-the mill resort will find the perfect balance between business, leisure and the human touch, all within the Impiana Cherating Resort. That’s why we regard ourselves as “the right place, always.”

For further information, contact: Kuala Lumpur Regional Sales Office Tel: 60-3/2141-6233 E-mail: Info.klsales@impiana.com


Hip playground. Frenetic fashion in a Kuala Lumpur hotspot <(page 50)

Inn vogue. Affordable and comfortable European hotels <(page 40)

Good rubs. A peek inside three of Singapore’s all-natural spas <(page 52)

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• Asia’s private island retreats • Taking the cultural pulse of Europe • Stylish stays in England’s Lake District

(Insider) Photo credit by tktktk

C L O C K W I S E F R O M T O P L E F T : C O U R T E S Y O F N A N A G . ; C O U R T E S Y O F C O C O O N ; C O U R T E S Y O F H O U S E ; E M I LY M O T T ; M A R I E H E N N E C H A R T

French crops. Fresh food fairs make their mark in and around Paris (page 48) >

Where to GoWhat to EatWhere to StayWhat to Buy

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8 Affordable European Hotels. When you think of value-conscious hotels, style and design don’t always come to mind. But these T+L favorites promise both, without breaking the bank MUNICH Lindwurmstrasse, just outside Sendlinger Tor and the old City, is a residential avenue lined with comfortable cafés and, now, the Cocoon (35 Lindwurmstrasse; 4989/5999-3907; hotel-cocoon.de). Guest rooms are sexy spaces fit for Barbarella, with bubble chairs, recessed lighting and varying configurations made possible by sagegreen sliding partitions. The nicest touch is a window-side reading nook, complete with a cozy daybed. A bedroom at Lánchíd 19. Above: The Cocoon’s façade and modern lobby.

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BARCELONA The Casanova by Rafael

Hotels (559 Gran Via de les Corts

Catalanes; 34/93-396-4800; casanovabcnhotel.com) prides itself on topnotch service. Housekeepers leave bonbons or flowers on pillows in superior rooms and suites, and concierges create unique itineraries (a tour of la Boqueria market with a Spanish food expert, for example). Such attention extends to the 124 lightfi lled rooms and public spaces, which feature works by Catalonian artists— a nod to the nearby Bohemian artists’ enclave, El Raval.

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PARIS What you know of the city’s ninth arrondissement is still generally true— this boho district is no St.-Germain— but gentrification has struck, and the Hôtel Amour (8 Rue Navarin; 33-1/4878-31-80) is an example of how much.

Located on a slender corridor that feels more St.-Georges than Quartier Pigalle, the hotel is the brainchild of three nightlife aficionados who know their target audience well (think iPhone-toting media types) and chose their amenities accordingly. You’ll find cheeky framed photographs in the restaurant, rooms with toys from Kidrobot, and even a foosball table in the basement. Want more proof that the area is ready for travelers? Rue des Martyrs, around the corner from the hotel, has become the spot to shop for fine cheeses and groceries.

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MADRID For a hotel chain known to be businessfriendly, Vincci has been having plenty of fun lately. Witness its newest outpost, Vincci Via 66 (66 Gran Vía; 34/91-550-4299; vinccihoteles.com), right on the Spanish capital’s ornate thoroughfare. Old-fashioned

Hollywood glamour—with a touch of Almodóvar camp—inspired the public spaces and the 116 guest rooms, each decorated with photos of silentera stars, vampy lipstick-red accents and cutout patterns on the wall that evoke Spanish lace. Don’t miss the tapas bars of lively Chueca, five minutes away by taxi.

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BUDAPEST Amid the Romanesque and Gothic buildings of Buda, Lánchíd 19 (19 Lánchíd Utca; 800/337-4685 or 36-1/419-1900; designhotels.com) stands out for its contemporary aesthetic. The 48-room property lights up the Danube river with a luminous glass façade (it’s composed of 150 panels that rotate and change color throughout the day). Glass bridges connect the guest rooms to the lobby, which has a transparent floor revealing Roman ruins underneath. »


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LONDON at the London Bridge Hotel (8-18 London Bridge St.; 44-20/7855-2200; londonbridgehotel.com), 400-threadcount sheets, Miller Harris bath products and at-the-ready service mean that a stay next to the Tower Bridge will be cool and comfortable. The hotel is located in the small neighborhood of Southwark, just a quick walk from the Tate Modern, the Globe Theatre, and the epicenter of London’s locavore movement, Borough Market. The 24-hour concierge desk is worth a visit, too: veteran staffers, who come from such impeccable London properties as the

InterContinental Park Lane and the Mayfair, are able to score coveted seats to Arsenal soccer games and tickets for concerts at the O² arena.

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ATHENS Some of Greece’s most influential names—including Greek Vogue fashion director Michalis Pantos— are behind the design of Classical 2 Fashion House Hotel (2 Pireos St.; 30-210/523-5230; classicalhotels.com; breakfast included). The 110 rooms (some fuchsia and dark green; others sky blue and brown) have faux tigerskin rugs, while room 415 is painted with a mural of winged angels.

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BERLIN Looking for a place that evokes Germany’s 1920’s Art Deco style? Then try the Ellington Hotel (50-55 Nürnberger Str.; 49-30/683-150; ellington-hotel.com). Set in what was once a mammoth office building, the original 20th-century façade belies the updated all-white interior. The hotel is also conveniently situated on Nürnberger Strasse, the main artery of former West Berlin, and close to shopping mecca KaDeWe. 

Reported by Jennifer Flowers, Catesby Holmes, Latilla Isaac, Alexandra Marshall, Ralph Martin and Jennifer Welbel.

European Value Clockwise from top: The London Bridge Hotel’s lobby; a large suite at the Ellington Hotel; London Bridge Hotel's exterior.

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insider | history lesson

The Future of Bridges. Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava has reimagined skylines from Bilbao to Buenos Aires. T+L takes a closer look at his latest project. By MARIA SHOLLENBARGER

CALATRAVA has made a name for himself as the go-to guy for bridges, having completed 29 of them in 13 countries over the past two decades. Last fall, Calatrava’s Quarto Ponte sul Canal Grande was finally unveiled in Venice after nine years of delays and disputes. For this 94-meter-long pedestrian expanse, he deviated from his usual soaring displays of cable networks and pylons, opting instead for a quiet study in tempered glass,

S

ANTIAGO

Istrian marble and glazed bronze. The €6.5 million structure was assembled piece by piece, and parts were ferried to the site during low tide so they could pass under the three other bridges that span the Grand Canal. So what does this mean for Venice, a city steeped in history and nostalgia? Perhaps, like other locales that have turned to Calatrava to put themselves on the design map, Venice may find that this new bridge serves as a link to the future. 

CALATRAVA: ONE BRIDGE AT A TIME

1992

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ALAMILLO BRIDGE SEVILLE, SPAIN

CAMPO VOLANTIN BILBAO, SPAIN

Marking the start of Calatrava’s international acclaim, the Alamillo was built for the World Expo ’92 and is the architect’s first cable-stayed bridge — in which the angle of the main pylon (a stabilizing mastlike pillar) eliminates the need for any bulky concrete support.

Completed the same year as the Guggenheim, Bilbao’s other “starchitect” attraction, the Campo Volantin — also called the Zubi Zuri (Basque for white bridge) — is a single arch suspended by more than 80 steel cables.

2001 PUENTE DE LA MUJER BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

This three-part pedestrian structure connects the eastern and western docks of Puerto Madero. Said to represent a couple dancing the tango, the bridge has a midsection that swings a full 90 degrees to let boat traffic through.

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2004 SUNDIAL BRIDGE REDDING, CALIFORNIA

Calatrava’s first bridge in the U.S. (a set of three is to be unveiled in Dallas in 2010) is a 213-meter-long expanse that crosses the Sacramento River. It also accurately tells time one day a year: on June 21, watch the pylon’s shadow move around a huge stone dial at its base.

2004 THREE BRIDGES OVER THE HOOFDVAART HAARLEMMERMEER, THE NETHERLANDS

This trio of bridges spans the Hoofdvaart, the main canal running through the booming Haarlemmermeer region, just west of Amsterdam. Resembling musical instruments, the structures are playfully referred to as Harp, Lute and Lyre by locals.

T O P : C O U R T E S Y O F S A N T I A G O C A L AT R AVA L L C . B O T T O M , F R O M L E F T : © B M P I X / I S T O C K P H O T O . C O M ; © G R A H A M H E Y W O O D / ISTOCKPHOTO.COM; © LEETORRENS / DREAMSTIME.COM; © OBELIX / DREAMSTIME.COM; JAN VOGEL

A rendering of Calatrava’s Quarto Ponte sul Canal Grande, in Venice.


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Lake District Inns. Tucked into the U.K.

Country Life Clockwise from top: A guest room in the main house at Holbeck Ghyll, in Windermere; the dining room at Holbeck Ghyll; L’enclume, an inn with a Michelin-starred restaurant; a view of Ullswater Lake from Sharrow Bay.

northwest corner of England, here are six places to stay where style and good food go hand in hand. By ALISON TYLER

CARTMEL This pretty village in the southern part of the district is notable for its 12th-century priory, a lazy stream and a profusion of antiques shops clustered around the main market square. Since the opening of GREAT L’enclume (Cavendish St.; VALUE 44-1539/536-362; www.lenclume. co.uk; dinner for two £100; doubles from £98) seven years ago, chef–owner Simon Rogan’s inventive cooking has quietly grown in acclaim, culminating in a Michelin star for the restaurant in 2005. Housed in a converted blacksmith’s workshop, L’enclume has 12 pared-down guest rooms: seven above the restaurant; three at L’enclume House, in the village center; and two new luxury suites (from £178) across from L’enclume House. One suite has a muted mocha-and-cream color scheme and sisal carpets, the other was designed with strong Art Deco lines; and both have Molton Brown amenities in the bathrooms. The latest addition: Rogan has opened Rogan & Company—a less formal restaurant with stellar roast salmon and braised lamb shoulder—just down the road. WINDERMERE In the summer, boats lazily ferry visitors around Lake Windermere and canoeists paddle among its tiny islands. The town itself is buzzing with restaurants, cafés and shops. Just outside of town, Gilpin Lodge (Crook Rd.; 44-1539/488-818; gilpinlodge.co.uk; doubles from £390, including dinner and breakfast), a familyrun Victorian hotel, has added six new garden suites that have a bit more privacy than the 14 rooms in the main house. The suites’ bathrooms are huge,

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with dinner plate–size showerheads; rooms come with beds that are wider than they are long. Overlooking Lake Windermere and the hills, Holbeck Ghyll (Holbeck Lane; 44-1539/432-375; holbeckghyll.com; doubles from £210, including breakfast), a cozy 19th-century hunting lodge, is full of traditional English touches: oak paneling, wing chairs, a croquet lawn and two black Labradors. The Michelin-starred restaurant does fresh takes on British classics, such as roast loin of venison with herbed gnocchi, and a millefeuille of rhubarb, oat and vanilla. Most rooms have water views, but the one you really want to book is the Miss Potter suite—a nod to Beatrix Potter, who summered in the area—with its deep hot tub on a private balcony. Just 8 kilometers outside of town, the GREAT Punch Bowl Inn (Crosthwaite; VALUE 44-1539/568-237; the-punchbowl. co.uk; doubles from £125, including breakfast) has nine romantic rooms that feel like home, only better, with exposed beams, plum-hued walls, deep roll-top baths and freshly baked cookies delivered to your room upon arrival. Downstairs at the restaurant, ask for the table beside the open log fire for a dinner of traditional favorites, such as Lancashire hot pot or Cumberland sausages, with a pint of locally brewed Tag Lag ale. GRASMERE William Wordsworth lived in Grasmere, which he described as the “prettiest village in England.” Its town green, central church, small tranquil lake and diminutive cottages create a quintessential picture-postcard scene. Wordsworth’s home, Dove Cottage (44-1539/435-544; wordsworth. org.uk), is now a museum with original manuscripts by the poet as well as a vast collection of watercolor paintings from the 19th-century Romantic movement. In the village center, the eco-aware Moss Grove (44-1539/435251; mossgrove.com; doubles from £125, including breakfast), which opened in mid 2007, is as sustainable as possible, with

English Idyll From left: The Church of St. Mary, next door to the Punch Bowl Inn, in Windermere; the inn’s Strickland room; the dining room at Sharrow Bay.

native woods and stone, organic toiletries and fair-trade linens. The 11 rooms have chunky wooden beds, leather tub chairs and flat-screen televisions. Breakfast (organic, of course) is a help-yourself affair. ULLSWATER LAKE As you drive north of Grasmere, the landscape becomes more rugged and wild: steep crags stretch upward, with scrubby heather and bracken clinging to the moors. The countryside here is crisscrossed with walking trails. Along a winding road lies the remote Sharrow Bay (44-1768/486301; sharrowbay.co.uk; doubles from £280, including dinner and breakfast). Though rooms may feel a touch old-fashioned— sherry in the bedrooms, floral-scented toiletries, pastel walls and swag curtains— this is sumptuous English countryhouse living at its best. The lounges, library and restaurant are a cosseting cocktail of antique furniture, plush couches and warm, attentive service. And the location can’t be beat: the lake laps on one side of the property, while hiking trails head up into the hills from the other. ✚

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France’s Freshest Crop. Where can you find figs from Provence, chèvre from the Pyrenees, and almost any French comestible you can imagine? At the Pari Fermier food fair. By CHRISTOPHER PETKANAS

I Stopping for a crêpe lunch at the Pari Fermier food fair. Below, from left: Honey shortbread from Les Ruchers d’Enchanet; opening walnuts from the Périgord region at the OccitaNoix stand.

FRANCE

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T USED TO BE THAT the only option

open to gastronauts wanting to taste and buy a broad range of handcrafted food products from the six corners of France was to clear their calendars for five years, purchase an atlas and take to the road. Pari Fermier has changed the game. Held six times a year in and around Paris, the fair assembles in one spot up to 200 independent, smallscale producers from some 21 regions, including makers and growers of honey from the Auvergne; cider from Normandy; spice cake from LanguedocRoussillon; Espelette pepper from the Pays Basque; lentils from the Berry. During the Pari Fermier in Paris last October, chefs gave demonstrations in a kiosque du goût using ingredients supplied by exhibitors. There was even a complimentary porter to help load your purchases into a taxi. The event has the insider-y, narrowand-deep feel of a professional food fair, with the friendly, leisurely difference that it was conceived for the public. The €8 admission buys the right to sample everything that is sampleable (the guinea fowl and Aveyron veal roasts will make you wish you knew someone in Paris with an oven). With patience you can make a meal grazing from stand to stand, if you don’t mind abusing the generosity of the sellers. Tables, benches and a bar serving coffee are set up to encourage people to buy small portions of the foods on display and sit down to lunch. At a past Pari Fermier, I composed a lovely meal of Philippe Labadie’s creamy oysters; Raymonde and Dominique Baële’s silky duck ham; dried lamb sausage, unknown to me and delicious, from La Ferme de Jaugeny; and prunes, fragrant and fleshy, from Pruneaux Cabos. The only thing I tried that I hope never to see again is Mon Copain J.P.’s seaweed tartare. Photographed by MARIE HENNECHART


Farm to Table Clockwise from far right: Sheep’s-milk Tomme from the Famille Marty farm, in Tarn; fresh goat’s- and cow’smilk cheeses from Marayn de Bartassac dairy in the southwest of France; sampling the sweet milk confiture produced by Mille Pattes, a farm in Languedoc-Rousillon; greens from the village of St.-Julien-Aux-Brois, in central France.

SHOPPING LIST There are up to 200 producers and farmers at the Pari Fermier food fair, held six times a year. How to decide which to visit? Below, a handful of our favorites. L’Escargotière Bonvalot Escargots La Ferme Fruirouge Cassis vinegar and mustard

While 60 percent of the participants have farms or other operations you can visit, a quarter also offer lodgings. Information about visits and rooms is usually included on cards or brochures, so it pays to pick them up. Not every item at the fair is organic, but all producers adhere to an eight-point sustainable-agriculture charter, are vetted with on-site inspections, and are required to personally man their stands to conduct tastings, answer questions and smile. In this way you can meet the faces behind the fig syrup, chutney and compote of Les Figuières, which cultivates more than 150 varieties of the fruit in Provence; the cassis vinegar and mustard of La Ferme Fruirouge, in Burgundy; the handpicked walnuts of OccitaNoix, in the Périgord; the brine-

washed goat cheese of Maison Lanset, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques; the freerange escargots, raised on a diet of wild botanicals, of L’Escargotière Bonvalot in the Jura; and the unctuous wholesheep’s-milk confiture (for spreading on crêpes) of Mille Pattes, in the Lozère. If there’s a better way of spending a day in Paris, I don’t know what it is.  May 8-10: Pari Fermier à Rambouillet, Bergerie Nationale, Parc du Château de Rambouillet. May 30–June 1: Le Village Fermier de Levallois, Jardins de l’Hôtel de Ville, Levallois-Perret. October 16–19: Pari Fermier, Espace Champerret, Rue Jean Oestreicher, Porte de Champerret, 17th Arr.; 33-1/44-54-90-06; parifermier.com.

La Ferme de Jaugeny Lamb sausage La Ferme du Leconet Seasonal, organic vegetables; goat cheeses Les Figuières Fig syrup, chutney and compote Les Ruchers d’Enchanet Honey and honey products Maison Lanset Goat cheeses Maraÿn de Bartassac Cow’s-, goat’s- and sheep’s-milk cheeses Mille Pattes Sheep’s-milk confiture OccitaNoix Walnuts; walnut oils and pastes Philippe Labadie Oysters Pruneaux Cabos Prunes Raymonde and Dominique Baële Duck ham

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| neighborhood

Cosmopolitan Corner. KL’s Bangsar Baru is fast becoming the city’s modern melting pot. By ROBYN ECKHARDT MALAYSIA

of Kuala Lumpur’s elite and expatriate community, Bangsar Baru—a grid of streets lined with shophouses clustered around an upscale shopping center—is now home to hip boutiques as well as cafés and restaurants specializing in foods from around the globe. The nightlife is still there, and it’s more eclectic than ever, with clubs that range from laid-back to frenetic.

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NCE KNOWN AS THE PLAYGROUND

EAT

When the urge for an authentic burger strikes, KL-ites head to 2 The Daily Grind (LG8 Bangsar Village, 1 Jln. Telawi 1; 603/2287-6708; lunch for two RM 90). The cozy restaurant’s seasoned wood floors and brick walls recall a Midwestern lodge house while the Classic Burger—a toasted and buttered bun sandwiching a plump patty slathered with house-made ketchup and mustard—is enough to make a homesick American swoon. Local palates are catered to with the peanut sauce–cloaked Satay Burger.

EAT

Old-fashioned kopitiam touches (wooden chairs, ceiling fans) and contemporary elements (exposed beams, metal-topped tables, cement benches) set the scene for Malaysian specialties at 1 Chawan (69G Jln. Telawi 3; 60-3/2287-5507; lunch for two RM30). While the menu roams from south to north with dishes like Johorian mee rebus and Penang-style char koay teow, it’s the nasi lemak, featuring fluffy coconut rice, and sweet and fiery sambal, that’s the solid favorite here. Freshly made mango juice or a cup of strong Kemamang coffee from the peninsula’s east coast make a great thirst quencher.

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Jalan Telawi 2

Jalan Telawi 3

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Bangsar Village 1

Jalan Telawi 1

DRINK

While other bars have come and gone, neighborhood institution 5 Telawi Street Bistro (1–3 Jln. Telawi 3; 603/2284-3168; drinks for two RM60)—or TSB, as it’s affectionately known—lives on. Though the eatery-cum-nightspot boasts a full kitchen, you’re best off heading straight for third-floor bar, where revelers shake it to tunes spun by a DJ while tossing back signature drinks like the Spanking Board, a wooden tray holding five flavored shooters guaranteed to get you in a dancing mood.

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SHOP

Think of a visit to the eponymously named 4 Moosh (23-1 Jln. Telawi 2; 60-3/2282-7226) as a treasure hunt; while the shop’s white walls, black ceiling and gray carpeted floor might not dazzle the eye, its racks hide gems. Owner May Moo once earned her keep in Melbourne peddling clothes on eBay. Now she travels the region to source musthave but well-priced pieces—such as the slinky, jewel-toned jersey frocks and strapless dresses in Seventies-inspired tropical prints spied on a recent visit—that keep Kuala Lumpur’s budget-conscious fashionistas coming back for more.

C L O C K W I S E F R O M T O P : C O U R T E S Y O F T H E D A I LY G R I N D ; C O U R T E S Y O F N A N A G . ; C O U R T E S Y O F M O O S H ; C O U R T E S Y O F T E L A W I S T R E E T B I S T R O ; C O U R T E S Y O F S I LV E R F I S H B O O K S ; © T I M C H E N | D R E A M S T I M E . C O M

Jalan Telawi 5

London-trained designer–owner Liyana Ghaus stocks 3 nana g. (28A-1 Jln. Telawi; 603/2282-5182) with quirky finds from Indonesia, Hong Kong and Korea, but what’s most noteworthy at the airy second-floor boutique are pieces from her own line. Spring standouts include a lavender blossomprinted dress with an asymmetrical neckline; a polka-dotted pale citron blouse to pair with dove gray stretch-cotton skinny pants; and a sunshine-yellow sleeveless silk dress sporting ruffles at the shoulder and neck.

Bangsar Village 2

If you want to tap into what the chattering classes in Malaysia are debating, climb the narrow stairway to 6 Silverfish Books (1st floor, 58-1 Jln. Telawi; 60-3/2284-4837; silverfishbooks.com), the brick-andmortar incarnation of the country’s largest independent publisher. Crammed into a small but well-lit space are shelves laden with a bit of everything, including an unrivaled selection of contemporary fiction and nonfiction by Malaysian writers. The shop stages workshops and readings, and is also a great place to find out what’s on, culturally speaking, in KL.

Jalan Telawi 6

Jalan Telawi

READ

SHOP

Jalan Ara


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insider

| spas

SINGAPORE

Breathe in, Breathe out. Three new spas in Singapore take an all-natural approach to relaxation and beauty. By HUI FANG

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QLS PHILOSOPHY THE LOOK Located at the start of Orchard Road, LS Philosophy has been enjoying brisk business since it opened shop in October. Artfully placed Ikebana arrangements add a dash of color to its all-white interiors, and the wall of Officina de’ Tornabuoni products provide a worthy distraction pre- and post-treatment. Inside, each en-suite treatment room comes with a dedicated iPod Nano so you can drift off to chilled bossa nova. After your treatment, indulge further at the Kérastase Hair Room, or nestle into an overstuffed sofa and sip a glass of organic wine from the inhouse café. THE PRODUCTS Hailing from Florence, Officina de’ Tornabuoni is a range of natural, preservative-free beauty and health products dating back to 1843. Its star product: the organic demerara-sugar body polish made with extra virgin olive oil and infused with plant extracts. The coarse-grained scrub leaves skin baby soft, glowing and silky smooth within five minutes of application. THE TREATMENT The LS Signature Facial (90 minutes) goes the extra mile with a pair of therapists working in sync. First, your body is exfoliated, while the second therapist works on your feet using the Princess Vicky Oil (named after the spa owner’s granddaughter). Once your skin is scrubbed clean, one therapist dispenses an intricate facial using a series of lymphatic drainage movements, while the other treats your body to a massage using targeted finger pressure and long knot-relieving strokes. VERDICT Pure bliss. Not to mention a glowing visage and tension-free set of shoulders. #01-03/04 Thong Teck

C LO C KW I S E F RO M TO P : CO U RT E SY O F H O U S E ( 2 ) ; CO U RT E SY O F W E N LU X E S PA

Indulgence Starts Here Clockwise from left: A treatment room at House spa, in Singapore; House’s façade; pampering at the Wen Luxe spa, in Singapore.


