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MAY/JUNE 2009 £2 where sold Timeless wonder REYKJAVIK CALYPSO Cool – and affordable CRUISING ROCK
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Timeless wonder
REYKJAVIK
CALYPSO
Cool – and affordable
CRUISING
ROCK STAR
island Caribbean
The Isle of Wight
hopping
TRAVELLING
TEE
TIME IN
IN
STYLE
SCOTLAND
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the Perfect
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home days
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NEWFOUNDLAND
Nature’s playground
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FROM THE EDITOR

LOOK ON THE BRIGHTER SIDE

W elcome to the new issue of The Travel & Leisure Magazine. Once again, this edition focuses very much

on giving you ideas not only for taking holidays overseas but also things to do and places to see in London and beyond. The doom merchants have been having a field day of late, compounding warnings about the country’s economy with grim predictions about swine flu. Thankfully, concerns over the latter have eased and nerves in the travel indus- try are less frayed. Yet despite all the dire news, the British always take a very determined view. Holidays

and breaks are the one thing that many look for- ward to as a way of escaping the daily grind of work and household worries. They have worked hard to save up for a holiday – and they are determined to take it, come what may. If you are looking for ideas, read on for some inspiration. We visit Egypt, flavour of the moment thanks to its good value. There’s the natural wonderland of Newfoundland in Canada, where you can win a fabulous week’s holiday for two. We also head off to another current hot favourite destination – Reykjavik – where lower prices have made it affordable. Then we look at holidays by train, which are growing in popularity and scope, and we go cruising in the Caribbean. On the home front, we focus on the Isle of Wight and look at London festivals. I hope you enjoy the read, and wherever your travels take you this summer, have a peaceful and relaxing time.

Peter Ellegard

summer, have a peaceful and relaxing time. Peter Ellegard TRAVEL GETTING TO KNOW Pharaoh tales in
summer, have a peaceful and relaxing time. Peter Ellegard TRAVEL GETTING TO KNOW Pharaoh tales in
summer, have a peaceful and relaxing time. Peter Ellegard TRAVEL GETTING TO KNOW Pharaoh tales in

TRAVEL

have a peaceful and relaxing time. Peter Ellegard TRAVEL GETTING TO KNOW Pharaoh tales in Egypt
have a peaceful and relaxing time. Peter Ellegard TRAVEL GETTING TO KNOW Pharaoh tales in Egypt

GETTING TO KNOW Pharaoh tales in Egypt

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ESCAPE TO Reykjavik – Iceland’s capital of cool

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ALL ABOARD Caribbean cruising + Cruise News

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will win a STAR PRIZE . Email us at letters@tlmags.com EDITORIAL TEAM Editor Peter Ellegard Writers

EDITORIAL TEAM Editor Peter Ellegard Writers Peter Ellegard, Keeley Gordon, Sara Macefield, Dave Richardson, Paul Erlam and Laura Dixon Design Nick Blaxill Advertising Team Jeannette Cumbers, Beverley Sennett & Elaine Smith Admin/Accounts Wendy Barfoot Production Keeley Gordon, Loretta Prince Publisher Terry Stafford Digital Publisher Peter Lewsey Published bi-monthly by Travel & Leisure Magazines Ltd First Floor, 103 Cranbrook Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 4PU Tel: 020 8477 1529 Fax: 020 8514 4536 Email: info@tlmags.com Printed by Wyndeham Heron © Travel & Leisure Magazines Limited 2009

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5

Pharoah

tales

Egypt is flavour of the moment this year, and with good reason. Offering far more than just dusty old tombs and desert, it combines magical history tours with glorious beaches, high-class resorts and much more besides. Peter Ellegard fell under its spell long ago…

M y first visit to Egypt

23 years ago was an

adventure I will never

forget. I was in Cairo

on a short business

trip, but managed to

squeeze some whistle-stop sightseeing in between meetings on my final day that would have even exhausted a Japanese tour leader. Time was ridiculously tight, but I didn’t

mind as I was heading on to Luxor the next day for some R and R, followed by diving in the Red Sea at Hurghada prior to my flight home. At least, that was the plan. Renting a taxi for the day in Cairo (as cheap as a single journey I had taken in a London cab), I set off for my pre- arranged appointments. My lunchtime meeting was at the

venerable Mena House Oberoi hotel, right next to the pyramids at Giza. I spent lunch gazing in awe through the windows at the mighty edifices. With another meeting due later that after- noon, I grabbed 15 minutes at the Great Pyramid of Cheops, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world – most of it spent haggling with a camel driver whose lumbering steed I clambered aboard just long enough to have my picture taken in front of the pyramids and Sphinx – before jumping back in the taxi. Next stop was Sakkara, the necropolis for Egypt’s ancient capital, Memphis, where his- toric structures include the Step Pyramid. The oldest of all pyramids, it lies some 30km south of Cairo past timeless rural scenes, and its lack of tourist hordes and nearby built-up areas made it feel even more special than its Giza counterparts. But there was no time to dwell. I was on a mission. A guide took me on the briefest of tours, enlightening me by pointing out that the fish- shaped hieroglyph carvings were, in fact, fish while the wavy lines above them represented the Nile. I’d never have guessed. After a fast journey back to Cairo for my final meeting, I was dropped at the Egyptian Museum just 15 minutes before closing time. Glancing at the statues on the museum’s ground floor, I sprinted up the stairs to reach my ultimate goal – the exquisite, golden mask and other funerary exhibits from the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Main photo and below left: Egyptian State Tourist Office

■ The souk at Aswan ■ Al-Azhar Mosque minarets, Old Cairo ■ The Karnak Temple
■ The souk at Aswan
■ Al-Azhar Mosque minarets, Old Cairo
■ The Karnak Temple sound and light show
Peter Ellegard
Peter Ellegard

Not only was it the climax of that trip, it was also the final highlight. That night, in February 1986, security police conscripts stormed out of their barracks in Giza, burn- ing nearby hotels and businesses and clash- ing with the army. Instead of flying to Luxor the next morning I took refuge at an airport hotel when the airport was locked down and a city-wide curfew was imposed, and I caught a special repatriation flight back to the UK the following day. I felt immensely sad, not just for my unfortunate timing but also for what I feared was the end of Egypt’s tourism industry. I needn’t have worried. The insurrection was quickly quelled, the capital soon recov- ered and the tourists returned. In the intervening years, Egypt has suf-

tourists returned. In the intervening years, Egypt has suf- getting to KNOW EGYPT fered several harrowing

getting to KNOW

EGYPT

fered several harrowing terrorist attacks, as have many countries including the UK, of course. Yet each time it has bounced back stronger than before. Huge investment in its tourist infrastruc- ture, with the development of classy, new resorts and extensive leisure facilities, has been matched by slick advertising campaigns and, just as important, a strong security pres- ence in tourist areas. All have helped make Egypt more popu- lar than ever. With prices in eurozone coun- tries rocketing because of the weak pound, it offers British tourists even better value for money compared to other holiday destina- tions this year. Far from put-

ting people off, the visible security measures are a reassuring factor. On my most recent visit, in December, I took a Nile cruise with my wife. At night as our luxury ship cruised downriver, two security guards manned a machine gun on the stern. As I photographed dawn over the Nile from the back of the ship, they nodded in acknowledgement of my smiled greeting and happily let me photograph them and the gun against the ris- ing sun. You can’t even photograph

■ Pyramids at Giza, Cairo ■ Karnak Temple, Luxor Peter Ellegard
■ Pyramids at Giza, Cairo
■ Karnak Temple, Luxor
Peter Ellegard
Pyramids at Giza, Cairo ■ Karnak Temple, Luxor Peter Ellegard May/June 2009 The Travel & Leisure
Pyramids at Giza, Cairo ■ Karnak Temple, Luxor Peter Ellegard May/June 2009 The Travel & Leisure

The Temple of Philae at Aswan

Did you know? ● The first pyramids were built in 2650 BC. ● Cleopatra was
Did you know?
● The first pyramids were built in 2650 BC.
● Cleopatra was born in Egypt in 69 BC.
● Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922.
● The Nile flows for 915 miles through Egypt.
● About 96% of Egypt is desert
● Flights from London take 4.5 hours to Cairo and 5.5 hours
to Red Sea resorts.
■ Left: Tutankhamun’s mask, the Egyptian museum
Egypt Tourist Authority

policemen without risk of arrest now in London. One security measure which had been an irritation to visitors had just been relaxed prior to our visit. For the past 11 years, coaches travelling between Red Sea resorts and Luxor had had to travel in armed con- voys, following the 1997 attack at the Temple of Hatshepsut in which 63 tourists were killed. That often led to long journey times as vehicles had to wait at convoy points and travel in line, and it also resulted in massive queues at key attractions as busloads dis- gorged at the same time. We made the minibus journey from Red Sea tourist resort Madinat Makadi to Luxor to join our cruise in a comfortable four hours, and we could stop when we wanted and go at the speed our driver wanted – radar traps permitting. Since my first, eventful visit to Egypt, I have returned a number of times and seen much of the country, both on land and below the sea. Ever since I was a child, it had always held great fascination for me. Few countries make my spine tingle and get the pulse racing in anticipation and excitement as Egypt does, when I visit. The great monuments the ancient Egyptians and later civilisations left behind; the tombs of the pharaohs with their wonder- fully-decorated walls; vast expanses of desert with their lush, hidden oases; stark moun- tains which glow pink at sunset; the hustle and bustle of Cairo, modern and old; time- warp towns and villages which line the ver- dant Nile Valley, their markets a jumble of sights, sounds and smells; glorious sandy

beaches carpeting both the Red Sea and Mediterranean coasts; and the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea, rich in marine life. All make a visit to Egypt not just a magical his- tory tour, but a holiday like you will experi- ence nowhere else. It has certainly made its mark on me. These are some of the country’s key sights:

Cairo

Bisected by the Nile, Egypt’s frenetic capital is a city where the modern world collides with that of the country’s ancient past. Roads and buildings have crept almost to the foun- dations of the Sphinx and the iconic pyra- mids at Giza. Yet behind them the desert stretches out as far as the eye can see. A day visit should be augmented with a return at night to watch the atmospheric Sound and Light Show. Due to be replaced by a modern building at Giza in the near future, the Egyptian Museum holds some of ancient Egypt’s greatest artefacts, the highlight being Tutankhamun’s treasures. However, give yourself more than the 15 minutes I had on my first visit there as it has much else from the pharaonic era to wonder at, including the Mummy Room. The imposing 12th century Citadel fortress was built by Saladin and looks out across Cairo’s UNESCO World Heritage-list- ed Islamic Quarter. At night the narrow streets of the quarter’s Khan el Khalili bazaar come alive to raucous bartering and the cries

■ Hot tub at the Sheraton Soma Bay Pars and spas Egypt may seem an
■ Hot tub at the Sheraton Soma Bay
Pars and spas
Egypt may seem an unlikely golf
destination, but its three original,
century-old clubs have been augmented
by another 14 new facilities, taking the
total to 17 across Egypt.
You can tee off on courses in beach
resorts from the Mediterranean coast
to the Red Sea and from Cairo to
Luxor, site of ancient pharaonic capital
Thebes.You can even play in the
shadow of the pyramids at Giza, on the
historic nine-hole course at the Mena
House Oberoi.
A number of resorts have courses
with luxury spa hotels alongside or
nearby, so golfers can play while non-
playing partners can pamper themselves
and enjoy the other leisure facilities.
Among them are Soma Bay, El Gouna,
Stella di Mare Golf Resort, at Ain
Soukhna, and Egypt’s newest course at
Madinat Makadi Golf Resort, which
opened in late 2008.
Other Red Sea resorts with courses
are Taba Heights, Sharm el Sheikh and
Hurghada, while Porto Marina is a new
addition on the Mediterranean coast. All
have a choice of nearby hotels.
■ Madinat Makadi Golf Resort
Photos: Egyptian State Tourist Authority
Jaz Hotels, Resorts & Cruises
Starwood Resorts and Hotels
M ay/June 2009 The Travel & Leisure M agazine 9
M ay/June 2009 The Travel & Leisure M agazine 9
Nile cruises A great way to experience Egypt is on a Nile cruise. You relax
Nile cruises
A great way to experience Egypt is on a
Nile cruise. You relax and enjoy the
facilities onboard while the timeless
scenery of farmers tending irrigated
fields and fishermen casting nets
constantly moves.
Most cruises operate the 240km
between Luxor and Aswan with
itineraries from three nights to seven
nights. Passengers can explore historic
sites at stops along the route, including
Dendera’s temple, the valleys of the
Kings and Queens, Karnak Temple,
temples at Kom Ombo, Esna and Edfu,
and Aswan’s Temple of Philae and the
High Dam.
Three and four-night cruises also
operate between Aswan and Abu Simbel
on Lake Nasser.
■ Onboard the Jaz Regency
Nile cruise ships are like luxury
ocean-going cruise ships but much
more intimate.The largest have about
70 cabins; most have far fewer.
Traditional two-masted, wood-panelled
dahabiya Nile cruisers, with just six or
eight cabins, are featured by operators
including Bales Worldwide
(www.balesworldwide.com) and
Mosaic Holidays
(www.mosaicholidays.co.uk).
Facilities onboard ships generally
include a small swimming pool, spa pool,
sun deck, canopied deck, massages,
lounge, dining room and shops. Cabins
often have a TV, sound system and mini
fridge.
Ships are either full board or all
inclusive. Besides breakfast, lunch and
dinner, afternoon tea is also usually
served, with cakes and biscuits.
Locals, especially children, smile and
wave as you pass by their traditional
villages and age-old towns – and laugh in
delight when the captains blare their
horns with cascading notes resembling
the spaceships scene from sci-fi movie
Close Encounters of the Third Kind which
echo off the palm-fringed river banks.
of traders selling their wares. Nearby is the
1,000-year-old Al-Azhar Mosque, with its
graceful minarets and crenulated walls.
Coptic Cairo is the oldest part of the city
and includes the Coptic Museum, situated in
a garden of the Roman-era Babylon Fort. El-
Muallaqa Church is Cairo’s oldest Christian
church. Dating back over 1,700 years, it is
known as the “Hanging Church” as it is built
over a Roman gate.
A day trip can take in Sakkara’s Step
Pyramid.
Alexandria and the
Mediterranean coast
Founded by Alexander the Great and ruled
over by Cleopatra, Egypt’s last pharaoh,
Alexandria nestles on the Mediterranean coast
by the Nile Delta. It is steeped in history.
The Pharos (lighthouse) of Alexandria,
another Ancient Wonder of the World, was
the tallest structure on earth at 40 metres
high until an earthquake destroyed it in the
Middle Ages. Its harbourside foundations
now support a 15th century fort.
Greek and Roman ruins include the
Catacombs of Kom al-Shuqafa and Egypt’s
Peter Ellegard

10

The Travel&

Leisure M agazine

only Roman amphitheatre. The famed Library of Alexandria, the ancient world’s largest, disappeared long ago. Its latter-day successor, the six-year-old Bibliotheca Alexandrina, features modern architecture including a raked glass roof. Former royal palace Montazah, built by the last Khedive of Egypt in 1892, is set in gardens used for summer concerts and the- atre performances. Another former palace, Fatma el-Zahara, is now the Royal Jewellery Museum. Other notable institutions include the Graeco-Roman Museum and Museum of Fine Arts. The ancient city of Rosetta, 65km east of Alexandria, succeeded it as Egypt’s principle Mediterranean port after the Ottoman con- quest in the 16th century. It is known for the distinctive Delta-style Ottoman architecture of its restored merchants’ houses. The Rosetta Stone, discovered there in 1799 and now in the British Museum, helped Egyptologists decipher ancient Egypt’s hieroglyphics. El Alamein, 60km west of Alexandria, was the scene of a decisive Allied victory in World War II. Now a burgeoning tourist resort with luxury hotels, it has a war muse-

M ay/June2009

Dive, dive, dive The Red Sea is the closest coral sea to the UK and
Dive, dive, dive The Red Sea is the closest coral sea to the UK and
Dive, dive, dive The Red Sea is the closest coral sea to the UK and
Dive, dive, dive
The Red Sea is the closest coral sea to the UK and has been a favourite with British
divers for decades.
You can go diving all around the Red Sea Riviera. Many hotels have their own dive
centres and dive boats.You can go diving for the day or, if you are experienced, spend a
week on a liveaboard dive vessel, cruising more distant waters to dive less-explored
reefs and wrecks.The serious can go deep with Nitrox and other mixed gases.
The Red Sea is also a great classroom for those wanting to learn diving or just try it.
Centres regulated by PADI and other dive organisations offer learn to dive courses.
The waters of the Red Sea provide some of the finest in the world for diving, with
breathtaking coral reefs and abundant marine life.Top sites include Ras Mohamed
National Park, at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, near Sharm el Sheikh, and the
Thistlegorm wreck which is accessible from both Sharm and Western Red Sea resorts.
If you prefer to stay above the waves, the Red Sea’s constant winds, which can reach 30
knots, make it one of the world’s foremost destinations for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
The world’s biggest kitesurfing school recently opened in El Gouna, north of Hurghada.
Peter Ellegard
Jaz Hotels, Resorts and Cruises

um and cemetery. Farther west, Mersa Matruh has white beaches, azure seas and rock formations – and the Rommel Museum. Siwa Oasis, 300km south of Mersa Matruh in the Sahara, can be visited on a tour.

