A camping holiday in France
, l i a R sail, wheels & deals NO-FLY TRAVEL IDEAS THAT DON’T BUST THE BUDGET
Thailand rural tours that
won’t leave you in a paddy
Castaway kids survive a year out in Tonga
ALSO: LAKE COMO • DENMARK • SEVILLE • NETHERLANDS
Edit & share adventures in minutes with the TomTom Bandit — the first 4k Ultra HD camera with action sensors
2 National Geographic Traveller | Family Summer 2016
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For more information, visit tomtom.com/action-camera natgeotraveller.co.uk | National Geographic Traveller 3
Your Ultimate Family Safari begins here... www.desertdelta.com
09 Smarter travel Tips, books and essential kit
24 No-fly travel Rid yourself of airport angst and explore the world by road, rail and water
12 Ask the experts Surfing and biking, plus free fun in Bath 14 Column Travel Dad returns to Ibiza... with kids 16 Tried & tested Days out in Sweden, France and the UK
Competiďż˝ion Win a family camping break in France! Turn to p.21 for details
36 Thailand Paddy fields, Thai cooking and trips to the beach 44 Lake Como Enjoy the Italian superstar lake for less
Issue 9 Cornwall, UK IMAGE: Getty
48 Tonga Island adventure: an exotic year abroad 54 Go now Driving the Danish coast, a city break to Seville and top spots in the Netherlands 65 Are we there yet? Games, quizzes and puzzles 66 Back chat Matilda the Musical, plus Europeâ€™s big splash parks
This was a brilliant holiday! The best we’ve ever had. The perfect mix of culture, adventure and relaxation. Beautiful countryside, welcoming people, gorgeous food, millions of temples, billions of buddhas... Marvellous!!! Review of Jungles & Beaches family holiday in Thailand www.exodus.co.uk/trip/fit
NEW BROCHURES OUT NOW! Request yours today; exodus.co.uk/brochures
Because 97% of our customers would recommend us to a friend
CULTURE • TREKKING • CYCLING • FAMILY • WINTER ACTIVITIES • WILDLIFE • POLAR • #JOINTHEEXODUS
Editorial Director: Maria Pieri Editor: Pat Riddell Deputy Editor: Helen Warwick (maternity leave) Features Editor: Glen Mutel Assistant Editor: Stephanie Cavagnaro Associate Editor: Sarah Barrell Editorial Assistant: Farida Zeynalova Digital Editor: Seamus McDermott Contributing Editors: Amelia Duggan, Jo Fletcher-Cross, Zane Henry, Josephine Price, Joanna Reeves, Tamsin Wressell Sub Editors: Hannah Doherty, Lorraine Grifﬁths, Chris Horton, Chris Hughes Project Manager: Natalie Jackson Group Art Editor: Chris Hudson Senior Designer: Lauren Atkinson-Smith Designers: Daniel Almeroth, Gabriella Finney, Lauren Gamp, Philip Lay Production Manager: Daniel Gregory Production Controllers: Maia Abrahams, Joaquim Pereira, Lisa Poston, Joanne Roberts, Anthony Wright
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s I, along with millions of others, continue to perform the family-worklife balancing act, I’ve caught myself thinking: what would it be like to take off for a year, home-school the kids and let them experience something out of the ordinary? Well, one of our intrepid writers did just that and headed off to Tonga for the family adventure of a lifetime (p48). Can a year out really have a negative impact on our under10s, as long as they continue to study? And isn’t travel essentially an education in itself? Many debate the wisdom of such a mission, and yet I somehow know those kids will be alright. I bet they’ll be some of the most worldly-wise youngsters you’ll ever meet. In any event, if you’re contemplating where to go for your next trip and don’t want to set foot on a plane, turn to our no-fly travel feature (p24). It rocks! (Or walks, or sails, or wheels itself forward.) Enjoy.
National Geographic Traveller (UK) is published by APL Media Limited, Unit 310, Highgate Studios, 53-79 Highgate Road, London NW5 1TL. natgeotraveller.co.uk Editorial T: 020 7253 9906. email@example.com Sales/Admin T: 020 7253 9909. F: 020 7253 9907. firstname.lastname@example.org Subscriptions: T: 01293 312166. email@example.com National Geographic Traveller (UK) is published by APL Media Ltd under license from National Geographic Partners, LLC. Their entire contents are protected by copyright 2016 and all rights are reserved. Reproduction without prior permission is forbidden. Every care is taken in compiling the contents of the magazine, but the publishers assume no responsibility in the effect arising therefrom. Readers are advised to seek professional advice before acting on any information which is contained in the magazine. Neither APL Media Ltd or National Geographic Traveller magazine accept any liability for views expressed, pictures used or claims made by advertisers. National Geographic Traveler (US) Editor-in-Chief, Travel Media: George Stone Publisher & Vice President, Global Media: Kimberly Connaghan Digital Director: Andrea Leitch Design Director: Marianne Seregi Director of Photography: Anne Farrar Senior Editor: Jayne Wise Features Editor: Amy Alipio Associate Editor: Hannah Sheinberg Producers: Megan Heltzel Weiler, Lindsay Smith Associate Producers: Christine Blau, Rebecca Davis Blog Editor/Producer: Leslie Trew Magraw Deputy Art Director: Leigh V. Borghesani Senior Photo Producer: Sarah Polger Associate Photo Producers: Jess Mandia, Tyler Metcalfe Associate Photo Editor: Laura Emmons Chief Researcher: Marilyn Terrell Copy Editor: Judy Burke Production Director: Kathie Gartrell Executive Assistant: Alexandra E. Petri Director of Communications: Heather Wyatt
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Into the wild
IMAGES: WILD FRONTIERS
Captivated by Disney’s all-new The Jungle Book live-action movie? Head to the wilds that inspired Rudyard Kipling to conjure up Shere Khan and his friends: central India’s national parks. Aspiring Mowglis (and their parents) can explore Kanha, Tadoba-Andhari and Satpura National Parks — in the heartland of India’s Bengal tiger population — on the new group or bespoke Jungle Book Tours. These immersive wildlife tours are geared to younger travellers (ideally 9 and over). A 12-day trip costs from £2,795 per person. wildfrontierstravel.com
TAKE ME AWAY
THOSE SUMMER NIGHTS
BABIES AND TODDLERS HELLO, WORLD! WEATHER
by Jill McDonald
A fun, factual board book for tiny tots. RRP: £5.99 (Random House)
Need to keep your kids entertained? Why not grab this new adventure-filled read for fantastic activity ideas
PRESCHOOLERS GOODNIGHT SPACEMAN
During these long, light evenings, with school holidays well under way, 50 Evening Adventures — the third book by the adventurous Meek family — is a useful resource. Former teachers Tim and Kerry are striving for more outdoor quality family time and hoping to ‘use a little less cotton wool’ on their two young daughters — and they want to inspire other parents to do the same. From wild swimming or kite-flying, to seeking out bike and skate parks, 50 Evening Adventures bills itself as another ‘kick up the bum’ for parents and follows hot on the heels of 100 Family Adventures and Learning Outdoors with the Meek Family. Although the ideas (divided into ‘Go’ and ‘Do’) are aimed at getting families to spend more time together outdoors from 17.00–21.00 during the week, there’s no reason why these suggestions can’t be used as inspiration for family holidays. For instance, ‘Do: Look Up’ encourages families to spend time stargazing and planet-spotting — fantastic activities whether exploring Northumberland, Tenerife or Chile. There are healthy recipes, too, which are perfect for those thinking of camping, festivalling or motorhoming with the kids. 50 Evening Adventures: RRP: £12.99 (Quarto Publishing). Read the family blog at dotrythisathome.com RHONDA CARRIER
by Michelle Robinson
Dreams and adventures inspired by astronaut Tim Peake and his sons. RRP: £6.99 (Penguin) PRIMARY SCHOOLERS WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT TYRANNOSAURUS REX?
by Nicky Dee
One of a new series about dinos, with extras online. RRP: £5.99 (Dragonfly) TWEENS AND TEENS THE WHAT ON EARTH? WALLBOOK OF NATURAL HISTORY
by Christopher Lloyd
Book and wall chart in one. RRP: £12.99 (Natural History Museum)
GET APPY Kate Russell of @BBCClick lists her top travel diary apps
Win two pairs of Teva sandals worth up to £100! Velcro-strap Teva sandals offer comfortable, stylish support. Win a pair for kids and a pair for adults by answering the question below. teva.co.uk
Create a blog, chart your trips and share media. Site/iOS. Free, plus paid-for option. travelpod.com
Create a private journal and invite friends and family to see new photos as you post them. iOS/ Android. Free. tripcast.co
Creat yourself an audio journal, recording in two-minute clips. iOS/Android/ Blackberry/ Windows Phone. Free. blaving.com
Save your GPS location details when taking photos — even when ofﬂine. iOS/ Android. Free. journiapp.com
WHAT SORT OF STRAP DO TEVA SANDALS TYPICALLY HAVE? Competition closes 30 September 2016. To enter, and for full T&Cs, go to natgeotraveller.co.uk/competitions
Kit & kaboodle From luxury linens to a super-size hammock, we bring you this season’s smartest travelfriendly products for all the family
GRAND TRUNK HAMMOCK
Mildew-resistant with triple stitching and nautical carabiners, and made from lightweight parachute nylon, this double hammock is perfect for outdoor adventures. RRP: £59. bearandbear.com
K I G U R E D PA N D A B A C K PA C K
Choose from a fox, cat, dinosaur, owl or red panda and wear your favourite beastie on your back. The straps are well padded, and cute clip-on tails double as key rings. RRP: £34.99. kigu.co.uk
K L I P PA N B A B Y B L A N K E T
This super-soft brushed cotton blanket from Swedish label Klippan adds a little comfort and class to your travels. Our favourite? The ‘Little Bear’ design. RRP: £32. scandinaviandesigncenter.com
M I N I F LY T E
This foldable suitcase-meets-scooter design is the ideal accessory for smaller travellers. Patterns include a VW Golf-style camper van and Sid the Cyclops. RRP: £69.99. zincflyte.com
D O P PA WAT E R B O T T L E
The optimum reusable plastic water bottle, free from horrid smells and dodgy aftertastes, has a lid that doubles as a cup. Why not go for a custom design? RRP: €11.50 (£9). dopper.com
ALL AROUND THE WORLD
Explore oceans, forests, jungles and deserts with this immersive activity book, featuring eight landscape panoramas and 400 reusable animal stickers. RRP: £9.99. cassart.co.uk
The Big Question
ASK THE EXPERTS
FREE DAYS OUT IN BATH
CHILDREN’S LITERATURE FESTIVAL
30 September – 9 October The UK’s largest children’s book festival regularly attracts famous authors with book readings and other activities. bathfestivals.org.uk
BATH SKYLINE WALK
This six-mile route along marked footpaths offers spectacular views and is the National Trust’s most downloaded trail. A wooded two-mile stretch is aimed at families and includes a secret door hunt. nationaltrust.org.uk
I WANT TO BOOK AN EXTENDED FAMILY SURFING BREAK IN THE UK WITH MY KIDS. WHERE WOULD YOU SUGGEST?