F RO M TO P : CO U RT E SY O F W E N LU X E S PA ; CO U RT E SY O F H O U S E

Building, 15 Scotts Rd.; 65/6732-1318; lsphilosophy.com; treatments from S$150. QWEN LUXE SPA THE LOOK Bathed in a calming turquoise hue, Wen Luxe Spa provides exactly what its name suggests: comfort and luxury. THE PRODUCTS Minerals are the latest “it” ingredient in the wellness industry, and Omorovicza from Budapest rides this trend, using the famed thermal waters of Hungary and its patented Pannon Complex—a blend of proteins and vitamins. The brand has already gained a following from celebrities such as Laura Linney. THE TREATMENT The 10-step Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Facial is our pick. After a series of cleansers, the therapist massages a combination of the Instant Plumping Cream and Balancing Moisturizer, before slathering on the Deep Cleansing Mask made with Lake Hevic mud. The treatment ends with a liberal spritzing of the Queen of Hungary moisture mist and then a serum, the vitamin K–loaded Reviving Eye Balm, and finally a thin layer of the Complexion Enhancer.

VERDICT A more even, radiant

complexion and less puffy bags under the eyes. 6 Bukit Pasoh Rd.; 65/62272722; wenspa.com; treatments from S$120. QHOUSE THE LOOK Set in old army barracks

camouflaged by the lush foliage of Singapore’s fast-disappearing jungle is House. To complement the vintage buildings, the treatment rooms have re-worked antique chairs and oversized trunks, which double up as walk-in closets–cum–changing compartments. Outside is one of House’s biggest draws: an inviting salon strewn with oversized chintz-covered cushions and floor-to-ceiling windows. THE PRODUCTS The shelves are stocked with cult beauty range Malin + Goetz from New York, which is known for its no-nonsense, straightforward approach and embrace of natural ingredients. The makers also pledge that their products are oil-free and residue-free, which means they won’t clog your pores. THE TREATMENT For a primer on Malin + Goetz, try the eponymous facial. The hour-long treatment kicks off with a liberal application of the

Chill Out From top: The reception room at Wen Luxe Spa; a bathtub with a view at House.

aromatic Grapefruit Face Cleanser, before moving on to slough off dead skin cells with the Jojoba Face Scrub infused with calming cilantro, and finally finishing off with the antioxidant-rich Detox Face Mask. VERDICT A smoother face with renewed elasticity and a clearer head. 8D Dempsey Rd.; 65/6238-6005; treatments from S$80. ✚

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insider | on

the scene

The New European Tastemakers What’s the cultural pulse of Europe? From Paris to Milan, we asked five rising stars to tell us how their cities influence their work—and reflect the Continent today

MARANT’S PARIS ● Le Balajo Dance Hall “My

ISABEL MARANT HAS BEEN ON A MISSION TO PUSH FRENCH STYLE BEYOND the trench coat, one embroidered peasant blouse at a time. Already wildly popular among France’s art and fashion elite, the designer’s signature aesthetic of classic silhouettes mixed with ethnic embellishment is spreading globally as women around the world discover her two lines, Isabel Marant and Etoile. Such cosmopolitanism is fitting, perhaps, for a Parisian whose mother is German and stepmother is from Martinique. Today, Marant lives in Paris’s melting-pot Belleville district: “It’s one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods, with Vietnamese, Chinese and North African people residing together.” Despite France’s reputation for parochialism, Marant says her neighborhood is a microcosm of the city. “Paris has always been this way, with the influx of African, Portuguese and Spanish immigrants that began before World War I and continues to this day.” And while she recognizes the tensions that sometimes arise from such cross-pollination, Marant says it’s unavoidable— indeed, essential: “Today, we’re all connected.”—A L E X A N D R A M A R S H A L L 54

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● Marché des Enfants

Rouges “This is a great covered market near my newest shop, in the Marais [47 Rue de Saintonge, Third Arr.; 33-1/4278-19-24]. I love to bring my boyfriend and son here; we can order couscous, pizza and Japanese all in one place.” 9 Rue de Bretagne, Third Arr. ● Taschen bookstore “The

Rue de Buci, in St.-Germain, has so many lovely bookstores now, mixed in with the art galleries and shops.” 2 Rue de Buci, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/40-51-79-22.

Savoir Faire Clockwise from left: Isabel Marant; the Taschen bookstore in St.-Germain; the Marant boutique in the Marais district; a look from Marant’s spring-summer 2009 collections.

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: BENOIT PEVERELLI / ISABEL MARANT; C O U R T E SY O F TA S C H E N ; C O U R T E SY O F I S A B E L M A R A N T ( 2 )

>>

ISABEL MARANT DESIGNER, PARIS

studio is in the area between the Bastille and République, which used to be the center of furniture and metal craftsmanship. Trendy people have moved in, but you can still find this old-fashioned, working-class dance hall where my father used to go.” 9 Rue de Lappe, 11th Arr.; 33-1/47-00-07-87.


F RO M TO P : M A RCO BO RG G R EV E ; © M A RC F I S C H E R / I STO C K P H OTO.CO M ; CO U RT ESY O F B I B L I O T E C A D E C A T A L U N Y A ; X A V I E R S U B I A S /A G E F O T O S T O C K . S T I L L L I F E S : D A V I E S + S T A R R ( 2 )

DANIEL HOPE MUSICIAN, HAMBURG >> HE’S SOUTH AFRICAN BY BIRTH, WAS RAISED IN ENGLAND, HAS IRISH AND German-Jewish roots, and shuttles between homes in Hamburg and Amsterdam: violinist Daniel Hope may have a peripatetic past, but he’s also an archetypal 21st-century European—firmly entrenched, by choice, on the Continent. When he’s not performing on stages worldwide, Hope lives amid the Jugendstil splendor and docklands vibrancy of Hamburg. In his 11 years here, he’s witnessed the city’s evolution, and cites its growing contemporary-art scene as a testament to Hamburg’s emerging face. It’s a city, he says, of intriguing contradictions: “There’s such a mix of cultures and social classes. You’ve got enormous wealth, and one of Europe’s thriving red-light districts on the Reeperbahn. The city feels both international and unmistakably German. It’s small, but also a world-class metropolis.”—M A R I A S H O L L E N B A RG E R

German Classics Violinist Daniel Hope. Below: The musician’s new Mendelssohn album; the Elbe riverfront.

HOPE’S HAMBURG ● Blankenese “This fisherman’s village — part of Hamburg, but from a different century — is made up of small, dollhouse-like homes strung along the cliffs overlooking the Elbe River.” Western Hamburg. ● Café Leonar “A café and bookshop in the old Jewish quarter, it has become

a meeting place for artists.” 59 Grindelhof; 49-40/4135-3011. ● St. Michaelis Church “I’ve performed inside this gorgeous Baroque-style

church, so it has a special place in my heart. From the top of its tower, you get amazing city views.” 11 Englische Planke, Neustadt Quarter.

<< JAVIER CALVO WRITER, BARCELONA KNOWN FOR HIS BOUNDARY-PUSHING NOVELS, JAVIER

CZALVO HAS ALWAYS had a hybrid identity as both a Spaniard and a Catalan. And then there’s the matter of language. “Writing in Spanish, you’re in the same category as a Chilean or Mexican writer,” he explains. Ultimately, though, he’s a lifelong resident of Barcelona, the city at the center of the noirish Wonderful World (HarperCollins, US$28), Calvo’s first novel to be translated into English. “Barcelona is traditional in that everything is determined by social class. I wanted to explore the gap between the bourgeois uptown and the workingclass downtown areas. It’s almost two different cities.” As for his own rapidly gentrifying El Raval neighborhood, Calvo sees it as something of a bittersweet case study. “El Raval has a history of freedom, nightlife and anarchism, but that legacy is sadly disappearing. This seems to be happening around the world as differences are slowly being erased.” — S A R A H W I L D M A N Spanish Gothic Clockwise from left: Javier Calvo in his Barcelona neighborhood, El Raval; the Biblioteca de Catalunya, inside Barcelona’s L’Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau; Wonderful World, Calvo’s latest novel.

CALVO’S BARCELONA ● L’Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau “This Gothic former hospital holds a

library, language institute, art school, café and many mysterious corners to discover, such as a gorgeous 18th-century operating room.” 56 Carrer Hospital; 34/93-270-2300. ● Carrer de Joaquín Costa “Once infamous — a notorious serial killer lived here — this street is now lined with El Raval’s best bars. My favorite is the ‘Berlin-style’ (dark and industrial) Benidorm Bar [39 Carrer de Joaquín Costa; 34/93-317-8052].” ● Mam i Teca and La Reina del Raval “There has been an amazing revival of tradition-

al Catalonian food. My favorite spots are Mam i Teca [4 Carrer de la Lluna; 34/93-441-3335], for tapas, and La Reina [5 Rambla del Raval; 34/93-443-3655], for well-priced seafood.” » T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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insider | on

the scene

SKYE GYNGELL CHEF, LONDON >> BEFORE SHE TURNED A GARDEN CENTER–CAFÉ IN SUBURBAN SURREY INTO THE hardest reservation to score south of the Thames and penned a pair of hot cookbooks, A Year in My Kitchen and My Favourite Ingredients (Quadrille Publishing), Skye Gyngell was a restless Aussie. “I always felt like I was born in the wrong country,” says the chef, who left Sydney at 19 to travel Europe, later settling in London, where she has lived for nearly 20 years. “You do feel like things happen here first—London is historical, but it’s a modern city, too.” Her restaurant at Petersham Nurseries Café (Church Lane, Richmond; 44-20/ 8605-3627; lunch for two £103) straddles both a physical and a metaphorical line between city and country (note the borlotti beans straight from the kitchen garden). “But my food has an urban heartbeat,” she says. “It’s influenced by the Lebanese shops in my neighborhood, the Brick Lane Indian restaurants, the two Portuguese guys who grill fish outside on Golborne Road.”—N A T H A L I E J O R D I GYNGELL’S LONDON ● John Sandoe Books “The staff knows every single title in here. They recently led me to

a gorgeous Robert Polidori photography book.” 10 Blacklands Terrace; 44-20/7589-9473. ● Ida “I sometimes eat two bowls of their hand-rolled pasta, especially the pappardelle

with goat cheese and honey.” 167 Fifth Ave.; 44-20/8969-9853; dinner for two £57. ● Marylebone Farmers’ Market “I’ll start my Sunday here with breakfast at La Fromagerie and then a walk around the market; I might pick up fresh eggs, sausages from the Ginger Pig, and maybe some flowers.” Cramer St., off Marylebone High St.

In Season From top: Chef Skye Gyngell; Petersham Nurseries, in Surrey, where she has her café; Gyngell’s cookbook A Year in My Kitchen.

IT’S NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO GET PAST BALLET DANCER ROBERTO Bolle’s staggering good looks and focus on his talent (go on, just look at that photo), but talent is his, in spades. A child prodigy, Bolle was just 11 when he began training at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala (2 Via Filodrammatici; 39-02/7200-3744; teatroallascala.org). Almost 2½ decades and a glittering roster of plum roles as one of La Scala’s stars later, this season Bolle becomes a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre (May 18– July 11; 212/362-6000; abt.org) in New York. But Milan, with its mix of patrician quarters and gritty corners, retains a firm hold on his heart. “It’s not the most beautiful, or even the most appealing, city in this country. What Milan has instead is the modern human dimension—it’s a città vivante,” he explains. “The architects, artists and dancers who live and work here are creating a vibrant Milanese culture.”—M . S . BOLLE’S MILAN ● Brera District “It’s still the best place to go for an aperitivo and be in the middle of things. It’s youthful and vibrant, frequentatissimo by the art students — though they can’t possibly afford to actually live here anymore, of course.”

Leading Man Clockwise from top: Ballet dancer Roberto Bolle in Milan; Bolle at work; the city’s Teatro alla Scala.

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● Café Victoria “This is invariably where I meet friends for a late dinner after performances. It’s just a two-minute walk from La Scala, and has reliably good food — Milanese basics, always fresh. Plus, it’s great looking inside.” 1 Via Clerici; 3902/805-3598; dinner for two ¤82. ● Chocolat “I tend to watch what I eat, but Chocolat is my weak spot. It has absolutely the best gelato in Milan — maybe in Italy.” 9 Via Boccaccio; 39-02/4810-0597. ✚

C L O C K W I S E F R O M T O P R I G H T : P H I L L I P H O L L I S ; C O U R T E S Y O F P E T E R S H A M N U R S E R I E S ; D AV I E S + S TA R R ; L U C I A N O R O M A N O ; C O U R T E S Y O F T E AT R O A L L A S C A L A ; G E N E S C H I AV O N E

<< ROBERTO BOLLE DANCER, MILAN


Jet Set

Special Section Look the part when traveling first class on Thai Airways. Photographed by Nat Prakobsantisuk. Styled by Araya Indra

FLYING IN STYLE Wool knit top with fur trim, Fendi; leather belt, Hermès; wool pants, Louis Vuitton; sunglasses, Chanel; shoulder bag, Jimmy Choo.


Special Section

AT THE FIRST CLASS CHECK-IN COUNTER Silk crêpe dress with lace detail, sunglasses attached to necklace and patent leather bag, Chanel; snakeskin sandals, Prada; bag on counter, Fendi; watch, Rolex; black and brown suitcase, Prada; monogrammed suitcases, Louis Vuitton. IN THE FIRST CLASS SPA LOUNGE Suede dress with leather belt, Dior; sandals and silk scarf, Hermès; bag, Jimmy Choo.


P H OTO G R A P H E R ’ S A S S I S TA N T S : S A N G A RU N C H A M PAWA N, E K K A R AT U B O N S R I . H A I R : VA S A N A O A D I S A I . M A K E - U P : S U R A P R I AC H I R A K U L . M O D E L : T E T I A N A G RY G O R E N KO / A P P L E M O D E L

Special Section

IN THE ROYAL FIRST CLASS CABIN Cotton polo dress and silk scarf, Hermès; wool tweed skirt; sunglasses, necklace and bangles, Chanel; wedge sandals, Dior; white bag, Jimmy Choo; black bag, Chanel. CATCHING THE FLIGHT IN BANGKOK Silk pleated dress, Fendi; silk printed coat, Kenzo; jeans, sunglasses and bag, Chanel; sandals and overnight suitcase, Louis Vuitton; hat, stylist’s own..


Special Section

On the Ground and in the Air, THAI offers Stylish Service

hailand is well known around the world for the friendliness of its people and its high service standards, and one of the best examples of both is found on Thai Airways International. Now, that level of service has also been recognized on the ground as the airline earned a number one ranking in both the First and Business Class Airport Service category in the 2008 Skytrax global survey of airlines. “THAI’s new Royal First Class Lounge at Suvarnabhumi Airport has the most extensive choice of options to satisfy passenger demands,” explains Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax, a firm that conducts global, independent passenger surveys of airline standards. “These facilities, combined with exclusive staff service attention, offer what our respondents named as the world’s best.” Economy Class passengers aren’t left out of the equation either, as THAI climbed into second place overall in the survey as far as airport services go, up from fifth a year earlier. Improvements on the ground as well as in the air come during trying economic times, when competition among the world’s elite airlines is at a peak. Improving significantly on products and services has never been more vital. “We realize that we have to work even harder,” says Air Chief Marshal Narongsak Sangapong, the airline’s acting president. “Everyone at THAI will strive for further increases in our rankings in the future,” he adds. The latest survey took all of THAI’s airport services into account, from check-in facilities through boarding. Notable at

T

THAI’s Royal First Class Lounge at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok is a soothing spa, offering a relaxing environment for foot, head and shoulder massages. There are even three rooms where passengers can enjoy a full spa treatment, complete with Jacuzzis in each room. It’s a good bet that this type of spa lounge cannot be found in any other airport in the world. It has that essential Thai feeling that makes this country one of the world’s top tourist destinations. The customer survey seems to bear this out. For first-class passengers, the lounge boasts a dedicated chef who prepares food from different countries in addition to the extensive Thai menu. Staff services in THAI’s Royal First and Business Classes earned top marks when it comes to service efficiency, enthusiasm and consistency, interacting with customers, problem solving, taking the service to the customers, boarding assistance and handling delay situations. As a country, Thailand is known around the world for its distinct sense of hospitality, something that comes through as soon as you check in on Thai Airways. From the first welcoming smiles at check-in, to the wai that greets passengers on board the aircraft, THAI staff is always welcoming. Much like the country itself.

Surround yourself in the service of Royal Silk Class on THAI


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P R O P S T Y L I S T : S H A R O N R YA N F O R H A L L E Y R E S O U R C E S

ERE IN ENGLAND, where it rains, the waterproof Hunter Wellington has quietly served the nation since 1856 as a sort of rubbery second flag. Our men braved the muds of the Great War in Hunters, and since 1977, the Royals have refused to tramp their estates in anything else. Why? Because nothing fits or lasts like a Hunter, thanks to a certain Mr. Henry Lee Norris, whose original molding process, over the years, has been tweaked to perfection. The fact is that any old wellie can keep your feet dry, as can a pair of plastic bags, if you tie them right. But only a Hunter can make you grateful for the rain—and for that and for those upon which it falls. —B RU N O M A D D O X . ✚

LET IT RAIN

For more than 150 years, Hunter boots have kept Britons dry—and standing tall—both at home and abroad. Photographed by NIGEL COX T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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stylish traveler

| on the road

Globetrotting Chic Clockwise from far left: Tia Cibani, creative director of Ports 1961; Cibani at the Bahá’í temple in New Delhi; Ports 1961’s flagship store in New York City; colorful Indian fabric; nan bread; the Taj Mahal.

U.S.A.

BEYOND BORDERS NY FASHION DESIGNER can claim some exotic locale—say, Marrakech or the Masai Highlands—as inspiration. But few can tout roots as truly cosmopolitan as Tia Cibani’s. The creative director of Ports 1961 was born in Libya to Libyan–Italian parents, raised in Canada, educated in New York and cut her designing teeth in Xiamen, China, where her brotherin-law had moved the operations for parent company Ports International in 1994. Though Cibani now counts New York City as her home, she still maintains a worldly outlook, both in her clothes and her life. We asked her recently to give us the lowdown on her most recent travels and current favorites.

A

DREAM DESTINATION “I had wanted to go to India for a very long time and this March my dreams finally came true! I couldn’t wait to experience the vivid colors, food and culture, the music, architecture and fabrics. I could have bought a million saris.”

● FAVORITE

DESTINATION “My favorite holiday

destination of the moment is Brittany in the west coast of France. I have recently fallen in love with sailing and the sailing there is so romantic and exhilarating. I have a dear friend who keeps a boat there and the escape to the sea has been such a refreshing way to vacation!” ● MUST-PACK ITEMS “When I travel I always make sure to bring my jetset kit: robe, slippers, eye mask, scented

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C LO C KW I S E F RO M TO P L E F T: CO U RT ESY O F T I A C I BA N I ( 2 ) ; CO U RT ESY O F P O RTS 1 961 ; © M O RA M O RA /

Tia Cibani, the perpatetic creative director of Ports 1961, reveals her global hit list of hotels, restaurants and more. By JENNIFER CHEN


C I SI M E EF. R E FSTM : A CN OO UH RT EO RY F S G TR EE PAH TA ER I CETNOI R I A /; © GG AI M / EI S C K P H OTO.CO M ; © E DWA R D W EST M ACOT T / DL RO EC AK MW ST CO OM M ; L© A ER S /Y DORFE A AR MTS TGI A MLEL. C M ; O© N EV B TO D RTERAI M ST . CTOOM D R E A M S T I M E . C O M ; © S YA N T S E / D R E A M S T I M E . C O M ; C O U R T E S Y O F P O R T S 1 9 6 1 ; C O U R T E S Y O F H Ô T E L B O U R G T I B O U R G

XIAMEN, REVEALED “Xiamen is one of the most charming cities in China. It has a Miami flair with its palm trees and hibiscus flowers, it is an island with a beautiful beach. I love being there because it is serene and tranquil. I love the Nanputuo temple. It is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in China and is an inspiring place to visit.”

From Paris to China Clockwise from above: “Totem Walk at Sitka” by Emily Carr; a candle; an eye mask; Xiamen’s skyline; a spring-summer 2009 look by Ports 1961; Hôtel Bourg Tibourg.

candle. I also like to bring a million scarves and just wrap myself in them for breakfast, lunch or evenings out. They act as my sarong for the beach and my evening dress when multilayered. They are easy to pack and take up no room at all. I also make sure to bring a good book, a blank book for personal journal notes and inspiration record, my trusty digital camera, my scented oil and Chapstick. These items are essential because they are my comforts. They are little things that make a big difference.” ● PACKING PHILOSOPHY “My packing philosophy relies on multifunctional items. A skirt that doubles as a dress, or a scarf that doubles as an in-flight blanket. I feel it is important to stay focused on the mission of the trip but always bring one special party dress because you never know when a festive occasion may occur!”

IN NEW YORK “My favorite little eating/ drinking place in New York is just around the corner from where I live. It is a Spanish tapas bar called El Quinto Pino [401 W. 24th St., near Ninth Ave.; 1-212/206-6900].” ● ESPAÑA

● JET

LAG RX “I find the best remedy for jetlag is to fight

it! Stay up late the first day you arrive … two glasses of wine with dinner and you are set!” ROOTS “My spring-summer collection is inspired by the place in which I was raised, Canada. I decided to go home with this season as travel to faraway lands has consistently been my inspiration. … The collection tells the story of native art through the works

● CANADIAN

FAVORITE STAY “My favorite hotel is the Bourg Tibourg in Paris in the Marais district [19 Rue du Bourg-Tibourg; 33-1/42-78-47-39; doubles from ¤230]. It has been my home away from home for years during fabric-buying trips. It has the charm and romance of Morocco in the heart of Paris.”

of the famed [Canadian] artist–writer, Emily Carr. The focus is on lean silhouettes and bold color with the idea of a totem pole in mind. I have the travel bug … something I’ve had since childhood. I can’t help but be inspired by the many facets of the travel experience and the element of discovery.” ✚

T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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corner

REAL MADRID

T+L heads to the Spanish capital and asks six stylish Madrileños where to shop and what to do in their city. By CATESBY HOLMES. Photographed by JAVIER SALAS

T

HROUGHOUT THE 20TH CENTURY,

while Barcelona skimmed the cutting edge, Madrid hugged Castilian conventions tight. But over the past decade, as avant-garde restaurants rocked the culinary landscape and the immigrant population swelled, the old-fashioned capital of Spain said hola to a cosmopolitan future. Travel + Leisure went people-watching in the Plaza de Vázquez de Mella, in Chueca, the Bourbon-era barrio turned center-of-all-things-hip; today the neighborhood’s Belle Époque buildings house so many boutiques, bars and restaurants that the narrow cobblestoned streets literally buzz 24 hours a day. There, we found a diversity of looks—eclectic but somehow classic, casual and always cool—that define 21st-century Madrid.

Plaza de Vázquez de Mella

SPAIN

ARACELI GONZALEZ DANCER Until recently the Triball barrio was a red-light district; now it’s mostly fashion-forward tiendas. I often mix pieces from Picnic [8 Calle Ballesta; 34/91-523-9090], which stocks a range of dresses in amazing prints, and La Maison de la Lanterne Rouge [4 Calle Ballesta; 34/91-310-7961; lalinternaroja.lamaison. es], a boutique, café and theater all housed within a former brothel. There’s also La Vía Láctea [18 Calle Velarde; 34/91446-7581], an emblematic bar madrileño with old rock n’ roll posters on the walls. It’s been around forever. 64

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LEONARDO PEÑA FLIGHT ATTENDANT My style is inspired by art. Some days I’m in a Michelangelo mood—he successfully combined shades that would seem to clash. There’s a Spanish designer I love, Amaya Arzuaga [50 Calle Lagasca; 34/91-426-2815], because she really plays with volume— her clothing is like sculpture. Something that everyone should see right now is the Francis Bacon show at the Museo del Prado [Paseo del Prado; 34/91-330-2800; museodelprado.es; through April 17], celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth. A contemporary artist at the Prado? ¡Qué bueno! »


Plaza de Vázquez de Mella MAURICIO DELGA DO REAL ESTATE AGENT I work in a mundo formal, and always dress the part—even when I’m walking my dog, Tahis. My suit is from Cortefiel [27 Gran Vía; 34/91-531-8869; cortefiel.es], a classic, elegant Spanish label. This neighborhood is home to one of my favorite lunch spots, the Modern Dining Room [6 Calle Clavel; 34/91-522-3935; dinner for two €60]. They have a real Valencian making the paella.