Luxor

In ancient times, Luxor was called Thebes – and more than 3,000 years of history are spread across both banks of the Nile. On the East Bank, Karnak Temple is the world’s largest temple complex and has a spectacu- lar nightly sound and light show. The Temple of Luxor is close to the city centre and walk- able from some hotels. Visit both tem- ples early to beat the tour buses which arrive from mid-morning onwards. Dusk turns the sky orange and pink over Luxor Temple’s illuminated columns and statues. Across the Nile on the West Bank is the Valley of the Kings, where Ramses the Great, Tutankhamun and many other pharaohs were buried in tombs where detailed carvings and

painted walls still amaze. Other beautiful tombs can be explored in the Valley of the Queens, below towering cliffs, and another highlight is the terraced Temple of Hatsheput. You can view Luxor’s ancient sites from on high on a dawn balloon trip from the West Bank. Flights last up to 50 minutes. For a true experience of the Nile, sail in a traditional felucca or spend a few days on a Nile cruise.

Aswan

Aswan is the gateway to Lake Nasser and Abu Simbel, where the temples and four colossal statues of Ramses II were moved to higher ground when the Aswan High Dam’s construction flooded their original loca- tion. The High Dam is one of the highlights of a visit to Aswan. Among other sights are

■ Luxor Temple
■ Luxor Temple
Egypt Tourist Authority
Egypt Tourist Authority

the Old Aswan Dam, the

Unfinished Obelisk and the Nubian Temple of Kalabsha. The Temple of Philae, set on an island, is bathed in lights with narration about the legends of Isis and Osiris in a sound and light show. You can sail in a feluc- ca to visit Elephantine Island and Kitchener’s Island, for the Botanical Gardens. Agatha Christie wrote much of her Death on the Nile novel at Aswan’s Old Cataract Hotel.

Sharm el Sheikh and the Sinai Peninsula

Located at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, Sharm el Sheikh is the mummy of Egypt’s Red Sea resorts. It originally catered purely for divers, drawn by sites such as Ras Mohamed National Park on its doorstep. But Sharm is now a top-class resort with appeal for those wanting a beach stay with all mod cons as well as for those who want to explore below the Red Sea. Lively Na’ama Bay is where to head for night-time fun and to browse its shopping mall. Excursions include camel riding, wadi- bashing and 4x4 trips into the Sinai desert as well as visiting Bedouin camps to take tea or

M ay/June2009

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11

coffee or to dine out under the stars. From Sharm you can also visit 1,500- year-old St Catherine’s Monastery, built around a chapel housing the biblical Burning Bush. It lies at the foot of Mount Sinai, where Moses was given the 10 Commandments. A popular option is to climb Mount Sinai at night to witness the spectacular dawn from the top. Other Sinai wonders include the Coloured Canyon, named for its brightly-hued sand- stone formations, the White Canyon and sev- eral oases. Among natural atractions is the mountainous Abu Galum natural reserve, where wildlife includes Nubian ibex, hyrax and striped hyena. At the top end of the Sinai Peninsula is Taba, across the border from Israel’s Eilat, and the neighbouring, purpose-built resort of Taba Heights. A sister development to El Gouna, across the Red Sea, it is a collection of hotels with stylish designer architecture nestling against the Sinai’s mountains and fronting the Red Sea. There is also a golf course. Excursions from Taba Heights go to the ancient city of Petra in Jordan with its buildings carved into the rocks. Other Sinai resorts include laid-back Dahab and Nuweiba, much less developed than Sharm or Taba.

Hurghada and the Western Red Sea

The Western Red Sea’s largest and longest- established resort offers an extensive range of hotels appealing to a wide cross-section of holidaymakers. It has a lively centre with plenty of nightlife and an abundance of sports and activities along its sandy beaches. One of the region’s top diving destinations, sites include offshore islands and the famous wartime wreck, SS Thistlegorm. Hurghada’s origins as a fishing village can still be seen in the Old Town, now engulfed by the modern, purpose-built resort. South of Hurghada, fledgling resort Sahl

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■ The beach at Red Sea resort El Gouna El Gouna Resort
■ The beach at Red
Sea resort El Gouna
El Gouna Resort

Hasheesh features an Oberoi hotel with plans to build several golf courses, more hotels and an Atlantis-style sunken city viewable from a boardwalk. Madinat Makadi is a resort village with a wide beach in nearby Makadi Bay. Its eight hotels include the new, five-star Jaz Makadi Golf hotel where Scary Spice Mel B and her husband Stephen Belafonte renewed their wedding vows in November. The hotel is alongside Egypt’s newest golf course.

Beyond that lies upmarket resort Soma Bay. It has several hotels including La Residence des Cascades, built in the centre of Gary Player-designed The Cascades golf course and housing the huge Les Thermes Marins des Cascades thalassotherapy centre. The “Little Venice of Egypt”, 20 minutes north of Hurghada, El Gouna is a stylish new resort laced by canals, with over a dozen hotels, elegant private villas, a Mediterranean- style marina lined with restaurants and bars, a shopping centre, casino and art galleries. There’s sailing and other water sports from its extensive beaches, as well as diving. At the top end of the Red Sea, near the southern entrance to the Suez Canal, is the developing resort of Ain Soukhna. It possess- es a golf course and several hotels, as well as one of the region’s largest spa and thalas- sotherapy centres. The Southern Red Sea is fast developing, too. Popular with divers who want to reach less visited reefs and wrecks, it includes the resort of Marsa Alam and nearby Port Ghalib,

a new marina resort development.

TL
TL
Egypt facts When to go: Summers are hot and dry and winters are warm, with
Egypt facts
When to go:
Summers are hot and dry and winters are warm, with
little rainfall – making it the ideal time to go. Breezes
help keep Red Sea resorts cooler, while the
Mediterranean coast has a more temperate climate.
Getting there:
Direct flights to Cairo from London Heathrow are operated
by British Airways (www.ba.com), bmi (www.flybmi.com) and Egyptair
(www.egyptair.com). Egyptair also flies from Heathrow to Sharm el Sheikh,
while easyJet (www.easyjet.com) flies there from London Gatwick. Charter
flights operate from airports around the UK to Sharm, Hurghada,Taba, Marsa
Alam and Luxor.
Entry requirements:
UK and EU nationals travelling only to Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba and
Taba resorts in the Sinai for up to 14 days do not require a visa. Otherwise,
visas can be obtained at the airport on arrival into Egypt or from the Egyptian
consulate in London (020 7235 9777; www.egyptianconsulate.co.uk).
Getting around:
Egyptair operates internal flights from Cairo to points
throughout Egypt. Destinations include Luxor, Sharm
el Sheikh and Hurghada. Other internal routes
include Luxor-Aswan. Local taxis are inexpensive and
in plentiful supply in major cites and resorts.
Tour operators:
UK operators offering Egypt include Discover Egypt
(www.discoveregypt.co.uk),Thomas Cook (www.thomascook.com),
Monarch Holidays (www.monarchholidays.co.uk), Longwood Holidays
(www.longwoodholidays.co.uk) and Peltours (www.peltours.com).
Tourist information:
Egyptian State Tourist Office: call 020 7493 5283 or visit www.egypt.travel
Peter Ellegard
Egyptian State Tourist Authority

M ay/June2009

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14 The Travel & Leisure M agazine M ay/June 2009

TRAVEL update

Dads’ delight

H otels are serving up

special offers to treat

dad for the Father’s

Day weekend. Luxury Family Hotels (www.luxuryfamily hotels.co.uk), part of the von Essen Hotels group, has several deals. A Papa Pamper Package at Fowey Hall in Cornwall – the inspiration behind Toad Hall in Wind in the Willows – with three nights for the price of two and a spa session in the new Aquae Sulis Retreat for half price on Father’s Day (Sunday, June 21), costs from £465 per room including breakfast. Children sharing their parents’ room stay for free. Jacobean manor house Woolley Grange, near Bradford- on-Avon, has a two-night Friday and Saturday package from

£360 per night for two adults, including dinner, bed and break- fast and a beer tasting session with local brewery Bath Ales. Guests staying for lunch on Father’s Day can check out at

3pm.

And at Ickworth Hotel, set in 1,800 acres of National Trust

■ Woolley Grange
■ Woolley Grange

parkland in Suffolk, shoot rab- bits or pigeons on Father’s Day, then help prepare them for serv- ing as your “catch” for dinner in the hotels’ restaurant. The shoot- ing day, equipment hire and din- ner costs £175 per person, or

■ Congham Hall Von Essen Hotels
Congham Hall
Von Essen Hotels

stay overnight from £240 for dinner, bed and breakfast for two people on the Sunday night. If you prefer shooting inani- mate objects, von Essen’s Congham Hall in Norfolk (www.vonessenhotels.com) is offering a clay pigeon shooting taster and Sunday lunch on Father’s Day. The half-hour shoots cost £60 for dads and £35 for all other family members, including a three-course Sunday lunch. Overnight stays cost from £125 per room, including breakfast.

Tops down under

R eaders of Diver magazine have voted the Maltese Islands the top dive desti-

nation in Europe and third best globally in the publication’s annual Diver Awards. This is the first time such an award has gone to a Mediterranean country. Malta has diving to suit all levels and interests and boasts some of the best underwater con- ditions anywhere in the world, with year-round warm tempera- tures, up to 30 metres visibility

and abundant marine life. Dive sites range from shallow

M ay/June2009

■ Malta's waters are the best in Europe
■ Malta's
waters are the
best in Europe

reef dive sites for beginners to reefs and wartime wrecks, as well as night dives for the more

experienced. For more information, visit www.visitmalta.com

Not to be sniffed at Allergy sufferers can sleep a little easier thanks to a
Not to be
sniffed at
Allergy sufferers can sleep a
little easier thanks to a new
room treatment service for
hotels by the Healthy Sleep
Company. It
reduces
dust mites
and
associated
allergens by
up to 97.4%,
leaving rooms virtually allergy-
free.
The Millennium & Copthorne
Hotel in Slough has become
the fifth UK hotel to add the
service, with four Healthy
Sleep rooms.
● More information on
www.thehealthysleepcomp
any.co.uk
Beware malaria
The Malaria Awareness
Campaign, launched with
Malaria AwarenessWeek from
May 11-17, aims to raise
awareness of this easily-
preventable disease which
affects hundreds of British
travellers every year, while still
encouraging people to take
long-haul holidays. It is
organised by GlaxoSmithKline
Travel Health, with the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office
and ABTA.Visit
www.malariahotspots.co.uk
for more information and
advice.
Ferry fast
Ferry operator LD Lines’ new
high-speed ferry, Norman
Arrow, becomes the largest-
ever fast ferry across the
English Channel with its entry
onto the Dover-Boulogne
route on May 29 after a three-
week delivery voyage from
Tasmania.
Visit: www.ldlines.com
Malta Tourism Authority
Luxury Family Hotels

The Travel&

Leisure M agazine

15

TRAVEL update

Check your cover

T he recent swine flu outbreak has led to an increase of up to 300% in the purchase of travel insurance. Travel

insurance is a must for any trip, but it is also essential to check the insurance you buy, and what it covers. World First Travel Insurance has pro-

duced a check list with tips to bear in mind before you buy, including:

Check the policy meets your demands and needs, and check for limitations and exclusions as cover varies from insurer to insurer.

Check what is automatically covered or if an additional premium is required, for activities such as scuba diving or kitesurfing. They may be covered by one policy but not another.

Declare all medical conditions. Most policies exclude claims that arise from

■ Ensure activities are covered by your policy El Gouna Resort, Egypt
■ Ensure activities are
covered by your policy
El Gouna Resort, Egypt

pre-existing medical conditions. Policies generally limit cover for any one item, normally £250, so see if you can extend your household insurance to cover jewellery, iPods, laptops or cameras.

The checklist can be found in full online at www.world-first.co.uk/media/checklist.pdf. You should also check your insurance provider is authorised by the FSA; go to www.fsa.gov.uk/register/ to check credentials.

Green stays

16

H otels are continuing to improve their eco cre- dentials.

The four-star country house Wallett’s Court Hotel and Spa near Dover in Kent has been awarded a silver star rating in the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS), the only certi- fication scheme validated by Visit Britain. It is offering a three nights for the price of two break until September 30. Valid Sunday to

Thursday and costing £199 per person, it includes breakfast daily and dinner on two nights. A three-night spa break costs £269 per person and includes a

90-minute treatment. Upgrades to a four-poster room or suite start at £40 per person. For more information, visit www.wallettscourthotel.com Fingals, a luxury country house hotel in Devon, has just built an “Eco House” with a wood frame from sustainable sources and solar panels on the roof. It features the contempo- rary Stream Room, with a bal- cony overlooking a stream. It also has a new spa and a gym in addition to a swimming pool, grass tennis court and croquet lawn. It costs £135 for two shar- ing in May and June, including breakfast. www.fingals.co.uk

ing in May and June, including breakfast. www.fingals.co.uk ■ Fingals’ Stream Room The Travel & Leisure

Fingals’

Stream Room

The Travel&

Leisure M agazine

Cheap and cheerful Where is the best value holiday this year? The Post Office’s annual
Cheap and
cheerful
Where is the
best value
holiday this
year? The Post
Office’s annual
Holiday Costs
Barometer
has put
Bulgaria,Turkey
remains one of the most
expensive with costs 16.7%
higher than in Spain.
Despite price increases in
Thailand and Egypt, they still
remain great value for money
overall.
Go retro
■ Belek tourism
village, Turkey
and Croatia top of its list, after
comparing the cost of 10
holiday items, including drinks
and meals.
However, price cutting in some
of the UK’s favourite eurozone
destinations means that
holidays could cost less than
expected, despite the weak
pound. Falling prices in the
Algarve in Portugal now put it
second only to Spain, the
cheapest eurozone destination
surveyed.
Local prices have fallen in
Greece and Italy too, while
France – along with Cyprus –
Take advantage of the
predicted hot UK summer by
touring the country in a classic
Volkswagen camper van.
Surrey-based
CampinaVDub.co.uk
(www.campinavdub.co.uk)
has three retro-style VW
campers for rent.All come
fully fitted with bedding,
outdoor furniture, GPS
navigation,TV/DVD with
Freeview and a stereo system
with fully-loaded Ipod.They
also have full AA cover and
Camping and Caravanning
Club membership.
Prices range from £150 for
day hire to £750 for a week in
high season.
Peter Ellegard

M ay/June2009

M ay/June 2009 The Travel & Leisure M agazine 17
M ay/June 2009 The Travel & Leisure M agazine 17
In Your FLIGHT BAG Feel first class The Travel Tool Kit retails at £35.85 and

In Your FLIGHT BAG

Feel first class

In Your FLIGHT BAG Feel first class The Travel Tool Kit retails at £35.85 and includes:

The Travel Tool Kit retails at £35.85 and includes: Sleep Enhancer Spray Concentrate (20ml); Recharger Spray Concentrate (20ml); Relaxer Bath & Body (10ml); Muscle Comforter Bath & Body (10ml); Mood Enhancer Aroma Travel Candle (10g); and Sleep Enhancer Aroma Travel Candle 10g. www.aroma.co.uk

G ive yourself the first

class treatment! Long

distance travellers

will love the Travel Tool Kit from Aroma Therapeutics. Each kit includes essential oil products to help lift your spir- its after long journeys, relax your mind, soothe aches and pains and enhance rest- ful sleep. If a delay at the airport leaves you feeling run down and lethargic, the Aroma Therapeutics Recharger Spray Concentrate’s powerful blend of rosemary, gin- ger, rosewood, nutmeg and orange sprayed directly onto pulse points will lift your mood. Alternatively, soothe away aches and pains with Muscle Comforter Bath & Body. Cooling peppermint, lavender, black pepper and birch (a natural painkiller) blend together for instant relief. Aroma Therapeutics’ best-selling Sleep Enhancer Spray Concentrate has been given to British Airways First Class passengers for years to help them drift off in flight.

Pressure points to sickness relief

D on’t let travel sickness ruin your trip.