Perranporth Surf School. For little ones keen to learn the basics, Ticket to Ride Surf Schools operate at both locations and offer surf taster sessions designed for children under 10 (£20 for 90mins). It also offers family surf lessons, from six-year-olds to grandparents aged up to 70 (£90 for a family of four). For those who want to surf with a star, pro Sam Lamiroy has opened the Lamiroy Surf Academy (LSA) in Perranporth, with sessions for all levels (£120 for a 2hr 30min private lesson, £240 for groups of six). tickettoridegroup.com
VICTORIA ART GALLERY
Entrance is free to the home of Bath and North East Somerset’s art collection. Free activities for kids, such as the ‘have a go’ art trolley, take place in the school holidays (aged 3-11). victoriagal.org.uk
Sam Lewis, contributor, National Geographic Traveller (UK): The north coast of Cornwall is the perfect place to catch consistent waves. Newquay has long been king of the UK surf scene, with a wide array of beaches suitable for all abilities. A bit further south, Perranporth is another surf hotspot that’s perfect for families, with its three-mile stretch of golden sandy beaches, rolling sand dunes and open-air swimming pool fi lled with seawater at high tide, and
On your bike These family cycle holidays offer exotic two-wheel challenges for tweens and teens
WHERE INDIA WHAT
Cycle and enjoy game drives through landscapes that were the inspiration for The Jungle Book, including Kanha Tiger Reserve. Pedal through ancient villages, visit a colourful and remote tribal market, stay in tree houses and luxury eco-lodges and learn all about tiger conservation. Average daily distances range from 20-35km but can be tweaked to suit your family’s ﬁ tness levels, interests and ability (stragglers can hop into the support vehicle if they get too tired).
Nine days from £2,995 each (over-12s). The trip can be adapted for younger children but this isn’t advised. Includes international ﬂights, all meals and transfers, and use of a Trek X-Caliber bike. steppestravel.com
Ideal for teens keen on wildlife and parents who love cycling with a little bit of luxury thrown in.
WHERE NEPAL WHAT
Hike and bike the Annapurnas on a 15-day holiday to experience some of the world’s highest mountains and most outstanding natural scenery, staying in local guesthouses after soaking sore muscles in hot springs along the way. Highlights include an exhilarating downhill mountain ride from Muktinath, pedalling through the deepest gorge on earth and cycling along ridges set high up in the mountains with the mighty Annapurna as a backdrop.
£1,375 per person (over-12s). The trip can be adapted for younger children but this isn’t advised. Includes all transport (land only), accommodation, food, bike hire and porters. lostearthadventures.co.uk
WHERE VIETNAM WHAT
Cycle through local villages, visiting one of the oldest parks in the country, explore a cave, sleep on an overnight train, stay in a longhouse homestay and cruise along Halong Bay, the would-be setting for James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun, and learn about Vietnam’s war history.
WHERE GERMANY WHAT
Pedal through Bavaria’s pine forests, past scenic lakes with the Alps as the backdrop. Explore spa towns, fairytale castles, beer-brewing 8th-century monasteries and royal mountain retreats. The terrain is ﬂat and requires cycling 38-45km every other day to reach a different
12 nights from £1,999 per adult, £1,749 per child (age nine and over). Includes ﬂights, all transport, nine nights’ accommodation, most meals and a tour leader. familiesworldwide.co.uk
hotel, each with great swimming facilities. Tandems and electric bikes are available on request.
12 nights (six hotels) from £1,495 per person, including ﬂights. bspoketours.com/garmisch-
An educational trip with plenty of variety, plus extras that can be added on, notably water sports at the beach. A great chance for kids to experience rural Vietnamese village life.
An easygoing, relaxed trip, ideal for younger kids (ages 9-13), though it’s suitable for most ages.
This is great for intrepid parents and teenagers looking for real action and adventure among big peaks.
TRAVEL DAD // JAMES LOHAN
BACK FOR THE AFTER-PARTY
ometimes, when the kids barge into the bedroom to wake me up at some unholy hour, I glance at the clock, grit my teeth and think: ‘This is the time I used to go to bed.’ On occasions, I’ve found myself missing the carefree, hedonistic times of my youth, booked a babysitter (thanks, mum) and tried to make a night of it like the old days. I’ve gone out, had a great time but woken with a hangover so infernally ear-splitting that I’m forced to admit that, no, I simply cannot party like I used to. So, when friends suggested a joint family holiday in Ibiza, my first thought was the memory of that dull ache — the hangover of a hangover. I love Ibiza; I (mis)spent a fair chunk of my 20s there and it’s where I met my wife in 1997. But take the kids? You’ve got to be joking. My friends Robbie and Kate, however, are a persuasive pair, and managed to paint a picture of idyllic island bliss. Rather than a hotel, we’d splash out on a beautiful spacious pool villa, have a cleaner in every day, a cook on call and enough adults around to share entertainer duty when the kids got antsy. It would be the perfect family holiday, they insisted. And you know what? They were right. Ibiza has it all — no matter what age you are — and it ticks pretty much every box on the family-holiday checklist. What’s more, everything is within a half-hour drive, so when the kids pipe up, “Are we there yet?” from the back of the car, the answer is always, “Actually, yes.” Over the course of a week, we visited the pictureperfect beaches of Aguas Blancas, Cala Bassa, Cala San Vicente and glorious Las Salinas. We enjoyed stress-free seafront lunches at trendy beach clubs on
Las Salinas and Cala Jondal, sipped rosé and nodded along nostalgically to the laid-back Ibiza tunes that soundtracked the long-gone days of our youth. After all, pulling the kids away from One Direction and Little Mix and exposing them to the ‘proper music’ that mum and dad were brought up on is one of the cornerstones of responsible parenting. After lunch, we strolled around the island’s glitzy marinas, ogling the mega yachts and guessing (OK, Googling) who owned which. By evening, it was back to the villa for a barbecue, or over to the still-stunning Old Town for an early meal. On the one occasion, when we stayed out until 9pm, we did have a slightly tricky time explaining the procession of clubbing crossdressers strutting across the cobbles, but all good holidays are educational, right? You can probably already tell I’m a convert, and I haven’t even got to highlights like day trips to the neighbouring island of Formentera, where the sand is so flour-soft it’s positively Caribbean and the sea gleams an impossible shade of turquoise. But there’s always one thing that can improve any family holiday, wherever you go — a babysitter — and having booked one, we headed off for a grown-up evening at Lío. Designed for people who want a night out but rankle at the thought of starting it at 2am in the queue outside Pacha, this cabaret club is actually owned by the same people, which suggests I’m not the only one who’s begun to appreciate an early night as I’ve got older. Here, over dinner, against the golden backdrop of the Old Town, we sat and toasted an Ibiza holiday that everyone had loved and that, this time, we might actually remember. Mr & Mrs Smith has launched a collection of family-friendly
villas in Ibiza and Majorca. mrandmrssmith.com/luxury-villas
ILLUSTRATION: ALLAN DEAS
Having enjoyed Ibiza’s legendary nightlife in his youth, James Lohan, the co-founder of Mr & Mrs Smith, wonders if the famous party isle still has any appeal, returning with children in tow
Looking for a Summer Holiday with a difference? Abseiling adventures down waterfalls, mountain biking tropical trails, running through Pigeon Island’s historic ruins then kayaking to the BodyHoliday beach – it’s all part of the BodyHoliday Quadrathlon, just one of the challenges you and your family can enjoy together next summer. Join us on the beautiful island of Saint Lucia – the Caribbean’s number one award winning holiday of well being and choose from a wealth of activities that have been put together for your WellFit® Families experience. To find out more about this exceptional family holiday please call 0203 096 1655 or visit www.thebodyholiday.com/events/wellfit-families
G I V E U S YO U R B O DY F O R A W E E K A N D W E ’ L L G I V E YO U B AC K YO U R M I N D.
TRIED & TESTED
TRIED & TESTED
After queuing for 30 minutes and taking our cinema seats for an introductory spiel, the screen rolls up to reveal a huge wooden door. That door is suddenly thrown open and we’re invited into the Great Hall. The ACTUAL Great Hall — the thumping heart of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. We’re on the Warner Bros Studio Tour. After devouring the Harry Potter books and movies, the moment for a family pilgrimage has come — and it’s as magical as any Muggle could expect. We peer into Dumbledore’s office and walk down Diagon Alley. We board the Knight Bus. We spot snitches. We shoot selfies in front of a scale model of Hogwarts, bathed in changing light. My five-year-old son rides a broomstick in front of a green screen. We sip butterbeer (it tastes like Lucozade topped with ice
cream), visit a gift shop stocked with everything from Fizzing Whizzbees to Marauder’s Maps, and vow to return after finishing all the books (we’re currently on No 5). Yes, it’s pricey — sadly, “Reducio!”, the shrinking charm, doesn’t work on the bill. But, similar to Disneyland, the sets are so polished, the staff so invested and the kids so enraptured that you surrender willingly to the shakedown. We leave tired and happy. I steal a peak at my nine-year-old daughter. She’s glowing like Hermione at the Yule Ball. MORE INFO: Adults, £35; children (ages 5-15) £27; children (under-5s), free; family ticket (2 adults, 2 children), £107. Advance booking essential. wbstudiotour.co.uk PÓL Ó CONGHAILE
IMAGES: PÓL Ó CONGHAILE; SARAH BARRELL; GETTY
WHERE: HARRY POTTER STUDIO TOUR, LONDON
TRIED & TESTED
WHERE: LEGOLAND WINDSOR Our Q-Bot is ticking down for Legoland’s biggest ’coaster, The Dragon. Thanks to this (pricey) auto-queue gadget, we play out the 45-minute wait in one of the numerous adventure playgrounds. In any other setting, these would be events in themselves: impressive worlds of ropes and drawbridges, swings and highwires, but, the highlight has to be the watery wonderland that’s DuploValley, whose 10m-high Drench Towers constitutes the UK’s largest outdoor water-play area. Sadly, Mia’s Riding Adventure — star attraction of the newest zone, Heartlake City — is having a technical tantrum, so we skip this, but The Dragon delivers the requisite screams. Yet, with the impressive but short-lived thrill of the headline rides, it’s the play areas, including the superb Miniland (the world recreated in Lego) that win out. MORE INFO: Adult day tickets, from £50.40; children, from £46.20. legoland.co.uk To read more about Legoland, go to natgeotraveller.co.uk SARAH BARRELL
WHERE: LAND OF THE LIONS The thing about lions is they’re inherently big cats, and big cats, are well, still cats. If you’re the keeper of a house cat you’ll know what I mean. They don’t really behave on cue and generally like to lounge about unless it suits them not to. So hat’s off to ZSL London Zoo for its latest exhibit, which promises (metaphorically) to transport visitors from the heart of London to India’s vibrant Sasan Gir and closer to the mighty Asiatic lions. There are three walkways covering the 2,500sqm exhibit with immersive Indian-themed areas to explore, including a train station, crumbling temple clearing, high street and guard hut. Children are given interactive worksheets to tick off as they walk round, there’s a bike challenge to see if they can reach the sprint speed of a
lion, and demos from the zoo team showing how to nurse sick animals. But does it all work? Sort of. The lions still like to do their own thing. They’re enticed out to see my family by the glasspanelled train station with slabs of meat left by the platform. And when they do appear, they’re wildly impressive. As for the rest, it’s clear you need the other animals and exhibits, too. My children and their friends loved the penguins — who doesn’t? — and, randomly, the butterflies. MORE INFO: Adults, £24.25; children, £17.60; under-3s, free. zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo MARIA PIERI
TRIED & TESTED
WHERE: SEALIFE CENTRE, BRIGHTON The 2012 revamp of the Brighton Aquarium restored its tatty Victorian arches and subterranean tanks to their original glory. While it remains a somewhat dank and unpretentious experience, the vaulted ceilings and winding tunnels of the world’s oldest aquarium now house a rainforest area, a fantastic rockpool where you can touch crabs and starfish, plus a glass-bottom boat over a shark pool — pre-bookable at a steep additional cost. The half-term Dinosaur Detective trail, chasing fossil clues around the building was a bit lost on our group, and the new Secrets of the Reef exhibit was still under wraps, but it looks promising, introducing more than 400 new fish and a seahorse nursery. Add to this, two tons of rock, 15,000 litres of water and a ‘crawl-through’ coral reef, and the old aquarium will be bang up to date. MORE INFO: From £10.50 per person; under-3s, free. visitsealife.com SARAH BARRELL