ROSA PICAS SOCIAL WORKER A lot of my clothing comes from El Rastro [Plaza de Cascorro], a huge Sunday-morning flea market in La Latina barrio. Afterward everyone goes for cañas [beer] and tapas at bars nearby. But the best tapas are right here in Chueca, at the Bar el Tigre [30 Calle de las Infantas; 34/91-532-0072; tapas for two €60]. I love their croquetas de queso.

MILANA TIVIDAD ACTRESS I’m a woman who wears many hats—literally. Muitobrigado [55 Calle Juan Bravo; 34/91-309-3833] in the Salamanca barrio, is the cutest millinery, with wool caps, sun hats and more. I’m dying to see the Hamlet production at the Teatro Español [Naves de Español, Matadero Madrid, 14 Paseo de la Chopera; 34/90-210-1212; through April 12] starring Blanca Portillo, one of Spain’s most celebrated actresses.

PABLO TORRES WEIST STYLIST Chueca is full of accessories stores, so I come here a lot for my job. Ensanchez [12 Calle Argensola; 34/91-319-5850] is known for its colorful leather purses, designed by one of the owners. I’m a big fan of scarves; I’ve found everything from silk handkerchiefs to cotton bandannas mixed in with clothes from the 1940’s to the 70’s at Lotta Vintage [9 Calle Hernán Cortés; 34/91-523-2505].  T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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stylish traveler

| beauty

IN-FLIGHT AID

S

PENDING HOURS ON

These plane-friendly products will keep you looking great and feeling refreshed on the flight to Europe. By ELIZABETH WOODSON. Photographed by SANG AN

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end at 9,000 meters is no picnic. So whether you’re looking to moisturize or to get a good night’s sleep, we’ve got the quick fi x. It may not replace antibacterial hand sanitizer, but an Infusion d’Iris Refreshing Tissue by Prada 1 will give you an instant pick-me-up with its scent of iris, vetiver and Sicilian mandarin. The green tea–and– shea butter formula in the Time Response Hand Renewal Creme by AmorePacific 2 promises to ward off dryness. To combat under-eye puffiness, pack Sampar Eye Rule’s steel roller ball with argan oil 3. For immediate hydration, use Stimulskin Plus Divine Lifting Cream by Darphin 4 —it absorbs quickly and won’t leave a greasy residue on your face. Anti-Aging Eye Illuminator from Peter Thomas Roth 5 reflects light to reduce the appearance of dark circles. Sleeping with makeup on can clog pores; MD Skincare EZ4U 4-in-1 Facial Treatment Packettes 6 remove all traces just as well as soap and water without drying your skin. Dab a bit of lavenderinfused Cedrus Temple Soother by Molton Brown 7 on your pulse points to help you relax. Thanks to raspberry and shea butter, La Prairie Cellular Lip Renewal Concentrate 8 soothes even the most chapped lips. To keep light out and lock in moisture, don the Talika Eye Therapy sleeping mask 9. Its gel coating of avocado, safflower and other essential oils is a secret weapon for any frequent flier. ✚


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stylish traveler

| shopping

BEYOND THE BRANDS Hong Kong’s hipster enclave of NoHo has plenty to tempt shoppers looking for something unique. Story and photographs by LARA DAY

HONG KONG

I

N A CITY SATURATED with labels, Hong Kong’s NoHo district stands out for what it doesn’t have. Instead of big brand names and fast-fashion chains, this quiet neighborhood just north of Hollywood Road is filled with design-savvy, independent boutiques selling avant-garde ceramics, handmade baubles and other temptations that you never knew you needed. Here, we let you in on some of our favorite shops:

CECILE TU CONTEMPORARY JEWELLERY

No to Labels Clockwise from top: At Gallery de Vie; ceramics on offer at Earth Home; Addiction specializes in wacky; the contemporary feel at Earth Home.

It’s easy to overlook Cecile Tu’s high-ceilinged boutique nestled in the lower half of Aberdeen Street. The window display seems to hold nothing but slabs of organically textured, emerald-tinted glass. But take a closer look and you’ll glimpse a delicate choker necklace with a pendant wrought from the same material sus`pended above the glass—an arrangement that smacks more of installation art than crass commercialism. Indeed, many of the creations by the Central Saint Martins graduate border on conceptual art. Exhibit A: her “viral” necklaces and bracelets. “I was inspired by a virologist friend of mine who showed me some microscope images of a virus,” says Tu. “I thought they were somehow beautiful.” Ground floor, 15 Aberdeen St.; 852/2817-1533. EARTH HOME

Exposed concrete and dark wood set off the contemporary earthenware on display at this cozy showroom, tucked away in a tiny lane between Gough Street and Hollywood Road.


Come here for pieces by renowned Thai ceramicist Somluk Pantiboon, whose stunning creations marry solid organic shapes with startling, subtly textured glazes; his tenmoku, or “eye of heaven,” pieces are an interior designer’s dream. Originally dedicated to showing Somluk’s work outside of his studio in northern Thailand, the shop now also sells a small selection of Royal Selangor pewter. Shop C2, lower ground floor, Po Lung Building, 91–95 Hollywood Rd.; 852/ 2547-0101; earthhome.com.hk. GALLERY DE VIE

Apple-green walls set the tone for this arty eclecticism of gallery-cum-shop. Here, you’ll find everything from Lomo cameras and Moleskine notebooks to woven-leather wrist bands, slick totes and urban clothing by up-and-coming designers from Hong Kong and around the world. Check out the threads by London catwalk darling Ann-Sofie Back. Displays can be surprising and sometimes verge on the bizarre—but they’re a reminder that the place doesn’t take itself too seriously. A basement gallery shows offbeat, frequently changing exhibitions. Ground floor, 45 Gough St.; 852/2851-1848. AVANTARA

With its floor-to-ceiling windows, this 316-square-meter home wares store and gallery beckons invitingly from an unassuming side street parallel to Gough. It’s all about aspirational living here; raw-silk pillows and mother-of-pearl wall hangings were some of the items that caught our eye. Look out for refined contemporary art works by accomplished Southeast Asian artists: recent displays included black-and white fine-art photography by Thailand’s Supachai Ketkaroonkul and elegant welded-brass sculptures by the Philippines’ Ferdinand Cacnio. Ground floor, 16-18 Kau U Fong; 852/3691-8480; avantara-inc.com.

Funky Fashion From top: Arty at Gallery De Vie; Addiction’s furry friends; cool oddities at Addiction; viral designs at Cecile Tu Contemporary Jewellery; emerging designs at Addiction.

ADDICTION

Connoisseurs of edgy, underground design rejoice. Instead of traveling to Berlin or Brooklyn, you can find the unusual and the downright wacky at this spacious, ecru-colored boutique. Run by former brand consultant Estelle Chen and designer Anthony Tao, Addiction stocks up on goodies by emerging, hard-to-find designers such as Brooklynhipster golden-boy Jason Miller—think lounge chairs decked out in duct tape. On a recent visit, we found ourselves coveting the ceramic-pigeon wall lamps, a range of decorative sheep from New Zealand made of wood and untreated sheepskin (one doubles as a rocking sheep), and white plaster wall hooks in the form of gesturing hands. Beautifully handwritten product descriptions help make sense of the store’s offerings. Ground floor, 15 Gough St.; 852/2581-2779.  T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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stylish traveler

| must-haves

BEST FACE FORWARD Good grooming for men goes beyond shaving. Here, some skin-care basics. Photographed by SITTIPUN CHAITERDSIRI. Styled by ATINAN NITISUNTHONKUL

Top row, from left: After Shave Energizer, Clarins Men, clarins.com; Daily Cleansing Face Scrub, Issey Miyake, isseymiyake.co.jp; Lip Balm SPF 15, Clinique Skin Supplies for Men, skinsuppliesformen.com; Shaving Gel, L’Occitane, loccitane.com. Middle row, from left: Facial Fuel SPF 15 Sunscreen, Kiehl’s, kiehls.com; Hydrating Lotion, Shiseido Men, shiseido.com; Cade Juniper Bark Scrub, L’Occitane; Total Revitalizer, Shiseido Men.

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I L L U S T R AT I O N BY WA S I N E E C H A N TA KO R N

PHOTO CREDIT TK

Bottom row, from left: Outdoor Skin Defence Spray, Lab Series Skincare for Men, labseries.com; Soothing After-Shave Balm, Issey Miyake; Cream Shave, Clinique Skin Supplies for Men.


~ T R E N D S ,

C U L T U R E ,

F O O D

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M O R E ~

T+L Journal

The entrance to the Hacienda Merrha, at the Basilippo olive oil estate, outside Seville, Spain.

SPAIN

Andalusian Gold

On a drive through olive oil–soaked southern Spain, BILL DONAHUE finds ancient traditions and artisanal innovations. Photographed by PRESTON SCHLEBUSCH T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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t+l journal

| driving

HE CHEF CAME OUT of the kitchen again— solicitous, in crisp whites—and this time he placed before us a tiny, delicate bowl of cool white gazpacho. “Here,” he said, “the principal ingredient is an Arbequina olive oil. Fruitier than others, sweeter. Grown in Córdoba.” Willy Moya peered at me with a dark, somber air; we were in Seville, at Moya’s own Restaurante Poncio, and he awaited my critical verdict. Not that I’m an oil-tasting expert of any kind, but I was starting out on a four-day swing through Andalusia in pursuit of olive-oil nirvana and wisdom. Like a lot of other Americans over the past few years, I’ve come to regard the golden green elixir with a

T

certain romance—every bottle of olive oil tells a story about the weather and terrain of the place it was born. I had traveled to the source to get a taste of the landscape. Andalusia is Spain’s premier olive-oil region, with endless rows of trees planted beneath the bright Mediterranean sun. Many mills here have recently shifted from selling low-grade oil in bulk to making quality artisanal olive oils. As Moya resumed his olive-oil primer, running through his menu, I felt as though I were venturing into a newly discovered land. “Red tuna,” he said, “prepared with the most popular and spicy oil in all of Andalusia—Hojiblanca. And now ibérico ham. And now red-pepper ice cream made with olive oil….” I finally saw an olive tree the next morning. By then I was


Some of the local produce. From opposite left: The narrow streets of Seville; wine barrels and olive-oil pumps in the Restaurante Oleocultura; oil artisan Nicolás Marín in his groves.

whirring west, off toward the province of Huelva with Roger Davies, a droll Welsh expat who runs a culinary tour company, A Question of Taste, from his Seville home. The leaves in the groves fluttered green and greenish-silver beside us, and Davies spoke with a transplant’s zeal about the magic of olives. “Here in Andalusia,” he said, “there have been olives since the Phoenicians came 3,000 years ago.” In time, we turned into a stone driveway outside Beas to meet Nicolás Gómez Marín, a small man in his sixties wearing a dashing tartan scarf. Marín typifies the new oil artisan: he’s a chemist, a Ph.D. in pharmacology, and his mill, San Nicolás y San Esteban, is tiny, producing just 30,000 bottles of oil each year. He gave us a walking tour of

the groves. There was nary a weed, and in precise tones Marín explained that he picks his olives a month or so earlier than his competitors, in October, while they are still green and hard—unjuicy, but piquantly fresh. This makes for a lighter, sharper oil. When we came upon a workman, Marín’s voice went quiet. “This man here,” he murmured, “has won prizes for his pruning.” José Lozano was unfazed by the tribute, and also garrulous. “There is only one way to prune a tree,” he bellowed, drawing on wisdom gleaned from his greatgrandfather, his grandfather, and his father. “With logic!” The trees around him were nublike, more denuded of branches than any others I would see in Andalusia. “If you »


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ask a tree to grow a million olives,” he said, “well, that’s like asking a father to feed 10 sons. No one will eat!” I kept expecting such gusto from Marín himself, but for him it seemed olive oil was a Platonic concept, a laboratory ideal. Marín juices his olives, as nearly everyone in Andalusia has since the 1980’s, by running them through a gleaming stainless-steel centrifuge. He studies his oil with a spectrograph, in hopes of attaining a secret, optimal wavelength. But when I asked him about flavor, he demurred—and instead speed-dialed one of Spain’s most esteemed oil savants, Madrid restaurateur Norberto Jorge, who orated by speakerphone. “Good olive oil,” Jorge pronounced, “is like campo verde, like cut grass, like fresh things—the smell of tomato leaves and artichokes. In the mouth, it must be silky, not chewy, not dense, and it must leave a bitter taste at the sides of the tongue and a little tingling at the back of your throat.” Davies deemed Marín’s oil “maybe the best that I’ve ever tasted.” Still, I knew that all Andalusian olive oils are, like football teams in the Midwest, somebody’s favorite. So we drove on, toward Basilippo mill, near El Viso del Alcor, and met with owner Juan Morillo. We tasted his oils and toured his small museum, which displays a scale model of an 78

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ancient Spanish olive oil press, a prensa viga y quintal, which would lever a giant stone weight down on to the harvest. Outside, atop a tower, was an ancient bell, the sort that was used back in the 18th century to signal the start and finish of the field-workers’ day in the groves. The bell gleamed in the sun. We were just beginning our journey into the past. El Vínculo mill, near the village of Zahara de la Sierra, has been in the same family since its inception in 1755, and its current owner, Juan Urruti, is one of the few Andalusian holdouts who still extract oil using the hydraulic cold-press method perfected in the mid 19th century. He squeezes juice from whole fresh olives by pressing them between heavy disks, some 2 meters across. When we arrived, Urruti—a large and voluble red-faced man with slicked-back hair—was in his small gift shop surrounded by dilapidated wooden chairs and yellowing photos of the legendary bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez and Ordóñez’s pal Ernest Hemingway. He led us outside to his presses and settling tanks, which are a century old and flecked with the acrid remnants of dried olives, and then he launched into a lecture on how the centrifuge epitomizes the evils of modernity. “They call what they make ‘extra virgin,’ ” he snorted, “but they’re spinning it around—they’re


Olive orchards in the Andalusian countryside outside Córdoba. Right: Olive-oil maker Francisco Núñez de Prado, at his farm near Córdoba. Opposite, from left: Salmorejo soup with chopped cabbage at Museo-Restaurante Oleocultura, in Castro del Río; bottles of sherry at El Rinconcillo.

Juan Urruti squeezes juice from fresh OLIVES by pressing them between heavy disks, some 2 meters across

touching it!—six thousand times a minute. Extra virgin! As if Joseph never even looked at the Virgin Mary!” In the end, I didn’t buy any of Urruti’s inexpensive, opaque olive oil, and Davies felt my restraint was wise. “You wouldn’t have liked it,” he said. “A lot of people speak of the old days, pre-centrifuge, as some sort of lost Eden. But that’s bollocks, I say. Cold pressing is dirtier—you get leaves in the oil, and dirt.” I knew what he meant. Extra virgin is a label awarded to the purest oils, whose acidity level is below 0.8 percent, and since pH is a function of how much debris is in the oil, a lot of cold-press oil is simply “virgin.” I’d tasted some virgin earlier at a roadside café and found it gummy and sandy.

Still, I harbored my own Edenic visions, so the next day, alone, in the rain, I drove east, past Córdoba and through the dry, rolling landscape into the village of Castro del Río, where there was a museum with a modest restaurant, Oleocultura, decorated with old black iron hydraulic olive presses and several scales. The waiter-cook, Diego Alva, brought out a plate of pitted olives he’d cured himself in garlic, fennel and lemon, and showed me how he’d extracted the pits one by one using a little wooden device, a partida. “It takes time,” he said, “but no problem. You are talking with friends. You are drinking.” I savored a single glass of red wine myself, and then I drove farther east. In the village of Baena, there is a small mill, Núñez de Prado, which for four generations has been favored by Spain’s royal family. Núñez de Prado makes exquisite cold-press oil using looming iron machines that are at once amiably antique and antiseptically clean. The principal is Francisco Núñez de Prado, a Ph.D. in international law who three decades ago left his budding career as a diplomat to run his family’s business—which he does with erudite aplomb. I found Núñez de Prado by the hearth in his office, amid several gilt-framed letters from kings. He regarded my » T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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hopes of attaining a palate with skepticism. “For olive oil,” he said, “you need twenty years. How many types of bitter are there? How many green colors are there that you’ll feel on your tongue? Hundreds.” To educate me, Núñez de Prado drove me up into his family’s vast groves—over a rolling dirt road through legions of Picual trees. He piloted his Range Rover slowly, veering off the road to inspect individual trees and getting so close that the branches scratched at the roof. The trees were a woolly profusion of branches, and the ground underneath a mess of high, wild grass. I brought up the “10 brothers” theory of pruning, and Núñez de Prado quietly snickered. “That’s like saying that if you are producing small people, and not tall ones, you are producing big brains,” he said. “It is nonsense. We will let the trees grow. Our oil is organic—all natural.” Soon we passed some workers picking up a last few fallen olives. Núñez de Prado gave them a lordly wave and then drove on, past lichen-specked boulders and around hilly turns, looking down into the drizzle at the spidery trees stretching into the distance. He said nothing, but he seemed bemused, happy. “Stendhal,” he told me, “once said that the two best ways for a man to waste time are culture and agriculture. With olive oil, I think, I have wasted my time very well.” 

GUIDE TO ANDALUSIAN OLIVE COUNTRY GETTING THERE Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways all fly to Madrid or Barcelona. From there, Iberia flies to Malaga where you can rent a car and drive to Córdoba and Zahara de la Sierra.

WHERE TO EAT El Rinconcillo 40 Calle Gerona, Seville; 34/95-422-3183; dinner for two ¤61.

TOURS A Question of Taste Specializing in food and wine tours; based in Seville. 34/95471-3710; aqot.com.

Restaurante Poncio 8 Calle Victoria, Seville; 34/95-4340010; dinner for two ¤77.

Heritage Tours Private Travel Customized trips to the region. 1-800/378-4555; heritagetoursonline.com. WHERE TO STAY Hotel Alfonso XIII 2 Calle San Fernando, Seville; 34/95491-7000; luxurycollection. com; doubles from ¤580. Hospes Palacio del Bailío 10 Calle Ramírez de las Casas Oeza, Córdoba; 34/95-7498993; hospes.es; doubles from ¤252.

Museo-Restaurante Oleocultura 29 Calle Baena, Castro del Río, Córdoba; 34/95737-4005; lunch for two ¤66.

WHAT TO SEE Basilippo Km 2, Carr. VisoTocina, El Viso del Alcor; 34/95574-0695; basilippo.com. Molino el Vínculo Carr. ZaharaGrazalema, Zahara de la Sierra, Cádiz; 34/95-612-3002; molinoelvinculo.com. Núñez de Prado 15 Avda. Cervantes; Baena, Córdoba; 34/95-767-0141; nunezdepradousa.com. San Nicolás y San Esteban Beas, Huelva; 34/95-950-0570; aceitesnicolas.com.


mind+body | t+l journal The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, in Lourdes. Inset: Two nuns in front of the souvenir shops on Boulevard de la Grotte.

A French Pilgrimage The sacred grotto of Lourdes is experiencing a revival. Millions visit this tiny town in the Pyrenees each year for its basilicas and its famous waters. By BRAD GOOCH. Photographed by DAVID NICOLAS

FRANCE

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your destination?” asked a passerby as she volunteered to lug an oversize suitcase for a red-headed woman on the TGV at Paris’s Montparnasse Station. “I’m going to Lourdes. Perhaps a nice young man will help me off with it!” she replied. “Well, it is the place of mira-

cles,” said the Good Samaritan as she descended back onto the platform. Indeed, most of the two dozen of us in the coach (including a French civil servant watching The Devil Wears Prada on his laptop) turned out to be booked for the 5½-hour ride to Lourdes. It runs through the farmlands of middle France and then to the wine capital of Bordeaux. The vibe changes at » T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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Pau, a village that faces the snowy caps of the Pyrenees and perches above the teal-green Gave de Pau River, which rushes at high speed 40 kilometers downstream to Lourdes. Water always has been the star in the Hautes-Pyrénées, an underexposed region of southwestern France that borders Spain. And of all its bubbling brooks, thermal spas and cascading waterfalls, the spring at Lourdes, discovered by 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 during one of her 18 visions of the Virgin Mary in a riverside grotto, is its most famous effluence. More than six million visitors a year come to Lourdes to pray, bathe or simply gawk at its reputed healing source. Bernadette’s own accounts of her visions in the Grotto of Massabielle (old rock) were actually quite understated. She reported seeing a little girl wearing a white dress with a blue belt and a yellow rose on each foot. For weeks, she simply called her (in the local patois) “aqueró,” or “that thing.” But when a friend of Bernadette’s dipped her paralyzed arm in the spring and was instantly healed, crowds began to gather. Bernadette’s miraculous legacy still lives on for the Netflix generation thanks to the 1943 The Song of Bernadette, a black-and-white Hollywood film both luminous and kitschy.

Yet nothing about the taxi ride from the Lourdes train station, or about the Cliffside Grand Hôtel de la Grotte, built in 1872, with its hanging eaves and wrought-iron balconies, was a tip-off to the spiritual aura of the town. Unlatching the long wooden shutters of our room, my traveling companion, an American Baptist minister, and I looked out on a small and charming French town. This valley, dotted with tall poplar trees, is cut by a satin river. To arrive at ground zero of Bernadette’s vision, you first have to jostle down Boulevard de la Grotte, a strip of honkytonk religious shops just as tacky as they were when Joris-Karl Huysmans, the 19th-century aesthete and Roman Catholic convert, proclaimed them “a hemorrhage of bad taste.” Stores with names such as Au Sacré Coeur de Jésus, Charles de Foucauld (who lived in extreme poverty in the desert), or, most bluntly, Tourisme et Religion are crammed with Marian nightlights, cross-shaped Lourdes water bottles, and a bijouterie of rosary beads, all displayed under fluorescent lighting. “Lourdes is really a study in contrasts,” says James Martin, Jesuit priest and author of Lourdes Diary, of this high-low setup. “When you’re outside the Domain, it’s a little like being in Las

Pilgrim’s Pride Clockwise from top left: The evening procession; a mural of Pope John Paul II in Lourdes; one of the ubiquitous souvenir shops selling religious mementos; a view of the city and the Pyrenees; the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary; en route to the Grotto of Massabielle.

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Lourdes Scenes From left: A majordomo at the Grand Hôtel de la Grotte; outside the five-room Le Relais de Saux; some of the six million faithful who visit the Grotto of the Apparition, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a 14-year-old girl for the first time in 1858, each year.