Sea-Band is an acupuncture pressure wristband known to relieve feelings of nau- sea associated with trav- el sickness within min- utes. Sea-Band works by exerting a constant, gen- tle pressure on a point on the inner wrist called

the Pericardium 6 (P6)

on a point on the inner wrist called the Pericardium 6 (P6) acupressure point, long known

acupressure point, long known to relieve feel- ings of nausea. Sea-Band is latex- free and drug-free so does not cause side effects such as drowsi-

ness and is safe for patients taking prescrip- tion medications, preg- nant women and chil- dren from three years old. Sea-Band is available from Lloydspharmacy, Superdrug, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Morrisons, other phar- macies, and the Penny Brohn Cancer Care Centre. RRP is £7.82. www.sea-band.com

Eye will survive! Revive tired eyes and restore sparkle with hydrogel soothing Under-Eye Revival Patches
Eye will survive!
Revive tired eyes and restore
sparkle with hydrogel soothing
Under-Eye Revival Patches
from Girls With Attitude.
After a long journey and a few
late nights, girls can be forgiven
for looking a little less fresh –
but who wants to? Simply
apply, relax and recover.
Under-Eye Revival Patches help to reduce the
appearance of fine lines and dark shadows,
smoothes and moisturises.This perfect pick-me-
up quickie will get the skin back to its fresh and
vibrant best in next to no time, ready for the
next party!
Each pack includes enough pads for a full
weekend away. RRP £4. Available from
www.amazon.co.uk
● We have 12 packs of Under-Eye Revival
Patches to give away. Go to
www.choicetravelinfo.com and click on
competitions & giveaways.Terms & conditions
apply. Closing date July 3, 2009.
Colourful memory
Brilliant orange, super
sunny yellow,
raindrop blue,
arctic white,
deep viola,
cherry red,
ultra mint, real
red, intense
blue and
vibrant pink –
what’s your
colour?
Small and
Stylish, the My
Passport Essential USB hard
drive delivers up to 320GB of portable storage
in the palm of your hand, comes in 10 fresh new
colours and weighs in at less than five ounces.
Simple to use, light and easy to carry, and with
no power adapter needed – your My Passport
Essential will become your favourite accessory.
Store thousands of songs, videos or photos on it
and always have them to hand.
Western Digital’s My Passport Essential USB
drives are available now at select retailers in
capacities of 160GB (£66.99), 250GB (£96.99)
and 320GB (£119.99).
www.westerndigital.com

M ay/June2009

The Travel&

Leisure M agazine

19

In Your SUITCASE

Save your skin with AfterBURN A fterBURN Sunburn Rescue Gel is a revo- lutionary product
Save your skin
with AfterBURN
A fterBURN Sunburn
Rescue Gel is a revo-
lutionary product to
15% off at www.swimhut.com
for every reader
You can be in the swim with the new range of
SwimDresses, exclusive to SwimHut.com in the UK.
The stylish SwimDresses are designed to be
practical yet beautiful with an integrated tummy
mesh panel and pants.They are ideal for those
who want more coverage from their swimwear,
active mums or those who like to be able to party
and swim without changing in between!
SwimHut.com offers a fantastic range of swimwear,
bikinis and tankinis from a selection of leading
brand names, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all
year round.
● To claim your 15% discount, go to
SwimHut.com’s website and enter the code:
TLMAG2009.This code should be printed in
capitals (the code is case sensitive).The code will
be valid from June 1 to June 30, inclusive.
www.swimhut.com
help soothe and repair sun
damaged skin, unlike tradition-
al after sun products that simply
moisturise.
AfterBURN Sunburn Rescue
Gel is a unique dermatological
gel with an osmotic action that
draws water from within the skin
(the dermis) to the surface (the
epidermis), helping to rehydrate
and treat sun-damaged skin.
The gel is odourless, non-sticky
and non-staining, is rapidly
absorbed and acts quickly on the
skin. It contains no alcohol, added
preservatives or colourings and
helps to reduce the chances of pre-
mature skin ageing and redness of
the skin as well as cooling irritation and
easing discomfort.
Available from Boots and other phar-
macies and leading retailers nationwide,
AfterBURN Sunburn Rescue Gel is
priced at £9.78 for 75g.
● WIN one of 10 AfterBURN
Sunburn Rescue Gels. Go to
www.choicetravelinfo.com and click on
competitions & giveaways. Terms &
conditions apply. Closing date July 3, 2009.
Cool Crocs!
Feel the noise with this funky
new sound system!
One of the best portable speakers on the
market, the crystal-clear Soundtraveller
K3000 ST weighs in at just 420g – but
packs a heavyweight punch. It docks
directly with all iPods, including the
new iPod Nano and iPod Touch, and
comes with an audio adaptor cable
so can be used with virtually any other
audio device, even your Sony PSP and Nintendo DS.
Featuring touch button volume control, it can be
powered by the two included AA batteries or
mains charger, and also comes with a USB cable so
you can power it from your laptop. It also charges
iPods when powered from the mains or by USB.
Price £65. www.powertraveller.com
T he new Captiva
flip flops from
Crocs are great
for the summer months.
They are ultra comfort-
able, lightweight and
available in a choice of
bright colours such as
jade, citrus and berry –
your feet will be smiling
along with the summer
sun!
With a soft toe
stump and
the Captiva looks equally
stylish when worn on the
beach or around town
and keeps your feet
happy in the hot weather
with its pillowed footbed
and added flexibility.
Being made of Crocs’
traditional Croslite mate-
rial means the Captiva
will give your feet anti-
bacterial protection while
also being very easy to
clean. RRP £25.95.
To see Crocs’ full
range of summer
styles, go to
www.crocs.eu
over-the-
foot straps,
SwimHut.com

20

The Travel&

Leisure M agazine

M ay/June2009

M ay/June 2009 The Travel & Leisure M agazine 21
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M ay/June 2009 The Travel & Leisure M agazine 21
M ay/June 2009 The Travel & Leisure M agazine 21
M ay/June 2009 The Travel & Leisure M agazine 21
M ay/June 2009 The Travel & Leisure M agazine 21

ESCAPE to…

REYKJAVIK

On top of the

world

Iceland’s weird and wonderful capital of cool, Reykjavik, is a feast for the senses –
Iceland’s weird and wonderful capital of cool, Reykjavik, is a
feast for the senses – and the economic crash has now made it
affordable for short breaks. For Laura Dixon, it was love at
first sight, if not at first bite…
E thereal music drifted above
us into the pale blue cloud-
less sky, blonde-haired red-
cheeked children were on
their parents’ shoulders and
there was a worrying display
of woolly lopipeysa jumpers on Icelanders
of every age from 0 to 60, considering that
this city is famed for its cutting-edge fash-
ion.
Under the glare of the midnight sun, I
saw the cream of Icelandic music perform in
a festival celebrating the environment in
Reykjavik last year, and it’s one of the expe-
riences of my life.
It ended somewhat less poetically in the
upstairs bar at Kaffebarinn, where I was
teaching two Aussie visitors to love
Brennivin, the Icelandic spirit brewed from
fermented potatoes and flavoured with car-
away seeds, while sharing my spot at the bar
with the lead singer of Sigur Rós, a gaggle
of dancers from Björk’s show in neon tribal
make-up, and a transatlantic stag party.
When I collapsed into bed mid-morning, the
sun was still blazing through the window as
it had all night.
My love affair with Reykjavik started
long before the economic crash, when a pint
of beer still cost around £5 (it’s now about
£2). In January, The Economist’s annual

The Blue Lagoon

All photos: Iceland Tourist Board
All photos: Iceland Tourist Board

The Northern Lights

Vatnajökull Glacier

Hot springs near Hverageri town – South Iceland

Take a dip Don’t forget your swimming kit – Iceland is heaven for water babies.
Take a dip
Don’t forget your swimming kit –
Iceland is heaven for water babies.
Carved out of a black lava field, the
milky blue water of the Blue Lagoon
is a constant 37-39°C, and is
particularly good for the skin.
If you want to act like a local, head
to one of the city’s swimming pools.
They are geothermally-heated, open
air and are open come rain, shine or
snow. Most have hot pots and saunas
and are much cheaper than pools at
home, costing about £1.20 per visit.
Or if you’re feeling brave, take a
dip in the North Atlantic.The city
beach at Nautholsvik, near the city
airport, has imported white sand, hot
pools, a snack bar and an area of
heated water in the sea so you won’t
catch hypothermia.
How very Icelandic!
■ Getting steamy
in the Blue Lagoon

study rating the most expensive cities in Europe put the city at 62, from a previous position at number five, making it the lowest featured city in Western Europe bar Manchester. It’s a real shock to the system – for years the reason why people haven’t been visiting the world’s northernmost capital city has been the price, but now there’s no excuse.

Party town

Sure, Reykjavik has an outsized reputation as a party town, but it’s barely as big as Bath. In fact, the population of Iceland as a whole is roughly the same as that of Norwich, which gives you some idea. Reykjavik is about half the size of that; when viewed from the air it looks like someone has scattered a handful of multi- coloured dolls houses around a small lake. It is really that tiny. That makes the city a great destination for a short break. Book a hotel in the 101 district and you can’t go wrong: all the city’s main sights are on your doorstep. The strange-looking concrete Hallgrimskirkja (Hallgrims Church) is visi- ble from nearly everywhere, and it’s worth starting out here, taking the lift to the top

24

The Travel&

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and looking at the city from above to get your bearings. You’ll see Faxaflói Bay, where you can take whale-watching trips, Mount Esja, usu- ally some kind of purple colour and topped with snow, and then in the background, the cone-shaped glacier on Snaefellsnes, where, in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, the explorers started their descent.

Icelandic cuisine

Wandering around the city itself is fun – it’s lined with coffee shops and designer bou- tiques as well as more traditional shops sell- ing wool and wool products, stuffed puffins, bags made from fish skin and the like. Bargain hunters might like the Kolaporti mar- ket, particularly the fish market at the back. There are two delicacies that you’ll find here but nowhere else – Hákarl and har_fiskur. The first is a real spe- ciality that you can try for

warning – don’t take too much. It’s made from Greenland shark, buried in Tupperware underground for three months to rot, and then excavated and served when it is at the right texture. The edges are slightly gooey and centre is chewy; unsurprisingly, it hasn’t taken off anywhere but here. Har_fiskur is a dried and salted white fish eaten a bit like crisps by the local chil- dren. It still tastes of fish, though it’s crunchy and salty, and takes some getting used to. That’s not all there is to say about Icelandic cuisine – it’s a whole story in itself – but suffice to say that you will find restaurants where you can eat grilled puffin, seabird’s eggs, dolphin and whale and boiled sheep’s head among other strange delights. There was once a McDonalds in the centre of the city, but it closed down through lack of cus- tom. It wasn’t just that a meal cost £10; taste buds

■ Food and fun
■ Food and fun

free in the market. Word of

are made differently up here.

M ay/June2009

Skógafoss Waterfall - South Iceland

Modern art

While wandering round the city, drop into the Town Hall, perched on a lake, which has a relief map of the country in it and a cafe. Nearby, the Harbour House art gallery is one of the city’s finest if you like modern art. It celebrates Erró, a 1960s artist who has a lit- tle in common with Peter Blake (who creat- ed The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper album cover) and is all high colour and shock fac- tor. Downstairs are modern installations.

‘The population of Iceland…is the same as that of Norwich’

And if you’re intrigued to find out more about modern art, don’t miss the Lost Horse Gallery. Run by local artists, it’s got a mod- ern flavour but tends to mix styles so you never quite know what you’re going to see. The gallery is actually an old animal shed and has a charming history.

M ay/June2009

■ Icelandic Horse
■ Icelandic Horse
■ Lobster
■ Lobster

path around the harbour and bay area, you can’t miss the marauding past. Icelanders can trace their genealogy way back to the Saga times – the island wasn’t settled until 871 – and the fiercely independent attitude of their forebears has definitely filtered down. There’s a pride in being different, tough and in tune with the environment here that you don’t feel anywhere else in the world, and you can see it in the fashion, art, music and drink- ing ability of the locals. My favourite Viking sight has to be Thingvellir National Park. This area, outside the city but easily reachable on a day tour, is where the Vikings held their meetings and the location says as much

Back in the days before cars, farmers used to ride into town on their horses to do business, and then, as now, successes were celebrated in the pub. The shed acted as a kind of horse pound for the owners who lost their hors- es due to reckless drunk- enness, and they had to pay to get them out. You can still see grooves in the floor and hooks where they were tethered on the walls, although you won’t see horses in the city today.

■ Hallgrimskirkja
■ Hallgrimskirkja

But you can ride Icelandic horses close to Reykjavik.

about them as anything else.

A river runs through the valley where dissenters were drowned and a large black cliff rears up at its edge. There is a rift in it that excites geographers – it’s the exact place where the American and European tec-

tonic plates are pulling apart from each other, at a rate of approximately 2cm a year.

Viking history

History knits this city together. From the stat- ue of Ingólfur Arnarson, the first settler, on the hill overlooking downtown, to Sólfar, a sculpture of a Viking boat that sits on the

The Travel&

Leisure M agazine

25

■ Swimming in Reykjavik
■ Swimming in
Reykjavik

Golden Triangle

Thingvellir is one third of the Golden Triangle, the three key sights to visit outside the city. Gullfoss is another of these; the golden waterfall, where Odin's horse is said to have left a hoof print that formed into a circular, many-tiered waterfall bringing gla- cial water down to the land. Rainbows play in the light and its roar is deafening. Geysir, the farthest away, is the water spout that gave the world the name geyser. It’s actually a collection of spouts in a geologically active zone and it goes off regu- larly, to the delight

of photographers and onlookers. A trip to the Blue Lagoon will round things off nicely; it’s where nature, beauty and the country’s strange energy combine to create a swimming pool and spa like no other in the world, whether it’s snowing, sunny or blowing a gale. Enjoy the weird-

Vatnajökull Glacier

ness – that’s what Iceland is all about.

TL
TL

Travel journalist Laura Dixon is the author of Footprint Reykjavik. Her top tip in Reykjavik is to try everything once – Brennivin, the hottest hot pools and the rotten shark.

26

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Reykjavik facts When to go It all depends on what you want to see. For
Reykjavik facts
When to go
It all depends on what you want to see. For
midnight sun, head north from June to mid-August.
For the Northern Lights, try November to March.
The spring and autumn months have a lot to
recommend them, but can be wet; bring an umbrella,
and expect a roughly-balanced night and day. Most
tourists visit from May to September when it’s
warmer and light (but expect showers and cold
winds). For nightlife, you need to be there on a Friday or Saturday night.
Getting there
Icelandair (www.icelandair.co.uk) and Iceland Express
(www.icelandexpress.co.uk) both serve Reykjavik, flying into Keflavik
Airport. Icelandair flies twice daily from London’s Heathrow, while Iceland
Express moved its daily service to Gatwick on May 1.
A bus runs to Reykjavik from the airport, taking about an hour, and costing
significantly less than a taxi (www.flybus.is).
Accommodation and eating out
Reykjavik’s tourist board has good recommendations on where to stay on
all budgets – check out the city’s tourist office website,
www.visitreykjavik.is, or www.accommodation.is. Or visit www.i-
escape.com for boutique hotels and city centre apartments.A new youth
hostel opened by the old harbour this spring: www.hostel.is. Iceland’s
youth hostels rank in the top five in the world, according to Hostelling
International. For food, check out www.icelandgourmetguide.com for
the best unusual and gourmet places to eat.
Tour operators
Icelandair and Iceland Express offer some good value
long weekend packages. Other good package
operators to the country include Discover The
World (www.discovertheworld.co.uk), Regent
Holidays (www.regent-holidays.co.uk) and
Trailfinders (www.trailfinders.com).
Excursions
Day trips to the Golden Circle, Geysir,Thingvellir National Park and into
the countryside are available through the city tourist office or through
recommended tour operators Touris (www.tour.is) or Reykjavik
Excursions (www.re.is).There is also a bus that will take you to the Blue
Lagoon on the way to the airport – perfect for a long weekend – with
Iceland Excursions (www.icelandexcursions.is).
Getting around
The city itself is walkable, particularly if you’re staying in the 101 district in
the centre of the city.Taxis can be taken from the centre of Reykjavik,
outside the tourist information centre and are reasonable for short
distances within the city area.
Tourist information
Iceland Tourist Board: www.icetourist.is
Reykjavik: www.visitreykjavik.is,Adalstraeti 2, 101 Reykjavik.
Tel. 00 354 590 1550; info@visitreykjavik.is

M ay/June2009

Calypso

cruising

Nowhere conjures up the spirit and romance of a cruise holiday more than the Caribbean, with its intoxicating cocktail of island delights. Our own Caribbean Queen, Sara Macefield, guides you through the multitude of choices…

28

I you’ve ever dreamt of sailing

through a perfect tropical paradise with beautiful cobalt blue waters

dotted with sleepy, sun-kissed isles

dazzling white sand, then come to

f

of

now arriving on the steady stream of cruise ships that now ply these waters, making the Caribbean the most popular – and at times the most crowded – cruising ground in the world. For British cruisers, the Caribbean is the top cruising spot after the Mediterranean, attract- ing around 230,000 passengers each year. The region’s tropical climate and sheer beauty of its surroundings coupled with the wide choice of islands where ships can moor up has proved to be an intoxicating mix that few cruise lines can resist. Such popularity takes it roots from the era of American Prohibition in the 1930s when short booze cruises to the Bahamas became all the rage. The Caribbean cruise market has grown steadily ever since, accelerating in the last decade as the global cruis- ing boom has taken hold. As a result, there is a stag- gering choice of cruises and ships to be had.

the Caribbean.