WHERE: THE VASA MUSEUM, STOCKHOLM The ill-fated 17th-century Swedish warship that sunk on its maiden voyage — having got no further than Stockholm’s harbour — the Vasa was resurrected from its sea grave 333 years after it capsized. Its well-preserved, carved, gothic hull dwarfs the cathedral-like museum built around it — a ghostly galleon for kids to ogle, with intact canons, masts and oak figureheads vividly visible from five overlooking floors. Satellite exhibitions explain the ship’s salvage and reconstruction, along with the vessel’s human stories. The Elsewhere in the 17th Century display puts this tall ship tale in its historical context. From skeletal bones to weighty ballast, this has to be one of the most complete nautical stories ever told. MORE INFO: Adults, SEK130 (£11); under-18s, free. vasamuseet.se SARAH BARRELL
TRIED & TESTED
WHAT: THE NEXT STEP — WILD RHYTHM TOUR The cast from CBBC’s hit programme is making the rounds of UK theatres, whipping up a frenzy among the tween demographic who’ve fl ipped out over this Fame-style show dragged up to date with its ‘scripted reality TV’ structure. An import from Canada, the TV show portrays the trials and traumas of dancers from the Next Step studio as they compete with other talented troops and — with lots of agonising soulsearching — each other. The stage show, shamefully devoid of some key stars and much in the way of a set, relies heavily on its fans’ wide-eyed goodwill. To this naysaying adult, there appears to be more fi ller video than killer dancing, with much plugging of merchandise and related TV shows. But there’s no question this is highoctane/close proximity gold for fans, who scream and singalong throughout. MORE INFO: The Next Step — Wild Rhythm Tour (Step 2) tours the UK from 21-30 October 2016. Tickets from £40. ticketmaster.co.uk
IMAGE: SEA LIFE CENTRE; TICKETMASTER; ÅKE E:SON LINDMAN ; LLECHWEDD CAVERNS CAVERNS
Don’t miss // The Deep Mine Tour. Don a hard hat and board a steep funicular down into a warren of tunnels
WHERE: HISTORIAL DE LA GRANDE GUERRE, PICARDY, FRANCE This First World War museum in the 13th-century chateau at Péronne might not sound like a cheery day out, but with this year marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, it’s the most family-friendly attraction in the region. Some displays are inset into the floor, with uniforms, weapons and possessions laid out, to help convey that these were real human beings who lived real lives — not just names on a list of the dead. Books and toys from the era, including trench football pinball, show how the confl ict and its related propaganda infected daily life. A new app helps the over-8s make the most of the museum, in languages including English. MORE INFO: Adults, €9 (£7); children (ages 7–15), €4.50 (£3.50); family ticket (2 adults, 2 children), €24 (£27). en.historial.org RHONDA CARRIER
WHERE: LLECHWEDD SLATE CAVERNS, GWYNEDD, WALES L lechwedd’s zipwires, underground trampolines and mountain biking have regenerated this former slate quarry and annex town, but to focus on the adrenaline activities and miss out on the Deep Mine Tour would be a mistake. Don a hard hat and board a steep funicular to descend into a warren of tunnels and chambers. My kids were shocked to learn from our passionate guide Val, whose family worked in the mine, about the conditions in which workers toiled, often from the age of seven, spending 12 hours a day in semi-darkness, inhaling lethal dust. Projections onto invisible screens using iPads and the chance to set off your own explosion bring it all to life. MORE INFO: £20 per person (£5 discount when you buy three tickets, including a child). llechwedd-slate-caverns.co.uk RHONDA CARRIER
Punta Cana | Dominican Republic
Give your family the vacation of a lifetime at our fun packed resort. Barcelรณ H&R will take care of your every need with premier family services, pools and the Barcy Kids Club.
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in o France!
A SEVEN-NIGHT CAMPING TRIP FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY National Geographic Traveller (UK) has teamed up with Eurocamp to offer the ultimate outdoor holiday experience to France. Take your pick from over 100 Eurocamp parks from Normandy right down to the Riviera, and ranging from small and peaceful lakeside retreats to larger holiday resorts with playgrounds, pool complexes, restaurants and shops. The prize includes seven nightsâ€™ accommodation in a classic or safari tent, featuring multiple bedrooms, equipped kitchens and the home-from-
Answer the question below by visiting natgeotraveller.co.uk/competitions WILL THE WINNER STAY IN A TENT OR CABANA?
home extras that make any stay in the great outdoors more comfortable. Your holiday travel is covered too with a free ferry crossing, so you have the freedom to explore once you arrive. eurocamp.co.uk
The winner, guest and two children, or four adults will receive a seven-night Eurocamp holiday in 2017 to France in a classic or safari tent, plus return Eurotunnel crossing or ferry.
The competition closes on 30 September 2016 at 11.59pm GMT. Winner must be over 18 and travel with one adult and two children (aged 17 and under) or three adults. The trip is subject to availability. Full T&Cs at natgeotraveller.co.uk/competitions
FLORIDA-STYLE… Enjoy the natural beauty of Fort Myers and Sanibel — a place to reconnect
ith more than 100 islands strung along the Gulf of Mexico, the Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel in Southwest Florida is waiting to be explored. Renowned for its laid-back attitude, incredible wildlife and perpetual sunshine, the region is the ideal place to reconnect with nature and loved ones. Here are our top five activities for families: ISLAND-HOPPING: Whether by kayak or boat, you simply must explore the islands of Pine Island Sound. The waters are sheltered and incredibly shallow, making it the perfect spot to take the kids. Keep an eye out for dolphins as they play in your wake, take over your own beach or enrol your children at one of the local sailing schools. WILDLIFE WATCH: The region’s ecosystem is home for thousands of species. Take the family to the J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge, grab a pair of binoculars from the visitor centre and spot snowy egrets, ospreys, roseate spoonbills, alligators, horseshoe crabs and more. EDISON & FORD WINTER ESTATES:
Two of the most prolific innovators of American industry, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford spent their winters down in Fort Myers. Visitors to the estates can see Edison’s rubber laboratory – preserved as it was – and their homes. CATCH OF THE DAY: Fishing is a great way to get the family outside, learning a new skill. Charter a local captain to take you to the best fishing spots and give yourself the chance to reel in your own catch of the day.
Some local restaurants will even cook up your fish for you. LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLES: Each year during the annual loggerhead nesting season, which runs from May to October, hundreds of sea turtles lay their eggs along the beaches of Sanibel Island. Visitors can watch the incredible sight of baby turtles hatching and finding their way to the water, guided by just the sound of the ocean and the moonlight â€” itâ€™s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the whole family.
The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel is easily accessible from the UK with several major airlines serving the
Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW). For direct flights, visitors can fly
to the following destinations and drive:
Orlando (3hr30min drive), Tampa (2hrs), Fort Lauderdale (2hrs).
TOP& w25 a ter... By roa d , ra i l
Isn’t it time you gave no-fly travel a go? Whether you hit the road or sit back and let the train or boat take the strain, we’ve got a ton of inspirational ideas. For bike-fit families, we’ve also rounded up some great cycle tours Words: Rhonda Carrier 24
IMAGES: GETTY GETTY.
ome of our most memorable family holidays are those that haven’t involved flying to our destination. A real standout was the South of France. The five of us took the train to Marseilles and spent a couple of days in this surprisingly child-friendly city before picking up a motorhome and exploring the coastline around Antibes and Nice’s backcountry, including the perfume city of Grasse. Then it was on to the Camargue Regional Nature Park, with its ancient breed of white horses, black bulls and pink flamingoes. We overnighted either on the seafront — not always tolerated by locals, so choose your spot wisely and hope no one complains — or at simple inland or seaside campsites with washing facilities, electricity and child-pleasing perks such as swimming pools. Motorhoming saves you money on hotels, as well as just being plain liberating. As parents, we loved the freedom of pulling over whenever we saw a beach we liked, cracking open a beer and watching the boys run free on the sand. And the kids adored everything, especially sleeping on their bunk above the driver’s seat — complete with a safety net to stop them tumbling out — and the nifty way the dining table unfolded into another double bed. While motorhoming isn’t ideal for urban sightseeing — we learned our lesson the hard way — it’s easy to find parking places on the outskirts of towns and cities, and then walk or catch buses into the centre. In Nice, for instance, we ditched the van and took public transport to sites including the Marc Chagall Museum and the hilltop Roman ruins of Cimiez. The one night we treated ourselves to a stylish boutique property in the foodie town of Mougins, it didn’t go down too well with the boys: “Why do we have to stay in a hotel, Mummy?” my eldest piped up. “I want to stay in the motorhome.”
HOW TO DO IT: London to Marseilles by Eurostar (6h 30m) from £99 return. eurostar.com Motorhome prices vary with size but average around €170 (£133) a day minus CDW (collision damage waiver). aviscaraway.com Camping from €16 (£20) a night. campingqualite.com
Train through the Bernese Oberland, Interlaken
GOOD FOR: Babies and toddlers.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Train.
GOOD FOR: School-age kids.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Eurostar
WHY: It’s fun if you break long rail journeys into chunks and choose trains carefully. Eurostar has coaches with baby-changing facilities, extra space and family tables, while some Swiss Federal Railways routes have family coaches with play areas and board games. Try the Basel to Interlaken route for idyllic lakes and mountains. HOW TO DO IT: London-Basel (7h via Paris) from £80 each way (free for under-4s). eurostar.com Basel-Interlaken (2h), from £10 each way (free for under-6s). sbb.ch/en
(and feet). WHY: An easy two-hour hop from London, Brussels is the perfect spot for a short family foodie break— think waffles, chocolate and frites galore, plus mussels for the adventurous and craft beer for parents. Cultural venues include the Belgian Comic Strip Centre and the Musée Magritte, dedicated to the surrealist artist René Magritte. HOW TO DO IT: London-Brussels starts at £58 return (£56 for ages 4-11) eurostar.com. Apartment sleeping four from £119 per night. adagio-city.com
WHERE: French Alps.
GOOD FOR: Tweens and teens.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Train.
WHY: It’s more affordable and avoids crack-of-dawn flights and long transfers. However, as daytime ski trains sell out at lightning speed and overnight trains don’t have couchettes, sign up to booking websites for email alerts signalling that the season’s rail tickets have gone on sale. Also reserve ski equipment and lift passes online for early-bird savings. HOW TO DO IT: London-Bourg Saint Maurice (7h) from £111 return (£101 for ages 4-11), or Eurostar Direct Ski from £149/£105 return. voyages-sncf.com.
GOOD FOR: Kids of all ages.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Train (and ferry).
WHY: For the last portion of the two-day journey to Sicily, the train is shunted onto a ship to cross the Strait of Messina (you can remain aboard the train or stretch your legs on deck). Hop off at ancient port city Catania to explore the trails leading up to Mount Etna, plus the vibrant fish market and beaches. HOW TO DO IT: London-Catania (via Paris, Milan and Naples), one-way from £136 per adult (£90 for ages 11-25; £71 for ages 4-11). loco2.com La Timpa campsite from €65 (£51) a night. campinglatimpa.com
WHERE: La Plagne.
GOOD FOR: School kids and tweens.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Car and
Eurotunnel. WHY: Clean air and a lack of crowds make the mountains fantastic in summer. La Plagne, with its 10 satellite villages, offers natural attractions in the way of glaciers and ice caves, plus mountain biking, paragliding, zip-wiring, via ferrata and organised family events. Driving means you can bring camping gear for a cheap stay — although it’s a lengthy drive (La Plagne is 8h 30m from the Tunnel). HOW TO DO IT: Eurotunnel, from £76 for a car each way. eurotunnel.com Camping Le Canada in the Vanoise National Park has a treetop adventure course, pony rides and orienteering; a non-electric pitch for four with a car is around €20 (£16) a night. camping-champagny-en-vanoise.fr
WHERE: Isle of Wight.