Vegas. But when you pass over into the Marian City, the central spot around the grotto, you’re suddenly in a beautiful, prayerful place. Even atheists and non-Catholic Christians would find it moving.” The large, iron St. Michael’s Gate, at the end of the boulevard, topped by statues of three archangels, marks a clean break from the pilgrim trap. The church buildings beyond the gate exude a Christian-theme-park unreality: the 11,000square-meter Rosary Square, surrounded by two elliptical ramps framing the neo-Byzantine Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, atop which, like a second scoop of ice cream, looms the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Just below is an underground concrete bunker of a basilica that can hold 30,000, dedicated by Cardinal Roncalli (who later became Pope John XXIII) in 1958. We arrived just in time for the Marian Procession, which begins at nine o’clock every night from April through October and has been perfected over time into a spiritual trapdoor through which tumble all but the most snarky observers. Winding their way behind a shoulder-borne statue of the Virgin Mary were thousands of pilgrims, like so many fireflies, their candles protected from the wind by tulip-shaped holders, chanting “The Lourdes Hymn,” a variation of “Ave Maria.” In the lead were the malades, in blue sedan chairs, pulled along rickshaw-style by volunteers. Afterward, we proceeded several hundred yards along the bottom of the 27-meter-high shoulder of rock on which the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary is set to a more intimate 3.5-meter-high outcropping, the Grotto, to rub our palms along wet rock made velveteen by a century and a half of such touching, and stare into a lit porthole at the gurgling ur-spring itself. A huge iron candelabra burned. Long troughs, refreshed by spigots, provided springwater for those with knapsacks full of empty bottles. The next morning my friend and I showed up early at the baths a few steps beyond the grotto: 17 marble pools for im-

mersion in water piped from the spring and kept at a brisk 12 degrees Celsius. “This is not for the faint-hearted,” he whispered as we sat on long benches in a sun-dappled stone portico, its front wall carved with the divine prompt heard by Bernadette: GO DRINK AT THE SPRING AND BATHE IN ITS WATERS. On our last night at Lourdes, sharp needles of rain began to fall, accented by thunder and lightning. I borrowed an umbrella to walk to the Esplanade des Processions. I didn’t expect a crowd, but standing on the stone balustrade above the square, I found myself looking down instead on numbers equal to the first night. In the topsy-turvy world of Lourdes, where the sick are given celebrity treatment, the only concessions to the weather were the blue awnings over the sedans, the plastic ponchos and the hundreds of black umbrellas of those surging forward singing “…Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.” Many below, their faces lit by candles, had obviously experienced a hard rain falling in their lives before; their faith made them impervious. ✚

GUIDE TO LOURDES GETTING THERE The TGV runs from Paris to Lourdes four times daily. WHERE TO STAY Gallia et Londres Guest rooms are furnished with antiques. 26 Ave. Bernadette Soubirous; 335/62-94-35-44; hotelsvinuales. com; doubles from ¤137. Grand Hôtel de la Grotte 66 Rue de la Grotte; 33-5/62-94-5887; hotel-grotte.com; doubles from ¤92. Le Relais de Saux A five-room inn on the edge of town. Madeleine et Bernard Heres, Rte. de Tarbes; 33-5/62-94-29-61; doubles from ¤87.

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK Le Magret Beautifully crafted dishes, like pan-seared foie gras with carmelized pears and spiced gingerbread. 10 Rue des Quatre Frères Soulas; 33-5/62-94-2055; dinner for two ¤54. Le Palacio Traditional French, with cassoulet and house-made sausages. 28 Place du Champ Commun; 33-5/62-94-00-59; dinner for two ¤41. WHAT TO SEE AND DO Grotto of Massabielle 1 Rue Monseigneur Théas; 33-5/62-4278-78; lourdes-france.com. St. Michael’s Gate Blvd. de la Grotte; lourdes-france.com.

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t+l journal | special

report no more Shangri-La’s left in Asia? Farflung, bewitching places hardly touched by the outside world? Why, there’s even one actually signposted Shangri-La after that utopia of James Hilton’s classic novel Lost Horizon. It’s up in China’s Yunnan province and used to be called Zhongdian. Not long ago a treasure trove of ancient culture ringed by snowy peaks, the town now features shopping centers, traffic jams and an airport processing 4 million tourists a year. You can even get a B-52 cocktail at one of the town’s 25 bars. Sadly, Zhongdian is hardly alone in its hypersonic transformation. During my three decades in Asia, admittedly just a blink in history, I’ve seen the magic luster fade from such bygone gems as Hoi An and Vang Vieng, Darjeeling and Ubud, Hua Hin and Chiang Mai. Farewell my old friends, welcome to the age of mass tourism. Not to get too pessimistic and branded a nostalgic old-timer, I must note that a reaction has set in to the ravages that modern-day tourism leaves in its wake. This may prove to be a quixotic rear-guard skirmish against overwhelming odds, but groups, individual travelers and even businesses are taking action to retain the irreplaceable cultural identity, atmosphere and physical environment of these very special places. And you can argue that money from tourist pockets does often filter

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HO SAYS THERE ARE

Paradise Rebranded

The popularity of Asia’s so-called Shangri La’s has put many of them at risk. Veteran traveler ANTHONY MECIR surveys what’s going on at three of them and, more importantly, tells us what we can do to help. Illustrated by WASINEE CHANTAKORN

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down to some impoverished locals—albeit at a hefty price. In the end, if we cherish these locales so much, doesn’t it make sense that we should do as much as we can to preserve what makes them so special for future generations? HE FIRST TIME I SAW Luang Prabang in 1974 and fell under its spell, it was cut off from most of the world by the Vietnam War. The ancient royal capital of Laos, nestled deep in a Mekong River valley, was fraying at the edges, but what a glorious fusion of traditional Lao dwellings, French colonial architecture and more than 30 graceful monasteries, some dating back to the 14th century. It wasn’t a “hot destination,” nor a museum, but a ravishing, cohesive, authentic, living community. Fast forward to a chilly morning in today’s Luang Prabang: well-heeled American tourists and scruffy European backpackers trigger their cameras and videocams the moment Buddhist monks pad barefoot out of their monasteries in a serene, timeless ritual. Their charge breaks into the line of golden-yellow robes and nearly tramples kneeling Lao women offering food to the monks. While the influx of these tourists has skyrocketed—the fragile town of 25,000 now takes in a million each year—the number of both monks and their sustaining alms-givers has dwindled. Many of its original inhabitants have departed, selling or renting their homes to foreigners and rich Lao

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outsiders who have turned them into guesthouses, Internet cafés and pizza parlors. The newcomers no longer support the monks with the same generosity. The community is dissolving and with it the wondrous atmosphere. One monastery, Vat Long Khoun, has already closed and others may follow. The abbot and a few of the monks fled to a ramshackle monastery in a nearby forest, which they renovated. “The abbots complain that the monks cannot study or meditate because the tourists often barge into their quarters uninvited to snap photos,” former UNESCO expert and longtime resident Francis Engelmann says. There are more than 160 guesthouses and hotels, by official count, with the Chinese and Koreans planning megahotel complexes for the wholesale market. Along Sisavangvong Road, at the old town’s core, nearly every building caters to the sightseers in one way or another. Compared to most of my other lost loves, Luang Prabang has done far better in not razing its past thanks mainly to UNESCO, which declared it a World Heritage site in 1995. The agency described this urban jewel as “the best preserved city of Southeast Asia.” But, with visible sorrow, on my last trip Engelmann told me: “We have saved Luang Prabang’s buildings, but we have lost its soul.” Not all have given up. Among them, Prince Nithakhong Tiaoksomsanith, who is struggling to preserve his hometown’s cultural legacy by teaching music, dancing, cooking and »

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delicate gold embroidery, all traditional arts endangered by globalization and tourism’s inroads. Old court masters and their teenage students gather at his stilt-propped home, the Cultural House Puang Champa, where the gap between generations seems to close. That, the blueblood hopes, may help avert Luang Prabang’s possible fate: “Disneyland.” T’S A WORD ONE HEARS more frequently around one of the world’s greatest man-made marvels—the temples of Angkor in Cambodia. “Siem Reap may be one of the few spots that still clings to the remnants of the old Cambodia, before the war, before the slaughter,’’ I wrote in my diary in 1980, returning to this northwestern town just months after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime. Siem Reap’s residents had suffered greatly, but the town itself endured—its small scale, the old French market—the artistic ambience so befitting a community on the edge of Cambodia’s greatest creation. At Angkor Wat, an old penniless couple offered warmed palm sugar juice from a bamboo cup as a handful of soldiers escorted me—the sole tourist—through the haunting chambers. Nearly 30 years later, approaching Angkor Wat in the evening, I thought a Grand Prix was in the works—a seamless autocade circled the temple’s vast moat. Nearby, young travelers were gathering for sundowner parties, while buses delivered screeching Chinese tourists to the grand causeway of the temple, wreathed by rising exhaust fumes. And Siem Reap? I found a frenzied, dust-blown work site in place of the languid spot I once knew. Multistory hotels with plate-glass windows were springing up on the banks of the river, into which raw sewage oozed from legions of guesthouses. The world’s rich and coddled had also discovered Angkor so the spiritually traumatized can now book healing sessions with “life coaches” flown from the United States or “Angkorean” stomach wraps of lotus leaf and warm rice at luxury spas. The 6-kilometer road from town to Angkor Wat, once a tranquil alley flanked by towering trees, formed a troop of hotels and shopping malls marching ever closer to the majestic edifice. Siem Reap will soon have 8,000 hotel rooms—siphoning off already-meager water and power sources. “The hotel boom is not going away and there will probably be more built on top of ones we already have,” says Dougald O’Reilly, director of Heritage Watch, a group of prominent Cambodians and foreigners that aims to protect Angkor from being loved to death. They and others hope to foster the low-impact, responsible, educated tourist who also gives back, perhaps by bringing school supplies and clothes for the many impoverished children bypassed by tourism. The Watch’s Heritage Friendly Tourism Campaign seeks to channel visitors away from the most overrun to other, outlying temples. It certifies businesses that respect the ancient sites and surrounding community while urging

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tourists not to buy or disturb antiquities—rubbing the sculpted breasts of apsaras, the sensuous celestial dancers of Angkor, is one such depredation. Meanwhile, in neighboring Thailand, where tourism has become the top cash cow, a small, award-winning outfit is preparing for future shock, as another stunning seascape faces the inevitable assault that I’ve seen happen again and again. First come the backpackers, followed by the local tour operators. Then the last wave storms ashore: big developers. One by one, the islands—Samui, Phuket, Phi Phi, Krabi, Samet, Koh Chang—surrender and once idyllic hideaways become popular destinations for a soak in the sun. Andaman Discoveries, a tourist agency–cum–aid group, started as an effort to help victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami. The main concern, says Eric Rogers, a longtime volunteer with the group, is mass tourism. “What we can do is show the local people that their lifestyles, culture and environment are worth preserving. That people will pay money to see this. That this is worth fighting for,’’ he says. The group offers homestays with villagers, informed explorations of pristine coral reefs, beaches and mangroves, and volunteer opportunities, while trying to educate local people about the pros and cons of big time tourism. Twenty percent of the group’s proceeds go into community projects. Rogers says much of the beachfront property has already been bought up as developers move into “unspoiled” territory from tourist-saturated Phuket to the south. The lure of another exotic place, the thirst for tourist cash, plus corruption and woeful planning thrown in—that’s an unbeatable combination here and everywhere. While the tourist industry chants the mantra of “sustainable, ethical, eco-friendly,” their plans call for “more, more, more.” Their drumbeat leads increasingly to those regions once isolated by conflicts, hostile regimes and offroad geography—Asia’s last tourism frontiers. Yes, these now pamper visitors with easeful entry, haute cuisine and sensuous spas rather than rough roads and the occasional tummy ache. But Shangri-La’s, defined as truly remote havens—changing, of course, as all things must—but according to their own rules and rhythm and not at the speed of jet travel? Let’s get real. These are all but lost. If you ever find one, keep it a secret—for long as you can.  GUIDE TO RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL Andaman Discoveries This group offers eco-tours, cultural trips and volunteer placements in Southern Thailand. 120/2 Sukapiban 3 Rd.; 66-87/917-7165; andamandiscoveries.com. Heritage Watch A nonprofit that promotes sustainable development of Cambodian

tourist sites, teaching travelers how to make a positive impact. heritagewatch.org. UNESCO The U.N. agency teaches travelers how to visit Luang Prabang in a responsible manner and how they can contribute to its preservation. whc.unesco.org/en/list/479


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t+l journal | shopping

U.K.

London Treasure Hunt On an antiques-shopping adventure in the English capital, LYNN YAEGER discovers one-of-a-kind jewelry at too-good-to-believe prices. Photographed by EMILY MOTT

Sterling Pursuits Clockwise from top left: A print shop on Portobello Road; 19thcentury brooches; the Mondays-only market at Covent Garden; shoppers on Portobello Road.

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HEN WILLIAM FAULKNER REMARKED that the past is not dead, that, in fact, it’s not even past, he didn’t go far enough. I am walking down Portobello Road and the evidence of the past is glowing, vibrating, bouncing all around me: frames and fountain pens, toys and tortoiseshell, watches and walking sticks, pewter and perfume bottles—something for every collector’s taste. I’ve been coming to Portobello since I was a teenager searching for Victorian velvet dresses that cost £1, and as my tastes have grown more refined I have only found more to enchant me. The sheer range of collectibles in this small corner of London is astonishing enough, and then there are the vendors—from thrillingly erudite to downright nutty—who expand your knowledge even as they shrink your budget.

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1,500 DEALERS AWAIT It’s 8:30 on a clear Saturday morning, the earliest I can manage to get here, though friends have urged me to arrive sooner, since they say the serious trading is over by now. This is the first outing of a long weekend dedicated to antiquing in London that I’ve been planning since the days the pound soared; by the time I amble down Portobello, past the plaque on George Orwell’s old house, the exchange rate is more favorable, an unexpected bonus but not something I’d counted on. In truth, I always find bargains in London when it comes to quirky antiques and curios I could never come across in the U.S. These three blocks are near to paradise for me, and I’m swimming in the ecstasy of anticipation when I see my friend Allen Ward, a jewelry dealer who’s been setting up at Portobello for 15 years. I tell him I’m heading for the Central Gallery, where the fanciest jewelry is, and he crinkles his nose. “Too rich for me in there,” he sniffs. So we make a plan to meet at our mutual friend Vanessa Williams’s stall in a few hours. At the Central Gallery, the narrow middle aisle is thronged with shoppers. And if offerings are hardly bargain-basement, they are exquisite and well worth the prices, which are at least a third less than they would be in New York. Between this place and the Crown Arcade, where high-end jewelry people congregate in the back, my budget is rapidly expanding upward. Instead of a self-imposed £350 limit, why can’t I spend £720 for that 19th-century bracelet dangling a mine-cut diamond heart? To distract myself, I contemplate the offerings at the Portobello Print & Map Shop and am sorely tempted by a drawing of two lady golfers in sporty ensembles (circa 1910) for £20. I wonder if I need a frankly fake horn-handled magnifying glass, for sale at an outdoor table, or an authentic print of Babar the Elephant for £9, from a stack at a stall in the middle of the street. By the time I get to Vanessa’s booth, in Rogers Antiques Gallery, an arcade with a wildly eclectic range of merchandise, the diamond bracelet has become an obsession. “Why can’t I spend £720?” I wail. Vanessa laughs and shows me what’s new with her. While she’s unveiling a stupendous diamond bird in its original box for £1,590, a Japanese fashionista in a vintage coat is mesmerized by a long silver-and-crystal necklace from the 1920’s marked £56. A calculator gets whipped out to figure the yen-pound conversion. Vanessa whispers to me that she can’t keep these chains in stock. I wish I wanted an Art Deco chain. But I don’t. I want that bracelet. I keep pining until Allen comes by and takes me to 91 Portobello, the arcade where he sets up. He introduces me to Jacquie Borsberry of Jacquie’s Costume Jewellery and her extraordinary collection of Czech glass bracelets, Egyptian-Revival pendants and 1960’s Pop Art flower

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brooches that could have been plucked from Twiggy’s boudoir. “What recession? Jacquie’s here every Saturday in her little shoppette,” the proprietress laughs. By 1 P.M. the street is thick with tourists. It suddenly occurs to me that Mycal Tupper, my diamond-bracelet guy, may be packing up early, so, heart racing, I rush over, and though I have nowhere near £720 in English money and he, like many dealers, is loath to take credit cards, we find a way—he accepts an American check and the deal is done. Oh well. At least I make him throw in a nice vintage box to conceal my shameful deed. DAY

THE ALEXANDRA PALACE Some people wouldn’t relish wandering around a 600-dealer show after having done the same thing the day before, but, as Rose says in Gypsy, some people ain’t me. Like a gourmand planning a fancy dinner while still savoring lunch, I simply do not tire of antiquing. On Sunday morning I head out at the civilized hour of 10 A.M. to a vast show at the Alexandra Palace, or the Ally Pally, as it’s familiarly called. The Pally, a spectacular Victorian pile, is reachable by taxi but I’d recommend the Tube—even if your pockets are deep, do you want to spend nearly £58 on a cab before you even get there? Though it was pouring when I left the hotel, the sun is streaming through the Pally’s glass dome as I pay my £5 admission and enter the show, which offers a range of popularly priced merchandise so diverse that I decide to concentrate on British-made goods, my assumption being that this should be where the bargains are. In short order I see, for less than £100, Victorian Wedgwood bowls; a 1987 Sex Pistols calendar; a plaster bust of Churchill; a small wooden trinket box shaped like a house and decorated with pictures of rural churches; and a circa-1925 velvet doll in a white nightdress with a tag that says she was made in England by the Chad Valley company. (I purchase these »

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Antiques maven Carole Collier and friend at the Jubilee Market.

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t+l journal | shopping

last two items.) But my favorite stand belongs to Andrew Muir, who specializes in Clarice Cliff pottery. These dazzling Deco dishes with their faux-naïf patterns are usually, alas, pretty steep, though Andrew tells me that a small perfect bowl is £51, and for £145 you could start your collection with an exuberantly decorated side plate. DAY

COVENT GARDEN, HERE I COME It’s Monday, which means I’m off to the Monday-only Jubilee Market in Covent Garden. Whenever I mentioned this market to the dealers at Portobello, they said that it’s no good anymore. So I don’t start out with very high hopes. But herein lies the joy of collecting: sure, this flea is rough and tumble, with plenty of unspeakable junk, but there is also a goodly amount of fashionable items—heaps of fur coats from the 1950’s and 60’s (the English seem to have turned irrevocably against wearing fur; you rarely see a fur coat on the street, but there are plenty at the markets); stacks of British Vogues from the 30’s; and so many fitted cases with silver-topped bottles, so many dressing-table mirrors, vanity sets, Bakelite nail buffers and monogrammed fish knives, that you start to believe everyone in Britain was at one time living like Bertie Wooster. (I wonder idly if a taxidermied fox in a glass bell jar would get through customs.) At least this market begins at a civilized hour, I think, when I see the dealers wrapping items at 11 A.M., but I am wrong—they’ve been here since 5 A.M., and they’re packing up. So I sew up some remarkable bargains—a porcelain cup with portraits of King George V and Queen Mary from

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1935 for a ridiculously low £5; two 19th-century dogs made of horn, £43 for the pair; and, for £20, a sailor doll with a wicked grin who started life as a souvenir on an ocean liner. DAY

PACKING IT IN (DESPITE A SETBACK) Tuesday is my last day in London, and today I’m up at five myself to catch the train from Paddington to the Kempton Park Race Course, where a gigantic, highly regarded show takes place twice a month. Though it’s free and open to the public, and the train stops right inside the racetrack, Sunbury Antiques Market is very much a dealers’ scene, with trading pretty much over by noon. By now a number of merchants, who are seeing me for the fourth day in a row, are saying, “Hi, Lynn!” which gives me a funny little thrill. I am having a wonderful time, perusing Victorian gate bracelets and Staffordshire pooches, when disaster strikes: the racetrack’s cash machine will not accept my card. I am reduced to begging dealers to take dollars or credit cards (neither prospect thrills them), so I highly recommend you load up on pounds if you are planning to take a train to a suburban outpost. I consider a diamond ring shaped like a duck, persuade a dealer to accept dollars for a 1930’s Norah Welling doll I can’t live without, and decide to pass on a set of Deco silver place-card holders shaped like cartoon animals that I’d also seen at the Ally Pally. (I will regret this decision.) Then I run into Vanessa, who has bought plenty of jewelry for resale to clients from Istanbul to Italy, along with something for herself—a fox coat for £82.

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By noon I’m back on the train to meet my friend Simon at Selfridges for a final lunch. But wait, don’t I have an hour to kill before it’s time to head for Heathrow? Let’s go down the street to Grays! Grays, an antiques center with the most fabulous jewelry in London, hands down, is by reputation as expensive as it is elegant. But it turns out that even the glittering Grays is not beyond the modest means of thrifty antiquers. I admire the dazzling showpieces as if I were in a museum, then head downstairs, where Jo Elton and Olly Gerrish sell paste serpents and enamel butterflies. On the main floor, Sylvie Spectrum specializes in late-19th-century brooches that say DARLING or BABY or SWEETHEART, just the sort of thing I was seeking before I was waylaid by diamond hearts. She shows me so many pins that I’m drowning in indecision, but I finally settle on a circa-1910 BABY, signed by jeweler Charles Horner, for £56, mostly because Sylvie tells me that when Diana gave birth to William, the dealer sent a pin just like this one to the Princess. Okay, time to go! Still, I feel like I’ve done it all, really exhausted the possibilities of scouring London on an antiques weekend. But just as I’m going out the door of Grays ready to dash back to the hotel, pick up my bags and head for home, a dealer nearly breaks my heart when she stops me and says, “Will we see you at the Horticultural Halls show this weekend, Lynn? You should come! Six hundred dealers!” ✚

Pound Sense From far left: Enamel-andsilver brooches at RBR Group in Grays; a shopkeeper outside Rogers Antiques Gallery; Patrick O’Connor, one of hundreds of vendors at London’s Portobello Market; floral touches available at Jacquie’s Costume Jewellery, on Portobello Road.

Lynn Yeager is a T+L (U.S.) contributing editor.

Gallery 91 91 Portobello Rd.; no

GUIDE TO LONDON ANTIQUE SHOPPING Adams Antiques Fair Royal Horticulture Halls & Conference Center, Lindley Hall, Elverton St.; 44-20/7254-4054; adams antiquesfairs.com; Sunday 10 A.M.–4 P.M. Alexandra Palace Antique Fair Alexandra Palace Way, Wood Green; 44/1263-888-111; nelson fairs.co.uk; May 3, September 20, and November 29 9:30 A.M.–4:30 P.M. Alfies Antiques Market 13–25 Church St., Marylebone ; 4420/7723-6066; alfies antiques.com; Tuesday to Saturday 10 A.M.–6 P.M. Central Gallery 125 Portobello Rd.; 44-20/7243-8027; portobelloroad.co.uk; Saturday 7 A.M.–3:30 P.M. Crown Arcade 119 Portobello Rd.; 44-20/7727-5240; portobelloroad.co.uk; Saturday 7 A.M.–3:30 P.M.

phone; Saturday 7 A.M.–3:30 P.M. Grays 58 Davies St., Mayfair; 44-20/7629-7034; graysantiques. com; weekdays 10 A.M.–6 P.M. , Thursday until 8 P.M. Jubilee Market Covent Garden; 44-20/7240-7405; coventgardenlondonuk.com; Monday 6 A.M.–noon. Portobello Print & Map Shop 109 Portobello Rd.; 44-20/77929673; portobello printandmap.co.uk; Tuesday to Friday 11 A.M.–4 P.M.; Saturday 8 A.M.–5 P.M. Rogers Antiques Gallery 65 Portobello Rd.; 44-20/73515353; portobelloroad.co.uk; Saturday 7 A.M.–3:30 P.M. Sunbury Antiques Market Kempton Park Racecourse, Staines Rd., East Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex; 44-19/32230946; kemptonantiques.com; held every other Tuesday 6:30 A.M.–2 P.M.

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INDONESIA

| food

Fusion

Plates

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my most recent trip to Bali, I faced a sudden, stark realization that I’d been trying to avoid since I first visited years ago: Balinese cuisine is simply not that good. I’ve had my share of it. I’ve taken some of the many touristy cooking classes that sing the praises of Balinese food, tried fancy versions of the food in hotels and “modern” restaurants, and visited numerous well-known, roadside stands called warungs, including the Ibu Oka, a stall in Ubud famous for babi guling, roast suckling pig. The pork turned out dry and seasoned rather blandly with a few green chilies. I’ve sampled the culinary repertoire of the island: dozens of chicken and beef satays with peanut sauce, nasi goreng, mee goreng and grilled fish with sambal sauce. I’ve browsed the offerings at a local supermarket—durian biscuits, anyone?

Fresh Tastes From left: Chef Penny Williams in the Alila garden; at Kemiri, a hot and sour prawn salad with pomelo, orange and apple; Kemiri’s exterior.