One of the best ways to discover this idyl- lic collection of 7,000 islands, stretching from the tip of Florida southwards to the coast of Venezuela, is on the water, reflecting the rich maritime history of this corner of the globe. Cruise the Caribbean Sea and you’ll be following in the footsteps of legendary explorers, bloodthirsty pirates and swash-

buckling naval heroes. After all, Christopher Columbus first dropped anchor in these parts dur- ing the 15th century as he searched for the New World, and he has been followed by a long line of adventurers ever since. But today’s visitors are seeking riches of a different kind. Many are

Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises

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Where to cruise

Caribbean cruises cover three areas: eastern Caribbean, western Caribbean and southern Caribbean. The eastern Caribbean is the most popu- lar; here you’ll find the largest choice of voy- ages which typically call at islands such as Barbados, St Lucia, St Kitts, the British Virgin Islands and Grenada. Western Caribbean voyages concentrate on Jamaica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and other Latin America countries; while southern Caribbean itineraries will gen- erally include Costa Rica and the Netherlands Antilles islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. Many of these cruises also transit the Panama Canal. The length of such sailings can vary great- ly. Some cruises can be little more than week- end breaks, lasting just two or three days and only having time to visit the Bahamas. Most commonly, they last one or two weeks, which gives passengers plenty of opportunity to experience several different islands. Cruises that traverse the Panama Canal into the Pacific or cross the Atlantic between the Caribbean and Europe can span three weeks. Atlantic sailings take place in spring and autumn as ships are re-positioned for the

M ay/June2009

Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival Cruise Lines A ll ABOARD CARIBBEAN Cruise tips Princess Cruises ● Eastern Caribbean cruises tend

A llABOARD

CARIBBEAN

Cruise tips Princess Cruises ● Eastern Caribbean cruises tend to give the most all-round flavour
Cruise tips
Princess Cruises
● Eastern Caribbean cruises tend to
give the most all-round flavour and
are the top choice for first-timers
who want to visit the main
islands.
● If you’re going in the winter
peak season, look for more
unusual itineraries which will
help you to escape the
crowds.
● Do some advance planning
before you book. Look at how
long the ship stays in port and
opt for those that depart later,
giving you more time to explore
or enjoy a sundowner in a local
bar.
● If you’re considering a summer
cruise and are worried about hurricanes,
pick a voyage to the southern Caribbean
as this is outside the hurricane belt.

The leader of the pack is Miami, followed by Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral and Tampa. Other options include Galveston in Texas, New Orleans and even New York – from where some ships sail to Bermuda, 1,000 miles north of the Caribbean. But growing number of cruises now start from Caribbean islands, with companies including Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line and P&O Cruises. Passengers fly directly to join their cruises on scheduled air- lines including Virgin Atlantic or charter carri- ers such asThomas Cook orThomsonAirways. Barbados is the most popular departure point, followed by others such as Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

The beauty of setting off from the heart of the Caribbean means passengers don’t have to waste two or three days’ sailing time at either end of the cruise, enabling them to visit more islands within the timescale and spend a few days longer on the islands before or after their cruise.

Who to cruise with

Do you want to go big or small? There’s no end of choice among the cruise lines and the type of ship you pick will determine your Caribbean experience. Major cruise lines such as RCI, Carnival, NCL and Princess Cruises dominate these waters, but the beauty of the Caribbean means there is also room for smaller lines too as they can call at islands that larger ships cannot squeeze into. Cruise customers looking for a more inti- mate escape can opt for atmospheric smaller vessels owned by the likes of Star Clippers, Windstar Cruises and SeaDream Yacht Club, safe in the knowledge that they need never cross paths with the mega-ships and their hordes of passengers. While larger ships call at the bigger islands of Jamaica, Barbados and Antigua which have bigger ports to accommodate them, smaller vessels can drop anchor in tucked- away spots in the Grenadines or the British Virgin Islands, where they may be the only ship to sail in that day.

■ Carnival Triumph in the Caribbean
■ Carnival Triumph
in the Caribbean

main summer and winter seasons. These cruises are often extremely good value. A few cruise lines, such as Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Royal Caribbean International (RCI) and Princess Cruises, even have their own private islands, in the Bahamas or off the coast of Haiti. They offer passengers a desert island experience with water sports and beach barbecues.

Where to cruise from

Most Caribbean cruises depart from American ports and these are mainly in Florida.

■ Vessels such as Wind Star can call at smaller islands Wind Star
■ Vessels such as Wind Star
can call at smaller islands
Wind Star

30

■ Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess Princess Cruises
■ Princess Cruises’
Grand Princess
Princess Cruises
30 ■ Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess Princess Cruises When to go You can cruise the Caribbean

When to go

You can cruise the Caribbean all year round, though October to March is regard- ed as the best time as the weather is stable and there are few alternatives for Europeans and North Americans looking for sunshine. During the summer, there tend to be fewer ships in the Caribbean as many have sailed to the Mediterranean, Alaska and northern Europe. While this means the islands are less mobbed by cruise ships, the downside is that May to November is hurricane season when the weather is unpredictable and the days are more humid. Cruise companies keep a careful eye on the weather and as tropical storms and hur-

ricanes are comprehensively tracked by various meteorological and hurricane cen- tres, they can take action long before the storm actually hits. This ensures ships can stay well away from bad weather, but if they do get caught out, cruise ships will change course, drop- ping planned port calls, and literally run- ning for cover. It is very rare for cruises to get cancelled and if they are, cruise lines will refund the cost of the cruise and often

give discounts off future bookings.

TL
TL

A travel journalist for 20 years, Sara Macefield decided to drop anchor and specialise in cruising. She now sails the world, writing on the subject for the Sunday Telegraph and Conde Nast Traveller among others.

Caribbean Cruise Facts Sample Caribbean cruises: Sail off with Princess Cruises (0845 3555 800, www.princess.com)
Caribbean Cruise Facts
Sample Caribbean cruises:
Sail off
with Princess Cruises (0845 3555 800,
www.princess.com) on a
on July 8, calling
nine-night voyage aboard Caribbean Princess from New York
Grand Turk before returning to New
at Bermuda, San Juan, St Thomas and
York. Prices are from £1,595
and include flights.
Virgin Holidays Cruises (0871 781 9877,
www.virginholidayscruises.co.uk)
is offering a nine-
night package which includes a
week’s voyage aboard
Carnival Cruises ship Carnival
Valor, flights to Miami
from where the cruise departs and
a one-night hotel
stay beforehand. Ports of call include Nassau, St Thomas
and St Maarten.
It costs from £1,099.
Thomson (0871 231 5938, www.thomson.co.uk/cruise)
is offering a two-
week fly-cruise on
its ship,Thomson Destiny, on
January 3, 2010.The voyage
starts from the Dominican Republic and ports of call include Barbados, St
Kitts and St Lucia.
It costs from £1,299
and includes flights.
Other useful cruise
contacts:
Carnival
Cruise
Lines
351
0556,
www.carnivalcruise.co.uk)
Celebrity
Cruises
1520,
www.celebritycruises.co.uk)
Fred
Olsen
Cruises (0845 (0845
(01473
456 746175,
www.fredolsencruises.com)
Holland
America
Line (0845 351 0557,
www.hollandamerica.co.uk)
(0844 561 7412, www.msccruises.co.uk)
MSC Cruises
Norwegian Cruise
Line (0845 658 8010,
www.ncl.co.uk)
(0845 075 0032, www.oceanvillageholidays.co.uk)
Ocean Village
Oceania Cruises (01344 772344, www.oceaniacruises.co.uk)
(0845 678 0014, www.pocruises.com)
P&O Cruises
Caribbean International
(0845 165 8414, www.royalcaribbean.co.uk)
Royal
SeaDream Yacht
Club (0800 783 1373,
www.seadreamyachtclub.com)
Star Clippers (01473 292029,
Windstar Cruises (020 7292
www.starclippers.com)
2387, www.windstarcruises.com)
Shipping Association: www.discovercruises.co.uk
Passenger
ruisesCP&O
esinLCruiseCarnival

What to do

On stepping ashore, cruise passengers can take their pick from no end of diversions or they can simply flop into a sun-bed on one of the many powdery sand beaches for which the islands are famous. A popular option is to take an island tour, either through the cruise line or one of the cheaper deals offered by local taxi drivers that gather outside the cruise ports. In Jamaica, daredevils can choose from canopy tours that skim the treetops or white- water rafting. One of the most popular, and fun, trips is to climb the iconic Dunn’s River Falls. In Antigua, enthusiasts can swim with stingrays and visit Nelson’s Dockyard, the Georgian dockyard where the young Horatio Nelson was based in the 1700s, while in St Lucia they can go quad-biking or take a heli- copter sightseeing trip. The islands also have their fair share of stately buildings, old sugar mills and historic plantation houses dating back to the times when some were under British rule, and these make interesting diversions. Alternatively, there is a huge range of boat trips at most ports of call, offering the chance to go snorkelling or spot dolphins, whales and turtles. Sports fans can take advantage of the Caribbean’s excellent sporting credentials to go diving, fishing or play a round or two on some of the top-rate golf courses to be found on islands such as Barbados, Jamaica and the Bahamas.

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M ay/June2009

CRUISE N ew s

CRUISE N ew s CRUISE CLIPS The price is right Who would you like to sail
CRUISE CLIPS The price is right Who would you like to sail off with? A
CRUISE CLIPS
The price is right
Who would you like to sail
off with? A survey by Co-
operative Travel revealed that
B ritish holidaymakers may
be strapped for cash in
these credit-crunch times,
■ Most onboard activities and facilities are
included in the price of a cruise
the most sought-after
companions that Britons want
to cruise with are James Bond
star Daniel Craig, actress Julie
Walters,TV hostess Myleene
Klass and BBC QI host
Stephen Fry (above).
but cruise companies say it
makes 2009 an ideal time to try
a cruise.
With so much included in the
price, a cruise makes it easy for
holidaymakers, and particularly
families, to budget in advance.
After all, as food and even
some drinks are free of charge
along with entertainment, kids
clubs and most onboard activi-
ties there isn’t much extra to
fork out for.
“This is a good time for us to
explain the fantastic value of a
More Brits are cruising than
cruise to consumers,” said Phil
Nuttall, director of Blackpool-
based cruise travel agency the
Cruise Village.
“Compare the price of a two-
week cruise to the Canaries,
with all the meals and entertain-
ment, to two weeks in a four-star
hotel in Tenerife. And remem-
ber, if it rains what is there to do
in a hotel compared to a cruise
ship with all the organised activ-
ities and facilities?”
With so many new ships,
cruise companies are battling
hard to attract customers, so this
means there are more bargains
to be had.
Not only are prices lower, but
lines are also offering more free
extras such as upgrades to more
superior cabins, free car parking
at UK departure ports, reduced
supplements for single cruisers,
onboard credits and even free
flights on some fly-cruises.
Another big bonus is that tak-
ing a Mediterranean cruise on a
British cruise line such as P&O
Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruise
Lines or Thomson Cruises
means you can explore Europe
without getting hammered by
the strong euro as the currency
on these ships is in sterling.
ever before, according to the
latest figures from cruising
body, the Passenger Shipping
Association, which showed
that nearly 1.5
million took
Family favourites
a
cruise
A nyone who thinks cruis-
last year.
es are just for fuddy-
If
you want
duddies should think
to gen up
on cruises,
take a look at the Passenger
Shipping Association’s newly-
revamped website Discover
Cruises at www.discover-
cruises.co.uk. It has details
of the major cruise lines, plus
information about different
cruising destinations around
the world.
■ Cruise ships
now boast some
of the best
children’s facilities
you will find
If you’ve never cruised
before, why not try a four-
night short break offered by
Holland America Line
(www.hollandamerica.com)
on July 6 from Dover to
Zeebrugge, Cherbourg and
back to Dover. It costs from
£379.
again.
More and more families are
discovering the attractions of
spending their holidays afloat
and cruise companies have
invested millions of pounds in
gleaming new ships that boast
some of the best children’s
facilities you’ll find.
But passengers need to
make sure they choose family-
friendly ships – once they do
it’s plain sailing.
Royal Caribbean
International is launching a
push to attract even more fami-
lies by improving its Adventure
Ocean youth programme and
expanding children’s dining
options.
It has also started a Babies 2
Go programme providing
organic baby food, wipes and
nappies for its youngest pas-
sengers – delivered to the fami-
ly’s cabin on arrival.
BBC PicturesRCI
RCI
Carnival Cruises

32

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34

Close

encounters

A visit to the western part of Canada’s Newfoundland saw Peter Ellegard come across whales, moose, Vikings, an iceberg and TV star Billy Connolly – not to mention jaw-dropping scenery

T he Atlantic rollers crashed into the base of the cliffs far below us, throwing up blue- white spume to contrast the slate-grey ocean. Thankfully, the mist and drizzle which

had cloaked Quirpon Island the previous night had been chased away by the brisk August wind, against which my fellow explorers and I were protected by several lay- ers of warm clothing. We had clambered across lichen-covered rocks to reach the high promontory from where we now scanned the waves with binoc- ulars. Looking back, the green lamp of the white and red lighthouse on the island’s north- ern tip glowed brightly in the still-gloomy morning light. The leaden sky also made it hard to spot our quarry as we gazed out to sea. Then in the distance, my eye was caught by a telltale spout. I focused my camera’s zoom lens on the spot and, sure enough, moments later a jet of spray erupted from the water, fol- lowed in quick succession by another. “Thar she blows!” I yelled, excitedly. At least, I meant to. I think it came out as just a strangulated: “Tha…” And in fact, it wasn’t

■Humpback whale breaching off Quirpon Island Peter Ellegard
■Humpback whale breaching
off Quirpon Island
Peter Ellegard

one whale – but two, side by side. Quirpon is a windswept dot off the far north of Canada’s most easterly landmass, the island of Newfoundland. This is where the world’s largest population of humpback whales, 5,000 of them, pass on their annual migration.

Iceberg Alley

Just weeks earlier, these same waters had wit- nessed another amazing spectacle. During late spring and early summer, huge icebergs shed by Arctic glaciers are carried past the Newfoundland coast along what is called “Iceberg Alley”, coming so close to Quirpon at times they get stranded in its bays. As they drift south, they meet the whales heading north. As our two whales approached us one began breaching – spectacularly leaping out of the sea with its flippers outstretched and its belly uppermost – to land in a massive splash alongside its partner, the noise reverberating off the cliff. “That’s got to be a male showing off to his girl-

friend,” one of my companions – a lady – wryly noted, adding: “Typical!” We watched the whales continue their jour- ney past us and on towards the lighthouse and headland, with one breaching and the other gracefully breaking the surface every so often. I raced back through the rock gullies, past the beacon and one-time lighthouse keepers’ cot- tage, now an inn and where we were staying, to reach a rocky ledge just above the shoreline. The whales had already swum by but were so close I felt I could almost touch them. Converted into accommodation in the 1990s when the lighthouse was automated, the inn is a cosy refuge from the elements in one of the most amazing settings imaginable. You can watch for whales and ice- bergs from your bedroom win- dow, or sit in the special view- ing hut set on the cliff edge with its floor-to- ceiling win-

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M ay/June2009

Off the Beaten Track NEWFOUNDLAND ■FBilly Connolly and latter day Viking in Newfoundland Peter Ellegard

Off the Beaten Track

NEWFOUNDLAND

■FBilly Connolly and latter day Viking in Newfoundland Peter Ellegard
■FBilly Connolly and latter day Viking in Newfoundland
Peter Ellegard

dows. Above it, the helipad is great for view- ing in good weather. Eight of us had arrived the previous after- noon after a precarious trip, our boat climbing watery mountain peaks before plunging into deep valleys. It had to dock some distance away in Pigeon Cove, leaving us a half-hour hike across the boggy island interior. Along the way, our captain and guide, Jerry, point- ed out small orange berries growing by the track. Called bakeapples up here in Newfoundland, but

cloudberries everywhere else, they were won- derfully sweet and juicy.

Traditional dinner

At the inn our friendly co-hostess, Madonna, served up a traditional Jiggs’ dinner of salt beef, boiled potatoes and cabbage and then regaled us with tales of the island. I could have listened to her talk for hours, for her wonderful local accent and the idiosyncratic Newfoundland dialect. So unique is its lan- guage that there is even a Dictionary of

Did you know? ● Newfoundland & Labrador together form Canada’s youngest province, joining in 1949.
Did you know?
● Newfoundland & Labrador together
form Canada’s youngest province,
joining in 1949.
● The province is as large as Japan and
has its own time zone, GMT -3.5
hours.
● Provincial capital St John’s is on the
same latitude as Paris.
● The Flat Earth Society claims that
Newfoundland is one of the four
corners of the world.
● The Vikings established a settlement
in Newfoundland in 998 at a site
now called L’Anse aux Meadows.
● Explorer John Cabot named it “New
Founde Land” when he set foot on it
in 1497.
● Marconi received the first
transatlantic wireless transmission
from England at St John’s
Signal Hill.
Newfoundland English with
words found nowhere else. For
example, tickle is a narrow
saltwater strait: hence the
Dark Tickle Company, which
Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism

harvests the local berries as jams and jellies. Even pro- nunciation is a world apart, as in Quirpon being pro- nounced Kharpoon.