GOOD FOR: Babies and toddlers.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Campervan
and ferry. WHY: Just 22 minutes by passenger ferry from the UK mainland, the Isle of Wight is packed with award-winning beaches and animal attractions. Hiring a campervan (or bringing your own) lets you go at your own pace, with overnight parking at farms and forests. HOW TO DO IT: Three nights’ vintage campervan hire from £325, including tents. isleofwightcampers.co.uk Wightlink Ferries has return fares from £20; £10 (ages 5-15); bikes travel free. wightlink.co.uk
GOOD FOR: Single-parent families.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Car and ferry.
WHY: Driving distances are manageable and you’ll be rewarded by jaw-dropping landscapes, incredible historical sites and, of course, some of that famous Irish hospitality. HOW TO DO IT: Return car travel and four nights at Hodson Bay Hotel on Lough Ree from £608 with Irish Ferries for a family of three during October half term. irishferries.com
WHERE: Paris, Disneyland Paris and the Ardèche. GOOD FOR: Kids of different ages. MODE OF TRANSPORT: Car and ferry/ Eurotunnel. WHY: This 11-day, two-centre trip caters to a range of tastes — sightseeing in the French capital, a day at a theme park, whitewater canoeing down a gorge, trapezing and mountain biking. HOW TO DO IT: PGL’s Ultimate Adventure (ages 7 and over) from £645 per adult (£565 per child). pgl.co.uk Return ferry trip to Le Havre costs £404 for a car with four passengers, (accommodation is on reclining seats, not cabin). brittany-ferries.co.uk
GOOD FOR: Teens.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Car and Motorail.
WHY: It’s a buzz to get as far as the eastern Med without flying. Save time (and parental stress) by loading your car onto a Motorail sleeper train/ transporter for parts of the journey. HOW TO DO IT: Drive to Düsseldorf for the overnight Autoreisezug to Vienna, from €89 (£70) per car. oebb.at/en Then drive to Villach and board the Optima Express to Edirne, Turkey, just 15 minutes from the Greek border (tourist visa required). Return price (car and four passengers) from €700 (£313) with early-bird discount. optimatours.de
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT:
Disneyland Paris; view of glaciers from La Plagne Vanoise; campervan on the Isle of Wight; kids
WIGHT CAMPERVAN HOLIDAYS
IMAGES: GETTY; SUPERSTOCK; ISLE OF
FERRIES FROM LEFT: Street scene,
Tangier; ferry, Netherlands; Tresco island, Isles of Scilly
WHERE: Isles of Scilly.
GOOD FOR: School-age kids.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Ferry.
WHY: The Scillonian III passenger ferry from Penzance (2h 40m) offers an eyeful of the Cornish coast, as well as the possibility of a dolphin or basking shark sighting en route. From the island of St Mary’s, hop aboard a water taxi to tiny St Agnes, where Troytown Farm has bell tent hire, self-catering cottages and beach access, as well as delicious homemade ice cream. HOW TO DO IT: One-way ferries from £45 per adult (£25 for ages 2-15; £13.50 for under-2s). Return fares to St Agnes for £8.60 per adult (£4.30 per child). scillyboating.co.uk A bell tent for four at Troytown from £320 a week. islesofscilly-travel.co.uk
GOOD FOR: Teens.
IMAGES: GETTY; DFDS SEAWAYS
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Ferry and train.
WHY: Older kids will be boggle-eyed at getting to Africa without stepping aboard a plane — take a train to Barcelona (about 12h from London, with the Paris-Spain leg spent on a double-decker TGV), then a ferry to Tangier (about 32h). Tangier will dazzle with its medina, kasbah, cool cafes, beach clubs and contemporary art museum — plus hotel rooms with views of Spain. HOW TO DO IT: London-Barcelona from £121 per person return. voyages-sncf.com A sample Barcelona-Tangier fare for two adults and two children with a cabin is £470. gnv.it/en Grand Mogador Sea View & Spa hotel offers double rooms starting from £64 per night, including breakfast. mogadorhotels.com
GOOD FOR: Kids of all ages.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Ferry and car.
WHY: Overnight ferries from Newcastle (about 15h) include a play area and pirate-themed entertainment. During the summer, one ship hosts wildlifewatching sessions (common sightings include harbour porpoises, minke whales and white-beaked dolphins) and craft activities in the ORCA Wildlife Centre. On land, explore the hip but child-friendly Dutch capital and head for Center Parcs De Eemhof, with its new-in-2016 boathouses. HOW TO DO IT: Newcastle-Amsterdam crossings from £492 for car, cabin, dinner and breakfast. dfds.co.uk Houseboats for four in Amsterdam from £100. holidaylettings.co.uk Center Parcs De Eemhof has boathouses for six for midweek stays in October halfterm from €1,190 (£967). centerparcs.com
WHERE: Isle of Arran.
GOOD FOR: Single parents.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Ferry.
WHY: Just a 30-minute trip from the mainland, Arran squeezes a host of Scottish highlights (from beaches, glens and waterfalls to forests, streams and mountains) into a small space. En route, and while there, spot seals, otters, eagles, basking sharks, porpoises and more than 100 species of birds. Organised holidays help single parents make the most of the island, offering family activities — such as kayaking, gorge walking and dinghy sailing — alongside adult company. HOW TO DO IT: Arran Outdoors offers four-night holiday from £800 for a family of four on a full-board basis. arranoutdoor.com Return ferry to Lochranza costs £11 for one adult and two children (ages 5-15). calmac.co.uk
CANALS & WATERWAYS
GOOD FOR: School-age kids.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Barge.
WHY: The Llangollen Canal in North Wales passes through gorgeous countryside and quaint villages — plus, most stunning of all, the 1,007ft-high Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. HOW TO DO IT: Three/four-night breaks in October halfterm on a barge departing from Chirk, and sleeping four, costs £911 plus fuel. waterwaysholidays.com
Chirk Aqueduct, Llangollen Canal
GOOD FOR: Kids of different ages.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Barge and bike
(plus car and ferry). WHY: The flat landscapes make for easy cycling. Combine it with barging and be as lazy or as energetic as you like. Spot windmills, feast on Edam in its hometown and spend a night on the island of Texel. HOW TO DO IT: Eight days from £810 for adults (£560 for ages 3-11; £660 for ages 11-17), including ferries, barge and meals. skedaddle.co.uk
GOOD FOR: Tween and teens.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Cruiser.
WHY: A combination of hilltop castles, sleepy waterside towns, lake resorts, cosy pubs, cycling paths and nature trails amid mountain scenery makes the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands brilliant with older kids, who love helping with locks and navigation. HOW TO DO IT: Hire a self-drive cruiser boat on the three-night Highland Fling Short Break, from £725 for a vessel sleeping 10. leboat.co.uk
WHERE: Norfolk Broads.
GOOD FOR: Single parents with
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Yacht.
WHY: This accessible network of lakes and rivers is a great place to give kids hands-on sailing experience, although some experience is advisable due to changeable winds. A range of traditional wooden vessels can be hired. HOW TO DO IT: A three-person (three single beds) 26ft-long yacht costs from £406 for a weekend or mid-week break. marthamboats.com
WHERE: Norwegian Fjords. GOOD FOR: Single parents.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Cruise liner.
WHY: Of the four Disney Cruise Line departures from the UK, this is the most enticing — especially for fans of Frozen — with fjords and themed entertainment. HOW TO DO IT: 11-night cruise from £1,1789 per person in a cabin on a full board. disneycruise.disney.go.com
WHERE: New York.
GOOD FOR: Tweens.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Cruise liner.
WHY: Viewing NYC’s skyline from the deck of the Queen Mary 2 is an experience none of the family will forget. The week’s crossing will fly by with the help of a planetarium, 3D cinema, play zones, pools and sports courts. HOW TO DO IT: Transatlantic crossings on a full-board basis from £969 for adults (£470 for ages 2-17; free for under-2s; no children under six months). cunard.co.uk
WHERE: The coasts of England and Wales GOOD FOR: Teens (ages 16 and over). MODE OF TRANSPORT: Boat. WHY: This is a unique trip aboard a 2,500-ton working ship that helps to maintain buoys, services light vessels and lighthouses, and sometimes deals with shipwrecks. Take the chance to chat to officers and crew en route. HOW TO DO IT: Seven nights aboard THV Patricia costs £3,510 per double cabin, including food. wildwings.co.uk
WHERE: Bay of Biscay.
GOOD FOR: School-age kids.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Ferry.
WHY: A whale- and dolphin-watching mini-cruise is the perfect way to ease your family into boating holidays, and to explore marine and birdlife with the help of a guide. Travel in style aboard the MV Pont-Aven with its indoor pool, and make the most of time in Santander with its lovely beaches. HOW TO DO IT: Two nights with cabin from £170 each. brittany-ferries.co.uk
IMAGE: MATT STROSHANE
Disney Cruise Line in the
ALL-INCLUSIVE FAMILY HOLIDAY
A PREFFERED BOOKING AGENT FOR: Barrhead Travel has teamed up with Beaches Resorts to bring you an exceptional all-inclusive family holiday experience. With three spectacular locations on the most beautiful beaches in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos, Beaches Resorts are the ultimate family getaway in the Caribbean, providing five-star luxury and service.
CARIBBEAN’S BEST BEACHES
Beaches Resorts are situated in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos, where reefs create clear waters, perfect for swimming, boating or soaking up the Caribbean sun.
UNIQUE ROOMS & SUITES
Check into cosy cottages or sprawling family suites — some even have a butler.
5-STAR GLOBAL GOURMET™ DINING
With up to 21 speciality restaurants per resort, guests can dine around the world without leaving. Best of all, it’s included.
Whether you seek adrenalin-pumping activities or low-key pursuits, every activity is included in your stay. With unlimited land and water sports, choose from tennis, scuba diving and more.
ACTIVITIES FOR EVERYONE
Kids get extra attention with ageappropriate activities, including a Kids’ Camp and Pirates Island Waterpark. All nannies and Kids Camp staff are members of the International Nanny Association.
Established in 1975, award-winning Barrhead Travel specialises in all types of travel; from far-flung worldwide adventures and cruises to city escapes and summer-sun getaways. T: 0800 011 1105 barrheadtravel.co.uk/beachesresorts
LATEST OFFERS JAMAICA Beaches Ocho Rios — Spa, Golf & Waterpark Resort 7 nights: Luxury Included® Flying with: British Airways in World Traveller Departs: May 2017 Fly from London from £1,899 per person. Regional flights add-on available TURKS & CAICOS Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa 7 nights:• Luxury Included® Flying with: British Airways in World Traveller Departs: November 2016 Fly from London from £2,449 per person. Regional flights add-on available
CYCLING WHERE: Brittany.
GOOD FOR: Babies and toddlers.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Bike (plus car
and ferry). WHY: Fixed-centre bike holidays combine the freedom to explore the V6 cycle path and Nantes-Brest Canal towpath with the ease of returning to the same campsite each evening. Equipment on offer includes trailer bikes. HOW TO DO IT: A week’s break from £210 per adult (£195 for ages 10-17; £95 for ages 4-9; £63 for under-3s), including tent and bike hire. bretonbikes.com Plymouth-Roscoff ferry from £189 oneway with car, two adults and two kids. brittany-ferries.co.uk
Mountain biking near
Hayfield in the Peak District RIGHT: Lake Garda, Italy
WHERE: Peak District.
GOOD FOR: Single parents.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Bike (and train).
WHY: A guided cycling holiday is a sociable way to get out and enjoy the stunning scenery with other adults and kids. Traffic-free cycle paths on former railway lines include the Tissington Trail. Stay at Hartington Hall, a YHA offering an adventure playground and a pets area. HOW TO DO IT: Three-day Derbyshire Trails Family Cycling Holiday from £265 per adult (£226 for ages 16 and under), including accommodation, breakfast, lunch and collection from the train station. skedaddle.co.uk
GOOD FOR: Teens.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Bike (and train).