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ALFWAY THROUGH

I was trying to love Balinese food. Really. I distinctly remember trying to rustle up some enthusiasm in my husband at a food stand as I bit into a fried shrimp chip with all the texture of cardboard: “Hon, aren’t these delicious?” But it finally hit me while I was strolling through a local market in the ancient town of Klungklung in east Bali. I’d passed stand after stand of the same basic ingredients like eggplants, tomatoes and jackfruit. Dry doughnuts, the size of Bundt cakes and topped with rainbow sprinkles, took up another aisle of the market, while many shoppers seemed interested only in buying pre-made offerings for the gods, which consisted of banana-leaf baskets filled with flower petals, rice and incense. It was then that I realized that this was a culture that cared more about placating their gods than satisfying their stomachs. Chris Salans, the founding chef and owner of

FA R L E F T I M A G E C O U R T E SY O F A L I L A M A N G G I S

Decent menus in Bali are often an iffy prospect, but JEN LIN-LIU meets a few chefs who are raising the culinary ante. Photographed by SIMON FURLONG


Mozaic who has lived in Bali for more than a decade, put it bluntly: “Cuisine is used more for celebrating religious occasions than it is for the pleasure of the palate. So food is important but quality, flavor and texture is not. That, mixed with limited standards of hygiene and lack of refrigeration, makes the food more than too often [just] on the verge of palatable.” My approach was to begin appreciating the ingredients Bali had to offer—the exotic produce and fruit and the abundant seafood—as opposed to its culinary traditions. I fondly recalled the night that my husband and I had eaten at the Jimbaran Bay seafood stalls, chowing down on simply grilled fresh lobster, juicy prawns on skewers and snapper. In my last remaining days, I visited the new Bali Botanic Garden, where I admired beautiful pink dragon fruit growing on the wild cactus-like plants, and sampled butternuts, a starchy, almond-shaped fruit as red as a tomato. And I visited several chefs who have familiarized themselves with Indonesian ingredients and incorporated them into their own cuisines—whether it be Australian, raw food or French. SEASALT at the Alila Manggis in east Bali. Chef Penny Williams was an energetic, freckled woman with a pixie haircut who has spent the last two years not only cooking but learning about Balinese culture. She explained that one reason why Balinese cuisine might not taste so good is that many households cook one meal in the morning, which they leave sitting on the kitchen table. For convenience sake, since Balinese households might contain more than a dozen members, everyone is free to snack on the food all day long. She also described the difference between strains of rice on Bali, noting that locals reserved the most expensive type of rice, called simply Balinese rice, for offerings to the gods. “Everyone eats ‘government’ rice,” she said, referring to a type of inexpensive, genetically modified rice that the government introduced after the 1963 volcanic explosion that decimated much of the local strain. While the varieties are comparable, Balinese rice has a more pronounced mouth-feel. Williams incorporates the more expensive Balinese rice into a truffle and mushroom risotto.

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Exotic Eating Clockwise from left: Kemiri’s dining area; at Glow, a zucchini, basil, semi-dried tomato, pine nut and cheese lasagna; Glow’s exterior.

She takes tempeh—the dry, ubiquitous soybean cakes found on Bali—and tosses them with local pomelo, a sweet grapefruit-like fruit, and star fruit, which has the texture of a grape but tastes like an apple to make a delicious salad. At Seasalt, I sampled a wok-fried lobster with coriander and Balinese lime, which Williams called “small but strong.” The lobster was cooked to tender perfection, and the coriander and lime broth that accompanied it was fragrant. In the rice paddies of Ubud, Chris Miller, another Australian chef, befriended us at Glow, the raw food restaurant at the luxurious COMO Shambhala resort. Miller is a sprightly »

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Covered with a sun-dried tomato sauce and emulsified pine-nut paste, the pizza was sprinkled with basil, avocado, PAPAYA and pineapple

All Natural From left: Chef Chris Miller at Kemiri; outside Mozaic, a restaurant with French flavor; setting up for raw food at Glow.

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thirtysomething with a pale complexion. Not long after we were seated, he bounded over to explain that, while he was not a raw foodist nor a vegan, he learned how to cook “raw” while working as a chef at a Caribbean resort for several years, where he served raw food enthusiasts like fashion designer Donna Karan. The fresh fruits and vegetables found on the island are perfect ingredients for Miller’s raw food. He employs techniques like sun drying, blending, running ingredients through warm water and using an expensive dehydrator that works like a very slow oven. A “pizza” arrived at our table, made of a very thin crust of nuts and seeds that was placed in the dehydrator for 12 hours. Covered with a base of sun-dried tomato sauce and emulsified pine-nut paste that stands in for cheese, the pizza was also sprinkled with basil, avocado, papaya and pineapple. It was surprisingly delicious, as was the “burger” that my husband ordered, with avocado and sprouts sandwiched in between a bun made of dried mushrooms, eggplants and herbs. All the ingredients were local. “We’re not just trying to run a fat farm. We’re trying to create new lifestyle habits,” Miller says proudly. But, he admits, he is only enthusiastic about raw food to a point. His real passion lies with cooking either Southeast Asian dishes or

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Chinese fusion cuisine, and he encouraged us to visit him at Kemiri, the other restaurant that he runs at the Uma Ubud, a sister resort to the COMO Shambhala. That evening, a driver dropped us off at the Uma Ubud, which was compact but with no less a boutique feel than its sibling property. Sitting at a marble table lit only by candles in an open-air pavilion next to a pond, we started with an amuse bouche of a soft-boiled duck egg accompanied by mint and oyster sauce, tinged with a bit of sweet and sour. What followed was the kind of dinner that had us protesting that we were sated halfway through the meal, when we were only on the fourth course. He took local squid, and salted and peppered it the Chinese way (deep-fried and adding a crisp layer of salt and Sichuan pepper), then flavored it with green mango, lime and chili. He served us a savory martabak, an Indonesian pastry, stuffed with a delicate crab and snow-pea filling. Dessert was even more inventive, showing off Miller’s creative use of local ingredients: ice cream flavored with soursop, a white-fleshed Asian fruit tasting of apple and strawberry,


floating in the center of a pineapple soup with mint. We also enjoyed a mango and passion fruit mousse that had the texture of egg whites—all of this, including two glasses of wine, came to less than US$100. BALI was spent at Mozaic, the much-raved about French restaurant run by Salans. The French-American chef first came to Bali for a short stint, cooking at the high-end boutique hotel The Legian more than a decade ago, before returning to America to cook at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Napa Valley and then at Bouley Bakery in New York. It was not Bali’s cuisine that lured him back to the island a few years later, but his girlfriend, whom he later married. Salans has now run Mozaic for eight years, and the restaurant has recently received high accolades from the French association Grandes Tables du Monde and Singapore’s Miele Guide. The fact that Salans has built an international reputation in Bali seems to suggest that the island has played a muse to the chef. When Salans first settled in Ubud, he wholly embraced Indonesian cooking when working at the upscale Ary’s Warung and even put many Indonesian dishes on his menu at Mozaic when it first opened. But after experimenting for several years, his style has turned decidedly French, with a tinge of Indonesian flavors. Salans appreciates the ingredients and uses them to give his cuisine a unique flair. as a sign

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of respect to Bali, Salans incorporates many local ingredients like sambal in his foie gras three ways, cardamom in his reductions, jackfruit relish to accompany his smoked suckling pig, and turmeric and palm sugar in his ice cream. He sources his baby lamb and crayfish from the mountains of Java and sends a full-time employee around the island on scouting trips for ingredients like passion fruit. “That’s the difference between Mozaic and other restaurants in Bali,” Salans observed. “Everyone else uses the same sources.” As I tucked into my US$75 chef ’s tasting menu—one that began with a nearly orgasmic local crayfish roasted in curry butter with a truffle-scented cauliflower puree—I realized I was getting the best of what Bali has to offer these days: a talented chef blessed with abundant, fresh, local ingredients. 

Dining Out From left: Braised artichokes with fennel, carrots, broadbeans and a saffron vinaigrette at Glow; Mozaic’s lounge bar.

GUIDE TO FOOD AROUND UBUD Glow COMO Shambhala Estate at Begawan Giri, Ubud, Gianyar; 62-361/ 978-888; comoshambhala. bz; lunch for two US$40.

Mozaic Jln. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Gianyar; 62-361/975-768; mozaic-bali.com; dinner for two US$200.

Kemiri Uma Ubud, Jln. Raya Sanggingan, Banjar Lungsiakan, Kedewatan, Ubud, Gianyar; 62-36/ 972-448; uma.como.bz; dinner for two US$80.

Seasalt Alila Manggis Resort, Buitan, Manggis, Karangasem; 62-363/41011; alilahotels.com/ manggis; dinner for two US$60.

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t+l journal | cruising

Sea Dreams

Taking the modern equivalent of the slow boat to China, PAUL EHRLICH finds he can adapt easily to the stylish life of modern cruises. Illustrated by WASINEE CHANTAKORN COULD EASILY BE VOTED the most unlikely to take a sea cruise. When I lived in Hong Kong, I’d get fidgety on a 30-minute ferry ride to Lamma Island. I’m extremely city-centric. To me, nature is overrated; a downtown park with a lake will do. So it’s odd that I’m about to embark on Silversea’s Silver Whisper, and be surrounded by little but water for a week.

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DAY 1 Bangkok I board the boat—I mean ship, a mistake I keep making—in Bangkok, even though the cruise started in Singapore. As my stewardess Asa escorts me to the cabin, my landlocked knowledge of these things expects cramped quarters with portholes. Instead, it’s a hotel suite with lifejackets: roomy, comfortable, a good-size desk, queen-size bed, marble 96

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bathroom, LCD TV and floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening to a private teak-planked deck where I already plan to have tomorrow’s breakfast. On the table are a long-stem orchid and a bottle of chilled champagne. So far, ship shape. Horns blow with the promise of voyage. As the 186-meterlong ship slowly pulls away from the dock, it’s a liberating feeling, a letting go of the land. Seagulls circle and the muddy brown water quickly turns from jade to lapis, with the sudsy foam around the ship hissing like serpents. The poet Baudelaire was right when he said only the sea can set one dreaming. It’s early afternoon by the time I’m settled, so before exploring the seven decks open to passengers, I figure best to do it on a full stomach. Eating, it turns out, is a main activity. Besides extensive 24-hour room service, afternoon teas and


snacks, there are two main restaurants. One is bright, ballroom-sized with round tables sitting 2–12, serving international cuisine. It has a lively atmosphere, like a wedding party. The other is La Tarazza, a round restaurant with scrumptious lunch and breakfast buffets. At night it transforms into an elegant candlelit Italian dining room. A third option, Le Champagne, is only open for dinner and is the only restaurant not included in the cruise price. Classy and intimate, it has a US$200 set menu that pairs vintage wines with regional cuisine. Without the wines, it’s US$30. I give it a miss. Cruising solo, it seems too romantic. Plus, the variety of complimentary wines served in the other restaurants are good to my “hey, whatever” palate. On her sixth cruise with her husband, American Shelley Hoon is enjoying the food. “We’re tasting things we never had before. When you’re on a ship for one or two weeks, the food has to be good. Has to.” What she doesn’t know is that there are 30 cooks, one butcher and a pastry chef at the service of the more than 300 passengers. Shelley is sunbathing around the outdoor pool, where I decide to work off the rest of my lunch by laying in a deck chair. I heard there’s a gym, and I really should find it. But not today; there’s a lively water volleyball game between guests and staff to watch. The image of cruises being “floating nursing homes” is changing. The average age on this holiday at sea is between 55 and 60, and cruise ships like Silver Whisper—especially on short voyages—are targeting younger professionals like Antonio Espinosa, 27, and Miguel, 26, from Guadalarja, Mexico. Traveling with their parents, I find the brothers in an outdoor Jacuzzi talking with newlyweds from Mexico City. They are clearly enjoying themselves, drinking mojitos and whisky sodas. “What’s awesome is that they don’t close down the dancing until you’re finished,” says Antonio. Would they consider another cruise? “Absolutely. Just look at this,” says Miguel Kirschner, the sweep of his arm taking in the sea. “Beautiful, no?” Later, after a delicious dinner of tuna tartar, squash soup and prime rib, I return to my cabin. We’re somewhere in the Gulf of Thailand. It is peaceful and quiet; even the sea seems to be slumbering. I leave the glass door open to let in the salty air and easily fall asleep. DAY 2 Sihanoukville Around 8 A.M. we dock at the Cambodian coastal town of Sihanoukville. There are buses to the beach and market. Or a two-day trip to Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat in which the guests re-board in Ho Chi Minh City. On my way back from breakfast, I run into Mary Eleanor Irvine and her friend Merle Reskin, both on the other side of middle age. On the

The water quickly turns from jade to lapis, with the sudsy foam around the ship hissing like SERPENTS surface, the two couldn’t be more different. Eleanor introduces herself as a “breast cancer survivor and bornagain Christian from Brownsville, Texas, fifth-generation,” now living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Merle’s an ex-show girl, Jewish, from Chicago; she appeared in the first New York production of South Pacific. Eleanor “loved Singapore” but found Bangkok “strange.” “Just like my men,” Merle quips. I ask Merle what destinations she liked so far. “I like being here,” pointing to the couch. When I ask if she’s enjoying the cruise, she snaps back: “Is that what this is? Thank goodness. It didn’t seem right for a hotel to be rocking like this.” But then adds, “Seriously, I really do love it. What’s not to like? You’re pampered and get to see a little bit of everything.” Tonight, it’s cocktails and dancing to the ship’s quartet, followed by a barbecue on the pool deck. I’m sitting with five couples from New York and Florida, our table filled with plates of prawns, steaks, sausages, ribs and, maybe, a little salad. Glasses keep getting filled with wine. In the background, a dance troupe in tight outfits performs to Latino disco music. The night ends late. Nice thing about being tipsy onboard: no one can tell. DAY 3 At Sea Despite going to bed around midnight, I wake up at sunrise, surrounded by sea. Variations of blue with a blush of rose start to appear in the sky; dark dashes of small fishing boats appear in the distance. The sea breeze refreshes like a morning shower, the ocean looks like wrinkled silk. There’s no shortage of things to do: aerobics, yoga, bridge, lectures, table tennis and, yes, shuffleboard. There’s a casino, golf net, spa, Internet café, library, beauty salon and shops. You can have custom clothes made, learn a foreign language, get detoxed, even have your teeth whitened. Every evening there’s a show or movie and late-night dancing. “We pride ourselves on providing something for everyone,” explains cruise director Martin Blanar over cappuccinos. “Each ship has its own personality. The Silver Whisper is a warm, friendly environment, offering six-star comfort without the stuffiness.” I hear this echoed by lots of passengers, that it’s really like a floating resort you » T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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Ship Shape From left: La Tarazza; the Silver Whisper at sea; a royal suite room. Below: At sea with no worries.

DAY 4 Ho Chi Minh City I wake up in the Mekong River delta as the ship approaches Ho Chi Minh City. Along the way, the banks gradually transform, much like the country itself. At once, thick with palms and other growth broken by occasional small villages, we pass a few bobbing wooden fishing boats. Soon these small craft are the size of toys next to hulking steel freighters, tankers and container ships. Factories appear, towering machinery, tugboats with laundry hanging on the sides pulling sand barges. A Vietnamese woman in one holds up her baby when she sees me and we wave across the sundazzled river. Then, paths become streets jammed with bicycles, cars, motorbikes and pedestrians. There’s the sound of jackhammers, honking cars. The river is crowded with ships. Directly on the other side, there are sampans gliding by; buildings and local shops no taller than the clusters of palms; women in conical hats carrying pots hanging from a bamboo poles; people eating in food stalls shaded from the already hot sun by blue plastic sheets. And then, in the background, modern buildings are rising, advancing like glassand-marble soldiers. How long, I 98

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wonder, before the riverside shops are consumed by construction like the jungle once overtook the land? DAYS 5-7 At Sea We set sail at 3 P.M. and for the next two days are out at sea. Now, I’m into the rhythm of life onboard, and the friendly familiarity of shipmates and crew. I begin to understand why there are cruise converts. Some have racked up hundreds of days at sea, like Trudy Miller, a widow from Cupertino, California. As we share lunch and a wonderful bottle of Château Laborde 2005, Trudy tells me she got the sailing bug after taking the company’s first cruise in 1994. “I’ll be 77 trombones” this month, she says, laughing. “I want to keep traveling as long as I can and can’t think of a more enjoyable way to do it.” She’s already booked three more trips. Other images: looking up from my book to catch a dolphin leaping; the afternoon sea sparkling like sequins; a farewell dinner with men in tuxedos and bejeweled women in gowns as if attending an opera. On the last night there’s a performance of Noel Coward songs. I sit on my balcony instead, and listen to the song of the sea. DAY 8 Hong Kong We sail into Hong Kong’s stunning Victoria Harbour at 8 A.M. I never used the gym, but what I did gain—besides weight—were new friends I’ll be corresponding with and enough fond memories to float my boat… I mean ship. 

GUIDE TO CRUISING SILVER WHISPER is part of Silversea’s fleet (silversea.com), which includes five other luxury ships. An eight-day sailing between Hong Kong and Singapore, with stops in Ha Long Bay, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City starts from US$9,390 double.

I M A G E S C O U R T E S Y O F S I LV E R S E A

unpack once, stay put, and the countries come to you. No hassles about changing hotels, catching flights. And the personalized service is superb. In the late afternoon, the sea is as relaxed as a lake. No seagulls, no other ships and the sky just as empty. I think of Noah until I put on my iPod and sip chilled wine.


reflections | t+l journal

GUY TREBAY investigates the passionate relationship he’s developed with his luggage. Photographed by DAVIES + STARR

Baggage Check OMEWHERE, ALONE AND ABANDONED in the non-space of a baggage-handling center, is my suitcase. Air France lost it five days ago. The details of how this happened are commonplace and banal. I was headed for Florence. The bag took off on its own for Mumbai. Is there any sight as forlorn as that of an unclaimed valise? You see it all the time in airports, a luggage orphan stranded alongside the baggage carousel. Sometimes it is segregated near the rubber flaps of the entry port. Sometimes it is trapped behind stanchions or webs. Sometimes it is covered in a protective net like the catch of the day. The carousel keeps revolving, but the bag is going nowhere, except at last into the keeping of handlers who will scan and log it and then send it off… well, where? It doesn’t matter. Yours is one of thousands

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that are misplaced every day. I say “misplaced” because lost is apparently a misnomer, since most of the time “We know where it is,” as an aviation expert with an existentialist cast of mind once remarked to a congressional panel. “It just isn’t where it’s supposed to be.” It was not until I was parted from my bag that I realized how sentimentally attached to it I am. The bag itself is nothing terribly special; a big boxy thing with fitted leather bumpers, it looks like a sample case for someone who sells large and unwieldy goods—prosthetic limbs, perhaps. It is built of vulcanized fiberboard over a frame of ash wood, and made using methods apparently unaltered since its English manufacturer started business in 1897. Before fashionable types became aware of the label’s existence, Globe-Trotter suitcases seemed to me to » T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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I want my bag to be sturdy and capacious, to have clasps that will hold, and more room than is immediately APPARENT be favored mainly by minor English nobles and persons who resemble the lady ornithologist in Hitchcock’s The Birds. They were unhip and that is why they were cool. Now J.Crew has the bags on offer in exclusive colors, and Vivre, the catalogue for whatever highnet-worth types remain in the world, sells them in limited-edition colors. The industrial designer Ross Lovegrove has even taken a crack at updating the clunky Globe-Trotter design. Will the buyers of Lovegrove’s Air Cabin cases feel the same affection for their luggage that I do, the same little frisson of nervous anticipation when the bag appears from behind the rubber curtains and starts to make its way toward me? I imagine they will, and not just because they can then get on with their journeys. “Objects unlock memories,” according to the French-American psychiatrist Clotaire Rapaille, who consults for major companies on the psychological underpinnings of consumer goods. “We want to live in an archetype and we want a car and jacket that are also archetypes.” Few objects, of course, are more overtly archetypal than a suitcase, which, like a portable house or a shell we haul around or behind us or on our backs, is a box for holding the material dimensions of identity. This seemed to be at least partly the point the artist Toland Grinnell was making last year when he installed 20 custom traveling trunks at the Brooklyn Museum. Text panels posted around the building explained that the artwork was a commentary on consumerism and on our particular cultural fondness for the trappings of luxury and excess. To my eye, though, the trunks—built to contain a smartly collapsible sink or a stove or a wine rack or bed— called to mind not excess so much as the practicality of military furniture from an earlier era, ingeniously devised to provide home comforts to, say, Napoleon’s army on the Egyptian campaign. All nomads, professional and otherwise, bring along reminders of the places they have left behind them. And so even the fancy gilded TG monograms on Grinnell’s suitcases evoked, in a way, the cheery and somehow also slightly sad little ribbons that people affix to 100

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their luggage to help differentiate one black bag from another in the baggage-claim scrum. Unwieldy as they were, the collapsible contents also called to mind the way one has of condensing one’s own apparent necessities into a suitcase for every new journey—the clothes, the particular toilet articles, the shoes (and shoe trees), the folding leather travel picture frame, the books and secret snacks (what if they don’t sell Famous chocolate wafers in Brazil?). Whether folded or crammed or sealed in Ziploc bags, the contents of a suitcase are intimately, almost achingly, biographical, and that is at least partly why it is not the charred fuselage that draws the eye in a photograph of a plane or train wreck, but the cardigan caught in a tree. Of course, a suitcase is more tool than metaphor, says Don Norman, a professor at Northwestern University, author of Emotional Design, and a former vice president at Apple. Still, he concedes that we are “carrying not just the clothes and necessities,” when we pack a bag. “We’re carrying other things.” For a start, we are hauling along our status as members of a mobile, leisured class—a truth that Norman has also pointed out. And while it is fact that an awful lot of luggage is cheapo and black-bag generic, it is also plain that Louis Vuitton did not become a multibillion-dollar enterprise by accident. Norman likes his suitcase to look nondescript, probably because he knows what people who carry Vuitton luggage will confirm—that an LV monogram is often read as an invitation to pilfer, steal or slash. “I want my suitcase to look ragged and worn, to be a signal that I’m penniless,” he says. After decades of travel, I want something else from my bag. I want it to be sturdy and capacious, to have clasps that will hold, and more room than is immediately apparent, and to function as what the writer Winifred Gallagher describes as “a transitional object, an extension of me, my friend.’’ Against the myriad anxieties and uncertainties of travel, my big beat-up Globe-Trotter in some ways both resembles and stands in for the family and friends and home that I abandon temporarily each time I hit the road. I expect it, in its own clunky way, to evoke what psychologists call “positive associations.” At the moment, however, what I want most is to have it back, not so much because it is a security blanket, my symbolic, portable home, but because after five days without it, I could use some fresh clothes. ✚ Guy Trebay is a reporter for The New York Times. He eventually got his suitcase back.


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JUMPING INTO

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BALTIC SEA, ESTONIA. PHOTOGRAPHED BY BLASIUS ERLINGER

ISLAND life along the French coasts Change comes slowly to MANILA On TOP of the world in Norway Europe’s LOST riviera on the Baltic 101


FRENCH ISLAND

HIDEAWAYS

IN THE WATERS OFF FRANCE, Christopher Petkanas explores four tranquil islands where the coastlines are rugged, the villages are charming and the subtle pleasures of daily life still matter. Photographed by Matthieu Salvaing 118


Stairs lead to the cinema on テ四e de Bendor, southeast of Marseilles. Opposite: En route to Belle-テ四e-en-Mer, off the northwest coast of France.


French Vistas Left: The staff of Au Bord d’un Zinc, a restaurant on Île de Ré, show off the day’s catch. Above: A view of Île de Ré from a guest room at Le Corps de Garde. Opposite: Île de Ré’s quaint St.-Martin port.