Having

bade

a

sad

farewell and trudged back to the boat, the return jour- ney was just as memorable

Peter Ellegard

M ay/June2009

■FWalkers at Quirpon
■FWalkers at Quirpon

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35

Ice, ice baby Newfoundland affords some of the best opportunities to see icebergs close-up. These
Ice, ice baby
Newfoundland affords some of the best
opportunities to see icebergs close-up.
These 5,000-year-old cathedrals of ice
take two years to reach Newfoundland
after calving from Greenland glaciers,
drifting on the cold Labrador Current
along “Iceberg Alley” – the Titanic struck a
berg 400 miles south of the island in
1912.
Icebergs come in all shapes and sizes –
from 10-million-ton giants to piano-sized
“growlers” and “bergy bits” – and their
blue-white appearance is from frozen
meltwater while part of the parent glacier.
■FIceberg watching
Almost 90% of icebergs are under water.
Berg-watching season is late spring and
early summer, when the whales visit.You
can take boat tours, watch from vantage
points such as Quirpon Island or go
kayaking to see both.
Besides the 5,000 or so humpbacks
which migrate along Newfoundland’s
coast, its waters are visited by 28 other
marine mammal species including blue
whales, orcas (killer whales) and dolphins.
Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism

as the one out. Not just for the rollercoaster waves, but also for bow-waving dolphins, a humpback alongside us and another which breached right behind the boat. That whale experience was not my only notable close encounter on the trip. The inn’s owner, local tour operator Ed English, was waiting as we docked. He was heading there to help prepare it for the arrival of comedian Billy Connolly and a TV crew, who were vis- iting as part of filming a series tracing the Northwest Passage route. I had a strange feeling I would bump into him that day, and I did – almost literally. The only authenticated Viking settlement in North America, L’Anse aux Meadows is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whereas Quirpon is striking for its cliffs, crashing waves and spectacular visitors, this is a bleak yet hauntingly-beautiful coastal spot of undu- lating grassland and stunted fir trees. The Vikings didn’t stay long before returning to Greenland. Today, the recreated Norse settlement features a longhouse with costumed interpreters. It was here that I came across Billy Connolly, interviewing

one of the “Vikings” on camera. With their matching bushy beards, the pair could have been brothers.

Silly billy

Having gone inside the longhouse to take pic- tures, I saw Billy standing just beyond the door as I walked back out – distracting me so that I didn’t notice the low doorway. The cracking sound when my head made contact must have been loud, as he came over to see if I was OK. I felt a real silly billy! But hearing my Essex accent, he guessed I wasn’t a Newfie and we got chatting. I told him I knew he was going to Quirpon and whetted his appetite about the whales, and the hairy boat trip. Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula is awash with reminders of its Nordic settlers. Close to L’Anse aux Meadows, the Norstead living history site has demonstrations of Norse lifestyle and a mid-summer Viking Festival in late July. The Norseman Restaurant is worth a stop for its tasty fare, which includes Caribou. I had driven almost 500km up the west coast of Newfoundland, travelling on Route 430, known as the Viking Trail. It is the only

■FThe Viking Trail – today Peter Ellegard
■FThe Viking Trail – today
Peter Ellegard

36

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way there, save for a cross-island stretch of road to the east coast which I took for an overnight stay at the gloriously-situated Tuckamore Lodge, near Main Brook. It was only the day before Quirpon, but I had watched the sun setting over the adjoining lake, beer in hand, in shirtsleeves. Such is the fickle nature of the weather up here. Talking of nature, I also encountered my first Newfoundland moose that day. You are almost bound to see them as you travel around. With more than 110,000, the island has more moose per square mile than any- where else in the world. I would see another five during my visit.

VikingTrail

The Viking Trail is a route to savour, dotted by picture-perfect fishing villages, harbours and drop-dead gorgeous views of the Gulf of St Lawrence. In the distance, off the coast of Labrador, I even spotted an iceberg – a flat- topped monster resembling a white supertanker. But the west coast’s crowning glory is Gros Morne National Park, another UNESCO site.

It is a natural wonderland, with awe-inspiring

geological features such as the stark Tablelands, Gros Morne Mountain and Western Brook Pond, a glacier-carved fjord

with 2,000-foot-high walls where you can take

a sightseeing cruise, and wildlife such as

moose, caribou and bears. The park envelops communities including the coastal village of Trout River, with its quaint timber houses, lines of brightly- coloured, knitted socks and gloves, and wood- en boardwalk lining the crescent-shaped beach. Three youngsters were braving the

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38

■ Colourful socks at Trout River Peter Ellegard
■ Colourful socks
at Trout River
Peter Ellegard

freezing water to go swimming with body- boards, making me shiver. They obviously breed them tough in these parts. Taking in the view from my room at the hillside Red Mantle Inn, in Shoal Brook, I watched clouds spill over the top of Gros Morne Mountain across Bonne Bay inlet while the dawn sun lit up a three-masted schooner moored at Woody Point. I drove into the town and got chatting to a visiting Harley- Davidson biker and his family as we admired the vista, before photographing the wooden lighthouse on a ridge above town.

Romantic sunset

Across the inlet, I visited pretty Neddy Harbour and Norris Point, and tucked into fish and chips at Rocky Harbour after a beau- tiful dusk – preceded by a truly romantic sun- set at nearby Sally’s Cove. Hugged by a tree- covered bluff and flanked by some fisher- men’s huts with boats hauled up alongside, this deserted strip of boulder-edged beach is to die for. And it nearly was for some. Ed English’s grandfather famously ran the SS Ethie ashore here in a hurricane in 1919, saving all 92 aboard. Rusting remnants of the vessel were being washed over by gentle waves on the rocky shoreline in the setting sun on my visit, in a tranquil scene far removed

Newfoundland facts When to go May to September is the island’s tourist season. In summer,
Newfoundland facts
When to go
May to September is the island’s tourist season. In summer, daytime
temperatures can reach 20ºC but the weather is very changeable, so be
prepared and take layers of warm clothing as well as waterproofs. Also take
sunscreen and mosquito repellent. In winter, you can go skiing at Marble
Mountain Resort, near Deer Lake, as well as snowmobiling and ice fishing.
Getting there
Air Canada (www.aircanada.com) serves Deer Lake and St John’s
airports via transatlantic gateways including Toronto.
Getting around
Renting a car is the best way to see Newfoundland. But
you need to book well in advance to guarantee a car,
especially in high season. Rental companies include Avis
(www.avis.co.uk).Watch out for moose while driving.
Accommodation
Hotels are smaller than in other areas of Canada, but are good quality and
often family-run.Western Newfoundland options include Quirpon
Lighthouse Inn (www.linkumtours.com/site/inns_quirpon.htm),
Tuckamore Lodge in Main Brook (www.tuckamorelodge.com) and Red
Mantle Lodge in Shoal Brook (www.redmantlelodge.ca).Villas at
Humber Valley can be rented from Visit Humber Valley
(www.visithumbervalley.com).
Tour operators
Frontier Canada (www.frontier-canada.co.uk/newfoundland) offers
several packages to western Newfoundland and a wide range of product
throughout the island. Other operators include 1st Class Holidays
(www.1stclassholidays.com),Audley Travel (www.audleytravel.com),
Canadian Affair (www.canadianaffair.com),Titan HiTours
(www.titantravel.co.uk),Tailor Made Travel (www.tailor-made.co.uk)
andWindows on theWild (www.windowsonthewild.com).
Tourist information
Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism:
www.newfoundlandlabrador.com
Western Newfoundland & Southern Labrador:
www.westernnl.com
Peter Ellegard
Peter Ellegard

from the horrors of that day. I ended my trip where I had started it, at Deer Lake airport, just half an hour from Gros Morne park. My first few days had been spent in a luxury villa complete with outdoor hot

tub at Humber Valley Resort, a lovely leisure complex with a superb golf course, spa and a beach on which I sat and drank beer in front of a log fire with a Swiss mother and daughter from a neighbouring villa. Sadly, Humber Valley’s parent company went into administration soon after and the resort closed, ending direct charter flights from the UK. With the Humber River being one of the world’s finest salmon fishing rivers and Gros Morne’s glories on its doorstep, it can only be a matter of time before the resort rises again. In any event, I will cherish the memories of this very special island. If anywhere could claim to be a slice of heaven on earth, Newfoundland is surely it. The DVD, Billy Connolly – Journey to the Edge of the World, is available from stores and

online merchants, priced £19.99.

TL
TL
■ Woody Point and Gros Morne Mountain Peter Ellegard
■ Woody Point and
Gros Morne Mountain
Peter Ellegard

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Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism / Barrett and MacKay

COMPETITION

WIN a seven- day holiday to Newfoundland for two people,

worth £4,000!

Courtesy of Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism, Frontier Canada and Air Canada

40

F ollow in the footsteps of Vikings and win a fantastic seven-day holiday for two to the eastern- most part of Canada, the natural wonderland island of Newfoundland.

Your prize will include Air Canada flights to Deer Lake, gateway to the unparalleled natural beauty of Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the island’s west coast. You will spend three nights in the park where you can take a boat ride on the spectacular glacier-carved, land-lockedWestern Brook Pond fjord, seeing waterfalls cascading from 2,000 feet, billion-year-old cliffs, and fre-

cascading from 2,000 feet, billion-year-old cliffs, and fre- ■ Kayak up to giant icebergs The Travel
cascading from 2,000 feet, billion-year-old cliffs, and fre- ■ Kayak up to giant icebergs The Travel
cascading from 2,000 feet, billion-year-old cliffs, and fre- ■ Kayak up to giant icebergs The Travel
■ Kayak up to giant icebergs
■ Kayak up to
giant icebergs

The Travel&

Leisure M agazine

up to giant icebergs The Travel & Leisure M agazine quent sightings of wildlife such as

quent sightings of wildlife such as bears, cari- bou and moose. You can also hike along pris- tine coastal trails, climb Gros Morne Mountain, or explore the charming and colourful fishing villages tucked into quiet bays and coves. You will then drive north to St Anthony, which will be your base for the next three nights, allowing you to explore the recreated Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, another UNESCO World Heritage Site at the northern tip of Newfoundland, and take a whale or iceberg watching tour. The Viking Trail encompasses a medley of communities

■ Lobster feast Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism
■ Lobster feast
Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

M ay/June2009

and Labrador Tourism / Barrett and MacKay Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism / Barrett and MacKayNewfoundland

Glacial-carved fjords in Gros Morne National Park

■ L'Anse aux Meadows Viking site
■ L'Anse aux
Meadows Viking site

How to enter

For your chance to win this fabulous prize trip to Newfoundland, just answer this question:

Question: What is the name of Newfoundland's Viking settlement site?

To enter please go to www.choicetravelinfo.com and click on the competitions & giveaways button.

Closing date is June 30, 2009.The first correct entry drawn will win.

dotting the coastline along the Great Northern Peninsula, such as Main Brook, St Anthony, Port au Choix, Conche and Rocky Harbour – all of which have a part to play in Newfoundland’s Viking saga which began over 1,000 years ago. There will also be a chance to extend the holiday (at your own cost) and stay in the lighthouse keepers’ cottage on magical Quirpon Island, where Billy Connolly stayed in his Journey to the Edge of the World series on ITV. From there you can watch migrating humpback whales and towering icebergs at close quarters, depending on the time of year. Your last night will be in Corner Brook, at the mouth of the Humber River – one of the best rivers in North America for fishing wild Atlantic salmon. The holiday will also include a rental compact car for seven days. Newfoundland is a stunning destination – and specialist tour operator Frontier Canada knows it well. Visit their website, www. frontier-canada.co.uk/newfoundland, for lots of holiday ideas and packages. You can also email them on canada@frontier- travel.co.uk or telephone 020 8776 8709 for

further advice and bookings.

TL
TL

Terms & conditions

1.The prize includes two return economy-class tickets from London Heathrow to Deer Lake, Newfoundland, including all known taxes, seven nights’ room-only accommodation as specified based on two people sharing and seven days’ basic rental of a compact car.The holiday can be extended, at the winner’s expense. 2. No purchase necessary. 3.The closing date for entries is June 30, 2009 and the winner will be notified by email shortly after.The judges' decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into. 4.We cannot accept responsibility for any lost or

incomplete entries. 5.This competition is open to all UK residents over the age of 18, other than employees of Frontier Travel,Air Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism and Travel & Leisure Magazines, their families, agents and anyone connected with the draw. 6.Winners must adhere to Frontier Travel’s standard booking conditions, available on request. 7.The prize is exclusive of transfers to UK airports, connecting flights to London Heathrow and any services other than those mentioned. 8. Holiday insurance is not included in the prize. Adequate travel insurance must be in place to cover the winner and guest.The partners in this

promotion accept no liability for any loss, damage or injury caused by, or to, the prizewinner or their guest, or their property whilst taking the prize. 9. Passports and any required visas are not included in the prize but are a requirement of booking the holiday and must be obtained by the winner prior to travel. 10. Dates of travel subject to availability. 11.There are no cash alternatives available and the prize is non-transferable. 12.The promoters are not responsible for any delay or cancellation of any element of the prize or for any inability of the prizewinner or their guest to take up the prize. 13.The prize is valid for 12 months from June 30, 2009.

M ay/June2009

The Travel&

Leisure M agazine

41

All photos: Great Rail Journeys
All photos: Great Rail Journeys
All photos: Great Rail Journeys ■ From left to right: the Ghan, Palace on Wheels, and
All photos: Great Rail Journeys ■ From left to right: the Ghan, Palace on Wheels, and

From left to right: the Ghan, Palace on Wheels, and Coast Starlight passing Mount Shasta

Going

loco

Whether you want to relive the golden age of trains or experience stunning scenery in effortless comfort, rail holidays are the perfect antidote to today’s stressful world. And as Dave Richardson reports, there are plenty of tempting loco motives…

42

M most guilty train

experience came one

morning as I enjoyed

y

train travel in the 1980s, when the BBC screened its first Great Railway Journeys of the World programme. Some people have

ticked off every journey in the four series, following in the tracks of Michael Palin, Clive Anderson & co. You don’t have to be a champagne- guzzling wannabe aristocrat, as there are several styles of rail holiday. You can spend over £5,000 on a trip just around Scotland, or rough it with ordinary folk taking their chickens to market. Most journeys fall somewhere in between, either on privately-operated tourist trains or reserved carriages on national rail networks.

a champagne break-

fast on the British Pullman while pass-

a champagne break- fast on the British Pullman while pass- ing through the London suburbs. Downcast

ing through the London suburbs. Downcast commuters gazed enviously as I raised a glass, before piling into their sardine cans. I felt like royalty. Ever since I steamed off as a child on the Red Rose express from Liverpool, I’ve been fascinated by trains and travelled as far as Australia to ride in them. But there are still many famous trains I’ve yet to try, and the range grows every year to satisfy public demand to travel in style. Orient-Express, operator of several luxury trains including the British Pullman, brought back the golden era of

Land cruises

Many tour operators are now involved, although there are only a few rail spe- cialists. No wonder these holidays are

The Travel&

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M ay/June2009

? ? ? ?
?
?
?
?

let’s TRY…

RAIL EXPERIENCES

sometimes described as land cruises, as they share many characteristics including a leisurely pace to enjoy the views, sumptuous food and “shore” excursions. On some trains you sleep onboard in cabins which convert to seated accommodation by day; others oper- ate day trips only, or with accommodation in hotels. An example of the latter is Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer (www.rockymoun taineer.com), its main route being between Banff and Vancouver with one night spent in Kamloops. Gold Leaf class passengers enjoy

■ The Golden Pass Line train
■ The Golden
Pass Line train

the best views in glass Dome Carriages, as the train crosses the Rockies and descends to the Pacific or vice versa. Australia’s most iconic trains criss-cross this vast country – the Indian Pacific from west to east (Perth to Sydney); and the Ghan from north to south (Darwin to Adelaide, via Alice Springs) (both www.gsr.com.au).

‘You don’t have to be a champagne- guzzling wannabe aristocrat’

The Ghan was named after the Afghan camel herders who first beat a path into the Outback, and the route was extended from Alice Springs to Darwin as recently as 2004. You sleep onboard these trains, with staff converting the seats into beds as you dine. You can have a reclining seat rather than a sleeper berth, but that’s not recom- mended on long journeys (68 hours from Perth to Sydney!) when you’ve reached a certain age.