WHY: The sense of achievement that comes from reaching the French capital by bike (London Eye-Notre Dame is 341 miles) is immense. There’s plenty to enjoy en route, particularly if you follow the (largely traffic-free) signposted Avenue Verte, including family ecoresort Forges-les-Eaux, with its forested nature reserve and lakeside trails. HOW TO DO IT: Budget £750 per person for a four-day route, including ferry out and Eurostar home, staying in two- or threestar hotels with meals. For routes and accommodation, visit london2paris.co.uk.
WHERE: Lake Garda.
GOOD FOR: Schoolchildren/tweens.
MODE OF TRANSPORT: Bike (and train).
WHY: You can reach the Italian Lakes from London within a day (15h). Self-guided biking holidays typically involve three days of short, easy rides, with plenty of spare time to enjoy lake beaches, the Gardaland Park theme park and other sights. HOW TO DO IT: The six-night Family Lake Garda trip from £311 each, including B&B and luggage transportation; bike hire from £60. freedomtreks.co.uk London-Desenzano del Garda train via Paris and Milan from £97 per adult (£71 for ages 4-11), one-way. loco2.com All prices &correct at time of publication.
a paddy Rice will never be the same again after a farm-to-fork experience in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand Words: M A R I A P I E R I 36
IMAGE: MARIA PIERI; GETTY
Donâ€™t get in
he cherry snail. The sworn enemy of the humble grain of rice here in Thailand, according to our guide, the slender, sure-footed Apple. My daughter Rae (nine) is staring ahead, po-faced, unconvinced. She loves snails. This is the child who, after a rainy spell, painstakingly gives the creatures a lift to the other side of the pavement to prevent them becoming bird fodder, or being squished underfoot. When very little, her favourite book was about these molluscs. “Why don’t they like the snails?” she enquires. Apple, who has ever-so
patiently helped my hot-and-bothered children wriggle into their traditional Thai farmer outfits (baggy trousers and tunic made from thick, indigo-dyed mor hom fabric, and a straw hat), is smiling bemusedly. “The snails eat the rice we plant,” she explains. “So do the birds.” Here in the Mae Rim Valley, the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai plants ‘sticky rice’ in their picture-perfect terraced paddy fields, as it only takes three months to grow (jasmine rice, the nation’s most esteemed longgrain variety, can take up to five). But this relatively short growing season
is fraught with danger. Unlike most rice producers in Thailand, the resort doesn’t use pesticides — with, sadly, inevitable consequences. “We only reap around 20-30% of the crop, due to animals eating them,” Apple explains. As we wend our way to our specified paddy field, we snap shots of a blue denim-clad scarecrow standing guard in a sea of green rice shoots, ready to
FROM LEFT: Rice terrace, Chiang Mai; Chad,
Rae and Luca help plant rice, with help from
Apple, Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai
scare away the pesky critters that have them under attack. The rice season kicks off with the fi rst rainfalls in May, when seeds are planted in the freshly ploughed nursery paddies to germinate. After 45 days, these fledgling plants are transplanted to the main paddy fields to ripen. It’s this stage my family are here to help with. Rae and her brother Luca (seven) had grumbled at being dragged away from the pool to put on clothes in 30C-plus heat. But now they’re in their welly boots, the prospect of mud-squelching is clearly starting to appeal. The resident sun-weathered rice farmer, Sanwan, holds up clumps of rice shoots. Using the universal language of mime — supplemented by a little explanation from Apple — he ensures we’re soon amateurishly transplanting shoots from the mud into the paddy fields. “I didn’t realise we’d actually get to do this,” says Rae, holding up her handful of green shoots ready to plant. She turns out to be a real natural, deft ly planting her rice in batches of six shoots, roughly four inches apart, before moving onto the next bunch. Luca, on the other hand, is still recovering from the inevitable
‘accident’. The mud here is akin to quicksand, and when his foot gets stuck, he reels backwards — instantly becoming, quite literally, a stick-in-themud. While we do our best to suppress giggles, Luca — clearly the offspring of city folk — is unable to raise a smile. Thankfully, Apple is on the walky-talky back to base in a flash and he’s soon reclad in fresh mor hom and happily back squishing mud, albeit holding my hand. Thailand and rice go hand in hand. This is the national staple, eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, and for millions, life still revolves around the rice season: in the North May-July; December-January elsewhere. The paddy fields at Four Seasons Resort don’t just supply the hotel’s kitchens — although without pesticides the yield is meagre — they give guests a hands-on taste of day-today life here in Chiang Mai.
Planting rice is backbreaking work. It dawns on us how much effort goes into producing just a handful of grains
COOKING UP A STORM
Planting rice is back-breaking work. At one point, we stop to survey the fields of green, and it dawns on us how much effort goes into producing just a handful of grains, let alone the kilos and kilos we buy to cook at home.
FROM TOP LEFT: Chad, Rae and Luca; Maria
and Luca; chef Tor, all at the Cooking School;
lake at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai; ornamental pond at the resort
IMAGES: MARIA PIERI; FOURSEASONS; PRCO
Asia's Leading New Resort
Asia's Leading Villa Resort
Next morning, the rice theme continues with a three-hour Thai cooking class, held at the resort’s outdoor Cooking School, an imposing, purpose-built, wooden pavilion. We pass the Shrine to Grandma and Grandpa, the school’s protective spirits; Thais believe every building is watched over by a spirit and it’s customary to leave offerings of food and decorate them with flowers garlands. For some reason, today it’s attracting a swarm of bees — a good omen, apparently. We’re here to cook Thai-style, with three dishes on the menu: steamed fish, egg-fried rice and phad Thai. Chef Tor, a calm, jolly man, is our teacher. No kitchen nightmares here — his easy manner and friendliness put us instantly at ease. Seated on high stools, we watch as he demonstrates how to crush garlic, chop chilli and spring onion and prep the other ingredients. In teams of two — mother and son, father and daughter — there’s an air of sharpelbowed MasterChef competitiveness about us as we’re let loose at our own kitchen stations. Luca helps me chop the vegetables and I take responsibility for the ‘cooking’. The first dish is easy, as once the fish is prepped on a bed of sliced ginger, spring onion and coriander root, the school’s magic helpers whisk
IMAGES: MARIA PIERI; FOUR SEASONS
THINGS TO TRY IN THAILAND
1 Temples: Wat Phra Sing or Wat Phra That Doi Suthep — both in Chiang Mai 2 Cycle ride to local villages: A great way to see the countryside 3 Rice planting: Become rice farmers for the day 4 Thai cookery school: How to cook your favourite dishes 5 The beach — any beach: It’s a Thai must-do 6 City night markets: For ‘same, same... but different’ branded goods and Thai souvenirs 7 Muay Thai: Boxing classes, Thai-style, for kids and adults (see right) 8 Thai massage: Using every limb for a very bendy experience 9 Elephant orphanage: Don’t ride them, visit them instead
FROM TOP: Temple, Chiang Mai; kids’ Muay
Thai class, Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui
chives, prawns, tofu, dried sweet turnip, cashews and lettuce in and out of the wok on time is critical. If the goal is to cook an edible dinner, our team does well, with Luca and I creating three reasonable Thai dishes — all laid out for us to dine postcooking. We obviously rib the fatherdaughter team for their poor pad Thai (noodles uncooked and rubbery), and while the fish proves too spicy for the kids, my team’s noodles and egg-fried rice is a hit. There’s a certain pride in what we’ve achieved, as well as recipes to take away with us so we can hone our skills. The plight of the snail is far from our minds (it will be interesting if we ever have a French cookery class involving l’escargot), but we now try to eat every grain of rice on our plates… hopefully that’s something that stays with us for a long time.
ABOVE: Rae leaps into the swimming pool at
the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai
ESSENTIALS Who Maria, partner Chad, Luca (7), and Rae (9)
Where Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai and Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui
Highs Luca: “The Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui pool.” Rae: “The fruit breakfast in the paddy fields.”
Lows Luca: “Falling in the mud when planting rice.” Rae: “Cycling was hard at first, but then OK.”
How to do it CARRIER has 10 nights for the price of eight
from £6,850, based on two adults/two children sharing a Family Residence at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai for three nights and a Family Villa at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui for seven, with return flights with British Airways from Heathrow, connecting flights and private transfers. The rice-planting and Cooking School activities can be booked separately at the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai. fourseasons.com Offer valid for travel until September 2016. carrier.co.uk
IMAGE: MARIA PIERI
it away to steam. The other ingredients are pounded to a paste with the pestle. It’s not long before both kids need cold flannels for their eyes and mouths, having somehow covered themselves in chilli. The second dish, egg-fried rice, requires lots of frying in a scorchinghot wok. The egg is stirred and cooks quickly, then the other ingredients (baby corn, peas, broccoli, shitake mushrooms, white onion, tofu, spring onion) are added in quick succession. Adding the magic ingredient, the rice, is the easy part, and Luca is enjoying being a helper. Rae, working at a slower pace, next to her dad, has a eureka moment: “This is the rice from the paddy fields?” Chef Tor acknowledges this, then shows how to cut the cucumbers into heart shapes — a technique the kids love so much they’ve continued to do back home. Turning the tomato into a rose proves more of a challenge, involving a very sharp knife and ample supervision. With the final dish, pad Thai, getting the garlic,
Lake Como FOR LESS It may not be the obvious choice for a family getaway, but George Clooney’s Italian haven has affordable retreats – you just have to find them Words: S A R A H M E R S O N 44
IMAGES: GETTY; SARAH MERSON
FROM LEFT: Varenna
waterfront; Sarah and family
on’t, stop! Stop!” Hearing these words, it’s hard, at fi rst, to tell if our plucky seven-year-old is enjoying himself or not. Noticing his whiteknuckled hands clinging to the inflatable tube as if his life depended on it, I suspect not, and frantically signal to the driver of the speedboat, to which we’re attached, to cut the engine. By the time I catch my own breath, spit the water from my mouth and glance to my side, I can see the exhilaration on his face as he roars again: “Don’t stop, it’s awesome!” This is encouragement enough for our suave Italian skipper. The water begins churning behind the boat’s throaty engine and we’re off once more. We’re on Lake Como, the superstar of Italian lakes. For centuries, it’s been the summer retreat of choice for the country’s aristocracy and literary figures, and, more recently, a magnet for such Hollywood A-listers as George Clooney. With pockets less deep than his, our family are proving it’s entirely possible to holiday on the luminous lake for less. While there’s no shortage of expensivelooking powerboats, high-adrenalin sports boats and Venetian-style floating limousines, the lake is also dotted with reasonably priced passenger ferries, plus self-drive motorboats and rowing boats to hire. The next day, I’m favouring a more sedate cruise on board an elegant steamship. The children have other ideas, though. Soon, they’re coaxing me to bounce skyward on a trampoline that’s positioned mid-lake and attempt a water bomb. It turns out to be a lot of fun and, after repeating the same swim-climb-bounce-jump routine for close to three hours, we fi nally realise that everyone else has dried off and packed up a while ago. Time to head to the restaurant terrace for a bowl of pasta and a glass of Prosecco. Or so I hoped. Noticing that the nearby watersports rental outfit fi nally has paddleboards available, the kids cajole me into spending a further two hours attempting to stand up on one. Two hours, I will note, was barely enough to fi nd a modicum of balance. By now, we’re too late to get a table on the terrace so we order a take-out and head back to our apartment, which has two terraces of its own.