When the French talk about the sea,

it’s usually as a melodramatic need—“J’ai besoin de la mer,” “I need the sea”—never simply, “I like the beach.” Normal levels of fetishization do not apply. You think the Italians like the water? Have you met my friend Françoise? What exactly French people get from seaside destinations has less to do with lying dumbly under the sun and emptying their minds than it does with adopting a different way of being, insinuating themselves into the life of the locale and learning its habits. Not everyone refuses the torpid routine associated with greasy bronzing lotion, sandy sandwiches and lighter-fluid rosé, but more do than the postcard suggests. In an ideal world, every person in France would have a bolt-hole in Paris, a pied-à-terre in a provincial capital like Lyon or Strasbourg, a chalet in the mountains, a mas in the Midi.... That’s a lot of real estate, but think of the returns: Try on a different setting and you try on a different identity. More than any other European people, the French believe in the power of place—of topography, climate and folkways—to reinvent and discover themselves. France is rich in coastline, but not so rich in islands. Which is fine. Because they aren’t famous (there’s nothing that even comes close to Capri), French islands are relatively untouristed, guaranteeing a local experience. As a traveler you’re inducted into the highly codified French way of life on the shore. Usually you have to do handstands for this kind of access. Cities and mountains and farm country are fine as far as they go. But none are as transformative as the sea. At least according to Françoise. » 104


Baltic State of Mind Clockwise from top left: Local color on Muhu; playing volleyball on Majori Beach, in Ju ¯rmala; pastry-topped mushroom soup at Pädaste’s Sea House restaurant; undergoing a hay treatment in the hotel’s spa; kayaking on the Lielupe River, in Ju ¯rmala; a Manor House suite at Pädaste.

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The island has very little to sell beyond d

Ruins of a 19th-century fort on Ă&#x17D;le dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Ouessant.


dits dolorous beauty

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Île de Ré

RÉ IS THE ONLY PLACE I KNOW IN FRANCE where everything works, nothing tacky offends the eye, no one serving you is in a bad mood and you can have a good meal without doing six months of research just by passing in front of a restaurant and walking in. (This is how I discovered the classy new L’Avant Port and a local shellfish, vanet, which is like a scallop only 10 times sweeter and 20 times smaller.) Île de Ré is the way you always dream France will be but never is. As a vacation experience it’s completely undisappointing and entirely fulfilling. How many places can you say that about, in France or anywhere else? On August 15, the busiest day of the summer and maybe the year, there’s no trouble finding a parking place. Bicycles are the main means of locomotion, but rental shops never seem to run out of them. Clogging is a nonissue on the 100 kilometers of paved bike paths that wind through the oyster parks, potato fields, bird reserve and salt pans where fleur de sel is harvested. Locals are nicer and more engaging than they have a right to be, given the strain put on their island by a toll bridge connecting it to the continent and a national press that every season dusts off the same hoary headlines: RÉ: L’ANTIST.-TROPEZ, or the ridiculous linguistic mash RÉ: LE PLUS FASHION DE NOS ÎLES FRANÇAISES. The island’s 10 low, whitewashed towns are handsomely groomed with hollyhocks pushing through the cobblestones. The only thing I would suggest is a warning label alerting people to the strong English presence and, in case they’re allergic, to the strong preppy culture. That said, the island gets a very high quality of French preppy. Except for the men playing out some embarrassing sailor fantasy in striped Saint James tops and coordinating mandiggers, they’re hardly annoying at all, as preppies go. Without, I swear, even trying, I found myself on Ré almost 10 years to the day since my first visit. (Where were you when Diana died?) Having romanticized the island past all recognition, I obviously could have had a disastrous trip. I know it’s unreasonable, but whenever I return to a place I love and find it reduced, I take it personally. I go looking for the old hardware store that sold the diable potato cookers and collapse on the pavement in front of the sandwicherie that pushed it out. I want to see the same lace curtains in the same windows. But my first thought on Ré this time was not how much » LE DE

Ju ¯rmala’s main promenade,Jomas Iela, on the Gulf of Riga.

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Shore Life Clockwise from below: Île d’Ouessant as seen from the water; the entry at Île de Ré’s Le Corps de Garde hotel; cleaning squid at Ke Palais port, on Belle-Île-en-Mer; a sheep on Île d’Ouessant.

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less like itself it had become but how much more. The hardware store, Au Paradis du Bricoleur, was right where it had been, its vitrine filled with diables. The lodging situation, not wonderful in 1997, had also hugely improved. Le Corps de Garde/La Maison du Port (interconnecting parts of the same seven-room maison d’hôtes) and Hotel de Toiras now sit directly on the port in St.-Martin-de-Ré, the island’s unofficial capital. Built as part of a shipyard in the 16th century, the Toiras is the kind of property that gives Relais & Châteaux a good name. It has the most polished service on Ré, plus 20 guest rooms that enshrine all my favorite Grand Siècle decorating values: boiseries, blue-and-white Chinese export porcelain, toile de Jouy.... The look is straight-up French bourgeois, which some people are crazy about. Of course, others find the lack of irony and visual punning strangling. The atmosphere at Le Corps/La Maison is beachy, not buttoned and beyond charming, with antique tea gowns draped here and there, the glassy-crunchy feel of sea grass underfoot, organdy bed hangings and swoon-making views of the harbor, sea or both. A former watchhouse, it dates from the late 1600’s, when the great military engineer Vauban wrapped St.-Martin in a beautiful starlike configuration of stone ramparts designed to accommodate and protect every man and animal on the island. For years Vauban’s walls kept the English out; he didn’t forecast Ryanair. LOCATION: 185 kilometers north of Bordeaux DISTANCE FROM MAINLAND: 3 kilometers SURFACE: 85 square kilometers (number of times Île de Ré fits into Manhattan: 0.7) YEAR-ROUND POPULATION: 18,000 HIGH-SEASON POPULATION (excluding tourists): 38,000 HOTEL BEDS: 41,395

Île de Bendor THE STORY OF ÎLE DE BENDOR IS THE STORY OF A MAN, PAUL Ricard; a foggy drink without which the south of France wouldn’t recognize itself; and a 19-room hotel, the curious and rather wacky Delos. With pocket change from the fortune he amassed making and marketing “the real pastis of Marseilles” under his own name, Ricard acquired Bendor in 1950 as a plaything, as a place to schmooze clients and entertain friends like Jacques Cousteau and Dalí. In the image of his populist aperitif, Ricard also conceived the island as a holiday spot for blue-collar Provençaux who felt out of place in the worldly towns of the Côte d’Azur and who, in any case, couldn’t afford them. Even fig farmers deserve a vacation. “If I’m passionate about [Bendor],” he wrote, “it’s because it was an island. I believed that in building a world in miniature, I could do anything, that the only thing I need take into account was the quantity of land, sea, and sky.” A 7-minute boat ride delivers guests to Bendor from Bandol, an overstimulated beach town that makes Puerto

Vallarta look like Newport, Rhode Island. Le Delos’s only company on Bendor is the hotel’s much less atmospheric annex, Le Palais; eight adorable maisonettes with private gardens that Le Delos manages, but brands separately; a second, defunct hotel that is a terrible eyesore; four restaurants; a diving school; an exhibit of Ricard ephemera that is one big missed opportunity (for that matter, there are no bottles of pastis in the guest rooms, which seems insane); a handful of eccentric shops, one specializing in hand-blown glass pacifiers; and an extraordinary museum Ricard founded as a “permanent encyclopedia” of wine and spirits. The collection includes 700 related books, 5,000 labels, 8,000 bottles (a triple-anisette produced by the Vatican pharmacy) and more than 1,200 menus from the 1860’s to the 1960’s. As a hotelier and an entrepreneur peddling alcohol, Ricard knew his constituency. He was one of them. They had the same cultural references: Pagnol, Fernandel, Tino Rossi. Le Delos is just the sort of hotel you’d dream up if your grandfather was a boulanger, your father was a wine merchant, you grew up in the Ste.-Marthe suburb of Marseilles, and then you became monstrously rich. “Good taste is my taste,” the saying goes. Ricard was as entitled to it as anyone. What is it about the Middle Ages (or is it the Renaissance Le Delos fantasizes?) that so appeals to self-made men? It’s a look you don’t have to love to find amusing. Ricard’s great soft spot was for Spanish Baroque furniture, from barley-twist canopy beds to leather-topped tables trimmed with fringe and giant brass nailheads. His florid enthusiasms also ran to cherubs, satyrs, colored wall tiles in Moorish motifs and loopy wroughtiron chandeliers incorporating schooners. Door pulls were cast in the form of sea horses. Naturally. Everything was created on site. Ricard built on the island not just ateliers for his potters, glassblowers and metalworkers, but also lodgings. The old man stepped down as head of his company in 1969 and died in 1997, but Bendor never left family hands. For years, relatives would take a momentary interest in the hotel, warehousing Ricard’s beloved frippery, which they didn’t really get, and hiring some designer you never heard of to keep the place “up-to-date.” In this way Le Delos became a total hash. Finally, a real professional, Carolyn Quartermaine, was hired to dig through the layers of decorative intervention and make the hotel coherent. As a Londoner who lives parttime outside Nice, Quartermaine had both the distance and the sympathies to effect something interesting. It was a long slog, but she convinced Danièle Ricard that success lay in reviving, with more affection than irony, her father’s vision. “Lying on the beach in Bandol 20 years ago, I had no idea there was even an island here,” says Quartermaine. “When I began working on Le Delos, everything had to be beige and brown. In the end I got Paul Ricard’s crazy colors back, plus all the furniture that had been put in storage.” Quartermaine did not redeploy the furniture as she found it. Of course. Thronelike armchairs are a lot less oppressive » 109


covered in vintage monogrammed bedsheets dyed pink. Curtains were sewn in the scribbly fabrics she designs: cottons printed with fragments of 17th-century calligraphy—MARIE D’ORLÉANS, DUCHESSE DE NEMOURS—chosen purely for their shape, not their meaning or associations. The maisonettes are 111 steps and a world away from Le Delos. They’re the work of Herbert Hufnagel, a decorator in nearby Cassis. Poking around the island, he found some old iron gates with seagulls worked into the design, but except for repurposing the gates as headboards, Hufnagel seems to have done all his shopping at Urban Outfitters. Both the maisonettes and Le Delos are something less than full-service hotels. Spend more than one night and you begin to notice that Bendor is being relaunched on a wing, a prayer and not a lot of sous. But people on vacation in the south of France are known for being forgiving, especially those with a weakness for stained glass, allegorical mosaics involving birds and flowers, and epic bronzes of Diana the Huntress. The hotels have finally even welcomed back the iconic yellow ashtrays carrying the logo of a certain pastis. Bottles of Ricard in every room can’t be far off. LOCATION: 51 kilometers southeast of Marseilles DISTANCE FROM MAINLAND: 200 meters SURFACE: 6 hectares (number of times Bendor fits into Manhattan: 981) YEAR-ROUND POPULATION: 4 HIGH-SEASON POPULATION (excluding tourists): 200 HOTEL BEDS: 70

Île de Bendor’s rocky coastline. Opposite: A Carolyn Quartermaine– designed guest room at Le Delos, on Bendor, near Marseilles.

Belle-Île-en-Mer THE HISTORY OF BELLE-ÎLE IS INSEPARABLE FROM THE HISTORY of water worship in France. The island saw its first real tourists in about 1850. Mystified by the new fashion for bathing in the ocean in Brittany, locals referred to the intruders uncomprehendingly as “foreigners.” The earliest cabanas were designed to be quickly lifted away in the event of an invasion. The English had seized the island’s citadel, also by Vauban, the century before, and the memory was still fresh. Belle-Île is for those who find Île de Ré too “Marie-Chantal” (snobby), Bendor too limiting, and Ouessant too wild and isolated (read on). The island is monopolized by regular French people of average means in the regular business of being on holiday: riding bikes, picnicking, swimming (even »

Paul Ricard acquired Bendor as a

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Sea Power Clockwise from below: Freshly grilled fish served at Au Bord d’un Zinc, a restaurant on Île de Ré; sunset at Le Palais on Belle-Île-en-Mer; biking in St.-Martin-de-Ré, the main town on Île de Ré; an Île d’Ouessant sea hand.

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More than any other

European people, the French believe in the power of place

though the water never averages more than 18 degrees), buying honey at the market, wearing out the plastic café furniture. I’m sure I should have been paying attention to other things, but stepping onto the wharf at the main port of Le Palais, a 20-minute ride on the fast boat from Quiberon on the mainland, I couldn’t help noticing how the island rejects all the usual and corny tools of maritime seduction. With 5,000-year-old Celtic menhirs, a druidical forest, moors knotted with heather and needlelike rock formations along the coast, Belle-Île is plenty picturesque. But it draws the line at pretty and cute. No gay blue-and-white tearooms with waitresses in sailor tops. You could never get away with marketing a place as sublimely ordinary, in the sense of it being natural, authentic, unselfconscious. But it’s an interesting idea. The good news is that the citadel, poised on a cliff edge 40 meters above the Atlantic, is now a surprising hotel, the mâchicoulis serving as terraces leading off many of the 65 guest rooms. Water views as promised by websites are almost always deficient; not these. Still, Belle-Île could do with more and better lodgings. The only alternative to La Citadelle Vauban is Château Bordénéo, an inland maison d’hôtes of good intentions and some allure. Among hotels, the big one to avoid is the offensively expensive Castel Clara. It has a huge thalassotherapy center and you know what that means: taking breakfast with shuffling curists in graying terry bathrobes. When train service was inaugurated between the Gare Montparnasse in Paris and Quiberon in 1882, the trip took 12 hours (as against 4½ today). Belle-Île was a destination on the verge. Four years later, Flaubert published his bored impressions of the island and Monet arrived to paint. The book, and a joint show with Rodin in Paris of some of Monet’s works, greatly increased awareness of Belle-Île. One or both must have influenced the choice of the island as a place for Colette to convalesce in 1894 after an illness brought on by her marriage to the monstrous Willy. All of 21, and poised to begin the first volume in the Claudine series, Colette sat on the beach in leg-of-mutton sleeves and a pussycat bow at a telling moment in Belle-Île’s tourism evolution. The first real guide on the island had come out three years before; the first postcards were four years off. Having never laid eyes on the sea before, and impassioned as she was by the natural world, Colette was helped in her recovery by the thrilling discovery of new flora and fauna

(“I’m swimming in waves of joy.”). Belle-Île’s sardine industry was at full throttle, and it is impossible that she, a future famous gourmande, left without sampling a dozen or three. Among today’s tourists the most popular souvenir is a halfdozen cans of prized millimisée sardines (they’re dated, like wine) from La Belle-Îloise boutique, on the Place de la République. Despite its name, the company is in Quiberon, the last fish cannery on the island having closed in 1975. The sardines are so good you can almost forgive the deception. LOCATION: 162 kilometers west of Nantes DISTANCE FROM MAINLAND: 15 kilometers SURFACE: 84 SQUARE KILOMETERS (number of times Belle-Île fits into Manhattan: 0.7) YEAR-ROUND POPULATION: 5,000 HIGH-SEASON POPULATION (excluding tourists): 15,000 HOTEL BEDS: 20,000

Île d’Ouessant EIGHTEEN YEARS ISN’T A LIFETIME, BUT IT CAN SEEM LIKE ONE when it’s the pause between trips to a place as far-flung and mythical as Île d’Ouessant, the farthest from the continent of all the Breton islands. On my first, 1988 visit I was on a food odyssey in search of a homely stew of mutton, potatoes and no wine. It was said to be cooked out-of-doors in a cast-iron pot by the heat of smoldering taouarc’h, Celtic for clods of dried heather or grass. After dozens, maybe hundreds, of faxes and phone calls, I found someone who knew someone who knocked on the door of someone who agreed to make me un ragoût dans le taouarc’h. Young food writers who have only ever known e-mail have no idea what a cakewalk they have. I was writing a book about the domestic art of entertaining as practiced by French people of all stripes (chatelaines, paysans...). Ouessant, the unfrivolous president of its coopérative agricole, and his stout, wind-rocked house weren’t the most obvious subject to build a chapter around, but what do you do when a stew gets under your skin? So imagine my surprise when last August I saw taped to a window on the island a flier advertising the services of Mary Jo Dugal. For €14 a head, Mary Jo will prepare a ragoût, simmered untouched for four hours in clods, and deliver it to your hotel or the beach for a picnic supper. Ouessant was learning to sell itself. With my dish. » 113


Tourism had obviously grown. But Ouessant has little to sell beyond its dolorous beauty. Because there are so few trees, its residents once prayed to the Virgin Mary for shipwrecks, literally. Salvaging wood to make furniture, they ignored the murderous consequences of their prayers. This tradition of invention is enshrined in the stew, but also in the idea of flogging it to vacationers. Islanders have a history of identifying what little they see and trying to make something out of it. To the modern visitor, the island offers a small but exquisite menu of simple pleasures: walking, cycling, birding, glancing over garden walls to dote on the hydrangeas, eating. If these don’t excite, the loss is yours and you’ll be happier on Belle-Île or Île de Ré. I found the smallness of the menu liberating. How luxurious to take a holiday and barely have anything to decide. If you cannot secure a reservation at Ti Jan Ar C’hafe, change your dates. It’s the only hotel worth anything, though hotel is a big word for an eight-room guesthouse. One guidebook calls Ti Jan’s decor Almodóvaresque. While that may be going a little far, it has a few charismatic moments. There are two categories of restaurants on Ouessant: Ti a Dreuz and Ty Korn, and Everything Else. The buckwheat crêpes at Ti a Dreuz attain a rare level of delicacy and refinement. Ty Korn serves the mother of all seafood platters. At Madame Orlac’h’s nameless salon de thé you can have a cream tea as good as any in Wiltshire while listening to Schubert and reading ancient copies of Paris Match. Silk-shaded lamps and Staffordshire spaniels garnish the mantelpiece. And you thought Ouessant was uncivilized.

It’s difficult to talk about Ouessant as an island of merchant seamen, which is how it was always described up to the middle of the last century, because the men’s work often had them living and dying on the other side of the globe. The stable population was made up of their heroically capable wives and mothers, who hauled the granite to build houses, shoveled earth for mortar, laid roads and collected taouarc’h. Mutton cooked in clods—which smoke but do not flame and lend the stew a funky animal dimension—was hit upon by women with no time for standing over the pot. In 1988, the 40-minute boat ride to Ouessant from Le Conquet was so violent I fell to my knees on arrival and was demonstrably sick before a welcoming committee of people I’d never met and who were waiting to take me to lunch. While my hosts tucked into ragoût, I lay prone in an unfamiliar guest room, the smell of burning taouarc’h outside the window making me yet sicker. Ouessantins insist their island is the beginning of the world, not the end. Either way, the dish fits. LOCATION: 280 kilometers west of Mont-St.-Michel DISTANCE FROM MAINLAND: 20 kilometers SURFACE: 15.5 square kilometers (number of times Ouessant fits into Manhattan: 3.8) YEAR-ROUND POPULATION: 852 HIGH-SEASON POPULATION (excluding tourists): 3,000 HOTEL BEDS: 950  Christopher Petkanas is a Travel + Leisure (U.S.) special correspondent.

GUIDE TO FRENCH ISLAND HIDEAWAYS daily from Brest or Le Conquet, in western France. Finist’Air (finistair.fr) flies from Brest during the high season. Île de Ré A toll bridge connects the islands and the mainland via La Rochelle, in western France. Flights from Stansted, Gatwick, Bristol, Lyon, Edinburgh, and other European cities depart frequently for La Rochell-Île de Ré Airport in high season (June–September). WHEN TO GO Belle-Île-en-Mer Ferries run from Quiberon or Lorient to the island’s two main ports, Sauzon and Le Palais. Île de Bendor Boats run 20 times daily from Bandol, in southern France, to Île de Bendor’s port. Île d’Ouessant Penn Ar Bed (332/98-80-80-80) ferries depart

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WHERE TO STAY Château Bordénéo Le Palais, Belle-Île-en-Mer; 33-2/97-31-8077; chateau-bordeneo.fr; doubles from ¤222. Hôtel de Toiras 1 Quai Job Foran, St.-Martin-de-Ré, Île de Ré; 335/46-35-40-32; hotel-de-toiras. com; doubles from ¤288. GREAT VALUE

La Citadelle Vauban Le Palais, Belle-Île-en-Mer;

33-2/97-31-84-17; citadellevaubancom; doubles from ¤127. Le Corps de Garde 1 Quai Clemenceau, St.-Martin-de-Ré, Île de Ré; 33-5/46-09-10-50; lecorpsdegarde.com; doubles from ¤173.

L’Avant Port 8 Quai Daniel Rivaille, St.-Martin-de-Ré, Île de Ré; 33-5/46-68-06-68; dinner for two ¤115. Madame Orlac’h’s Stang Ar Glann, Île d’Ouessant; 33-2/9848-85-09; tea for two ¤25.

Le Delos Île de Bendor; 33-4/9405-90-90; bendor.com; doubles from ¤266.

Mary’s Jo Couture Lampaul, Île d’Ouessant; 33-2/98-48-87-58; dinner for two ¤39.

Les Petites Villas Île de Bendor; 33-4/94-05-90-90; bendor.com; doubles from ¤404.

Ti a Dreuz Lampaul, Île d’Ouessant; 33-2/98-48-83-01; dinner for two ¤28.

Ti Jan Ar C’hafe Kernigou, Île d’Ouessant; 33-2/98-48-82-64; hotels-decharme-en-bretagne.com; doubles from ¤79.

Ty Korn Lampaul, Île d’Ouessant; 33-2/98-48-87-33; dinner for two ¤37.

GREAT VALUE

WHERE TO EAT Au Bord d’un Zinc Place du Marché, St.-Martin-de-Ré, Île de Ré; 33-6/88-96-84-46; dinner for two ¤67.

WHAT TO DO Exposition Universelle des Vins et Spiritueux Île de Bendor; 33-4/94-05-15-61. La Belle-Îloise Place de la République, Belle-Île-en-Mer; 33-2/97-31-29-14.


A lifeboat off Ouessant.


THE MORE THE CAPITAL CHANGES, THE MORE YOU HAVE TO SHAKE YOUR HEAD AND WONDER, BRENT HANNON WRITES. YET, ARMED WITH MUSICAL LAUGHTER, ITS RESIDENTS ARE WHAT MAKE THIS A LIVEABLE CITY. PHOTOGRAPHED BY BRENT T. MADISON


Nightfall in Makati.


Driving through the serene, banyan-lined


Modern life at the Finale Art File gallery. Clockwise from left: Cooling off at the Saturday farmer’s market in Salcedo Village; a young Filipino couple; Bonifacio High Street, one of the modern sides of Manila; a Filipina sports the bright clothes of designer Kate Torralba in Greenbelt; setting up for a busy night at CAV Wine Bar in Bonifacio Global City; the lobby of the Peninsula Manila; a local street snack of sweet tofu custard called “taho” in Intramuros; a few smiles at an open-air art exhibition in Salcedo Village.

streets of Dasmarinas Village is like riding a magic carpet through Manila. The Makati skyline soars nearby and B747’s glint overhead, but Manila’s throbbing presence feels far removed from these leafy lanes with their pastoral names: Avocado, Acacia, Palm, Pomelo. Dasmarinas and its sister gated villages circle the business district and deliver traffic-free trips to Greenbelt and Bonifacio Global City thanks to a magical sticker, the inter-village car pass.