■ The spectacular Flam Railway in Norway
■ The spectacular Flam
Railway in Norway

Whistle stops

The scenery is not as attractive as in Canada, but the bar and lounge carriages are con- vivial and some of the journey is in dark- ness. “Whistle Stop” excursions are avail-

Luxury trains ■ Orient-Express British Pullman carriages being hauled by the Flying Scotsman steam engine
Luxury
trains
■ Orient-Express British Pullman carriages
being hauled by the Flying Scotsman steam
engine in Great Wishford, Wiltshire
All photos: Orient-Express Hotels,Trains & Cruises
Orient-Express (www.orient-
express.com) was the modern day
pioneer of luxury rail travel, reviving a
name made famous by Agatha Christie and
which epitomises the decadent lifestyle of
the rich in the 1920s.
It
revived the original name but not the
original route, as most trains operate from
Calais to Paris and Venice with the
connecting British Pullman from London
to Folkestone. One departure this year, on
August 27, operates on the old route from
Paris to Istanbul.
On Orient-Express trains you are
expected to dress smartly for dinner, with
jacket and tie a minimum requirement for
gentlemen. On the European train, many
■ Lunch on the
Northern Belle
opt for a dinner jacket although this is not
compulsory. Both this and the Eastern &
Oriental Express, from Bangkok to
Singapore, are sleeper trains.
■ The Royal Scotsman
– passengers relaxing
in the lounge
■ Eastern & Oriental
Express – drinks in
the observation car
A
good way of seeing if luxury train
travel is for you is to try a day trip, usually
to a stately home or event, or possibly just
a round trip for lunch. Orient-Express
operates both the British Pullman and
Northern Belle, with departures from
stations throughout Britain.
Top of the range is its Royal Scotsman
sleeper train, carrying a maximum of 36
passengers on scenic itineraries north of
the border, with private visits to castles
and distilleries. Minimum price is £1,840
all-inclusive for a three-day trip from
Edinburgh.
Several luxury trains around the world
follow the same successful formula, such as
South Africa’s Blue Train, India’s Palace on
Wheels and the Golden Eagle Trans
Siberian Express. But in most cases they
use modern carriages, whereas Orient-
Express has truly brought back the great
trains of yesteryear.
Ian Lloyd
Ron Bambridge

able along the way, including the ghost town of Cook in South Australia (on the Indian Pacific) whose population is just four. The Blue Train (www.bluetrain.co.za) is a luxury experience running from Pretoria to Cape Town in South Africa, with cabins onboard and an observation lounge at the rear for uninterrupted views. There are sev- eral other trains in southern Africa, includ- ing the Pride of Africa, which takes a longer route between the same cities.

44

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In India, the only comfortable way to trav- el overland is by train, so why not travel like a Maharaja in the Palace on Wheels (www.palaceonwheels.net)? This also has cabins onboard, operating a circular tour from Delhi via Jaipur, Jodhpur and Agra, for the Taj Mahal. A very different experience awaits on the Trans Siberian Express across Russia, and there is now a luxury alternative to the rough-and-ready service train that links

Moscow with Siberia, Mongolia and China. GW Travel (www.gwtravel.co.uk) oper- ates a private train called the Golden Eagle on the Trans Siberian route, and also offers tours on the Pride of Africa, Canadian Empress, Deccan Odyssey (India) and Shangri-La Express (China/Tibet).

Service trains

Many of the most popular rail holidays are on regular service trains, but on an escorted tour

M ay/June2009

All photos: Great Rail Journeys

46

All photos: Great Rail Journeys 46 everything is done for you while you interact more with

everything is done for you while you interact more with “ordinary” passengers and the often- bustling scene at stations. Popular trains in the US include the Coast Starlight (Seattle-Los Angeles) and Southwest Chief (Chicago-Los Angeles) operated by Amtrak (www.amtrak.com), while the Copper Canyon railway in Mexico is another very scenic run (Chihuahua-Los Mochis). In Europe most holidays are on regular service trains, but standards are high and people who want go green or avoid flying

■ A waiter on South Africa's Blue Train
■ A waiter on South Africa's Blue Train

can start their trip with Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris or Brussels. The Alpine countries are especially popular, with Switzerland’s Glacier Express (www.glacierexpress.ch) narrow-gauge train offering a lovely trip between Zermatt and St Moritz via the Oberalp Pass (6,670 feet). This is a day trip, and one of several scenic Swiss lines that can be combined on a rail holiday. Norway also has some very scenic rail- ways, including Oslo to Bergen with a side trip on the Flam Railway (www.flaams bana.no/eng) – one of the world’s most steeply-graded routes which descends to a fjord. It can be combined with the Arctic Circle Express, a sleeper train to Narvik fea- tured in the BBC documentary Joanna Lumley in the Land of the Northern Lights.

Rail Holidays facts Sample prices: Great Rail Journeys (01904 527110, www.greatrail.com), the biggest specialist, has
Rail Holidays facts
Sample prices:
Great Rail Journeys (01904 527110,
www.greatrail.com), the biggest specialist, has Worldwide
and European brochures plus a lower priced Treyn Holidays
programme.The six-day Glacier Express & Swiss Highlights
tour by Treyn costs from £695.
Titan HiTours (0800 988 5853, www.titanhitours.co.uk) is one of the
operators featuring the Blue Train in South Africa.A 14-day holiday including
two days onboard costs from £3,275.
A one-way, two-day trip on the Orient-Express from London to Venice
costs from £1,550 (0845 077 2222, www.orient-express.com).A day trip
from London to Bath costs from £285.
Railtrail (01538 382323, www.railtrail.co.uk) operates a seven-day
Queen of Scots tour using service trains, including the Jacobite steam train
(pictured below) and Kyle line, from £979.
Other useful contacts:
☛ Ffestiniog Travel – See theWorld by Rail (01766
772030, www.festtravel.co.uk)
☛ GW Travel (0161 928 9410, www.gwtravel.co.uk)
☛ Explore (0844 499 0901, www.explore.co.uk)
☛ French Travel Service (0844 84 888 43, www.f-t-s.co.uk)
☛ International Rail (08700 841410; www.internationalrail.com)
☛ Railbookers (0844 482 1010; www.railbookers.com)

Closer to home

You can enjoy scenic rail journeys much closer to home, especially in the Scottish Highlands which you can reach by sleeper from London. The highlights are the West Highland route from Fort William to Mallaig – where the steam-operated Jacobite train (www.west coastrailways.co.uk) operates most days from June 27-August 30 – and the “Road to the Isles” from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh. Kyle is where my love affair with scenic railways began, as I gazed across to Skye and realised that the sea was crystal clear unlike in my home town of Liverpool. And I

TL
TL

got there before Michael Palin!

An interest in railways led Dave Richardson into travel and transport writing 30 years ago. Going to his first engine sheds and acquiring his first model railway at nine, he has been slipping down the gradient ever since.

The Travel&

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M ay/June2009

Coming Next

Image courtesy of VisitGuernsey
Image courtesy of VisitGuernsey

Don’t miss out on the July/August 2009 issue of

GET TO KNOW THAILAND South-east Asian beauty TEE UP IN MURCIA Spain’s fastest-growing golf region
GET TO KNOW
THAILAND
South-east Asian beauty
TEE UP IN
MURCIA
Spain’s fastest-growing
golf region
ON YOUR
DOORSTEP
The Channel Islands:
close to home but
with a unique
French flavour
OFF THE BEATEN
TRACK
South Africa’s Kwazulu-
Natal – historic
battlefields, safaris and
more
LET’S TRY
Holidays by coach
ESCAPE TO
Vilnius – European
Capital of Culture
Image courtesy of VisitGuernseyPeter
Ellegard
Polaris World
Starwood Hotels and Resorts

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Perfect days

in the home of golf

With over 500 courses, Scotland offers golfers the perfect golfing escape. A recent visit took Peter Ellegard to the “undiscovered” Aberdeenshire coast and on to where it all began – St Andrews

T he benign North Sea waves

were gently caressing the

wide, sandy beach to my

right with a rhythmical mur-

mur as I stood on the 7th tee

at Aberdeen’s Murcar Links

and lined up my drive. Ahead, the hole plunged down to a fairway criss-crossed by the two-pronged Serpentine burn and edged by a huge dune thickly carpeted in bright yellow gorse. My ears were still ringing from the warn- ing of a playing partner, a near-as-damn-it scratch golfer native to north-east Scotland, when we were climbing up to the tee box of the 423-yard, par-4 hole. “This is one of the hardest holes of golf in Scotland,” he had said. My drive somehow went arrow-straight, soaring high into the cloudless sky and end- ing in prime position on the fairway. Amazingly, my next shot was also a peach, coming up just short of the green and setting up a chip to secure a rare par. Rare for a 23 handicapper, that is. It was the highlight of my round. But the real stars were the wonderful but testing old links course – which celebrates its centenary this year and which uses the contours of the sandhills to create a delightfully natural lay- out with superb views from its elevated tees – and the astonishing weather. This was the

48

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■ Drive time at Cruden Bay Peter Ellegard
■ Drive time at Cruden Bay
Peter Ellegard

beginning of April, and yet we were in shirt- sleeves as though it was mid-summer. To borrow Visit Scotland’s new promotion slo- gan, it was a perfect day for golf. Similar balmy weather had greeted us the previous day at nearby Cruden Bay. Another

gem of a course set right on the coast, its present layout dates back to 1926 although golf is reputed to have been played here since 1791. But our luck ran out the following day at the prestigious Royal Aberdeen Golf Club.

M ay/June2009

Peter Ellegard

Peter Ellegard

Peter Ellegard Peter Ellegard Pack your CLUBS SCOTLAND Golf at St Andrews ■The 18th hole on

Pack your CLUBS

SCOTLAND

Golf at St Andrews ■The 18th hole on the Old Course at St Andrews ■Dalhousie
Golf at St Andrews
■The 18th hole on the
Old Course at St Andrews
■Dalhousie Castle
Golf has been played at St Andrews for
at least six centuries.
The St Andrews Links land was
granted to the people of the town in
1123 by King David I for them to use
for recreation. By 1457 golf had
become so popular, King James II
issued a warrant banning it because he
was worried it was distracting his men
from archery practice.
The Society of St Andrews Golfers
was established in 1754 to organise an
annual competition. It became the
Royal & Ancient Golf Club 80 years
later.The Open was first staged at St
Andrews in 1873; it returns to the Old
Course in 2010 for the 28th time.
Today, St Andrews Links is still public
land. It consists of seven courses, five
of them 18 holes, plus a nine-hole
course.Three of them, including the
New Course, are over 100 years old.
Others include highly-rated Kingsbarns
and recent addition, the Castle Course.
All are run by the charitable St
Andrews Links Trust.

A chilly fog had blown in overnight off the North Sea, shrouding everything in a murky embrace and steadily soaking us with the drizzle being borne on the fresh breeze. The weather could not have been more different. Yet Royal Aberdeen lies cheek-by-jowl with Murcar, to the point where as you make the turn after the front nine and head back to the clubhouse you walk by Murcar’s 4th tee. You could easily carry on playing the adjacent course if you weren’t paying atten- tion. Indeed, we were told that a group of Americans had done just that while playing Royal Aberdeen a few years ago. Instead of turning for the back nine, they accidentally continued onto Murcar’s holes – only realis- ing their mistake when they finished at a dif-

ferent clubhouse, and sheepishly had to get a taxi back to Royal Aberdeen to retrieve their car. Both Royal Aberdeen and Murcar are just five minutes by road from Scotland’s third city and Europe’s oil capital, Aberdeen. Yet this beautiful, rugged coastal stretch of gorse and heather-covered sandhills – where American tycoon Donald Trump has won permission to build his huge, controversial Trump International Golf Links golf course, housing and luxury hotel project – is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the Granite City. Originally founded in 1780 as the Society of Golfers at Aberdeen, the Royal Aberdeen Golf Club incorporated the society on the

eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and is the sixth oldest golf club in the world. Historic relics adorn its clubhouse, and golf- ing history permeates the air. Golf's five-minute rule was first intro- duced here, in 1783, setting golfers a time limit of five minutes to find their ball before it is declared lost. It was a rule I did not bother taking advantage of each time my ball disappeared into a clump of gorse, my lack of ability having been found out by the tough, tight Balgownie Links layout and the

M ay/June2009

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49

■ Gleneagles Peter Ellegard
■ Gleneagles
Peter Ellegard

miserable, dreaky conditions. This was my first visit to Aberdeenshire; previous golfing forays north of the border had taken me to the west coast and around central Scotland. I had joined a group trip discovering the golf delights and other attractions of the Grampian region coast before going off by myself to revisit one of my favourite areas, the Trossachs, followed by a long overdue pilgrimage to golf ’s Holy Grail – St Andrews. Less celebrated than many of Scotland’s other courses, this Aberdeen trio is as fine a collection of golf links as you will find any- where. And the city and surrounding area has much else to offer besides. This part of Scotland is synonymous with whisky-making and the Highland village of Old Meldrum, just 12 miles from Aberdeen

Airport, has a distillery which has been pro- ducing single malt Scotch whisky for more than 200 years. Part of Japanese-owned Morrison Bowmore, the Glen Garioch dis- tillery (www.glengarioch.co.uk) has had a chequered history and reopened for produc- tion as recently as 1997, having been closed two years earlier. Guided tours are offered daily from 10am-3pm, Monday to Friday, including whisky tasting. Our tour guide pointed out some village buildings downwind of the dis- tillery’s huge, now-redundant chimneys which he told us once housed the local alco- hol rehabilitation centre. Talk about being cruel to be kind. Another tradition in the area is short- bread; you can tour the factory of family-run Dean’s of Huntly (www.deans.co.uk),

Golf galore With more than 500 courses, Scotland has golf galore wherever you look. Besides
Golf galore
With more than 500 courses, Scotland
has golf galore wherever you look.
Besides those I played on my trip, there
are some household names which host
the Open.Among them are Carnoustie,
where Jean van der Velde famously went
paddling and lost the title, Prestwick,
Troon and Muirfield.
Another Open host course is
Turnberry, which reopens after major
renovations in time to stage the 2009
Open, from July 16-19.
Other top courses include the likes of
Royal Dornoch, Nairn, Machrihanish and
Loch Lomond.
Recent additions have included Spey
Valley and the Castle Course in St
Andrews, while projects due to open
soon include Machrihanish Dunes.
■ Murcar Links
Peter Ellegard

Did you know?

Scotland was named Destination of

the Year in the annual industry awards held by top-selling golf magazine, Today’s

Golfer, beating the Algarve and Ireland.

The Old Course is a public course.

Anyone can play, provided they have a

handicap of 24 for men and 36 for ladies.

The Royal & Ancient Golf Club’s

clubhouse is not open to visitors, and women guests are only welcomed on St Andrew’s Day.

Limited tee times on the Old Course

can be booked, up to a year in advance.

Most golfers get tee times through the

daily ballot, by calling the St Andrews Links Trust (01334 466666) on the morning before they want to play.The ballot results are posted on www.standrews.org.uk Individual players can also queue at the starter’s hut to join a two-ball or three-ball game.

which produces some of Scotland’s finest shortbread biscuits, using recipes created by Helen Dean in her kitchen in the 1970s. Her son, Bill, runs the factory today. Aberdeen makes a great base to play the area's courses, with fine eateries including the Albyn, offering French-Scottish cuisine. The Marcliffe Hotel is a five-star sanctuary in the city with a putting green to practice on before your round and a spa to ease aching muscles afterwards After Aberdeen, I headed south to revisit Gleneagles, one of my favourite golf resorts and venue for the 2014 Ryder Cup. This grand old lady, set in 850 acres of beautiful Perthshire countryside an hour’s drive from Edinburgh and Glasgow, was built 85 years ago. A recent £70 million makeover has included the addition of a new wing with 59 rooms, many featuring balconies and cosy fires, and 10 luxury Spirit suites. There are three courses at Gleneagles. The Ryder Cup will be played on the newest of them, the PGA Centenary Course (for- merly the Monarch’s Course) which was cre- ated by Jack Nicklaus. On my previous visit

I had played the Queen’s, enduring a night-

mare round straight after a video lesson at the golf academy and then witnessing a

playing partner achieve that rarest of feats –

a hole in one albatross on a par four. On this occasion I took on the tougher

King’s. Getting the first tee time of the day,

I had the course to myself, save for the

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M ay/June2009

M ay/June 2009 The Travel & Leisure M agazine 51
M ay/June 2009 The Travel & Leisure M agazine 51
M ay/June 2009 The Travel & Leisure M agazine 51

pheasants, curlews and deer which graced it throughout the round. It felt more like a wildlife ramble than a game of golf. Sadly, there was no time to try the resort’s

many other leisure facilities, among them its chic Spa by ESPA and outdoor experiences such as off-road driving, shooting and fish- ing, falconry and an equestrian school.