We drink in the uninterrupted lake views along with a first-class bottle of chilled white and some antipasti from the local deli. Much cheaper than dining in a restaurant: about €20 (£17) buys you a large platter of delicious local cheeses, meats, olives and pickles, plus wonderful artichoke hearts in vinegar. Mesmerised by this and the changing face of the glass-like water, now that the sun has dipped behind the mountains opposite, we forget all about the pizza we’ve also ordered. The kids don’t seem to notice, either. They’ve gone for a last dip of the day in the swimming pool. Next morning, we venture up Monte San Primo, Lake Como’s highest mountain — home to a ski resort in winter and a downhill bike park during the summer. We’re heading for its high ropes park — which pleases everyone, plus the views from the top are pretty spectacular. But it’s not long before the lake is drawing us back. All week, we paddle, swim, float and splash, which is cheap and cheerful, if not always
entirely free, while the children eat their way through every conceivable flavour of gelato. Convinced they’re going to recreate the sour amarena cherry flavour or gorgeously smooth pistachio taste at home, we decide to attend a gelato-making class at Ristorante Salice Blu, at the nearby Hotel Bellagio. Chef Luigi takes us through a four-hour crash course on creating the showstopping gelatos, as well as pasta, risotto and gnocchi. On the last day, we rent our own speedboat, which is incentive enough for Josh, my husband, to picture himself as Don Johnson in Miami Vice. We hug the shoreline for a while, ogling the opulent string of 18th- and 19th-century villas that line the shore, including the jaw-dropping Villa del Balbianello, where Casino Royale was filmed. The villa, with elaborate terraced gardens and turreted rooftops, was last privately owned by explorer Guido Monzino, who, when he died in 1988, left it to the Italian equivalent of the National Trust.
TOP LEFT: Josh and Louis tubing
on Lake Como; shopping street, Bellagio; enjoying ice creams on a speedboat on Lake Como
IMAGES: GETTY; SARAH MERSON
I loved waking up every morning and watching wakeboarders on the lake from my bed. I want to try that next time // Louis
It happens to be closed on the day we’re there, unfortunately, so we motor on before stopping in a quiet nook, where Josh, who now fancies himself as James Bond, shuts off the engine and leads the charge by diving into the clear blue water. We’re joined by a family of five ducks who uncannily appear to mirror our actions — heads down, bottoms up — as we each take the plunge. We round the day off with a stop at the colourful town of Varenna (a more affordable version of glitzy Bellagio), where we jostle for a berth at the harbour, and make a beeline for the gelateria. We sit with our legs dangling over the harbour wall and all eyes on the ridiculously pretty yellow and red buildings flanking the lake. It’s no surprise that the rich and famous love it here — and now, we do too. When the children ask if we can come back next year, we can’t think of a reason why not. Although we might need to cut back on the ice cream.
ESSENTIALS Who Sarah travelled with husband Josh and three children: Louis (13), Olivia (10) and Jude (7).
Best for All ages.
Activities Cookery lessons: €120 (£95) per adult, €60 (£47) per child. ristorante-saliceblu-bellagio.it Paddleboards, kayaks, from €5 (£4) for half a day. hotelauroralezzeno.com Aquatubing: €25 (£20) for 10 minutes. jrcwakeboard.com Boat rental: From €70 (£56) per hour, with fuel. bellagiorentaboat.com
How to do it BELLAGIO VILLAGE apartments
start from £130 a night (for up to eight people). bellagiovillage.it
Are you brave enough to take your children out of school for a year to live on an island in Tonga? One mum explains why she took the leap and discovers the trials and triumphs of living, learning and working thousands of miles from home Words: S U S I E M O S S 48
IMAGES: GETTY; SUSIE MOSS
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT:
Vava’u island; an aerial view of the neighbouring Ha’apai islands; Marlon holds a mahimahi dolphinﬁsh; Susie, Kian, Marlon and Maisie
heir sudden presence comes as a shock. One minute, we’re clumsy little beings, flailing around trying to fi nd needles in a vast watery haystack; the next, there they are: humpback wales, magnificently enormous, and all around us. They swim below us and beside us, and dance balletically before our eyes; great bodies turning gracefully on long, wing-like fi ns. Watching them, you inevitably fi nd yourself trying to emulate their movements — so we float, arms hanging out, suspended in the big blue. “Wow,” splutter both Marlon (10) and Maisie (7) as we surface. We’re all momentarily lost for words until — “Did you see it poo?!” gasps Maisie. It was, in so many ways, an unforgettable experience for us to share. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where you can swim
with humpback whales in the wild. These immense creatures come to the South Pacific’s warm waters to mate and calf before returning to the cooler, krill-fi lled Antarctic. As well as being a transient home to whales, the Kingdom of Tonga has 36 inhabited islands out of a total of 176. Just 12 islands have cars on them and only seven have mains electricity. There’s neither on Fofoa, a tiny speck — less than one sq km — set in the northern archipelago of Vava’u, where a basic tented camp in the jungle has become our family home. We’ve just four neighbours, including our friends who’ve lived here for around eight years, raising three boys, aged eight to 13. They’ve built their home in this harsh paradise: a coconut-wood log cabin which sits alongside their business, The Beach
House — a spectacular, coral-rock, beachfront guesthouse. I’m here to work as a chef, while my new partner, Kian, helps to maintain the boats and buildings — an ongoing task in this salty environment. I’d always wanted to visit these remote islands, but being so far away, a quick holiday was not an option. A year abroad, taking the kids out of school and fully immersing ourselves in a different lifestyle seemed like a dream solution. Having been a single parent until recently, it wasn’t easy to work and save for such a big trip, so I took the leap of renting out our small Devon home and living cheaply in a caravan in the garden. That year not only enabled us to save money, but also prepared us in other ways: learning to live together in a more simple way, we grew our sense of adventure and capability. Despite a happy life in Devon — a job I loved, a good community of friends and family — I felt disillusioned and longed for something different. I wanted to escape the monotonous grey, small town life and the everyday routine,
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Humpback whales RIGHT: Maisie plays on the beach
including the school run. I was dissatisfied with the way the kids were growing up, the curriculum-learning pressure and the excessive, anxious parenting, where every part of a child’s day is neatly planned and portioned. I wanted them to see that the world is so much bigger, to see how others live and to challenge ourselves. I wanted a life closer to nature with more freedom and fewer rules.
IMAGES: GETTY; SUSIE MOSS
Days at our ‘jungle camp’ start early as hot sunshine streams through the tent. Maisie announces which of the island’s resident cats have stayed the night, and Marlon chases one to release the lizard clamped in its mouth. Kian lights a smoky fire to ward off the persistent mosquitoes and I cook up our usual porridge — an unlikely breakfast on a tropical island but the simplest and most easily available cereal in a land where everything other than fruits and roots is imported. If we’re lucky, it’s topped with papaya, pineapple or mango from the plantation around us. The ‘school run’ involves either clearing the table or a short walk through the jungle, depending on whose turn it is to teach. We’re three untrained
Days at our ‘jungle camp’ start early. I cook up our usual porridge topped with papaya, pineapple or mango. The ‘school run’ involves either clearing the table or a short walk through the jungle, depending on whose turn it is to teach the five children adults sharing the education of five kids. And I’m quickly discovering it’s hard to teach your own kids — they don’t see me as a teacher... yet. We’ve divided the key subjects between us, according to interest and ability. Kian gives a visual description of how the Earth moves around the Sun with an old buoy and our blow-up ‘Earth’ beach ball. We run school in the mornings from 9am to noon-ish before a break for lunch, and then try and have a quiet hour in the afternoon for extra reading or handwriting practice. It doesn’t always go to plan: a fortnightly trip to town — a one-and-a-half-hour boat trip — may be needed for supplies, we may need to cater for guests, or there may be a more exciting diversion, such as a local village feast or an impromptu whale swimming trip.
Generally, as soon as school’s over, the kids disappear, free to roam and play until suppertime. It’s such a privilege to be in a place with no roads to worry about, no dangerous mammals — human or otherwise — and no strong waves and currents. They can explore the entire island and they love this wilder life. We spend long afternoons in the ocean playground: in it and on it, swimming, snorkelling, diving, or messing around in boats. From each snorkel trip, the kids return with tales of the weird and wonderful critters they’ve seen — the elegant stingray, comical pipefish, synchronised squid. There are turtles and reef sharks to be found and an uninhabited island to be explored. The world here is vivid and exciting, there’s no need to view it through a
Kian home schooling the kids
pretty hard work: living in tents, rationing water, and being creative with a limited food supply. But there are no external pressures of jobs and bills, and it surprises me that the hardest thing we face is often ourselves. Sometimes, amid the intense heat and humidity, it’s hard to stay rational, and on this tiny island with so few people and social distractions, we have a lot of time to look inwards — and it’s not always comfortable viewing. It’s a pretty intense test of a relatively new relationship, but also a rare chance to become a closer family unit, to learn more about ourselves and re-evaluate our future. And I have no regrets. This is creating lasting memories for Marlon and Maisie and gives them a taste of a life that may have a positive impact on their future life choices. We don’t know where we’ll be this time next year, but I’d rather be here wondering, than dreaming somewhere else.
ESSENTIALS Before you go Research the destination with the kids so they know what to expect. Help them set up a blog to keep in contact with home. Find the right travel insurance.
What to pack Small stuff to do in transit; school resources; Kindle books; arts and crafts; a first-aid kit; familiar things such as soft toys and pillowcases; good torches and solar-charging lights; gaffer tape, zip ties and thin rope; snorkels, masks and wetsuits; USBs to back up photos.
Don’t worry about Missing school (they’ll catch up!) or strange food (kids will eat when they’re hungry). For advice on home schooling, see gov.uk/home-education
IMAGE: SUSIE MOSS
screen. The kids are thoroughly absorbed and the absence of battles over screen time is a welcome relief. There’s no TV (of course), limited internet, and we chose not to bring any gaming devices with us. And, while I’m not naive enough to think that when we return to a place of speedy broadband and screen-based entertainment the kids (or I) will be able to resist it, it’s lovely how our life has developed here. In the evenings, huge bats swoop silently overhead and the cicadas start up in waves of manic noise. Sometimes, we sit around the fire and play card games under the strikingly bright stars, or read stories until the solar light fades. This is quality family time like we’ve never had before and I love it. Of course, nothing can be idyllic all the time — there are times when the kids miss their dad and bouts of homesickness, too. The basic necessities of living here mean some
Discover Denmark? Stunning nature and exciting cities!
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Take the high road in untamed Denmark, feast your eyes on sunny Seville or explore Holland by land and canal. Your kids will love it all!