Greenbelt has been an eat, drink and be merry epicenter for a few years now, but Bonifacio, a dine-and-drink zone that sprang from the flat fields of a former military base in just six years, is a surprise. It has a middle-of-Manila location, five minutes from Greenbelt. It’s also seamlessly linked to my temporary home in Dasmarinas via the inter-village pass. But the appeal of Bonifacio goes beyond novelty and » 119


scale, beyond food and wine, beyond nightlife and new condos. It goes to the heart of the Philippines, a country famous for its false starts and missed chances, yet one forever filled with hope. Bonifacio is a slice of Manila that is still shiny and optimistic, like a just-opened birthday present. Out here you can believe in prosperity, in opportunity, in the middle class and the good life—all the dreams that never quite came true in downtown Manila. Bonifacio Global City is bold and confident. It feels like a second chance. Or third. Metro Manila, a collection of townships that was corraled together in 1976 into a single sprawling city, is all about another chance. Successive waves of city builders have molded Manila in their own image: first the Spanish, then the Americans, and then, after World War II, the Filipinos. The most successful remake so far has been Makati. “After the war, all of this was scrubland,” says Mariano Garchitorena public relations manager at the Peninsula Manila, waving his hand from the hotel’s expansive lobby toward Greenbelt and the rest of Makati, the commercial center of the country. The Peninsula itself, with its signature artwork, an octagonal Aztec sunburst that hovers high above the lobby, has been a local landmark for 30 years. In previous visits to Manila, I had always stayed downtown, in the waterfront district of Ermita, enjoying the music, clubs,

cafés and urban charm, and accepting the beggars and urchins, streetwalkers, touts and tricycle drivers, the yawning sidewalks and the sleep-wrecking racket of jeepneys, as necessary tradeoffs. Ermita had been sliding into decay for years, but I stayed out of habit and loyalty. Old Manila itself had no such sentiment; it had long since packed up and moved to a new location. The exodus from downtown, which began 25 years ago with the rise of Makati, is one of modern Manila’s defining events. The other was World War II, which ruined a city celebrated for its Spanish cathedrals, Art Deco buildings and exotic blend of cultures. The incoming Americans, to uproot the tenacious Japanese, destroyed that fabled city block by block. “By the time they finished the war, Manila was finished too,” says tour guide Carlos Celdran, “it was on its knees.” Downtown Manila rose again after the war, but it never regained its former splendor. The Americans contributed a handful of grand government-style buildings that still stand, in an uneven ring around Rizal Park. San Agustin Cathedral, the lone survivor in Intramuros, remains a beacon of the neighborhood and a World Heritage Site. But for the most part, the post-war buildings are functional, rather than beautiful, and downtown Manila has the same hastily tossed-up look as any other Asian boomtown. »

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The modern face of Greenbelt. Opposite page, from far left: A Greenbelt hipster; green no more â&#x20AC;&#x201C; highrises start to grow around Bonifacio Global City.


Shiny City From left: A dapper doorman at the Peninsula Manila; M Café in Greenbelt; there’s more than wine on offer at CAV; a night out at the Martini Bar in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Manila Bay still unveils its dream-inducing sunsets every evening. Sundowners at the Sofitel are in vogue—the Manila Hotel has been deserted by the chattering classes—and here again, with the ruby-red sun hanging on the horizon, whiteclad waitresses gliding across the lawns, and bats and birds flickering through the palms, everything seems possible. Manila remains a collection of neighborhoods: a city where the old is in evidence downtown; where Makati represents a newer face; and Bonifacio is the latest attempt at making this a beautiful, exotic and Asian destination. THE FIVE-MINUTE TAXI RIDE TO MALATE INSTANTLY AWAKENS mixed memories of my previous stays in downtown Manila. There are the beggars pounding the windows, street girls selling white wilted flowers, boys clustering with trays of candy and cigarettes, and gap-toothed grandmothers with cups in one hand and babies in the other. Inside Remedios Circle, the homeless are still asleep on dirty cardboard, bless their souls, surrounded by the squeal of taxi tires, while the circle’s perimeter throbs with full-throated urban nightlife. In Café Havana Malate, a blazing six-piece band belts out Latin-flavored tunes to a loud and appreciative full house. The tightest bands have always loved Malate, and Filipinos are fine musicians anyway. I sit there for a happy couple of

hours, enjoying the energy, soaking up the music and halflistening to my new friend on the next barstool, who is cheerfully complaining about the government. So is there a revival going on here? Not exactly. Café Adriatico—the place that re-invented Filipino food, making it less fatty and sweet, highlighting its sour–salty essence—is packed as always, and a few other clubs hum with midnight energy. But Malate is shrinking, and some of its points of light have winked out. Firma boutique, Sala Bistro and People’s Palace have decamped to Makati, driven out by the black beast of Metro Manila: traffic. As I taxi back to Dasmarinas long after midnight, still wrapped in a warm Latin-flavored glow, wham, we are treated to 20 minutes of taillights and dead-stop traffic. So the condo dwellers and gated village people of Makati, who live and work just five kilometers away, seldom venture downtown. In a normal country, the government would throw a lifeline to areas like Ermita and Malate, drive broad boulevards through the congested city, or build subways beneath it, to ease the flow of traffic between Makati and the waterfront. But the Philippines is not a normal country, or at least, not one where the government feels any obligation to build public works for the common good. With few exceptions, the country has long been run by crooks who plunder the public

At Café Havana, the dance floor showcases couples 122


treasury without scruple and show little regard for the needs, infrastructure or otherwise of 90 million citizens. “The government will always be the government, that never changes,” says Teresa Custodio, president of Island Caravan Tours. Indeed, the country slides further down the Transparency International corruption index each year—the latest survey found it at 141, behind famously crooked countries like Liberia and Cameroon. “The Philippines is the land of the waving palms,” my friend at the Havana barstool, laughing and waving his upturned palm back and forth, tells me. That’s the approach Filipinos take. “We joke about the dwarf in the palace. What else can we do?” asks Patricia Laurel, editor of Art in Sight magazine. So strong is the grip of the rich on the poor, so powerful the ruling families, and so pervasive the unfairness, that resistance seems futile. GREENBELT, A HORSESHOE-SHAPED MALL WRAPPED AROUND A

strip of parkland, is the porch light that lures the pleasure seekers to Makati. At Museum Café, a DJ conjures quilted layers of laid-back house music from his dials and disks, as spotlights splash circles of color onto the banyans, palms and the patrons, who come here to kick-start their evenings. The edges of the park glow with activity, as happy pre-dinner waves surge and crest outside the cafés and nightclubs.

At Café Havana—yes, there’s also one here—the party pours onto the patio, while inside, the dance floor showcases a half-dozen couples who have clearly taken too many salsa lessons. Che Guevera glares down darkly from above—he does not approve—but all of Greenbelt, including Café Havana and Sala Bistro and People’s Palace, is a roaring success, a parade of partiers from every corner of the planet. On a weeknight, too. Recession be damned. Che Guevera, too. What saves Greenbelt from Singapore-style sterility are the Filipinos themselves. In the Filipino soul, the secret to happiness lies in rising to an occasion, in knowing a good time when they see one. This is not the cloaked and closeted localsonly kind of fun that you find in East Asia; it is an extended, please-join-us kind of fun. Join us on the dance floor, join us at the microphone, join us at the bar. Join us. In Merk’s, where a live band churns out campy Village People/Madonna/Queen standards to a clapping and singing audience, I am cajoled onto the stage for an impromptu Macho Man dance contest. In Havana, heaven help me, I am swept onto the dance floor among the salsa experts. The essence of the Philippines is found in these vital intersections of shared humanity. The greeting of a grocery clerk, the smile of a parking attendant, the laughter of a waitress, the passion of a taxi driver who rhapsodizes for four blocks »

who have clearly taken too many salsa lessons 123


Bonifacio Global City has plenty of room to run about Karen Carpenter. “No one can sing like Karen Carpenter, no one can imitate the voice of Karen Carpenter.” The accumulation of friendly exchanges builds into a warm karmic glow that pushes you past the rough spots, makes you feel happy and involved and less like a stranger. It is impossible to feel alone in Manila, unless you really want to. Now, in a stroke of fortune straight from heaven, the same qualities so cherished by visitors—courtesy, charm, good English and a natural gift for service—have proven a perfect fit for the latest global growth industry, business process outsourcing, or BPO’s. Greenbelt and Bonifacio owe much of their success to the BPO boom, which has ignited the Philippines economy. But while Greenbelt is saturated, Bonifacio Global City still has plenty of room to run. Ayala Land took control of a former military base in 2003, and here they reinvented the Greenbelt wheel, putting condos and office towers on the outer rings, and a bulls-eye in the middle: the pedestrian-friendly zone called Bonifacio High Street, with its beckoning rows of bakeries, trattorias, steak houses, wine bars, nightclubs and noodle shops. You could connect the dots on a world map with all the choices. The three remakes of Manila are crystallized in Abe, where families feast on Filipino specialties like pork tamarind

soup and kinilaw of fresh tanigue, a beautiful ceviche of Spanish mackerel flavored with palm vinegar and coconut milk. Abe has its roots in Malate and it has a foot in Greenbelt, where Fely Js and Restaurante Pia y Damaso further polished the concept of subtly textured Filipino cuisine. What a change it all is. Fifteen years ago, nobody ate outdoors and now the al fresco seats disappear first. The Filipinos have given up their crispy pata, stewed organ meats and chipped beef in favor of kinder and gentler—but still authentic—comfort food. Electrical and fiber optic lines are buried, cars are banished, there’s not a panhandler in sight and the rich-poor divide feels like it has disappeared. It hasn’t, of course, but it feels like maybe it could, like a large middle class might emerge and maybe even run the country someday. PINOY OPTIMISM UP, says a newspaper headline, citing a survey, but the proof lies in Bonifacio, where 20 cranes pivot and wheel in the sunshine, building office towers, condo blocks and the country’s tallest building, surpassing, naturally, a tower in Makati. The future is visible from here and Manila seems ready—just maybe—to become one of the world’s favorite cities once again, just as it was a century ago. “You’re hopeful,” says businesswoman Teresa Custodio. “Things are moving in the right direction. You’re always hopeful.” 


Strolling the stylish side of the city. Opposite page, from far left: San Agustin Museum in Intramuros; Casa Manila, a restored home in Intramuros, reminiscent of a different era.


GUIDE TO MANILA Le Soufflé Classic French cuisine, nicely cooked and not too expensive. The Fort, Unit B, The Fort Entertainment Center, Bonifacio Global City; 632/8875108; lunch for two P900. Merk’s Bar Bistro Level 3, Greenbelt 3, Makati; 632/7574720; merksbarbistro.com; lunch for two P600. Museum Café G/F, Garden Side, Greenbelt 4, Makati; 632/ 757-3000. Saguijo Café Bar Blistering live music in a hard-to-find location. 7612 Guijo St., San Antonio Village, Makati; 632/897-8629. Wasabi Bistro & Sake Bar A Japanese fusion fix. 7912 Makati Ave., Makati; 632/840-4223; dinner for two P1,650.

WHERE TO STAY GREAT G Hotel Manila A new VA LUE boutique hotel in Malate, with balcony suites overlooking the bay. 2090 Roxas Boulevard; 632/5250888; g-hotel.com.ph; doubles from US$110. Mandarin Oriental Manila Offers a heart-of-Makati location and classic continental style. Makati Avenue, Makati; 632/7508888; mandarinoriental.com/ manila; doubles from P5,500. Peninsula Manila A local landmark that receives constant tweaks and upgrades to stay at the top of the game. Corner Ayala and Makati aves., Makati;

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632/887-2888; peninsula.com/ manila; doubles from P12,000. Sofitel Philippine Plaza This time-honored favorite was taken over and revamped by Sofitel. CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City; 632/551-5555; sofitel.com; doubles from P7,150. WHERE TO EAT & DRINK Abe G/F Serendra, Bonifacio Global City; 632/856-0526; dinner for two P1,200. Café Adriatico 1790 M. Adriatico St., Remedios Circle, Malate; 632/523-7924; lunch for two P800.

Carlos Celdran Tours Celdran is a superior showman whose walking tours offer a pitchperfect combination of fun and facts. 632/484-4945; celdrantours.blogspot.com; Intramuros walking tour, P800.

WHERE TO SHOP Firma Coral bracelets, silver spiders in golden webs, bejeweled bumblebees and more — a boutique with a totally sure touch and unique displays of jewelry, handbags, belts, and objets d’art. G/F Greenbelt 3, Makati; 632/ 757-4009. Fully Booked A four-story feast for bibliophiles for that is chockfull of good books on the Philippines. 5th Ave., Bonifacio High St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; 632/858-7000. Greenhills Shopping Center Veiled Muslim women with reputations for strict honesty sell pearls from Mindanao and the Visayas. Pearls injected with dye, in sparkling shades of bronze and green, are a specialty. P1,000 for a necklace of white freshwater pearls, P2,000 for a necklace of injected pearls. San Juan, Manila. Hiraya Gallery The gallery offers an ever-changing visual feast, and opens a window into the dynamic world of Filipino art. 530 United Nations Ave., Ermita, Manila; 632/523-3311; hiraya.com. SM Mall of Asia Head for the waterfront esplanade behind the mall, where the budget-friendly cafes and to-die-for Manila Bay sunsets are. South end of Edsa Blvd., Pasay City.

Café Havana Greenbelt G/F, Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati; 632/757-4370; lunch for two P900. CAV Wine Bar and Restaurant Black-clad thirtysomethings swirl their reds and sip their whites. Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City; 632/856-1798; dinner for two P3,000. La Cocina de Tita Moning Classic Filipino food, sweet, soft, rich and marbled, served in a 1937 Art Deco home. 315 San Rafael St., San Miguel; 632/7342146; dinner for two P2,800.

M A P B Y W A N N A P H A N A W AY O N

GETTING THERE Most Asian airlines fly to Ninoy Aquino International Airport, where they land at one of three terminals: Philippine Airlines has exclusive use of Terminal Two; Cebu Pacific is at the new Terminal Three, which also serves as Manila’s domestic terminal; and all other international airlines use shoddy old Terminal One. Metered taxis to Makati are about P150; taxis downtown about P250.

WHAT TO DO Ayala Museum The permanent exhibits in this new museum are stunners: A Millennium of Contact features ceramics from China’s Jingdezhen kilns, while Gold of Ancestors showcases gorgeous artworks from the precolonial Philippines, including a 3,860-gram gold sash. Greenbelt 5, Makati Ave. corner De La Rosa St., Makati; 632/757-7117; ayalamuseum.org; admission P425.

San Agustin Museum Next to the San Agustin Church. Calle Real del Palacio, Intramuros, 632/527-4061; P50 entrance fee.


Crowds at an open-air art exhibit in Salcedo Village. Opposite: The scene at Manila Bay at sunset.

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TOP ON OF THE WORLD

The Sogne Fjord, in southwestern Norway, the country’s longest and deepest fjord. Opposite: Sunning on the lawn of Bergen’s National Venue of Theater.

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THANKS TO A VAST OIL SURPLUS, NORWAY HAS DEEP POCKETS AND ONE OF THE HIGHEST STANDARDS OF LIVING IN THE WORLD. BUT THE LOCALS ARE SLOW TO CHANGE, CLINGING FAST TO NORDIC TRADITIONS — ESPECIALLY A DEEP REVERENCE FOR THEIR ARCTIC SURROUNDINGS. SEAN ROCHA EXPLORES THE NEW NORTH. PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARTHA CAMARILLO

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IN MIDSUMMER, NIGHT NEVER QUITE COMES TO OSLO, WHICH lies on a sheltered estuary seven degrees latitude below the Arctic Circle. The sun sets late, twilight begins and a long, last light lingers in the sky beyond the darkening clouds. Then, as if changing its mind, the light grows into dawn and the sky becomes bright once more. As I walk along Pipervika, the Norwegian capital’s principal harbor, at five o’clock one morning, the sun is already at high-noon strength. The medieval stone fortress of Akershus guards the harbor’s eastern flank; on the other, onetime shipyards have been redeveloped into a popular outdoor dining area called Aker Brygge, which comes to life in the summer. I can feel the remoteness of this place in the crisp, Arctic clarity of the warm air. A little more than 40 years ago, Norway was one of the

poorest corners of Europe. For many generations, emigration—particularly to the United States, where there are more citizens of Norwegian descent than there are people in Norway—was the best of a difficult set of options. But starting in the 1960’s, oil began to flow from deposits in the North Sea, flooding an austere, agrarian society with unimagined riches. Norway created a lavish social-welfare state that has helped it to achieve what the UN described this past December as a virtual tie with Iceland for the world’s highest level of human development, a standard measured in levels of literacy, life expectancy and wealth. (Norway is expected to pass Iceland this year.) Still, the survival mentality born of centuries of hardship has deep roots. Sandrine Brekke, a French friend who

Nordic Tracks Clockwise from top left: Bergen’s Godt Brød bakery; cod with bok choy at Sult, in Oslo; First Hotel Grims Grenka, in Oslo; Oslo’s Grünerløkka

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married into a Norwegian family, told me, with Parisian bemusement, that locals “have freezers the size of coffins, absolutely filled with food so they can live for months trapped in the snow and survive. Their quality of life has changed so quickly that no one has adjusted.” In fact, a big chunk of the oil money has been saved in a government pension fund that at press time was estimated at US$350 billion—which means Norway is on more solid financial footing than most countries around the world during the current economic downturn. The architecture in Oslo reflects this element of the Norwegian character: solid rather than flashy, with heavy stone foundations to survive the fires that regularly swept the city centuries earlier. With the exception of the stunning new US$420 million Opera House, the city’s most extravagant

construction, much of Oslo looks more like parts of Eastern Europe than it does sleek, high-design Copenhagen. “Norway, together with Ireland, has always been one of the poorest countries in Europe,” says Finn Bergesen Jr., head of the Norwegian business association NHO. “We became an independent country in 1905; before that we were 100 years under Sweden and 400 years under Denmark. So we did not have a capital of our own; we did not have any monumental buildings.” Remarkably, two-thirds of municipal land in Oslo is given over to deep, expansive forests. It’s easy to board a bus near the harbor and be hiking in the wilderness in less than an hour. “It’s a place like a hot cup of cocoa,” says Nosizwe Lise Baqwa, former leader of the African Student Union at the »

area; Bergen’s Vaskerelven Street; Andreas Gursky’s Mayday IV at Bagatelle, in Oslo; the view from Bergen’s National Venue of Theater; the scene at Sult.

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WHEN I ASK LOCALS ABOUT THE EFFECT THAT OIL MONEY HAS HAD, MOST OF THEM LOOK EMBARRASSED BY THE QUESTION, THEN REMIND ME THAT THE OIL WILL NOT LAST FOREVER

Northern Sights The classic village of Undredal, near Sogne Fjord. Opposite: The Angry Boy is the most popular sculpture in Oslo’s Frogner Park.

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University of Oslo, of her native city, where her mother moved from South Africa before she was born. “I like that it is so safe and I don’t have to look over my shoulder the whole time. I like that it is innocent, still, in a world that is so globalized. Norwegians are very democratic and fair.” A vivid example: the Royal Palace, a short walk from the harbor, has no barricade around it. The handsome, creamcolored Neoclassical building is the primary residence of the king and queen, but it stands relatively unprotected on a small rise in Slottsparken, a forested area open to the public just west of Karl Johans Gate, Oslo’s main street. “We’re egalitarian,” says Bjørn Moholdt, editor-in-chief of the Oslobased travel magazine Reiser & Ferie. “No single Norwegian is considered better than another.” This openness can veer into naïveté. When the most famous painting in Norwegian history, Edvard Munch’s The Scream, was stolen from the National Gallery in Oslo in 1994, the surprise for many was how minimally it had been guarded. Ten years later, another version of the same painting was nabbed from Oslo’s Munch Museum. But both pieces were subsequently recovered, and as I stare through the thin, simple pane of protective glass over the version hanging once more in the National Gallery, I steal glances at the low-tech camera panning the room and the guard who lazily checks in every once in a while. Despite everything, they refuse to relegate The Scream to the fate of the Mona Lisa, encased in an art-world version of the Pope mobile, preferring to trust in the better instincts of mankind. Will this attitude inevitably change? When I ask locals about the effect that oil money has had on their society, most of them look momentarily embarrassed by the question, then remind me that the oil will not last forever and that much of the money has been socked away, as if this prudence means they remain unchanged by it. High taxes and a high cost of living—Oslo is among the most expensive cities in the world—also temper any possible extravagance. Baqwa’s answer is more nuanced, perhaps because of her unusual perspective as both insider and outsider. “Their lifestyles have changed,” she says of her fellow Norwegians, noting how the petroleum industry has buoyed the entire nation’s economy. “Because they have so much more money, they travel more. But travel just makes them even happier that things are as simple as they are back home. Norwegians are trying to deal with the fact that they are so rich and that this country is becoming, on some level, connected to the world.”

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O ONE KNOWS WHY THE ANGRY BOY IS SO ANGRY. The sculpture of a petulant child is the most beloved of the hundreds of works designed by Gustav Vigeland for Oslo’s Frogner Park. Their installation was completed in 1950, and they have a special place in the hearts of Oslo’s residents. The oversize nudes Vigeland carved in granite feel exceptionally soft to the touch—almost soapy—and have a puffy muscularity reminiscent of the work of Fernando Botero. Of the long row of bronze sculptures, it is The Angry Boy whose pedestal has been rubbed to a polish by visitors. I look at the boy’s tiny clenched fist and hunched shoulders and see not so much anger as stubborn defiance: a refusal to change or grow up. It is, for me, a monument to a wish for things to remain as they are. But, of course, that isn’t happening. To take the T-bane subway four stops from Majorstuen, near Frogner Park in the prosperous and mostly blond west, to Grønland, in the east, is to get on in Scandinavia and get off in London, or maybe in Mogadishu or Lahore. Norway has long offered a generous reception for asylum seekers. The inland neighborhood of Grønland, a haven for those who believe in a multicultural Oslo, is characterized by immigrant shops such as Sheikh Enterprises and Khalid Jewellers, and call centers posting rates to Afghanistan and Morocco. Meanwhile, nearby Grünerløkka is full of trendy boutiques, including designershoe mecca Shoe Lounge, and stylish restaurants like Sult, evidence of the process in which commerce capitalizes on a neighborhood’s edginess. One night I go to a jazz club called Blå in a nearby arts district of graffiti-covered warehouses on the banks of the Akerselva River. I’m here to see the Frank Znort Quartet, described to me as “the house band of Grønland.” Once inside, I understand what this means: the quartet seems to have a dozen members from all over the world, each taking a turn to sing an upbeat jazz tune or introduce a favorite »

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I LEAN BACK TO STARE UP AT THE SLOPES AND EXPERIENCE A KIND OF UPWARD VERTIGO instrument into the rhythmic mix. When I finally head home, in the early hours of the morning, the sky still glows, but the nearly endless sunlight, so disorienting at first, now feels exhilarating.

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EAVING OSLO IS AS MUCH A PART OF A RESIDENT’S LIFE AS

living there, and the summer exodus begins at 3 P.M. on Fridays. “If you look at who the big Norwegian heroes are, they are our athletes, adventurers, people who physically overcome nature,” Bergesen explains. “We love outdoor life, having a place where we can get away from the pollution and cars and people.” But even this ritualized return to nature is beginning to change with the new wealth. The hytte—a hut or country cabin—had always been a spartan, humble retreat that “didn’t have any facilities,” Bergesen says. “And people loved it. But what you see now is that people are putting in electricity, water, plumbing.” The tabloids are full of breathless stories about the luksus (luxury) hytter belonging to the rich and famous. Not having a hytte of my own, I decide to explore the countryside via the fjords along the western coast, where the Hurtigruten steamers have been plying the route from Bergen to well above the Arctic Circle since the late 19th century. I base myself in Bergen, Norway’s charming second city, which prospered in the Middle Ages owing to its connection to the trading routes of the Hanseatic League. The brightly colored, steeply pitched trading houses of the Bryggen area (a UNESCO World Heritage site) still line the waterfront. Along the narrow passages between the buildings the wood planks seem to be sagging and oozing with age. Bergen feels something like an American college town, with a relaxed, youthful vibe in which university students while away the afternoons on the lawns near the National Theater or in the city’s many coffeehouses. From Bergen, I set sail with several hundred fellow travelers for the Sogne Fjord, the longest and deepest fjord in Norway, on a boat dwarfed by the vastness of the landscape: jagged, high-cliffed, densely forested mountains rise up from waters so still and dark they appear thick, almost gelatinous. Suddenly, the already breathtaking view doubles in size as the wind dies down and the surface of the water goes flat, creating a perfect reflection of the world above. Blindingly white glaciers perch uncertainly on the mountaintops, as if their 10,000-year retreat—a force so powerful that during

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the Ice Age it etched the fjords into the mountains, flooding them with water as the earth warmed—were an event I am catching in mid-motion. The fjord narrows and the mountains press in, runoff from the melting snowcaps spidering down the rocks. I lean back to stare up at the nearly vertical slopes and experience a kind of upward vertigo: the mountains appear to be straight overhead and for a moment I think the rock face might shear off. And yet there, nestled in the endless wall of green forest, is a solitary farmstead bravely staking its claim on the lonely, steep, barely arable mountainside. I understand why it is nature that captures the Norwegian imagination: this spectacular land was formed on a scale no man-made city can rival.