I took a break from golf to live like a laird ■ The 18th hole
I
took a break from golf to live like a laird
■ The 18th hole
at Royal Aberdeen
Scotland GOLF facts
Perfect golf breaks
Enjoy a perfect golf break in Scotland this year during the
Homecoming Scotland campaign, celebrating Robert Burns
250th anniversary.Aberdeenshire, St Andrews and Perthshire are
among destinations to enjoy a golf break in the home of golf.
for a day at Dalhousie Castle, a fabulous
13th century fortress south of Edinburgh
now part of the luxury von Essen Hotels
group. While it has no golf course alongside,
there are numerous courses in the area.
There can’t be many hotels where you
dine in a vaulted dungeon, with a suit of
armour standing guard!
My final destination was St Andrews.
An important trading centre for many cen-
turies, the town oozes history from every
stone. A Greek monk is said to have
Tourist information
For more information or to plan your break to Scotland, go to:
www.visitscotland.com/perfectday or call 0845 22 55 121. For golf
information, go to: www.visitscotland.com/perfectgolf
brought the relics of St Andrew, who
became Scotland’s patron saint and whose
saltire cross was adopted as the national
flag. Stately ruins tell of centuries of influ-
ence, power and strife.
Getting there
Flights operate from London region airports to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and
Glasgow.Trains also operate from Kings Cross on the National Express East
Coast line to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Leuchars (for St Andrews) and
Gleneagles.
I
played two rounds while at St Andrews.
Green fees/passes
Green fees vary from course to course and by season. High season (May-
October) green fees for Royal Aberdeen are £100 weekdays/£120
weekends. For the Old Course, high season costs £130 per round, and at
Gleneagles, high season green fees for all three courses are £110 for
residents and £155 for visitors. Passes are available for some areas of
Scotland.
Golf tuition
You can hone your game alongside the Old Course at the St Andrews Links Golf
Academy (www.standrews.org.uk). It boasts one of Europe’s foremost practice
and teaching facilities, with a 51-bay centre and video and digital swing analysis.The
Gleneagles Golf Academy boasts a 320-yard, double-ended driving range.
Courses
Hotels
Royal Aberdeen Golf Club
www.royalaberdeengolf.com
The Marcliffe Hotel,
Spa & Restaurant
www.marcliffe.com
Cruden Bay Golf Club
www.crudenbaygolfclub.co.uk
Gleneagles
www.gleneagles.com
Murcar Links Golf Club
www.murcarlinks.com
My first was on the Kittocks Course at
Fairmont St Andrews, one of two courses at
the luxury golf and spa resort which has just
undergone a £17 million refurbishment pro-
gramme – the other being the Torrance
Course, which reopens in July after major
redevelopment. The course hugs the cliff
edge, giving wonderful views to the town on
some holes, and features double greens and
tough bunkers.
On my last day in Scotland I got to fulfil
the dream all golfers harbour; a round on the
most hallowed piece of turf in golf, the Old
Course. Having got my tee time from the
starter and joined a group of three golfers
from Bristol, I nervously teed my ball up in
front of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club –
the governing body for the rules of golf in
most countries.
I’m not sure how, but I didn’t duff my
tee shot. Nerves got the better of me for
much of the round but I did manage to play
a few good shots, including the daunting
drive on the 17th – the infamous Road
Hole – where you have to flirt with the old
Dalhousie Castle
www.vonessenhotels.co.uk
Gleneagles
railway sheds by the Old Course Hotel. I
also managed to avoid Hell, the notorious
and cavernous bunker on the 14th. And we
www.gleneagles.com
Fairmont St Andrews
www.fairmont.com/standrews
St Andrews Links Trust
www.standrewsgolf.org
all stopped for the obligatory photo of each
other standing on the famous humpbacked
Swilcan Bridge, bathed in sunshine on the
18th fairway.
A perfect end to a memorable golf trip.
TL
Peter Ellegard
The Marcliffe Hotel
Royal Aberdeen Golf Club

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54

Little

gem

Famed as much now for rock music as for royal heritage, and with adrenalin activities
Famed as much now for rock
music as for royal heritage,
and with adrenalin activities
offering a counterpoint to its
genteel resorts, the Isle of
Wight has revamped its jaded
bucket and spade image.
One-time deckchair attendant
Paul Erlam revisits the tiny,
diamond-shaped island and
finds it sparkling
Isle of Wight Tourism

I t was once the ultimate bucket and

spade resort, remembered fondly

from family holidays or school

trips. When I was a deckchair atten-

dant in the 1960s families would

return year after year to the same

■ Walking the Tennyson Trail Isle of Wight Tourism
■ Walking the
Tennyson Trail
Isle of Wight Tourism

beach, even trying to bag the exact spot on the sand they had the previous year. When foreign holidays became accessi- ble and affordable the island’s resorts took on a “past their sell-by-date” air. Let’s put this politely: they looked a little frayed around the edges, in need of a good lick of paint.

I have known the island all my life – I grew up there – and return regularly. The good news is that the island has definitely pulled its socks up. Sure, it is still a great place if building sandcastles and stretching out on a sunbed is your idea of an activity holiday. With its numerous long sandy beaches it could not help but be so. There is also beautiful countryside. And it really does have the best of the country’s weather. Shanklin on the island’s south-east coast has regularly held the record for most hours of sunshine. No won-

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English Heritage

English Heritage on yourD O O RSTEP ISLE OF WIGHT ■ The Isle of Wight is

on yourD O O RSTEP

ISLE OF WIGHT

■ The Isle of Wight is famed for its sailing Isle of Wight Tourism
■ The Isle of Wight is famed for its sailing
Isle of Wight Tourism

der it is known as the Sunshine Isle. You can sometimes stand on the island’s downland in bright sunshine and see the mainland, just a few miles away, cloaked in grey clouds. So mild is the climate you will see plants growing in Ventnor Botanical Garden on its southern tip found nowhere else in the country.

Contrasts

But the Isle of Wight is more than just sand and sun. Despite its size – just 13 miles by 22 – it is a place of contrasts. It is a place where Charles I and Jimi Hendrix made their mark – for different rea- sons, you will appre-

ciate. You can get an intimate glimpse of Queen Victoria’s private life just a few miles from daredevils paragliding over cliffs or surfing waves. Residents and visitors agree the pace of life slows down when you cross the Solent. If you come by car, forget motorways. There aren’t any. There is one dual carriageway but it is no more than 300 yards long. Proud of its past, the island has adapted to the present demands of tourism without losing its charm – or its sense of history. There is no better example than Dinosaur Isle at Sandown (www.dinosaurisle.com) – a state-of-the-art museum showing fossils and life-size reconstructions of dinosaurs. The island is the most important site for dinosaur remains in Europe thanks to erosion along the coast. Fast forward to

■ Carisbrooke Castle
■ Carisbrooke Castle

M ay/June2009

Did you know? ● Nearly half the island’s 147 square miles have been designated Areas
Did you know?
● Nearly half the island’s 147 square
miles have been designated Areas of
Outstanding Natural Beauty.
● Travel to the island and you may pass
19th century forts in the Solent.
Built at enormous cost with huge
technical problems, they never fired
a shot in anger and were named
after the Prime Minister who dreamt
them up: Palmerston’s Follies.
● Canned beer was first produced on
the island by a brewery at Newport
so it could be sent to troops in
India.
● The first hovercraft was developed
at East Cowes. Now the island is
one of the few places in Europe to
be served by regular hovercraft
services.
● Ryde Pier claims to be the first
seaside pier in Britain.Today it is
terminus for the Island Line, on
which old London Underground
trains run to Shanklin.

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Isle ofWight festivals Walking Festival The largest of its kind in Europe. Over 300 walks.
Isle ofWight
festivals
Walking Festival
The largest of its kind in Europe. Over 300
walks. Even a Speed Dating Walk.
May 9-24, throughout the island
www.isleofwightwalkingfestival.co.uk
Isle ofWight Festival
One of the major music festivals of the
season.
June 12-14, Newport
www.isleofwightfestival.com
■ Bestival
celebrating the island’s garlic growing
industry, now a much bigger food festival.
August 15-16,Arreton
www.garlic-festival.co.uk
CowesWeek
World-class sailing – and much
partying.
August 1-8, Cowes
www.cowesweek.co.uk
International Charity Classic Car
Show Extravaganza
Everything from vintage vehicles to wacky
racers.
September 19, Newport; and September
20, Ryde
Garlic Festival
Not to be sniffed at. Originally
Bestival
Quirky music festival with
varied acts.This year’s dressing
up theme is Space.
September 11-13, Robin Hill
Country Park, near Arreton
www.bestival.net
Cycling Festival
From a leisurely ride to the 14-hills
challenge.Yes, as gruelling as its sounds.
September 19-27, locations across the island.
www.sunseaandcycling.com
Isle of Wight Tourism
Isle of Wight Tourism

56

Roman times and superb remains of a villa at Brading (www.bradingromanvilla. com) are described as one of the finest Romano-British archaeological sites in the UK with beautifully preserved mosaic floors and an extensive collection of coins, pottery and tools.

Royal connections

Oh, and that earlier reference to Charles:

800-year-old Carisbrooke Castle is where the unfortunate king was imprisoned before his execution. According to popular myth, he tried to flee only to get stuck in the win- dow through which he was trying to escape. Houdini he was not. The new Edwardian-inspired Princess Beatrice Garden, celebrating Queen Victoria’s daughter who was Governor of the Isle of Wight, opens in June at the castle, which is one of the properties on the island administered by English Heritage (www.english-heritage.org.uk). Another is Osborne House, and this is a real gem. Queen Victoria fell in love with the island as a young princess, say- ing: “It is impossible to imagine a pret- tier spot”. After her marriage to Prince Albert, the couple built Osborne as a country retreat. Step inside today and it as though the couple have only recently left. Wander through the Queen’s bedroom, the couple’s study and the amazing Indian-themed

Durbar Room, a reminder of when most of the world map was coloured red. The royal couple’s love for the island cat- apulted it from sleepy backwater to trendy resort. Think of a 19th century St Tropez or Nice to which the rich and famous flocked. People like the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, the Victorian equivalent of a media star, commemorated by Tennyson Down near Freshwater (there are spectacular views of the West Wight from here). His home, Farringford, is now a hotel.

Railways and seaside holidays

If the royals did wonders for the island’s image, then the coming of the railways creat- ed the institution of the seaside holiday. The

beaches loved by Victorians and Edwardians are numerous and still attractive today. Among them are twin resorts Sandown and Shanklin, where the long, sandy beaches are some of the safest for swimming. Ventnor, the most southerly resort, has a fine beach at low tide. Freshwater Bay, in the west, is small, charm- ing but pebbly, while the sands of Colwell Bay and Totland are softer on the feet. Seaview is an upmarket seaside village with a sailing tradition. Talking of sailing, Cowes is an international centre, home of the Royal Yacht Squadron, probably the poshest yacht club in the land, and venue for Cowes Week (www.cowesweek.co.uk) – one of the premier events on the yacht racing calendar. Alum Bay has a bit of a wow factor. It boasts cliffs of multi-coloured sands which as children we could collect in bottles. Amid concerns for erosion and, I guess, health and safety, you can no longer do that – sand for sale is imported. But you get a spectacular view of the Needles, the much pho- tographed chalk stacks which have come to symbolise the island.

chalk stacks which have come to symbolise the island. Music festivals A few miles away at

Music festivals

A few miles away at Afton Down is a natural amphitheatre in the chalk downs, and one of the original sites of music extravaganza the Isle of Wight Festival. The third such festival, in 1970, was the venue for the last show by one of rock’s greats – Jimi Hendrix – just a fort-

Isle of Wight Tourism

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English Heritage

58

night before his death. Others at early festi- vals included Bob Dylan, The Who and The Doors. Revived in recent years and now located near Newport, the island’s capital, the Isle of Wight Festival (www.isleofwight festival.com) is the first of the season in the UK festival calendar. Performers this June include The Prodigy, Basement Jaxx, Pendulum, The Ting Tings, The Stereophonics and Neil Young. In recent years it has had an island rival, Bestival (www.bestival.net), staged in September at Robin Hill Country Park in the middle of the island. This year’s acts include Lily Allen and Mercury award winners Elbow.

Adrenalin activities

If neither festivals nor lying on a beach

■ The Durbar Room, Osborne House
■ The Durbar Room, Osborne House

appeal, the island offers a range of opportu- nities to learn a skill or get your adrenalin pumping. X-Isle Sports is one of the UK’s biggest kite-surfing schools (www.x-

is.co.uk) and Wight Waters (www.wight waters.com) offers courses in surfing, windsurfing, bodyboarding and kayaking. Medina Valley Centre at Newport (www.medinavalleycentre.org.uk) and the UK Sailing Academy at Cowes (www.uksa.org) provide sailing courses. But don’t get the impression it is all surf- ing and rock music. The Isle of Wight has managed to update itself without losing its family-friendly appeal. Children’s attractions range from Blackgang Chine, the country’s first theme park, to a model village at Godshill, and from the Isle of Wight Zoo, where ITV’s Tiger Island was filmed, to the steam railway at Havenstreet. Being such a small island you are never far from the sea. Do not leave without sampling the seafood. The village of Bembridge is as good a place as any. You can take up a fishing rod for a trip with the optimistically named Catchalot Charters. Nearby, and with an even catchier name, is The Best Dressed Crab in Town, a shop selling shellfish straight off its own fishing boat. A short distance away the aptly- named Crab and Lobster is one of many fine pubs on the island. The island is still that little bit different – not quite abroad, yet not quite England. And, as an old islander told me with a line he probably spins to many a visitor, the reason it is dia-

TL
TL
Isle of Wight facts Getting there There are six ferry routes from the mainland to
Isle of Wight facts
Getting there
There are six ferry routes from the mainland to the island.
Wightlink (www.wightlink.co.uk) operates two car ferry
services: Portsmouth to Fishbourne and Lymington to
Yarmouth. It also operates a fast catamaran service between
Portsmouth and Ryde.
Red Funnel Ferries (www.redfunnel.co.uk) operates both a car ferry service
and the Red Jet passenger service from Southampton to Cowes.
Hovertravel (www.hovertravel.co.uk) operates hovercraft passenger
services from Southsea to Ryde.
Accommodation and information
The Isle of Wight has a range of accommodation from luxury hotels and guest
houses to self-catering and caravans.The Isle of Wight Tourism website
(www.islandbreaks.co.uk) has details, an online search facility and email
booking service as well as informaon about the island.
Tip: Many places offer discounted ferry tickets when you book
accommodation so it’s worth enquiring before you arrange a crossing.
Attractions
Among the island’s main attractions are:
Osborne House (www.english-heritage.org.uk/osborne) –
Queen Victoria’s holiday palace and gardens.
Carisbrooke Castle (www.english-heritage.org.uk/
server/show/nav.14466) – 800-year-old castle and the new
Princess Beatrice Garden, from June.
St Catherines Oratory (www.english-heritage.org.uk/stcatherines) –
14th century octagonal lighthouse, known locally as the Pepperpot.
Brading Roman Villa (www.bradingromanvilla.org.uk) – one of the finest
Romano-British archaeological sites in the UK.
Dinosaurisle (www.dinosaurisle.com) – Britain’s first purpose-built dinosaur
museum and visitor attraction.
Isle of Wight Steam Railway (www.iwsteamrailway.co.uk) – five miles of
track with rides by historic locomotives and carriages.
Isle of Wight Tourism
Isle of Wight Tourism

mond-shaped is because it is a little gem.

Although freelance journalist and TV news producer Paul Erlam grew up on the Isle of Wight he is not really a caulkhead. His family only moved there when he was six months old, while caulkheads are third generation islanders. Despite that, he writes extensively about the island

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62

Out & about

What’s on

and where

Steam off

on summer days out and WIN a copy of the Steam Heritage Guide 2009

Planning days out this summer? Get all steamed up with the Steam Heritage Guide 2009. It is the only publication to cover heritage railways, industrial archaeology, transport, ship, aircraft and military museum sites and contains over £100 of discount vouchers for travel and admission. This compact guide is ideal for carrying in your bag or pocket or leaving in your car glove box, giving you constant inspiration for unique and exciting places to visit which are perfect for days out for families, friends and couples.There are over 1,000 events and hundreds of locations listed and categorised by date, attraction type, geographical location and alphabetically. The Steam Heritage Guide 2009 is available now from Tee Publishing at www.teepublishing.co.uk/steam_heritage.php or to order call 01926 614101. To win one of five Steam Heritage Guides go to www.choicetravelinfo.com and click on competitions & giveaways.Terms & conditions apply. Closing date July 3, 2009.

& conditions apply. Closing date July 3, 2009. Anyone for polo? I t may be known
& conditions apply. Closing date July 3, 2009. Anyone for polo? I t may be known

Anyone for polo?

I t may be known as the “Game of Kings” but polo is no longer just the stomping ground of those with cash. The Sussex Polo Club in Rowfant, West Sussex, encourages people to take up the sport and in order to try and lose the game’s exclusive tag; their club motto is:

“More new blood, less blue blood”. Anyone from six years old upwards can learn to play the game with pri- vate or group polo les- sons available for riders and non-riders alike, from April through to

for riders and non-riders alike, from April through to September. Go to www.sussexpolo.co.uk for further

September. Go to www.sussexpolo.co.uk for further information. Anyone not living in the West Sussex area can still enjoy the experience thanks to a link with the

Felbridge Hotel & Spa, which is offering polo breaks throughout the summer. The package includes an overnight in a luxury double room with breakfast and a polo les- son for just £168. Partners who don’t fancy the polo part can stay for just £73. Time your stay to coincide with a tourna- ment and you’ll get to see experts playing, with ponies galloping at 35mph and balls being hit at 100mph. To book this package, call 01342 337700 or visit www.felbridgehotel.co.uk

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Out and ABOUT Take a hike – for Get Walking Day W alking group the

Out and ABOUT

Take a hike – for Get Walking Day

W alking group the Ramblers is calling everyone in Britain

to get on its feet – no matter what age or ability – to cele- brate its free walking festival, Get Walking Day 2009. Hundreds of carnival-spirit- ed short walks are taking place all over the country, in cities and the countryside, to help people of all ages discover the joys of walking. Each walk will be less than five miles, is open to everyone, and will take place over the weekend of May 30-

walk will be less than five miles, is open to everyone, and will take place over
 

Walk on

Tony Carney

Walking is free! A mile is less than a 20-minute walk so you could save money by walking instead of using the bus or your car.