Rabjerg Mile is a migrating coastal dune
between Skagen and Frederikshavn in Jutland. RIGHT: pavement cafes in Aarhus
GO NOW: DENMARK
A dash of Danish charm With empty beaches, towering dunes and stacked ice creams, Denmark is child’s play for a family wanting to take a DIY coastal road trip. Words: Mark Rowe
o, we’re not going to Legoland,” I explain patiently to my son, Thomas, as we disembark from our overnight train from Germany. Of course, Legoland is one of two reasons you’d take your children to Denmark; Tivoli Park in Copenhagen being the other. Both are buried deep in the childhood psyche of every Dane — but we’d looked at a map of Denmark, pinpointed unexpected beaches, made assumptions about the excellence of Danish public transport and their sympathetic Scandinavian attitudes towards children, and decided to visit Jutland, one of the country’s less visited places. Tivoli was out, too. And so we emerge on a sunny morning in the town of Kolding in southern Jutland, a place I hadn’t heard
of until I realised we needed to change trains there. Thanks to a booking error, our family of five has shared our six-berth sleeper with three strangers. With almost no sleep, it’s not just the kids who need a sugar rush, so we sit in the pleasant railway square munching enormous — yes, Danish — pastries before exploring what emerges as a charming town. A short random walk from the train station brings us to Kolding Castle, a discovery that makes us feel as though we’re on the front foot straight away. It looks like a proper castle, with glowering battlements and a tough-looking drawbridge, and the children are mesmerised by the bats flying around the high-vaulted rooms. We make our way via a playpark (they’re everywhere in Denmark) to take the train north to Aarhus and on again
GO NOW: DENMARK
pain in my wallet, find that the multi-stack ice creams do exist. We drive onto the beach to eat them. Yes: drive. I was surprised to discover that Denmark allows you to drive on some beaches — the argument runs that this prevents important dune landscapes from being paved over by car parks. We all find the experience of being on a beach enclosed in a polygon of metal unexpectedly enjoyable. We take a long day trip south, to the small town of Fjerritslev on the edge of Thy (pronounced ‘chew’) National Park and make our way to the coast, wandering past windmills built from driftwood and through lonely shipping communities around Slette beach near Thorupstrand. The yards are busy with shipbuilders and the boats are still hauled up by rope. Thy became Denmark’s first national park in 2008 and is home to two sensational wildlife areas bookended by lonely lighthouses. In the south of the park around Agger Tange, the children become avid birders, watching comically bulbous red-beaked oystercatchers. In the far north lies the Hanstholm Nature Reserve where we follow a forest trail through conifers to reach Bleb So, a lake symmetrically rimmed with marshland. Red deer patrol the wooded, leeward banks of the dunes, while two cranes perch on trees stumps amid wetlands — unusually, the children are quiet, and we can just catch the cranes trumpeting. Suddenly, a large flock of greylag geese erupts as one from the lake. The coast seems to be eating away at Denmark wherever we turn. Near the town of Thisted we visit the remote church of St Christopher, which dates to 1100. Once the centre of the community, the encroaching dunes forced the villagers to move east, leaving the church in splendid isolation. Inside, a 16th-century chalk painting depicts Adam and Eve in a dune landscape. We return south for our train home. In Aarhus we partly break our original promise and visit Tivoli. Not the Tivoli in Copenhagen but a smaller, more manageable version, known as Tivoli Friheden, with rollercoasters and rides for all ages. Denmark, we all agree, is the perfect country for a family holiday — even if some of the beaches are unexpectedly far from the sea — and, of course, giant ice creams.
We visit a church left to the sweeping sands. Then the children spot a roadside sign for ice cream that looks improbable, with 10 scoops stacked right on top of one another ESSENTIALS Who Mark Rowe travelled with his partner, Lucy, and their three children Hannah (6), Thomas (4) and Oscar (3).
Best for Kids, under-8 High: Thomas: “I loved running around the dunes. No sea but loads of sand! We ran all day.” Low: Oscar: “We got caught in a storm at the aquarium. Because I was so wet, Mummy got me a toy orca which cheered me up.”
Need to know Children are free on rail services to and in Denmark — except for Eurostar, from £32.
More info A good source of ideas and holidays can be found at visitdenmark.co.uk Direct-booked holiday homes can be found at visitaarhus.com and visithirtshals.dk
How to do it Rail tickets, for one adult and one child, cost from £222 return from St Pancras to Aarhus via Brussels and Cologne. loco2.com Alternatively, SAS flies from Heathrow to Aarhus via Copenhagen, or take direct flights with Ryanair from Stansted. flysas.com ryanair.com
IMAGES: GETTY; MARK ROWE
to Hirtshals, a small, sleepy town on the northern coast of Jutland. It’s a beautiful, wild spot, with vast beaches that straggle through dune after dune, before reaching the sea. A pleasant day is spent at the North Sea Aquarium where the children learn their first word of Danish: ‘klumpfisk’ or sun fish, a giant oval-shaped behemoth that hypnotically floats back and forth in its giant tank. Eighteen miles up the coast we reach the northern tip at Skagen and, close by, an extraordinary shingle spit that tapers to a point where the children stand with one foot in the Skagerrak (an arm of the North Sea), and the other in the Kattegat (part of the Baltic). Artists have been drawn here to capture the light on canvas for more than a century — there are galleries aplenty in town — but the spit somehow holds its own, battered by the two seas. We take a tractor-driven bus, known as the ‘sandormen’ or sandworm, across Grenen beach and learn that for many Danes, this experience ranks with Tivoli among their fondest childhood memories. Just south of Skagen lies Rabjerg Mile, one of Denmark’s least-known but must-visit sites. An extraordinary inland sand dune, roughly 1km square in shape, it’s as though a small slice of Arabia has been deposited in Scandinavia. The children scamper over the rolling, high dunes, while we tramp in their slipstream, silenced with disbelief at the spectacle. We revisit the dunes at dusk, hear the ‘churring’ call of the nightjar and get talking to local wildlife ranger, Villy Hansen. “When the sun is half behind the dune and is throwing colours all over the landscape, it becomes a very special place,” he says. “You have two oceans and all this sand; it creates many strange colours.” The sand turns up all over the place, creeping slowly over, through and around everything in its path. A little distance away, we visit Den Tilsandede Kirke, a church abandoned to the sweeping sands. South of Rabjerg Mile, the children spot a roadside sign for ice cream that looks improbable, with 10 scoops stacked on top of one another. Our inclination to drive on is drowned out by squeals of protest, and so we turn into the village of Tannisby for the Blue Kiosk ice cream store, and with a sharp
GO NOW: DENMARK
OPPOSITE: Hannah, 6, and Thomas, 4
FROM TOP: Landscape panorama of the Wandering
Dune near Skagen; cycling on the open roads
GO NOW: SEVILLE
Take 3... Seville Clover Stroud and her two children, Evangeline and Jimmy, share their top three highlights from a trip to the southern Spanish city
void the scorching, highsummer months of July and August, and Seville is a real gem of a family city — small enough to explore on foot, with no tricky metro to navigate. Just like elsewhere on the Continent, restaurants welcome kids with open arms, and the tapas options make eating out a relaxed affair, offering the opportunity to sample a variety of local dishes. There are cathedrals, parks and museums to entertain all ages, while a host of plazas and playgrounds are ideal on sunny afternoons.
E VA NGEL INE ( 4 ) PARQUE DE MARÍA LUISA: I enjoyed the park. I liked the [man-made] waterfall mountain and seeing the island on the lake. We had a picnic, fed the white pigeons and played on the magic castles [little pavilions]. REAL ALCÁZAR: Mum told me to look for the lion on the gate as we went into the Alcázar. The palace had lots of tiled rooms but I liked the gardens the best. All the trees were covered in oranges — I wanted to eat one but mum said it was sour. We saw peacocks and ducklings, and afterwards had ice cream in the cafe. alcazarsevilla.org CADIZ (OUT OF TOWN): One day we caught a train to the seaside (90 minutes). It was very big and clean. I looked out of the window with my brother so it went quickly. The beach was amazing. It was the biggest sandy beach I’ve seen. We bought ice creams and my baby brother ran into the sea because it was sunny, even in February!
GO NOW: SEVILLE
IMAGES: AWL IMAGS; GETTY
CLOVER STROUD (39)
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT:
Patio de las Banderas and Giralda Tower; Tapas bar in Barrio Santa Cruz; local ﬂamenco dancer
MUSEO DEL BAILE FLAMENCO: Flamenco is everywhere in this city, from the endless numbers of tourist shops selling frothy dresses to the restaurants where you can catch a lively show. Situated in a typical Sevillano house, this museum tells the history of the dance using multimedia displays and traditional exhibits. The museum brings alive the duende (‘spirit’) this region is famous for. Those on the hunt for flamenco dresses should avoid the tourist shops and head to the flea market on Calle Feria on Thursdays. I bought intricate, frilly, heavy dresses for my daughters at just €20 (£16) each. museoflamenco.com BARRIO SANTA CRUZ: Away from the cathedral, Seville is a warren of fun streets. We stayed on Alameda de Hércules, a superb square with two playgrounds plus an assortment of cafes. On the adjoining Calle Vulcano lies Freskura, an outstanding ice cream shop. Further afield, Barrio Santa Cruz (the city’s historic Jewish quarter) was my favourite area, a labyrinth of narrow streets lined with whitewashed houses and artisan shops. The haberdashery shops are exquisite and there are some great stalls selling roasted chestnuts and incense. CONTENEDOR: Seville is bursting with a superb choice of restaurants and tapas bars. On our fi nal night, we headed to conTenedor, a slow food restaurant with a strong emphasis on biodynamic wines and organic ingredients. Colourful displays of fruit and vegetables decorated the room, and the relaxed atmosphere was accentuated with woodchip walls, original artwork and eclectic furniture. We shared a delicious plate of jamón and market salad for starter, followed by an even more outstanding main course of arroz con pato (a fried dish of duck and thyme mixed with rice). restaurantecontenedor.com
GO NOW: SEVILLE
FROM TOP: Plaza de España; main entrance,
Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza
JIMM Y (15 ) PABELLÓN DE LA NAVEGACIÓN: This seafaring museum was one of the best places I’ve visited. It’s all about Seville’s history of exploration, starting with journeys to the New World by Christopher Columbus. This was pretty cool, as we’d visited Seville Cathedral earlier, where he’s said to be buried. The museum has lots of special effects, such as LED lights that fade on and off to simulate waves, and there are interactive games like ‘shoot the pirate’. It gave me a strong sense of what life would’ve been like on a sailing ship — from the way it smelt to the food they ate and even the medicine they used. pabellondelanavegacion.es PLAZA DE ESPAÑA: I’m a Star Wars fan, so was pretty amazed by Plaza de España, which featured in Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones! It’s a huge square, with bridges that lead over a canal to a semicircular space surrounded by alcoves. The alcoves represent different provinces and are decorated with ceramic tiles, similar to ones we saw in the Alcázar. There’s a great view from the upper stairs over the plaza. PLAZA DE TOROS DE LA MAESTRANZA: We didn’t see a bullfight (the season for this is March to September) but it’s exciting to stand in the impressive arena and imagine the life of a matador. I enjoyed seeing the ‘backstage’ areas, including the stables and the chapel where matadors pray before a fight. There was a museum illustrating the history of bullfighting in Spain, right up to the present day. realmaestranza.com
How to do it BRITISH AIRWAYS flies from Gatwick to Seville
from £82 return. Alternatives include EasyJet and Ryanair. easyjet.com ryanair.com ba.com Clover and her family stayed at a three-bed apartment on the Alameda de Hércules from £98 a night, bookable via airbnb.co.uk.
The “must” visits in the Canary Islands
Loro Parque, #1 Zoo in Europe and #2 in the World, Inaugurates New Aviaries Best for Holidays: Family Fun and Unique Animal Experience
Natural paradise of fun for the entire family.
Loro Parque is a true “must
Foundation together to let the visitors know about
visit” in the Canary Islands
more than 120 projects completed internationally in the
for millions of visitors from all
period of over 20 years with the aim of conserving the
over the world. Recognized by
endangered species and protecting the natural habitats
TripAdvisor as the best zoo in
of the animals, as well as raising awareness to these
Europe and second best in the
important issues among the public.
world through its prestigious true animal embassy that promotes conservation of
Aquaviva – A Unique Exhibition of Jellyfish
biodiversity and protection of the environment.
An authentic submarine spectacle awaits the visitors of
Travellers´ Choice Award, this magnificent park is a
Brand New! New Aviaries for Parrots from Mexico and Brazil True to its commitment to excellence and innovation, Loro
240 metres of excitement, adrenaline and intensity.
Parque welcomes some of brightest and beautiful birds in the new and spacious aviaries, having recreated for them the natural environment of their native Mexico and Brazil.