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ETURNING TO OSLO, I GO TO THE HARBOR OF BJØRVIKA to see the new Opera House. The impressive project, designed by Snøhetta, the Norwegian firm that also designed the Alexandria Library in Egypt, is unmistakably monumental. It is a showy, un-Norwegian building, and I love it for that. Vanity can be good for a city. What is the Eiffel Tower except a boast written in iron about late-19th century French prowess? Architecture is the language in which cities communicate who they are or how they hope to be seen; in Oslo, often, the architecture has little to say and the city sometimes seems unsure of itself. The restaurant Bagatelle announces itself as something different for Oslo. Andreas Gursky’s photograph Mayday IV (2000) dominates the dining room. The Michelin-starred spot opened in 1982 but is still the most talked-about restaurant in town. It has something else, too, that is rare in Norway: the sound of boisterous conversation, tableware clinking and people indulging in the pleasures of food. There is also nothing quiet about chef Eyvind Hellstrøm’s cooking. I find that I’m hoping the chef will not fail and that Oslo will reward his audacity. Then the first course arrives: a single oyster from Normandy presented in its deep, sculpted shell on a bed of herbed coarse salt, accented with a dash of Japanese shiso sauce and a small pearl of olive oil that perfectly balances the surging brininess of the fleshy shellfish. It is a simple dish, masterfully conceived, that unselfconsciously integrates flavors from Asia and Europe as if they naturally belong in a Norwegian restaurant. It’s only one course. But this, it seems to me, is a symbol of what Oslo could one day become. 


Riding the roof of the Opera House, in Oslo.

GUIDE TO NORWAY GETTING THERE From Southeast Asia, flights to Oslo all go via an intermediate European hub such as Amsterdam, Stockholm, London, Paris or Frankfurt. WHERE TO STAY Det Hanseatiske Hotel Located in a wood-beamed former Hanseatic trading house constructed after the great fire of 1702. 2A Finnegaarden, Bergen; 475/530-4800; dethanseatiskehotell.no; doubles from NOK1,985. First Hotel Grims Grenka A high-design newcomer offering organic food in its restaurant, iPod docking stations, and Bang & Olufsen televisions. 5 Kongens Gate, Oslo; 47-

2/310-7200; grimsgrenka. no; doubles from NOK2,270. Cochs Pensjonat Pleasant, if ordinary, rooms and a great location on one of Oslo’s best shopping streets. 25 Parkveien; 472/333-2400; cochspensjonat.no; doubles from NOK800. WHERE TO EAT Bagatelle 3 Bygdøy Alle, Oslo; 47-2/212-1440; dinner for two NOK1,640. Det Lille Kaffekompaniet Inviting café at the lower end of Bergen’s spectacular funicular. 2 Nedre Fjellsmauet, Bergen; 47-5/532-9272; coffee and cake for two NOK120. Godt Brød A popular café and bakery serving coffee

and organic sandwiches. 2 Vestre Torvgate, Bergen; 47-5/556-3310; lunch for two NOK120. Sult An arty landmark in Grünerløkka specializing in simple, fresh cooking. 26 Thorvald Meyers Gate, Oslo; 47-2/287-0467; dinner for two NOK706. WHAT TO SEE Blå 9C Brenneriveien, Oslo; 47-4/000-4277; blaaoslo.no. Munch Museum 53 Tøyengata, Oslo; 47-2/3493500; munch.museum.no. National Venue of Theater 1 Engen, Bergen; 47-5/5549700; dns.no. Shoe Lounge 42 Thorvald Meyers Gate, Oslo; 47-2/237-5007; shoelounge.no.

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ALONG THE COASTS OF LATVIA AND ESTONIA — FROM THE ¯ RMALA AND THE UNTOUCHED ISLAND BUZZING BEACHES OF JU OF MUHU TO THE BACKSTREETS OF TALLINN — THOMAS BELLER GOES IN SEARCH OF EUROPE’S LOST RIVIERA. PHOTOGRAPHED BY BLASIUS ERLINGER

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At P채daste Manor, on the island of Muhu, off the west coast of Estonia. Opposite: In front of the hotel and into the Baltic Sea.


Riviera, where we were thinking of spending a week. At some point my eye drifted upward until I hit a patch of blue, the Baltic Sea, and the filigreed curtain of Danish islands that separates it from the Atlantic. The looming fingers of the Scandinavian countries extended down from above, and the sea came to a timorous stop at the western tip of Russia. At its bottom lip were Latvia and Estonia. Looking at the map I couldn’t help but think of them as two tiny pebbles only recently revealed by the receding Soviet tide. They have been independent since 1991, and joined the European Union in 2004. But at the moment, my thoughts were less geopolitical than preoccupied with the hedonistic question, what’s the beach like up there? Mustn’t there be a Baltic Riviera? Surely it must be pristine, untouched, an unknown kingdom neglected by history (or the tourism industry). Which is how I found myself, a few months later, with my wife and our 6-month-old daughter (a.k.a. “the Nugget”), setting off from Riga International Airport for Ju¯rmala, Latvia, the best-known beach resort on the blue Baltic. I’d had this perverse idea that we’d be entering some sort of Soviet time machine, but when I saw the profusion of Mercedes, BMW and Audi sedans surrounding us on the broad highway, I knew I’d been wrong. What I discovered were two Baltic countries, different in language and culture that are both still struggling to define themselves against their enormous neighbor to the east. ¯ RMALA IS MADE UP OF A SERIES U

of beaches stretched out over a small peninsula, bordered by the Lielupe River on one side and the Baltic on the other. The main promenade, Jomas Iela, sits next to Majori, the most popular beach, and is surrounded by thick trees, beneath which is an interesting amalgam of 19th-century wooden villas built for vacationing Russians—some are beautiful, with towers, spires and elaborate porches—alongside new structures with minimalist Scandinavian architecture. All the buildings—a jumble of old school and new—were built in scale to the surrounding forest, except for two. One is the Ju¯rmala Spa Hotel, where we were staying, 11 stories of purple-tinted glass rising up out of the woods. Inside, the lobby hummed with a techno beat, and on the walls were black-and-white “art photo138

graphs” that celebrated the nude female body. I held my daughter tight and wondered what I had gotten us into. A glass elevator lifted us up over the forest and took my mood with it. I was pleased when we opened the door to our small but opulent room on the 11th floor and saw that, in addition to the sea, the beach, the forest and the river, our view encompassed the white wedding cake of the Baltic Beach Hotel, the other enormous building on the beach that had been my first choice (and fully booked). The Nugget had a boo-boo, and so we set off on the promenade to find a Band-Aid. There I discovered that Ju¯rmala, long favored among Russians, is not yet a place where English is widely spoken. But pantomiming “Band-Aid?” with a baby in your arms is not difficult. This errand taken care of, we walked to the beach for our Baltic baptism. Majori was impressively huge—a stretch of soft white sand that runs in either direction as far as you can see. And it was absolutely packed. But there was something odd about it—the dividing line between beach and water was not clear. Instead, people were sitting and lounging in the water 9 meters out from where it lapped the shore. We waded in, trailing the Nugget’s toes in the surprisingly warm water. I had expected that, even in August, it would be freezing. But the Baltic is shallow, so the sun warms it, and there are hardly any waves. We walked 45 meters out to sea. A group of teenagers up ahead of us were screaming when the water swelled to their waists. That night, we sat among the beach crowds and families from Riga who come for dinner on weekends at one of the many outdoor restaurants that line Jomas Iela. Amid the elaborate restaurants and gingerbread architecture, you can also buy ice cream and cotton candy, sit in a rowdy beer garden, or take a small-scale amusement park ride. A good portion of the citizenry dresses up for the night, in a mix of backless halter tops and elegant evening wear, and this promenading enhances the faintly czarist atmosphere. Later, we returned to our room and saw the Baltic Beach Hotel lit up like a cruise ship surrounded by darkness. It was graced with a huge neon sign with some malfunctioning letters. And so we drifted pleasantly off to sleep that first night with the words BALTIC BEACH HO looming over the town, the forest and the sea. »


Baltic Bliss Clockwise from top left: Local color on Muhu; playing volleyball on Majori Beach, in Ju ¯rmala; pastry-topped mushroom soup at Pädaste’s Sea House restaurant; undergoing a hay treatment in the hotel’s spa; kayaking on the Lielupe River, in Ju ¯rmala; a Manor House suite at Pädaste.

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After two nights in Ju¯rmala, we headed west for the port town of Ventspils to begin our trip to Muhu, a small Estonian island to the north. Beneath the huge, bright blue sky were marvelous fields dotted with round bales of hay, sloping gently toward the horizon. We passed thick stands of white birches, clustered together in shadow, and dense forest with an incongruously sandy floor that suggested the nearness of the sea. Now and then we’d see a picturesque house with a very steep roof sitting alone by the side of the road. The landscape began to take on the flavor of one of those quaint—but also dark and foreboding—tales of the Brothers Grimm. At the outskirts of Ventspils, gray Soviet-era housing blocks rose from the fields. One of them, an unfinished skeleton, looked almost archaeological, a ruin from the previous empire. We drove past little houses, each with a fastidiously tended garden out front. They made the town seem house-proud and tidy. Ventspils is an ice-free port where Russian oil and minerals are loaded onto ships. It is bisected by the Venta River, over which rises an elevated bridge that swept us up and then gently deposited us in the center of the sleepy old port town. Our room that night, in the Hotel Vilnis, was modest and clean. Only the convention of attack-dog trainers, whose dogs were barking in cages outside the lobby, made the visit slightly unsettling. The next morning we woke very early and drove to the ferry to cross over to the Estonian island of Saaremaa. As we set off, I noticed a line of tankers running parallel to our course, sailing along the horizon in a way that made the world seem flat. A vague fantasy of the naval maneuvers on the Baltic—both those of the 15th century, when the Swedes fought the Russians for control of the region, and those of the 20th century, when the Germans battled the Soviets—emanated from that line of ships and stayed with me until we landed on Saaremaa. Under Soviet rule, the island and its smaller neighbor, Muhu, were part of the “border zone.” No one—not even Estonians—could travel to the area without a visa, and even since becoming part of the EU, the islands have seen few visitors and little in the way of economic development. MUHU’S SOUTHERN SHORE, we located Pädaste Manor, a series of low stone houses and a main house arranged around a beautiful quad. Thick old trees sway high above the lawn, which is intersected by paths that lead to a gate and a long, thin strait of water to the Baltic. We dropped off our bags at our attractive duplex room and rushed to the Sea House restaurant to eat. It was N

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nearly three in the afternoon, and we had the place to ourselves. The stone walls felt so heavy and protective that each small window seemed like its own miniature Dutch Renaissance painting, capturing landscapes of iridescent green grass, pale light and calm if slightly ominous water in the distance. I wanted to get into the carnivorous, hunter-gatherer vibe of the place as much as possible and, not being able to decide between the roasted and dried ostrich and the moose carpaccio, I chose the “Muhu antipasti,” which came with both of them, along with a serving of smoked eel and something called “dried roach.” (The roach, I was relieved to discover, is a small fish found in the rivers and creeks of western Estonia.) The moose carpaccio was fantastic, like pork but smokier and gamier. Elizabeth had the squab. The Nugget had Elizabeth. Sated, I left the two of them in the room for a nap and headed out past the gate. There, amid the tall grass, I found a helipad, and beyond that a dock at the foot of the long, bowling alley– like lane of water stretching out to the sea. The sun was setting now, though the sky had a couple of more hours of daylight left in it. I lay down on the pier and looked up at the sky, and then sat up to take in the stillness of it all, the distant shore dark with trees, the streaks of pink light playing on the water. The next morning I met Martin Breuer, the Dutch-born proprietor of the manor, who told me about the island’s history. Muhu has only been accessible since1992. “There was never any Sovietization, no shipping in workers from Russia, and so tradition and culture survived much better here than in other parts of Estonia,” he said. Built by German aristocrats in the 19th century, Pädaste, he explained, was one of the few manor houses in Estonia that had not been built over by the state during the Soviet era. “Most of them now have corn silos or ugly apartment blocks,” he explained. Breuer came to look at the place in 1993 and, after purchasing it three years later, has rarely left. Estonia then had a kind of innocence, he said. “In ’93 you’d come to a bar, there were three bottles of hard liquor and four bartenders. And everyone sat together and sang songs. Now there is so much energy. You feel a people building their country.” One of the virtues of Pädaste is that you can project yourself into a fantasy in which it is your own ancestral manor. On the last morning there, I had my hay treatment. The Baltic States have retained the old-world idea that holidays should be more than just fun—they should be restorative, curative—as though the Baltic itself were a kind of »


An information booth at Lotte World, in Jamsil. Opposite, from top: The beef galbi at Budnamujip restaurant; Bar Da, in Hongdae; television at Electroland, a shopping center for gadgets and technology in the Yongsan district.

We passed thick stands of white birches, clustered together in shadow, and dense forest with a sandy floor that suggested the nearness of the sea

Ju ¯rmala’s main promenade, Jomas Iela, on the Gulf of Riga.


Crowdless Coast Clockwise from top left: On the ferry approaching Saaremaa; a spa therapist on the manor grounds; a waitress at the Sea House; the 96-year-old Ekesparre Residents Hotel, in Kuressaare, the main town on the island of Saaremaa; medieval rooftops in the Estonian capital; modern transport in Tallinnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Old Town.

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aquatic version of the Magic Mountain. For a moment, the line separating the height of luxury and medieval punishment seemed very thin. I was wrapped in a giant gauzy tea bag packed with hay and told by the young woman attending to me to lie down on a plank suspended over a wooden vat of warm water. With the press of a button, the plank beneath me miraculously folded itself into a kind of easy chair and I was lowered into the vat and left to steep. The rich, grassy aroma of the hay began to percolate into my nostrils. The whole thing combined a kind of return to the womb and a return to the manger experience—thus appealing to fantasies both Freudian and biblical, along with the as-yet-uncategorized, even unreconized, desire of mine to be wrapped in a giant tea bag and dunked in hot water. When it was over I was led to my goat-milk massage by a young woman with platinum hair and multiple piercings. I didn’t want to break the mood too much, but I couldn’t help asking, “Is this special hay?” “No,” she replied. “It’s just hay.” “The brochure implies there is some special property in Estonian hay.” “Well, the hay is from Estonia,” she said. “But I’m not sure what the special properties might be.” “How do you get it?” “We mow the lawn.” WOUND MY WAY OUT OF TALLINN’s Old Town at dusk. I was heading east, to the city of Narva on the Russian border, where, I had been told, I would find the Baltic’s most spectacular beach. That morning Elizabeth, the Nugget and I had made our way to the capital, a pleasant ferry ride followed by two hours on a highway into Tallinn. There, I had set up Elizabeth and the Nugget in the newly opened Hotel Telegraaf, which occupies the renovated interior of the former post office at the center of the Old Town. With its black marble and glittering chandeliers, it exuded a solidity that made me comfortable leaving the two of them alone in their room, turning to the hotel’s room-service menu as I walked out the door. I had been led to believe that Narva was Estonia’s equivalent to the South Bronx, so I was doing this part of the journey on my own. I guided the car through the narrow cobblestoned streets of the Old Town, the buildings huddled together and medieval but also strikingly colorful and clean. In their brightness I felt the pulsating prosperity of the place.

I stopped for the night at Kalvi Kastle, a two-hour drive from Tallinn during which, other than forest and the occasional looming factory, all I saw were a few cars and highway signs warning of crossing moose. Kalvi Kastle looks like an English country-manor house. From the outside, at dusk, it was formidable, but as soon as I stepped through its doors I spotted a suit of armor, an empty shell, standing at attention. It was a good symbol for the place. There was hardly anyone there. The waiters and the man working the front desk were quite professional, but at any moment I felt that they might break out into hysterical laughter, unable to sustain any longer the illusion that this was actually a real hotel. The next morning I struck up a conversation with the one other person having breakfast in the dining room. He worked for a Danish furniture maker who co-owned the castle; they had a plant nearby. Eventually, it would be a top-notch resort, but for now it was a simple hotel for company executives. After breakfast I took a winding road to a beautiful little beach populated only by some youths setting up a campfire and a volleyball net. I looked at the waves, tempted, but there was no time for a swim. I had to get to Narva to meet a local journalist who had agreed to show me around. A few miles outside of town I started passing trucks parked on the side of the road, one after another— a petrified forest of trucks. The town sits across the Narva River from the Russian border: it’s the end of the line, pushed up into the northeasternmost corner of Estonia. Huge medieval forts face each other across the river, leftovers from the centuries of battles between the Russians and the Swedes. For the truck drivers, crossing the border here can take more than a week. Estonia may have modernized—it’s now home to Skype, the Internet phone company headquartered in Tallinn—but as my guide, journalist Sergei Stepanov, himself a Russian, later explained, “On the Russian side they are all drunk!” We met at a petrol station at the edge of town, and he drove me out to see the beach I had heard about. Some U.S. State Department staff in Tallinn had told me this was the secret gem of the Baltic—even better than Ju¯rmala. Perhaps it was my source, or the proximity of the Russian border, but I felt a bit like a spy. We drove past a huge monument featuring a tank sitting on top of a square pedestal with fresh flowers arranged at its base, down a quiet lane, then pulled up to a small carriage painted in red-and-white candy stripes and sitting at the edge of a little park, Sergei got out and proudly announced that » 143


this was the symbol of the town. “A cabin for the shy girls who wanted to go to the beach in the beginning of the last century,” he told me. Apparently these “shy girls” would enter the carriage fully clothed and change into their bathing gear, after which it would be pulled, either by horses or men, into the shallows. I couldn’t decide what was more touching—the image of the beach dotted with these carriages, with ladies emerging and returning from their turn in the sea, or the cheerful hope and optimism embodied by the fresh coat of paint on this specimen, and the nearby plaque explaining its history. We walked down the beach. It was mostly empty. Sergei pointed out a yellow gazebo. “Tchaikovsky used to compose there,” he said. Now it was covered with crudely drawn graffiti—anti-American and anti-Estonian slogans, written by the angry Russian youth of Narva. Narva had once been considered the Hamptons of St. Petersburg, 137 kilometers away. The dirt road behind the beach was lined with gorgeous old

wooden mansions, some in disrepair. The center of things had shifted to Ju¯rmala. When I asked why, Sergei said, “Politics.” The fundamental tension of Estonia lies in its desire to separate entirely from its old Soviet occupiers. And yet a third of the population today is Russian and doesn’t even speak Estonian. Many of these immigrants live in Narva. Could Narva rise again? There is no way to know. But that broad expanse of empty beach, so full of history, seemed promising. On my drive back to Tallinn, clouds raced across a bright blue sky, and I raced along with them, heading toward my wife and the Nugget. I passed more houses with steeply angled roofs and meadows dotted with haystacks. I drove across a huge field dotted with wind turbines—their narrow bases and three blades so gigantic it was surreal, like toys in a race of giants. The windmills were spinning to the rhythm of the clouds racing overhead, the future in the landscape of a fairy tale. 

GUIDE TO THE BALTICS Ju ¯rmala, Latvia; 371-67/771400; balticbeach.lv; doubles from ¤120. Hotel Jurmala Spa 47/49 Jomas St., Ju ¯rmala, Latvia; 37167/784-415; hoteljurmala.com; doubles from ¤207. Hotel Telegraaf 9 Vene St., Tallinn, Estonia; 372/60-00-600; slh.com; doubles from ¤170. Hotel Vilnis 5 Talsu, Ventspils, Latvia; 37136/688-880; doubles from ¤88. GREAT VALUE

Kalvi Castle Kalvi, Estonia; 372-33/95300; kalvi-hotel.com; doubles from ¤147. WHEN TO GO The Baltic region is less crowded during shoulder seasons (May and early October) when temperatures are in the high teens Celsius. Beach weather is best in June, but expect up to 24 hours of daylight. GETTING THERE Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways all fly to Moscow from their hubs, while KLM, Lufthansa and Air

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Baltic fly from most major European cities to Riga International Airport. From there, rent a car to explore the region. WHERE TO STAY Ammende Villa Historic Art Nouveau hotel and restaurant. 7 Mere Blvd., Parnu, Estonia; 37244/73888; ammende.ee; doubles from ¤300. GREAT VALUE

Baltic Beach Hotel 23/25 Juras St., Majori,

Pädaste Manor Muhu, Estonia; 372/45-48-800; padaste.ee; doubles from ¤189. GREAT VALUE

WHERE TO EAT Melnais Sivens Small tavern with a menu full of hearty stews and local seafood, in a medieval castle. 17 Jana Iela, Ventspils, Latvia; 371-63/622-396; dinner for two ¤39. Sea House Pädaste Manor, Muhu, Estonia; 372/45-48-800; dinner for two ¤88.

Vertigo 4 Sleek brasserie serving contemporary Mediterranean cuisine, with a lounge and rooftop terrace. 9th floor, Ravala Pst, Tallinn, Estonia; 371/66-63-456; dinner for two ¤70. Veski Tavern Estonian food and live music in a 100-year-old windmill. 19 Parna Tn., Kuressaare, Estonia; 372/45-33776; dinner for two ¤31. WHAT TO DO Estonian Song and Dance Celebration Festival 23 Suur-Karja, Tallinn; 371/62-73120; laulupidu.ee; July 2–5. Kumu Art Museum A fine collection of Estonian paintings and sculpture from before and after the Soviet era. 34 Weizenbergi, Valge 1, Tallinn; 372/60-26-001; ekm.ee. Latvian National Opera Opera and ballet season runs September–May, with a summer festival highlighting new works from around the world. 3 Aspazijas Bulvaris, Riga; 371/70-73-777; opera.lv.


Clouds raced across a bright blue sky, and I raced with them. ... I passed more houses with steeply angled roofs and meadows dotted with haystacks

A view of the Baltic Sea from Pädaste Manorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s spa deck.

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(My Favorite Place) The Normandy countryside. Below: David Sedaris.

SEDARIS’S NORMANDY FAVORITES “The Orne River. When the rains are heavy and the river becomes swollen, I can watch for hours. That swollen river is better than television.”

FRANCE

“Pont d’Ouilly is a village where, every Sunday, people dance on the Orne riverbank. You look down from the bridge and see these people dancing to merry music. It’s incredibly charming and innocent. Widows dance together.”

Scribe David Sedaris tells DANI SHAPIRO about his attraction to the bucolic roads and rivers of Normandy OR THE PAST 14 YEARS, I’ve spent my summers in lower Normandy. My boyfriend, Hugh Hamrick, and I live in a 200-year-old stone house in a tiny village called La Bagotière [south of Caen]. There are 12 houses in the whole village. Some are stone, and others are pavillons, butter-colored buildings that look as if they were drawn by an architect to match a child’s idea of a house. There are no sidewalks, no shops. Just a road. If I take a right turn out my front door, the road is flat and I can bike for kilometers. Each day I take a long ride. I can go for hours and be passed by maybe three cars. Then I come home and go the other way on foot. To the left is what the locals refer to as “Swiss Normandy”—it’s very hilly. The nature trails there are beautiful, but I’m afraid of snakes, so I walk

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“The Normandy American Cemetery at Omaha Beach. No matter how jaded you are, you just have to cry, seeing those crosses stretch into the horizon.” Collevillesur-Mer; abmc.gov/cemeteries/ cemeteries/no.php.

along the road. The countryside is so green your eyes ache from looking at it. If someone had told me in junior high that I’d live in such a place, I wouldn’t have been able to conceive of it. I didn’t pay attention to nature until I lived in La Bagotière. There’s lots of livestock. I love watching the sheep; why is it that some sheep are afraid of me and some aren’t? I’ll watch a centipede eating a worm, and realize that I had never thought about what they eat. This part of the country is really la France profonde. It’s unsophisticated, deep country. If a tourist walked into a village store, the proprietor would say: “Oh my God, where are you from? You came all this way to see us?” ✚ David Sedaris’s latest book is When You Are Engulfed in Flames (Little, Brown and Company).

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“Clécy is a happy spot on the Orne full of wholesome people. French teenagers aren’t sullen like American teenagers.”


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