Walking keeps your body fit and your mind healthy – and burns as many calories as jogging over the same distance. It also boosts happiness and reduces stress.

June 1 in England, Scotland and Wales. Many will include refreshments and special events. Now in its second year, national Get Walking Day aims to help people discover the joy of walking and pro-

motes the huge mental, physi- cal and mood-boosting bene- fits that walking can bring. To find a Get Walking Day walk near you, visit the walks finder at www.ramblers.org.uk/ campaigns/GWD

Walking is good for the environment. If we all walk more and use our cars less, we will significantly reduce carbon emissions.

Festival fun in Guildford The 2009 Guildford Summer Festival, running from June 19 to August
Festival fun in Guildford
The 2009 Guildford
Summer Festival, running
from June 19 to August
1, promises to be the
biggest yet with over
100 events covering a
huge variety of activities,
including sports, drama,
music, art, tours,
workshops and shopping
as well as a wide array
of fun events for the
whole family.
With so many events
to pack into the festival,
many of which are free,
the Festival Brochure is
bigger than ever; more
than 20 new events are
included in this year’s
festival. Copies of the
brochure can be
obtained from the Tourist
Information Centre and
other information points
around Guildford from
the end of May.
Guildford Summer
Festival events book up
quickly, so to celebrate
your summer in style,
you should book tickets
as early as possible.
Full details can be
obtained from the
Tourist Information
Centre on 01483
444334 or visit
www.guildfordsummer
festival.co.uk and join
the mailing list.
Events are also listed
on the site, along with
information on planning
your visit, transport links
and accommodation.

Jam-packed June at Hylands

H ylands Estate in Chelmsford hosts a series of events this June including ones reliving

the 1940s. British Armed Forces and Veterans Weekend (June 27-28) kicks off on the Saturday night with a concert of dance music from the Roaring Forties by the Memphis Belle Swing Band. Take your own seating and enjoy a picnic on the back lawn of Hylands House. Advance tickets cost £15; £12 for concessions. On the door ticket prices are £17 and £14 respectively. As part of the same weekend, British Armed Forces and Veterans Day is on Sunday, June 28. Celebrate our history and heroes on this day, dedicated to vet- erans past and present. From 10am- 5pm, activities and attractions include the Essex Military Vehicle Exhibition, a full-size Spitfire replica, Chindit Burma Mules and various talks and exhibitions inside Hylands House, on veteran groups and Hylands’ own history dur- ing World Wars I and II. Donations from this event will go to veterans’ associations and the charity, Help for Heroes. Entry to Hylands House costs £3.60, or £2.60 for conces- sions; under-16s and veterans go free. Last Night of the Proms with the

and veterans go free. Last Night of the Proms with the Caprice Orchestra finishes off the

Caprice Orchestra finishes off the weekend on Sunday June 28, 7.30– 10pm. Take a picnic again to make the most of an evening of stirring classical music. Advance tickets are £12, or £10 for concessions. On the door tickets cost £14 or £12. Tickets can be booked through Chelmsford Civic Theatres Box Office by calling 01245 606505. For more information about these or other events at Hylands Estate, call 01245 605500, or go to www.chelmsford.gov.uk/hylands

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COMPETITION

COMPETITION WIN £1,500 of Pride of Britain vouchers and take your pick from the cream of

WIN £1,500 of Pride of Britain vouchers

and take your pick from the cream of Britain’s private hotels

H ow would like to stay in one of Britain’s best private hotels? Enter this competition, and you could win £1,500 worth of Pride of Britain vouchers valid at any Pride of Britain property. Pride

of Britain is a collection of the finest pri- vately owned hotels in Great Britain, of which there are currently 37 including the ship, Hebridean Princess. You could pick the beautiful Dormy House, which sits high on a hill in the heart of the Cotswolds, between the charming vil- lages of Broadway and Chipping Campden. This is a lived-in, much-loved bolthole where nothing is too much trouble. Crisp bed linen and plump pillows add to the feel- ing of comfort. Choose from the elegant rooms and suites of the main house, or the Danish Court rooms, with their flower-filled patios and landscaped garden. Newly-refurbished deluxe double rooms have modern features such as flat screen television, broadband and scene-setting lighting. The eight suites have large separate living areas and offer views over the hotel’s grounds. Dormy House also has a fine selection of four-poster bedrooms. In the kitchen, high-quality, locally- sourced produce is transformed into simple yet elegant dishes where the flavours of the key ingredients shine through, and are served alongside wine from the world’s leading regions. You can also work on your wellbeing in the Moroccan sauna and steam room or gym.You may want to play traditional bar bil- liards in the games room. There is a nine-hole putting green or croquet lawn if you want to practise your skills outside in the sunshine. There are properties from distinguished city hotels to country house hotels to choose from in the Pride of Britain collec- tion. For more information go to www.prideofbritainhotels.com or call 0800 089 39 29 to make a reservation or

order a free pocket directory.

TL
TL
■ Dormy House, Worcestershire ■ Northcote, Lancashire ■ Eastwell Manor, Kent ■ Plumber Manor, Dorset
■ Dormy House, Worcestershire
■ Northcote, Lancashire
■ Eastwell Manor, Kent
■ Plumber Manor, Dorset
■ The Nare Hotel, Cornwall
■ The Torridon, Wester Ross
How to enter
To win £1,500 worth of vouchers, valid for one year and redeemable at any current
Pride of Britain property, simply answer the following question.
Question: How many properties are there in the Pride of Britain collection?
To enter please go to www.choicetravelinfo.com and click on the competition &
giveaways button.
Closing date is July 6 2009.The first correct entries drawn will win.
Terms & conditions apply.
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68

Get bowled over by

Lovebox

68 Get bowled over by Lovebox Something Fun Lovebox, Victoria Park, July 18-19 Lose yourself in

Something Fun

Lovebox, Victoria Park, July 18-19

Lose yourself in London’s Victoria Park this summer when London’s award-winning Lovebox festival returns on July 18-19. From chart-topping bands to barn-storm- ing hoedowns, Lovebox offers something for everyone with headliners Duran Duran, Groove Armada and N*E*R*D. A second wave of artist bookings, including legendary punk rockers New York Dolls and Manchester’s epic rock-trio Doves, has also been announced. Acclaimed modern folk quartet Noah and the Whale will also be joining the line up. As well as great music, some of Lovebox’s highlights will be:

well as great music, some of Lovebox’s highlights will be: ● All Star Lanes boutique bowl-

All Star Lanes boutique bowl- ing – the first-ever outdoor bowling championship at a UK Festival. With multiple bowling lanes, delicious cocktails, the best milkshakes, classic American dining and guest DJs playing the jukebox all day.

thelondonpaper Sourced Market – the largest farmers’ market of any UK festival. Traders, handpicked from Borough and other London-based farm- ers’ markets, will be selling a range of mouthwatering delights.

Heavenly Healing – a fully-comprehen- sive tented village of massage and com- plementary therapies to help you kick off your weekend in style and enjoy some outdoor pampering.

Tickets are available from both www.lovebox.net and www.ticketmaster.co.uk or by calling 0844 847

2436.

They can also be pur- chased in person from Stargreen Box Office, 20/21a Argyll Street, London, W1F 7TT. Ticket prices: £42.50 + booking fee per day ticket; £75 + booking fee per weekend ticket. Now, WIN a pair of tickets for the award- winning Lovebox festival. To win a pair of tickets to Lovebox on Sunday, July 19, go to www.choice travelinfo.com and click on competitions & giveaways. Terms & conditions apply. Closing date June 26, 2009.

There are 10 concerts with an eclectic line-up of stars

from the worlds of classical, pop and jazz music, including these highlights:

Jose Carreras with Anna Leese and Faryl Smith – the chance to see one of The Three Tenors joined by 13-year-old singing sensa- tion Faryl Smith.

Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra with special guest vocalists – see Jools Holland light up the stage

★ ★ ★

Champagne stars

Something Special

Hampton Court Palace Festival, June 2-13

Enjoy a sophisticated summer evening at its best as the Hampton Court Palace Festival returns. Now in its 17th year, the Hampton Court Palace Festival combines his- tory and music with a series

of concerts in its stunning grounds. Stars include José Carreras, Jools Holland, Beverley Knight and Level 42, as well as a spectacular firework finale. The palace grounds are the perfect setting for a pre-con- cert picnic. Take your own or you can pre-order a delicious Carluccio’s hamper and glass of champagne.

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North

heads

south

Something Different

City of London Festival June 19-July 9 Various venues

Celebrating the trading places of 60º North, the City of London Festival will feature artists and music from Orkney, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn and St Petersburg. Highlights include the Norwegian saxo- phonist Jan Garbarek with the Hilliard Ensemble (St Paul’s Cathedral, June 23), the great Swedish trombonist, conductor and composer, Christian Lindberg, and his Nordic Chamber Orchestra (Guildhall Great Hall, July 1). This year, the number of free events in the City’s open spaces (June 19-August 7) has expand- ed, with spectacular open-air performances including theatre, music, dance and processions. Highlights include: the Art of

with his lively performance.

Russell Watson – the Brit Award winner will perform alongside the City of London Orchestra.

Beverley Knight and Lemar – chill out to some smooth sounds with these award- winning soul singers.

Beethoven Festival Finale fea- turing Chloë Hanslip and Freddy Kempf – the closing concert will celebrate the works of Beethoven performed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.

M ay/June2009

by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. M ay/June2009 Recycling Opening Procession (June 19), featuring 1,000

Recycling Opening Procession (June 19), featuring 1,000 young Londoners; The Leviathan, (June 21) a large-scale piece of music performance art for 800 saxophonists created and direct- ed by John Harle; and The Street Pianos Project, which sees 15 second-hand pianos dotted around the City for the length of the festival. Box office: 0845 120 7502; www.colf.org

For further information go to

www.hamptoncourtfestival. com Tickets can be purchased from Seetickets, on 0844 811

0050, or Ticketmaster, on 0844 847 1638. Booking fee applies. Prices vary depending on which concert you see.

Tickets may be purchased in person daily from 10am-3pm from Hampton Court Palace (Welcome Centre), Surrey, KT8 9AU or Tower of London (Welcome Centre), London, EC3N 4AB.

LONDON Review

FESTIVALS

No need to splash out The Thames Festival September 12-13 Something Free Nearly half a
No need to splash out
The Thames Festival
September 12-13
Something Free
Nearly half a million people
attended the Thames Festival last
year – and this year’s event is
expected to be just as big.
Taking place between
Westminster Bridge and
Tower Bridge, the festival
is at the heart of London,
open to all and free!
Londoners of all ages will
be out to enjoy free
entertainment in a lively,
festival atmosphere, with
everything on offer from street art
and river events to pyrotechnics and circus performances. The
Thames Festival is London’s biggest free, outdoor arts festival
and a highlight event on the London calendar.
The Night Carnival invites a colourful parade of dancers,
costumed performers, musicians and revellers to take over
Victoria Embankment and Blackfriars
Bridge.Thousands of people join
the Night Carnival in a vibrant
procession of lanterns,
costumes and floats,
guaranteeing a memorable
final day of the festival.
The Thames Festival
literally ends with a bang,
with a massive fireworks
display beginning at 9.45pm.
Tens of thousands will be out to
see one of the most spectacular
displays of the year, lighting up the Thames
in a dazzling display of light and colour.
www.thamesfestival.org
Something Else
June events
June 3: Oyster Festival at Billingsgate Fish Market
June 7-19: Spitalfields Summer Festival
June 8-July 4: Orwell celebrations at Trafalgar Studios
June 8-14: Coutts Jewellery Week
June 25-28: Greenwich & Docklands International Festival
June 11-17:The Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair
June 13-14: Open Garden Squares Weekend
June 13-14: Bike and Kite Festival, Blackheath
June 18-21:Taste of London, Regents Park
June 20-28: Croydon Fashion Festival
June 25-28:The Tennis Ball in Wimbledon Common
Go to www.visitlondon.com for more information.
Robert Piwko/arenapal.com
visitlondonimages/ britainonview/ Pawel Libera
visitlondonimages/ britainonview/ Pawel Libera

The Travel&

Leisure M agazine

69

LONDON Review

NEWS & WHAT'S ON

See behind the scenes at the Royal Albert Hall

– and WIN a pair of tour tickets

A front of house tour at the Royal Albert Hall will take you on a personal journey through one of London’s most iconic

buildings, bringing to life its fascinating history. Watch as the venue prepares for one of its 350 events or witness rehearsals for that evening’s per- formance. The one-hour tour covers all front of house areas, including the auditorium and the Queen’s suite, the Royal Retiring Room. As a working venue, tours may include opportunities to see rehearsals or technical preparations for a show. Tours run daily, except Wednesdays, from 10.30am to 3.30pm. Visit www.royalalberthall.com for more information. For an extra special treat, and for only one date this year, you can enjoy a behind the scenes tour at the Royal Albert Hall. Head backstage to witness the venue’s unseen workings and see the dressing rooms used by stars such as The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and Pavarotti. The backstage tour takes place on June 15, dur-

Pavarotti. The backstage tour takes place on June 15, dur- ing the run of The King

ing the run of The King and I. As well as getting a chance to view the cast’s wardrobe and dressing rooms, you’ll also be able to step out onto the Royal Albert Hall stage! Available throughout the day, tours will last 90 minutes and cost £12 per person, including 50p booking fee. To book, call the Box Office on 0845 401 5045. To win one of two pairs of front of house tour tickets go to www.choicetravelinfo.com and click on competitions & giveaways. Terms & con- ditions apply. Closing date: July 3, 2009.

70

& con- ditions apply. Closing date: July 3, 2009. 70 Ton-up museum T he Science Museum

Ton-up museum

T he Science Museum is cel- ebrating its impending cen-

tenary with a year-long pro- gramme of celebration events. The Museum became an independent organisation on June 26, 1909. And to mark the 100th anniversary it will be:

hosting a three-day public birth- day party (June 26-28) with spe- cial science shows, events and performances open to school groups and the general public; unveiling a new Centenary

Journey trail; refurbishing two major galleries; and opening two

new exhibitions – Cosmos & Culture and Watt’s Workshop. It is also launching a £1 million fundraising appeal and will com- memorate other anniversaries including the 40th anniversary of the moon landings. The museum’s centenary website includes details of how the public can get involved in the celebrations, and site visitors can share their favourite memo- ries of the Science Museum. Entry is FREE to the Science Museum. For more information, visit www.sciencemuseum. org.uk/centenary or call 0870 870 4868. Open daily, 10am-6pm. Nearest tube: South Kensington.

Fiesta time

C elebrate Spanish lifestyle, food and culture in

London on Sunday, May 31, when Regent Street will be traf- fic free from 12-6pm for a fab- ulous street festival: Regent

The Travel&

Leisure M agazine

street festival: Regent The Travel & Leisure M agazine Street – A Taste of Spain 2009.

Street – A Taste of Spain 2009. The fiesta will showcase the very best of Spain as live music and dance performances includ- ing flamenco and traditional Spanish bagpipers take place on the main stage. Stores will be organising shopping promotions and com- petitions, while Heddon Street and Swallow Street will have live Spanish performances to entertain al fresco diners. Entertainment for the fiesta will come from 12 Spanish regions, including dancing horses from Menorca, a fashion show from Andalucia and giant paellas from Valencia. www.regentstreetonline.com

NNeeww oonn ssttaaggee Sister Act London Palladium, Argyll Street From June 2 Stars: Sheila Hancock,
NNeeww oonn ssttaaggee
Sister Act
London Palladium,
Argyll Street
From June 2
Stars: Sheila Hancock, Patina
Miller and Ian Lavender
Produced by: Whoopi
Goldberg and Stage
Entertainment
Adapted from the 1992
Golden Globe-nominated film
starring Whoopi Goldberg,
Sister Act follows the story
of disco diva Deloris Van
Cartier. When Deloris
witnesses a murder, she is put
in protective custody in the
one place the cops are sure
she won’t be found – a
convent!
Disguised as a nun, she
turns her attention to the
convent’s off-key choir,
helping the nuns to find their
true voices and breathing
new life into the rundown
neighbourhood but her cover
could be blown for good.
With the gang giving chase, is
time running out for Deloris?
Or have they underestimated
the power of her new found
Sisterhood?
Box office: 0844 412 2704
Ticket prices: £17.50-£60
Nearest Tube: Oxford
Circus
Nearest Train: Charing
Cross
Restaurant suggestion:
Cape Town Fish Market
5-6 Argyll Street,W1F 7TE;
0872 148 1907.
A lively restaurant, fish market,
teppanyaki and sushi bar with a
big South African wine list
Average price for three
courses: £40
Marcus Ginns

M ay/June2009

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