Singha, The Most Impressive Water Coaster
The uniquely shaped aviaries will dazzle the visitors with
Singha wins the hearts of adrenaline and fun lovers
their rapid waterfalls, lakes and abundant vegetation of
Singha is a completely unique and breath-taking water
South America, along with the best care for the birds -
coaster unparalleled to none other in the world. More
something that Loro Parque is internationally renowned for.
than 240 metres long, high-speed curves and 14 changes of direction guarantee a total adrenaline and excitement
Meet Adorable Red Pandas Yet again, Loro Parque surprises its guests from all over the world by welcoming red pandas, adorable and
rush. The experts consider it a hybrid that merges various experiences in one, combining the characteristics of a
A fascinating world of magical jellyfish.
high speed roller coaster with the excitement of a water
charismatic animals who reside in a brand new installation
the park in the new, magical installation of Aquaviva
slide. The experience starts on a float for 3 people in line,
at Loro Parque, specifically designed so that it corresponds
that presents hundreds of mysterious jellyfish of all
allowing visitors to experience a brand new emotion when
perfectly to their natural habitat. In the east, red panda
colors and fluorescence. These curious jellyfish with their
it comes to water attractions, presenting breathtaking
is often called “Firefox”, due to the fiery red and orange
extraordinary appearance and surprising, elegant shapes
tunnels and fascinating curves. Due to this and the respectful
colors of its fur and many consider them to be the
are the new and undisputed protagonists of the new
commitment towards the environment, Singha has already
prettiest animal in the world.
installation designed to present very special details about
become a phenomenal attraction having been recognized
these fascinating creatures inhabiting the tropical seas.
internationally as the Best Water Attraction of 2015.
Siam Park, Absolutely The Best Water Park in The World Siam Park, is the Nº1 water park in the world, according
to TripAdvisor, for the second year in a row through receiving a prestigious Travellers Choice
Irresistible cuteness of Red Pandas.
Award in 2014 and in 2015.
1 W RLD O
Siam Park received this
Animal Embassy – Let´s Protect the Planet Together
its exceptional quality and the evaluations made by the
One of Loro Parque’s latest exhibitions is Animal Embassy,
visitors who assessed all attractions they saw. Thanks to
a flagship educational zone developed especially with a strong commitment to the defense of nature and the development of responsible tourism. This new and unique exhibit brings Loro Parque and Loro Parque
award especially because of
the unique water attractions, Siam Park has established
Siam Park offers amazing fun for the entire family!
Puerto de la Cruz - Tenerife - loroparque.com Costa Adeje - Tenerife - siampark.net
itself as a worldwide leading and revolutionary theme park in this branch.
Avda. Richard J. Yeoward, 1 - 38400 Puerto de la Cruz | Tenerife | 922 381 400 hotelbotanico.com
things to do in the
NETHERLANDS Natalie and Matthew and their children Sophie (12), Leah (9) and Noah (7) pick seven things to see and do in the Netherlands. Words: Natalie Jackson
Kids can dress up as a knight or noblewoman, and even take part in a mock jousting tournament at this medieval castle, around 20 minutes from Amsterdam. Sir Noah Jackson, my son’s official name after being knighted, may not have had the strength to wear the 25kg suit of armour that real knights wore in battle, but he certainly had the energy to explore the Tower Route — a maze of surprises and traps used for repelling invaders, including hidden ‘murder holes’ (through which to drop nasty things). Adults, €13.50 (£11); children 0-3, free; 4-11, €9 (£7). muiderslot.nl
ANNE FRANK HOUSE
Stand in the secret annex where Anne wrote her nowfamous diary as she hid from the Nazis with her family during World War II. Poignant and thought-provoking, this Amsterdam attraction isn’t recommended for children under the age of 10, as the concentration camp photos can be distressing. We found it to be both a moving and inspiring experience, helping our kids to form a mental picture about Anne’s short life and the effects of the Holocaust. Adults from €9 (£7); children 0-9, free; 10-17, €4.50 (£4). annefrank.org.uk
It’s hard not to fall under the spell of this magical theme park, 75 minutes from Amsterdam. Older kids will enjoy high-octane attractions like the roller coasters, but this park really pulls out all the stops to enthral younger kids, too, with carousels, fairground rides, a Fairytale Forest, spectacular shows and an animated storytelling tree. Highlights include the classic car ride that lets little ones like Noah get behind the wheel, drive around a track and attain a ‘licence’. Adults/over-4s, €34.50 (£28) online, under-4s free. efteling.com
GO NOW: NETHERLANDS
ARTIS ROYAL ZOO
Lemurs are just one of the many animals that roam freely at this zoo in the centre of Amsterdam. Share a banana with them at feeding times (I can guarantee they’ll get the larger half), then stroll through the tropical house, where kids can spot monkeys, bats and sloths hiding in the foliage. Outdoor enclosures house wild animals like giraffes, lions and meerkats. Highlights include a large playground, beautiful, landscaped gardens and the chance to see a baby gorilla born earlier this year. Adults and children over 10, €19.95 (£16); ages 3-9, €16.50 (£13); under-2s, free. artis.nl
No trip to the Netherlands is complete without a sightseeing tour of Amsterdam’s historic ring of canals (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Your guide will keep the kids amused as you enjoy the views and the chilled-out pace. It’s a great way to see famous sites such as the Anne Frank House and Magere Brug (‘Skinny Bridge’), as well as give the kids a glimpse of the different way of life that comes with living on a boat. Our children were amazed: “Wow, look mum! That boat has a kitchen and a TV.” Cruises from €19 (£15) per person. iamsterdam.com
IMAGES: ALAMY; GETTY
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Amsterdam Castle
Muiderslot; Artis Royal Zoo; Matthew and family at Zaans Gedaan Cacao Lab; Dryskiing at Efteling
See the invisible and learn some astonishing facts about bacteria at this unusual, handson Amsterdam museum. Kids will learn that bacteria — despite their bad reputation — can aid the development of medicine and also recycling. Ours loved using microscopes, and filling a card with ink microbe stamps dotted around the museum. But their favourite bit? The wall of poo, with samples from over 50 animals. Adults and children over 10, €14 (£11); ages 3-9, €12 (£10); under-2s, free. micropia.nl
ZAANS GEDAAN COCOALAB
Arrive hungry and enjoy a delicious sweet adventure at this small workshop, nestled between stunning windmills in the historic town of Zaans Schans, near Amsterdam. For a few euros you can make your own hot chocolate or splash out and book a two-hour session learning how to make delicious chocolate bars using cocoa beans. We winnowed, cracked, tapped, ground, shred and crushed before eventually creating a small pot of thick, dark homemade chocolate to grate and sprinkle on toast (a traditional Dutch snack). 30-minute workshops, €7 (£6); 120-minutes, €30 (£24), per person. dezaanseschans.nl
ESSENTIALS How to do it STENA LINE operates crossings from Harwich to
The Hook of Holland, with return tickets for two adults and three children from £264. stenaline.co.uk Places to stay near Efteling include the Woodland House at Efteling Village Bosrijk, from €1,050 (£845) for three nights for a family of five. For Amsterdam, Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam from €95 (£76) per room per night. efteling.com/en/bosrijk inntelhotelsamsterdamzaandam.nl
Africa is dangerously close Africa is just an hour away
Africa is dangerously up close in Safaripark Beekse Bergen, where you can enjoy a really exciting African safari for the whole family! This biggest wildlife park in the Benelux hosts no fewer than 1,450 wild animals in their natural habitat. Admire the wildlife up close during a safari hike, by boat, by bus or even by car!
Amsterdam 60 min
But there’s more! Beekse Bergen also offers an outdoor playground paradise with wide beaches and safe swimming water. Children can have a splashing great time on the beach, or on the swings, trampolines, mini golf course and all of the other attractions.
Africa isn’t discovered in just one day!
Extend your stay within a lion’s roar of the Safaripark at the spacious Holiday Park Beekse Bergen. Where you can stay in one of the unique “Jungalows” or the luxourious Glamping Safaritents.
Come and discover Africa during your visit to the Netherlands at Beekse Bergen, just over an hour’s drive from Amsterdam!
For more information and bookings check out beeksebergen.com
DID YOU KNOW? THE OLY MPIC GAMES STA RTED ALMOST 2,800 YEA RS AGO IN OLY MPIA, SOU THWEST GREECE
Get stuck into these brain-busting games and quizzes and your journey will zoom by!
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE Spot 10 differences between these New York scenes
TR AVEL ANAGR AMS REARRANGE THE WORDS BELOW TO MAKE NEW WORDS RELATED TO HOLIDAYS CAB HE SAUCE SIT PIT ROAR HOLY AID
POP STARS CUE SIR AS FAIR SPICE MAT
Add a letter to each box to form two new words. Get it right and the letters in the ladder will spell out a famous UK landmark
EYE MUS ZER BEE NAM BAT ZON SOO WIN ABL
URF REE ARS EXT CHO OLE ASY AIL AME CHO
CAN YOU GUESS WHICH COUNTRY THESE FLAGS BELONG TO?
1. SOUTH AFRICA 2. DENMARK 3. MEXICO
4. THAILAND 5. ITALY 6. BRAZIL
Spot the difference: 1) Plane 2) Cloud right 3) Cloud left 4) Small boat 5) Writing on tablet 6) Statue of Liberty windows 7) Crane left 8) Crane right 9) Statue of Libertyâ€™s torch colour 10) Bushes Anagrams: Beach, Suitcase, Airport, Holiday, Passport, Cruise, Safari, Campsite Flags: A-4, B-5, C-3, D-2, E-6 , F-1 Letter Ladder: Stonehenge
IMAGES: ISTOCKPHOTO. WORDS: FARIDA ZEYNALOVA, TAMSIN WRESSELL
Matilda The stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic story, Matilda, is a theatrical phenomenon that proves unstoppable, loved by both adults and children alike. If you haven’t seen it yet, then it’s time for a trip to London’s West End. Words: Maria Pieri
t’s good. Honest. And this comes from moi, a non-musical lover (putting the likes of The Rocky Horror Picture Show aside). The production relives the tale of a special little girl with the heart of gold, who rights the wrongs at a tyrant-run school and liberates its besieged teacher, Miss Honey, from the clutches of her evil aunt, all through song and dance. Produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, with music and lyrics by comedian Tim Minchin, it’s a polished production that still manages to feel fresh. The clever set design (by Rob Howell) features words and letters and makes for a good eye-spy game while kids wait for curtain-up. The two girls in our group (aged 8-9) were transfi xed, edge-of-theseat fashion, while the two boys (both 7) proved to be a far more challenging audience: one is mostly mesmerised, while the other is a little terrified of Miss Trunchbull (played by the excellent Craige Els in drag), the villain of the piece. My son, it appears, takes after me and during a slow point in the production leans over and says, “Why does Ms Honey have to sing?” I have to stifle a laugh, and reason with (bribe) him to stay quiet with the promise of an interval ice cream. Still, one slow point in a sea of songs doesn’t spoil it for either of us; we all rejoice as Matilda serves Miss Trunchbull her just desserts. Even for those usually shy of musicals, we’d recommend it. matildathemusical.com
AQUARIUM LA ROCHELLE Explore one of the largest aquariums in Europe, featuring a 360 ̊
SPLASH WORLD Head to Provence for France’s newest and biggest
SEAWORLD The tallest ’coaster in Orlando, Florida, opened this summer. Inspired by the mako shark,
hypercoaster reaches terriﬁc
speeds of 73mph.
THINGS THAT GET OUR
The Enchanted Forest, Perthshire’s award-winning sound and light show in the woods. 29 September – 30 October. enchantedforest.org.uk FILM & TV TRAIL
A new online trail map launched by Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourism directs visitors to movie locations used in ﬁlms such as Star Wars. visitdeanwyeﬁlm.co.uk SURF SNOWDONIA
The new £12m surf lagoon generates the longest man-made surfable waves in the world of up to six feet high, for all levels. surfsnowdonia.co.uk
Win £70 worth of swimwear from fiveboysclothing.com Pack your trunk with these swim shorts by Love Brand & Co. Kids’ brand Five Boys Clothing is offering one pair to the winner (4-15 years). To enter, answer the question below, online at natgeotraveller.co.uk/competitions WHAT ANIMAL IS FEATURED ON THE SHORTS? Entries close 30 September 2016. T&Cs at natgeotraveller.co.uk/ competitions
IMAGES: GETTY; MANUEL HARLAN; CHRISTOPHE BRESCHI